Earlier this month, I completed the St. George marathon I am not going to tell you that it was all puppy dogs, giggles and that a rainbow appeared at the finish line to greet me. What I learned is that running a marathon is hard and preparing for one might be even harder.
When you try big things it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the enormity of the idea, in this case 26.2 miles, and run from the opportunity. Training and running a marathon taught me and/or reinforced three things that are helpful to accomplishing big tasks/goals.
Tip #1: Build a good support system. Within the first 3 weeks of training for my marathon I went on a 10 mile run with my wife. I walked most of the last 2 miles and felt like total garbage. When I finished I looked at my wife and said “There’s no way that I can do a marathon, I can’t even run 10 fucking miles.” My wife looked me in the eye and let me know that I could do it and to stick with it. I needed to hear that because I wanted to quit. So I stuck with it.
In addition to my wife being a great support. I also tore my Achilles during training which was crushing. This forced me to pay attention to my body and seek out great healers to help me stay in the game. If it weren’t for the great chiropractors that I worked with, I would not have been able to run.
Last, the numerous friends that supported me along the way. In my past, I was notoriously someone who was always “good”. To admit anything less would be too much vulnerability. One of my good friends offered to come down and cheer me on and my initial reaction was to say, “don’t worry about, we’re good”, I caught myself thinking that and instead let him know that I would love it if they came down to the race to support me.
All these things allowed me to stay with my goals and plans and to know that I am not alone. The impact was the difference between me achieving and not achieving my goal of completing the marathon.
Tip #2: Planning is key. You can’t go from couch to marathon without a plan. I had been doing some light training for another race but had been in a period of inactivity prior to that. Once I found a training schedule that I liked, I enlisted the help of an accountability partner who made sure that I stayed on track with a hefty penalty each week for non-compliance of my training plan. I never had to pay up.
Beyond a running schedule, other planning included, mapping out routes, coordinating schedules, planning training meals and hydration for the long runs.
I couldn’t have done this without a specific plan and the space created to execute that plan. The plan not only helped me finish the race but it also gave me piece of mind that I was ready.
Tip #3: Push Yourself Past Your Boundaries: Every weekend of the training schedule entailed a long run that escalated to 20 miles. I finished every run on fumes. Initially I could barely finish 10 miles. Then 10 miles became a no-brainer run despite the fact that weeks earlier I could barely do the distance and was ready to quit.
This situation reminded me of a quote from Thomas Edison, “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves”. Running a marathon was further proof that I can go much farther than I think I can. Not only with running but in all aspects of my life.
We are closing out 2016. Is there a big goal that you can start before the year ends? Maybe one that you can finish this year? What about 2017? What’s your marathon?