Last weekend had the half marathon for our area starting from the park across the road from my home. Seeing those runners brought back to mind my experiences in running marathons and, in particular, the life lessons I learned along the way.
The goal of most first-time racers is typically just to finish! They may have a rough goal of the time they would like to complete the race within but, if being honest, most really just want to cross that finish line. They have likely invested in their training schedule; worked on their pacing and stride; learned about what will fuel them throughout the race. Often the most overlooked element though is an understanding of how quickly and easily they can get caught up in the hype and the moment of the race and end up running someone else's race.
That starting gun goes off, the crowd surges forward and they get caught up in the energy and excitement of everyone else around them. Before you know it, they are starting off too fast, running at a pace that quickly leaves them exhausted and, ultimately, without enough energy left to finish. One of the biggest causes of not finishing is getting caught up in running a race other than your own.
I was lucky enough, before my first marathon, to have someone emphasize to me the need to know and understand your race intimately. To know the feel, rhythm and beat of your stride so that you don’t get pulled off of it by others around you. This takes requires you to build that element into your training plan, to gain the clarity you need about yourself to be able to focus and stick to it on race day.
I don’t run marathons anymore but I do still apply the lessons of the race every day. In our work and personal lives, we can become easily distracted by the noise of those around us. There is never any shortage of people that are willing and eager to tell us what we ‘must’ do, what we ‘should’ do. I’m not saying don’t listen, but it is necessary to weigh these suggestions against your own plan. If it fits and it helps… keep it. If it pulls you off course… ditch it. Unless there is a definite strategic reason for doing otherwise, stay the course and run your own race.
Don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the feeling of ‘momentum’. Momentum alone can be deceptive. You are busy, you are accomplishing things, but it they aren’t activities that move you forward in the direction you’ve set for yourself then, when it’s all over, you just might find that you’ve crossed the finish line of a race you never intended to run and ended up somewhere you never really wanted to go.
• Decide consciously what race you want and choose to run.
• Do what you need to prepare and train yourself for that race.
• Take action to move you forward. If you’re running a race of your choosing, any action that moves you forward, even small steps, gets you closer to that finish line.
Remember this also. Your race is run by you. There is no first, second or third place… there is just finishing. There is you and that finish line.
Clarity of purpose, Focus of Intent… now… GO!