Exactly 4 months ago, I committed to something that scared the hell out of me.
(Keep in mind that I suck at running and hadn’t jogged more than a handful of miles in over 6 months)
Here’s what I said:
I’m going to enter the Bekkai marathon in October
And what seemed so far away back then is now just 23 days down the road…
Now, in the past 16 weeks I’ve run just 45 times, for a grand total of 345 miles (555 kilometers).
I did my longest ever run last weekend (a hilly 21 miles/34 kilometers)…
…and it took a hair under 4 hours.
So, now the hard work’s done and I’m tapering down to the event.
Am I still scared?
You better believe it!
But I’ve also learned a ton about my strengths and, more importantly, my weaknesses.
And this applies to much more than just running…
So, here are 7 awesome things I’ve learned along the way.
1. Get Accountable
Is there something you really want to achieve?
Then committing to it publicly works like gangbusters.
So as soon as I published the article, there was no going back.
Like the saying goes:
If you want to take the island, burn your boats
Trust me, few things work better at concentrating your focus.
2. Hang Out With the Right People
Now, a few well-intentioned folks told me that I was biting off more than I could chew.
Something about being too old, too slow and all that other garbage.
Well, forget that.
So, who really encouraged me?
People like my friend Tomo who was in training for his first 100-km/62-mile endurance race (!)
“Wow, a marathon? That sounds fun!”
3. Commit to Doing the Bare Minimum Required to Make Progress
From the get-go, I had precisely zero intention of running 4 or 5 times per week.
In-person coaching, my online clients, writing, and spending time with my family are all way more important to me.
So, I committed to running one time at the weekend, gradually building up distance.
And one short run during the week.
That allowed both a bit of wiggle room for when life got in the way, and the possibility to do more if I felt like it.
(On average, I’ve actually run closer to 3x/week but that’s felt effortless as there was no pressure to do so)
4. Build Unstoppable Momentum
Was the 21-mile run the most important one?
To me, the most important one was the first one – just 2 or 3 miles.
(Let me tell you, it was a major victory just to lace up my running shoes and head out the door…)
Then it was the 4-mile run, the 5-mile run, the 6-mile run.
Each one building on the successful completion of the one before.
Just keep on showing up, with each progressively longer run adding a little more fuel to the fire.
All these increments of progress added up to the 21-miler.
So get started, build momentum and become unstoppable.
5. Turn “Hard” into Easy
When I did my first half marathon back on my 45th birthday, running 13 miles felt hard.
Regardless of the pace.
But get this:
When you build up to running in the 18-20 mile range, I swear that 13 miles feels easy.
You actually end up thinking of a half-marathon distance as “a short run”.
I know it sounds crazy but it’s true!
What once felt challenging now feels totally manageable.
That’s one of the biggest payoffs for pushing our comfort zone.
6. Take the Road Less Traveled
Way back in spring, I was toying with the idea of shooting for another half marathon this year instead of going for the full.
After coming so close last year, I thought it would be great to crack 2 hours.
But get this:
A few weeks back I pretty much nailed that on a “short” hilly run on a hot and humid day.
Not that I’m tooting my own horn or anything like that.
But I realized that if we aim high enough, the smaller goals will be met pretty much effortlessly along the way.
7. Appreciate How Far You’ve Come
Every run I’ve done this year has been recorded in the Map My Run application.
Not that I’m into looking at fancy graphs or anything like that – it’s just a really cool reminder of how far you’ve come.
Why is that important?
Because self-doubt is an inevitable part of life.
Am I up to the challenge?
Have I really improved?
What was I thinking of?
That’s when you look at the cold, hard numbers and see just how you’ve progressed.
The “crushing” pace of that first 30-minute run?
Yep, you’re now able to hold that in the hills for close to 4 hours.
OK, I know that finishing the marathon is far from a done deal.
Anything can happen between now and October 2nd – injury, illness or whatever.
But, as weird as it sounds, I now see the marathon itself as the prize rather than the objective.
It’s almost like you earn your right to run it.
And the real power, the real growth, comes from the process of training for it.
Dealing with all the niggling injuries, the doubts, and juggling work and family commitments.
Just staying focused and making it happen.
And do you know what?
I can’t wait to line up at the start on race day!
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