Running the Talk – Man Goes 30 Miles on 30th Birthday
By Brian Smith
What can the No Barriers Pledge do for someone already intimately familiar with the idea and our organization?
For Skyler Williams – who pledged to run 30 miles for his 30th birthday – it was a reaffirmation of the power of the concept he works with daily and its applicability to people of all abilities.
Skyler was on a head-clearing run one day with a friend who mentioned that he would be running 30 miles on his 30th birthday. With his birthday about a year away, Skyler took the idea and decided to make it a pledge.
As part of the Touch the Top team – support staff for blind adventurer, motivational speaker and No Barriers co-founder Erik Weihenmayer – Skyler is used to a busy schedule filled with long flights, conference calls and other meetings.
While he is a long-time runner who has taken on marathons before, he knew it would be a challenge to fit in the time to commit to his pledge.
It would be the longest distance he’s ever run.
He ran consistently for a year and trained heavily for about four months, incorporating longer runs into his weekends, building base miles to get his body used to the mileage. Finding the time and the mental energy wasn’t always easy.
“I really had to be disciplined on the weekend and the days we weren’t traveling to get out and block three hours out of your day,” he said.
On July 19, Skyler laced up his shoes and hit the trail, running up and over the Maroon Bells from Aspen to Crested Butte.
“It was actually pretty brutal, but it was good,” he said. “By the time we were running past that marathon distance – 27, 28, 29, 30 – I was dragging logs. My legs were just trashed. I didn’t understand how hard that would be on my legs.”
The pledge process also challenged Skyler in another way. As he is frequently reminded of the No Barriers mindset through his work with Weihenmayer, the pledge was a way for him to “walk the talk.”
Skyler said that when he thinks about the No Barriers life, he thinks of a vision and set of values, authenticity and courage being some of those core principals.
It was time to test whether he could set in motion those values.
“Committing to a pledge like running 30 on 30, that’s authentic to me and it is something that I can demonstrate,” he said. “I talk about living a No Barriers life, I say that it is something that can change the way people live and the quality and the richness that they live in, and taking on this challenge reinforced that.”