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All Hail the Coopermen

Tuesday, December 26th, 2017

Richard and Kieran Cooper runners Glasgow

Who inspires you?

What inspires you?

I get a lot of my inspiration and learning from people I don’t know in the US. People like Ryan Holiday, James Altucher, Jason Fried.

That’s because I reckon ideas, and thinking, that originate in the US take a couple of years to filter to London, which, in turn, take a couple of years to make their way to Scotland, where I live.

Online Courses

Take, for example the humble online course, and the PR industry, of which I am part. Over in the US, PR influencers have been doing this kind of thing for years, selling online courses for peanuts through their lists with a view to encouraging subscribers, in the fullness of time, to buy more expensive services. Only recently a PR mate of mine down south started an online course, but I’ve yet to hear of anyone doing it north of the border.

Back to inspiration.

Because there are such things as podcasts, books, blogs and newsletter lists, I can get this latest thinking now instead of waiting until it catches on where I live.

Imagination and Drive

This is a good thing, and one of the many benefits of the Internet. One is only limited now by one’s imagination and drive.

However, inspiration when taken from afar can easily be snuffed out. Inspiration is supercharged when you meet your mentors or there’s a personal connection.

Charlie Spedding

My favourite running book is Last to First by Charlie Spedding. It’s the true story of a north east (England) man who had an epiphany in a pub.

A top runner but not a great runner, he decided to jack in his job, move to the US and do a shed load of hill training.

But most importantly, he changed his mentality. From that day forward he would do the perfect training, day in day out, no more no less.

Then, having done his perfect training, he would, on that one day, at his target race (which happened to be the Olympic marathon) maximise his potential. Transform from a caterpillar to a butterfly.


In 1984 Spedding ran the race of his life and won an Olympic bronze medal. He recounts that day, vividly, in the conclusion to his book:

The greatest moment in my two decades of running came 22 miles into the Olympic marathon when I took the lead and pushed the pace. After all my setbacks, injuries, failures, I was living the fantasy that every distance runner has on a long, cold, winter run. I had the initiative, I was calling the tune. I was grasping the opportunity with both hands. I was taking part in Olympic proportions. I was running as fast as I dared. I was trying my utmost to fulfil my wildest dreams. Today was indeed the day. I was doing it. I was flying and I felt absolutely fantastic.

Even now, reading it brings a tear to my eye.

Five years ago, in the middle of reading the book for the first time, I met one of my best mates in a dilapidated west coast northern English coastal town. We were there for a Northern Soul night. Over dinner I waxed lyrical about the book I was reading, and it turned out John, a medical sales rep, knew Charlie Spedding and used to sell generic medicines to his pharmacy.

By all accounts Charlie was (and no doubt still is) a really nice guy.

For me, it was that personal connection, a validation from someone I trusted that sealed the deal. Charlie became an inspiration.

Father-and-Son Combo

I first met father-and-son combo Richard and Kieran Cooper in March this year. I say met, I passed them at marathon pace running in the opposite direction along the Clyde, as I geared up for The London.

They’d come to my attention a few weeks previously on a long run with a mate. He’d noticed them nicking some Strava CRs off him. He assumed they were Dad and son but didn’t know.

Anyway, I too started clocking their runs on Strava and posts on Facebook. Both their posts, not just the Dad’s.

There was the trip to Ailsa Craig…for a run. The wind turbine-bagging at Whitelee, and the 0520 train from Central to Oban for an obscure parkrun, followed by a run around Kerrera. This chimed with me because I’d once sea-kayaked around Kerrera in a Force 4, so I know it’s quite a trek. Accompanying these posts were the most heart-warming pictures, usually featuring two beaming red-faced blokes in some unusual setting.

Then, to cap it all, on Christmas Eve, Kieran, who seems to set the routes, led his Dad on a merry 12-mile dance around Glasgow’s south side, all so, when uploaded to Strava, the route rendered as a Christmas tree. Yuletide Strava art par excellence.

I may have done a few races with them but I don’t really know Richard and Kieran. I don’t really need to though.

2017’s Most Inspiring

Looking back over my running year of 2017, if I had to pick the people who’ve inspired me most, it’d be these two.

Life’s about adventures, big and small, and their lives are chock full of them.

All hail the Coopermen. Sometimes the best inspiration can be found closest to home.