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Resimac’s Rodney ‘Rocket’ Cottam to run 350 kms in 5 days

by snichols15 minute read
Resimac’s Rodney ‘Rocket’ Cottam to run 350 kms in 5 days

The non-bank’s regional sales manager, Rodney Cottam, is undertaking a trail running challenge of 350 kilometres in five days to raise funds for Invictus Australia.

Rodney Cottam is clear on his definition of resilience. “For me, resilience is facing something, and going, ‘I can get past this’.

“I just need to keep trying. I just need to keep going, keep grinding away.”

For over 20 years, Resimac’s regional sales manager, Rodney Cottam, has honed and sharpened his resilience, starting with an odyssey that first began in 2000, when he joined the Royal Australian Regiment.


Serving in the paratrooper battalion over four years, Mr Cottam travelled across the world, being based in both East Timor and across the Middle East. It was through this exposure that Mr Cottam learned life lessons and skills that he now considers invaluable.

“You get to experience things around the world; what others are experiencing,” he tells The Adviser.

“I think it really helps to put things into perspective. It just puts life in general into perspective; what we take for granted.”

Observing the experiences of others may have been one avenue for Mr Cottam to discover resilience, but another came first-hand when, during his military service, an incident resulted in Mr Cottam developing brachial plexus palsy – a condition where the network of nerves that run through the shoulder and down to the hand becomes paralysed.

Yet, much like with German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s axiom of “what doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger”, Mr Cottam found his inner resolve.

“When I had my accident, I was forced to make a choice. I was forced to sit there and say, ‘You know what, this is horrible. It’s bad’,” he says.

“I could’ve just fallen into a heap and not like what was presented to me, but you know – I could not change it. So I’ve just got to move on.

One of the biggest things that you learn in the military, that we sort of live by, is you’ve got to adapt, improvise and overcome.”

Run Rocket Run

Rodney 'Rocket' Cottam

These experiences helped shape Mr Cottam’s understanding of resilience and what it means to be resilient – a set of values that, as he tells The Adviser, remained dormant for 17 years, and eventually coming back to the surface when Mr Cottam began to run.

“I suppose where it really opened my eyes [to resilience] even more, subsequently after leaving the military, is once I’d decided to get back into running,” he says.

“Running five kilometres and going, ‘Oh, that’s great, I’ve run five. I’m gonna run 10 kilometres now’. It’s double the distance, but it’s not double the effort. And then it’s just pushing further and further.

“When it comes to ultra running and doing 50 kilometre runs and 100 kilometre runs, it seems extremely daunting and difficult. But it’s just pushing yourself and pushing your mind and your body through that barrier.

“[Running] is a great opportunity to clear your head and to think about things. And I think I get to think and resolve a lot of things in my own head when I’m out running, which is great.”

Now, in an effort to raise money for the veteran support charity Invictus Australia, Mr Cottam, has committed himself to completing at least one running challenge per year under the moniker Run Rocket Run.

His goal for this year is to complete 350 kilometres over five days – a feat accompanied by a 56-kilometre ultra-trail marathon last month and a planned 160-kilometre race throughout the Snowy Mountains in December.

But according to Mr Cottam, as well as building his own resilience, his vision is also to encourage others to do the same.

“The broad aim from myself is to really get the message out there around resilience and what we are actually capable of. We don’t use our full potential, or don’t want to – we don’t want to push ourselves to pass those barriers where we think things are hard,” Mr Cottam says.

Have a mission

Encouraging others to embrace resilience is one step, but another is providing the tools for those uninspired to reach it. One suggestion Mr Cottam provides for those curious, as learned during his military service, is viewing tasks as missions.

“You’ve got a mission to accomplish, and you start, and you go until you finish that. So it doesn’t matter what happens, you have to finish that and do that,” Mr Cottam says.

“Where I’m wanting to bring in Run Rocket Run, for me it’s through running. But it can be applied to anything because resilience is more of a mindset than something physical.”

According to Mr Cottam, once you have “a mission to accomplish”, the approach is to “just do it”.

“You push yourself to do it. It doesn’t matter how hard things happen, how hard things get, or what happens or what obstacles are put in front of you,” Mr Cottam says.

Overcoming the overwhelm

But again, this approach is easier said than done. One challenge in completing a task may not be related to the level of commitment, but rather a state of being overwhelmed.

For Mr Cottam, his response to this dilemma is to try and block out “the white noise”.

“I think it’s realising that we try to focus on things that we cannot control ourselves… you’ve got to push that aside. Push, as I call it, all this white noise aside,” he tells The Adviser.

“There’s so much white noise now, it’s much more than we used to have decades ago. It’s pushing that aside to keep going. It’s making the choices [and knowing that] I can control what I can control. So I’m gonna make sure I do that. And I continue to do that – to achieve what I want to achieve.”

One method that Mr Cottam embraces as a means to block out these distractions is through compartmentalisation.

“So if it’s something personal, that’s happening at home. And I go to work. While I’m at work, I’m forgetting what’s happening at home, because I’ve got a job to do,” he tells The Adviser.

Matter of perspective

While he acknowledges that compartmentalisation is his personal approach, his underlying case is that maintaining resilience is linked to simplification.

“We make life complicated for ourselves,” Mr Cottam says. “It’s easy to do that. It’s easy to have excuses.

“A lot of the time, we come up with a lot of excuses, not reasons for doing things. And they’re two very different things.”

According to Mr Cottam’s definition, it comes down to the decision we make once we’re forced to relent to the uncontrollable forces that push against our ambitions. An excuse, however, is when that decision is made despite our ability to challenge our situation.

“I think that, as a society, we’ve learned to really accept excuses. Because they’re easy,” Mr Cottam explains.

“Because it’s easy to not challenge something. So I like to challenge things.”

For Mr Cottam, many challenges or diversions boil down to an element of choice.

“We can choose what we block out and/or we choose to ignore, or what we choose to focus on at different times, because we can’t focus on everything at once. It’s just impossible,” Mr Cottam says.

This value of perspective, and what it can provide, isn’t solely limited to pushing ourselves forward, but it can also be used to uplift and remind ourselves that we are capable of reaching our ambitions.

“[It comes] back to self belief and realising that we are capable of doing so much more,” Mr Cottam explains. 

“Just because something is a bit hard doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. [Resilience is] pushing yourself and going ‘That really wasn’t that hard’.

“It puts more things into perspective to say ‘Well if that wasn’t that hard, maybe I can do this in another aspect of my life and maybe that’s not that hard either’. And I can actually do it and feel better for it. And the people around me feel better for it as well. We enjoy our lives more.”

He concludes by suggesting that not only can we find satisfaction in this value, but we can potentially support those around us, no matter what life throws at us.

“One thing that I certainly learned pretty quickly was that life can be one way one minute and completely given the next. It can just happen so quickly,” Mr Cottam says.

“I think that for me, that was just an easy decision to make.”

You can find out more about Run Rocket Run, and donate to Invictus, here.

*This story originally appeared as a feature in the August edition of The Adviser magazine.

[Related: In Focus: The importance of resilience and support]

rodney cottam run rocket run ta wob a



Sam Nichols is a journalist at The Adviser and Mortgage Business.


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