My feet were inflamed, my back pulsing, as I asked myself “is this worth it?”.
That was the inner conversation I was having when I completed a 14 mile practice run during my marathon training.
In this Spark, I want to discuss the parallels of my marathon training, the run itself, and the events that took place during the run to real life situations you may experience as you set out to accomplish your goals in life and career.
Most people, myself included, give generic advice about long term goals by saying: “it’s a marathon not a sprint” or “you’re running a marathon, you need to pace yourself”.
After running a marathon and learning that less than 1% of Americans run one (according to Livestrong), I can confidently say: there’s more to it.
I learned a lot about myself, my body, my mindset and most importantly about setting and achieving goals.
And yes, it was all worth it.
Here’s how I ran my first marathon but most importantly…
Here’s how to accomplish your goals:
There were a few key things that I had to do in order to believe I was ready for a marathon.
1- I had to change my language.
If you were to ask me 6 months ago if I was a runner I’d flat out tell you “no”.
I mean, c’mon I’ma 200 something pound, heavy lifting dude that “graduated” from skinny jeans to athletic fit if you know what I mean.
But that belief did not help me. I had to change the way I saw myself. From going to the 3 mile runs to the 5-8 miles to 12, 14… I started to view myself as a runner. Not your typical runner but a runner nonetheless.
It’s so important the language we use of ourselves and if you’re setting out to become someone you don’t think you are, then you won’t become that person nor do the things that type of person does.
In other words, align how you view yourself to the outcome you need to achieve.
2 – I had to believe I could do it.
You don’t just think “I can” and run a marathon. I mean you can but you’re gonna get hurt.
I had to legitimately practice and (even more important) believe I could run that sucker.
During my training, I experienced inflammation of my piriformis – which affected my sciatic nerve which meant I couldn’t walk for about 3 days and couldn’t move (or sneeze) without cringing back pain.
This was after my longest practice run of 14 miles. I was asking myself during the pain after the run “is this worth it?”.
Added on top of that, the marathon date was approaching and I decided to either go all out or nothing.
So I refined my running stance, researched stretches and muscle strengthening to support the piriformis muscle.
I then decided to then move the marathon date early (it wasn’t an official race) and give myself 2 weeks to recover and train for the race.
Because 1) if I was going to experience pain I didn’t want to complete the 16, 17, 18, & 20 mile practice runs.
and 2) I believed I was ready. From all of my training and my previous tough mudder training where we did about 20 miles overnight with little prep…
… For the record, I’m grateful I had ZERO back pain after the marathon; I walked perfectly fine the day after.
3 – I visualize myself running the course
I mapped out my run, a “track” I know and have cycled before that took me to the oceanfront.
Once I knew the course, I visualized running it in my mind and carefully observed areas to be careful, to recover, to run and to enjoy.
It’s critical you see yourself succeed.
I’m not going to discuss the entire 26 miles but will share key parallels that will help you as you set out on your own marathon/goal.
1 – Find your support group.
For me that is my wife and family. They helped before, supported during, and shared the excitement at the end… and helped with recovery.
2 – You don’t need fancy equipment.
I ran with my old shoes since the new ones were in the process of a return (too small). I had to duct tape the hole in one of my shoes. No problem.
3 – ANYONE can start AND (contrary to popular sayings) ANYONE can finish, if you decide to.
Starting is a choice.
And finishing is another choice.
Finishing requires a LOT of effort on your part.
Decide to finish.
I started feeling it around mile 18 which was about 70% of the way. I felt like quitting at mile 22, around 84% of the way. I could have easily quit.
I decided not to.
4 – Some people will respect your journey, other’s won’t care about you.
I ran along the road path that I usually cycle on. Some roads were more narrow than others. And sometimes I ran on the bike lane since there were no sidewalks.
I encountered cyclists, runners and cars. Some wave, others don’t mind you. Some cars took their distance, others were inches from hitting me.
Acknowledge this fact and when you’re going on your marathon, stay close to those who will encourage your run (metaphorically). And stay very far away from those who can injure you.
5 – Understanding what normal is & set the right expectations
Cliche advice is to pace yourself and prepare for the journey. Yes, this is true. I walked when I needed to. I kept a 13 min mile pace for a little over half. I brought my fuel waffles and vitamin water.
But most importantly, I knew what was normal and what I needed to overcome in myself.
Feet hurt and I’m slowing down. Normal, keep going.
Body feels like it is stopping and sun’s getting stronger. Normal, keep going.
You have to set the expectation for yourself and understand that going through “hard” is part of the process.
FINISHING AND FINAL THOUGHTS
You’ll be surprised of what you are capable of if you embrace difficulty. Not for its own sake. That’s absurd….
…Doing hard things because they are hard is fruitless.
It might motivate some but it’s point-less. The means to an end cannot be the purpose (it’s own end).
The purpose of doing hard work is for the growth that occurs. The fruits of your labor and who you will become after finishing.
Anything worth accomplishing will require embracing difficulty. And that’s alright.
Modern day “thinkers” will tell you that pain (suffering) is an optional state of mind.
We like that idea and buy into it because we WISH it were true. But it’s a lie and an illusion…
Growth is not butterfly feelings and zero pain. Growth and becoming better requires you to tear, build callus (endurance) and strength.
This does not mean being a cold person…
You can still be a positive and joyful person who embraces difficulty.
Being positive isn’t to be naive. It’s choosing to see the good in the face of the difficulty.
Life is not suffering but it does contain suffering… (life is love)
Any significant goal or achievement I’ve ever done has required a significant amount of sacrifice (suffering).
If your goals aren’t demanding more of you, are you setting the bar high enough?
It’s when we face the difficulty and embrace it well that we truly grow and are fully alive.
I believe we are all capable of that.