Training and running in the Akron Marathon was one the most humbling experiences I’ve had in my life. Here are 8 lessons I’ve learned along the way:
1. Decide What You’re Willing To Suffer For
We all suffer, there's no escaping it. In essence that’s part of being human on this planet. How we perceive our suffering is what separates us. When it comes to training especially with something like a marathon you have to decide early on that you’re willing to suffer through growling long runs especially when it's hot outside and you have nobody else around to run with you or check in on you. This is parallel to life because most of the time when you’re going after a new goal or leveling up in your life you’ll be alone, there won’t be the support you expect and the work that needs to be done will rarely be fun or enjoyable, but you still have to get it done and hold yourself accountable. I believe at some point as an adult you have to move past the place of being motivated and into becoming diligent over things that are important; one of those things being your health. In the end you’re either going to suffer from being diligent over things or from giving into instant gratification. Whichever one you decide will determine how you will suffer.
What holds most people back from getting better besides giving into instant gratification is their lack of coachability. What this means is simply being willing to learn new things and then applying them. The hardest thing for most people to do is admit they don’t know something especially in their so-called area of expertise so instead of seeking new information or asking questions they remain stuck in their ways. Never lose your curiosity once you become an authority. Read books, ask questions, and be open to learning other ways of doing things.
3. Run Your Race
What I found myself doing in the beginning of my training was comparing my race times and my progress to other people. If you’re training for a marathon, trying to get in shape, or going after a goal, remember there’s nothing wrong with looking at other people’s progress or what they have done, but make sure its coming from a place of empowerment. So if that means removing yourself from certain environments (which I’ll touch on in the next point) or unfollowing certain social media accounts, do that. Just because someone is proclaimed to be an expert or best at something doesn’t mean that’s the best person for you. If it’s not empowering and making you feel like you can become better than its best to make a change.
4. Environment Matters
You can have the perfect plan and the most time in the world, but if you have the wrong people or things in your environment you will not get the best results. Two of the main culprits when it comes to any health or fitness related goal is an unsupportive partner and or a place that has nothing but temptation around. For instance if you set out to make your health a priority, but you still keep a cabinet for snacks and a refrigerator with beer and pop in it there's a high probability that you’ll consume those things as soon as you have a bad day or you’re not seeing the results you want to see. What I’ve learned is that humans are oddly consistent with their behaviors (habits) because they’re tied to their environment. If you have an unsupportive partner, friends or family it may be time that you sit down and have that hard conversation. One of the main killers of relationships are silent expectations. We tend to think people closest to us should just know what we want or what we expect of them. If these people truly care about you becoming your best self then they will find a way to support what you're trying to accomplish even if it's not their thing.
5. You Will F**K Up
Breaking News: You will F*** up. I planned to run in the marathon 3 months in advance. I came up with a training plan all the way to the day of the race and guess what? Life got in the way. I got married, I went on a honeymoon, and my plan was completely thrown off track, but continued to get back on the path. One thing the fitness and diet industry has done a great job of is making people feel like if they buy a plan or follow a specific diet somehow life isn’t going to happen in the process. You have to be willing to shake off the setbacks and resistance that will come up (including the ones in your mind) leading to my next lesson.
6. Put One Foot In Front Of The Other
During the marathon I felt great up until mile 21. I started to feel my body shutting down. By the time I got to mile 22 I had to start walking because my right calf and left quad were cramping and locking up. At that moment I had a choice to make; I could either stop (and rest), give up completely or keep putting one foot in front of the other no matter how slow I was moving. We all have these moments in our lives. You have a job that constantly tests you, you’re on a weight loss journey, or training for a sport and you’re not seeing the results you want or there’s a set back. You have to find a way to continue to make progress no matter how small. The world is constantly moving and time stops for no one. You have to continue to move forward and trust your process.
7. Preparation Alleviates Pressure
The other part of me hitting a wall at mile 22 is that I missed 3 weeks of long runs on my training plan. I ended up paying for it. One of the best ways to lower pressure when it's time to perform or face an obstacle is to be prepared. The reason why people like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Tom Brady, Michael Jordan, Floyd Mayweather, Bill Belichick, and Nick Saban have been so dominant is not because they possess such superhuman quality (obviously LeBron, MJ, and Kobe have natural physical ability) it’s because they prepare obsessively. It’s one thing to do something great once and taste success, but it’s another thing to sustain success over years and that’s what all these guys have in common.
The last lesson is finishing what you start. Now this may sound simple, but how many people actually finish what they start especially when it comes to something fitness related. You promised you were going to lose 30 pounds this year or start taking walks everyday, but after a week it started getting hard so you self-negotiated your way out of it. When I started cramping and my body started to shut down, my mind constantly told me to quit and give up especially since I wasn’t going to reach the goal time I set for myself. I’m a firm believer that how you do something under pressure is who you truly are as a person. So if you give up when things get hard when it comes to your health or playing a sport, you’ll most likely give up in other areas of your life when they don’t go your way. Most people believe that when things get tough that they’ll simply rise to the occasion, I’ve learned you revert back to your training. If you train yourself to push past comfort and constantly challenge yourself that’s how you’ll show up when the unexpected obstacles come your way. FINISH STRONG!
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