Six Life Lessons from the Marathon

Hey party people! As you can probably tell with my last few posts, the new year has me feeling reflective. Especially with this bomb cyclone going on, it’s easy enough to stay inside and curl up with a hot cocoa and relax under a warm blanket.  Ahhhhhh that sounds amazing right about now! As I discussed in my last post, my goal this year is to run marathon #11.

When you are setting goals for yourself, it’s important to know why you want to accomplish that goal. So why do I want to run a marathon in 2018 after taking 2017 off from running 26.2 miles? Easy. For me, the marathon is more of a mental challenge than any of the other distances. Yes, I think all the distances present their own challenges, but NOTHING will challenge you like the marathon does.

Here are 6 life lessons that the marathon will teach you.

#1- You have to do things you don’t want to do in order to get what you want.

I think this really holds true with EVERYTHING in life.  Think about it. You think to yourself, “it would be so awesome to vacation in Napa Valley.” So you have this grand vision of yourself drinking amazing wine and eating the most delicious food. Great! That can become a reality. But you have to do the things that aren’t so pleasant in order to make that dream vacation happen such as researching flights, comparing prices, figuring out an itinerary, making dinner reservations, flying, etc. Same holds true with the marathon. You have to wake up super early. You have to run 20 miles on a Saturday. You have to stay in on some Friday nights. But guess what? If you don’t do those things, you’ll never run the marathon. I’ll say it again, you have to do things you don’t want to do in order to get what you want.

#2- You can handle it.

When you run a marathon, you are redefining “hard.” The marathon is the single hardest thing I have done in my life. When you are at mile 20, everything hurts and your brain is telling you to quit. But you don’t.  Because you have worked too hard for this to quit! At this point in the marathon, it really is mind over matter. So if you go through anything hard in your life after running a marathon (e.g. loss of a loved one, divorce, illness) you can remember how you felt at mile 20 and say, “I can handle this.” You just know that on the other side of that pain is something greater.

#3- You need a purpose.

Too many people wake up and live the same way day in and day out. Almost like they are just going through the motions. They stop growing personally and professionally. I am not saying you have to set out to be the next President of the United States. But you need something that gets you out of bed every morning and makes you strive to be your best. It could be anything from being a great parent to teaching. The marathon gives you purpose every day. You know why you are out there running in crappy weather and what you are working toward.

#4- You don’t have to go at it alone.

So many of us feel like the road to success is a lonely one. You automatically assume that no one wants to help you or worse, that everyone is against you. That’s simply not true. You might show up to the start line of a marathon alone, but you are among many that are about to embark on the same journey!  You can just feel the energy in the air! Think about those random spectators at a race. They aren’t out there booing you or telling you to go home. They are cheering you on, and they don’t even know your name!  How amazing is that?! And what about the volunteers? They wake up bright and early to get to the race to support you with whatever you need. Again, they want you to succeed. Life is the same. How many times have you seen a random act of kindness? Or saw your team at work supporting someone going through a hard time? Always remember that you have the love and support of many.

#5- You need to keep moving forward.

A marathon is run in many steps, not one giant leap. It takes time, patience, and consistency to get to where you want to go. Even if it’s one tiny step forward, that’s progress. Same is true in life. You aren’t going to be Picasso after your very first painting. I love the quote, “The expert in anything was once a beginner.” You have to keep moving forward and keep doing the work. Your time will come.

#6- You need to be consistent.

When I first started running, do you know how many times I tried to run around the block and didn’t make it? It was a lot. Ask my neighbors 😛 But I kept at it almost every day.  It wasn’t like I tried it once and was like, “Oh well didn’t make it! Guess I’m not a runner!” I was consistent. I am a believer that every failure is one step closer to a success. You just get back up and try again. Think about when babies are trying to learn how to walk.  How many times do they fall down? A ton! But does a baby ever say, “Well I just fell, guess I’ll never be able to walk!” This is a trick question. Babies don’t talk 😉 But NO!  They just get back up and try again until they get it. As the quote goes, “it’s impossible until it is done.”

So tell me, what lessons has the marathon taught you?

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