Why I’m Celebrating My Marathon Success BEFORE Race Day

October 04, 2016

This week’s Body Love Tip came to me as I began celebrating my marathon achievement, 5 days before the actual race date:

Identify the “start line” that means success to YOU

(pictured below: me, two years ago, finishing my first half-marathon)half-marathon-finish-line-pic

Why the “start line”? Why not the finish line?

What I’ve learned over the past 6 months since I registered for my first marathon ever (the upcoming beautiful waterfront marathon in Victoria, BC) is that the real accomplishment for me – regardless of the race outcome – is that (through my training) I’ve developed the BELIEF that I can actually do it.

Even though this is something that I’ve wanted to do for at least 15 years, I’ve realized that wanting to do something is very different than believing I can do it.

So today, my friends, is the day that I reached my personal start line. Because today is the day that I actually acknowledged to myself that I BELIEVE I CAN complete a full marathon – this one, and/or any other in the future.

And as this all occurred to me this week, I see that training to run a marathon is actually a great metaphor for achieving any goal in life.

What’s wrong with “starting” without training

The problem that keeps most people from keeping their commitment to their goals – especially with it comes to their health/weight – is that they usually rush to the start line without training – without first building their belief, self-awareness, and their will to follow through.

The New Year’s Resolution comes to mind as the most popular “marathon” on the planet – it’s the start line that millions of people rush to each year, which is typically at a time when they’re most out of shape, most stressed out, and most run-down. Yet despite this, they decide to “start a marathon” without training (i.e. proper preparation, education and practice) – which not only leaves them unprepared physically, mentally and emotionally, but it can also cause more damage than they realize –  to their self-esteem, self-confidence and self-belief – when they inevitably “hit the wall” and can’t follow through to the finish line.

Well I can say with 100% certainty that, no matter how “in shape” I was at the start of my marathon training, I could never have completed a 42km race without the work I’ve put into the last 6 months – at least not without pain or injury or physical exhaustion/depletion.  And I think it’s safe to say that this would be the case for most people – for this, or any other big goal. This is why, statistically only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually achieve them.

It’s so important to acknowledge that ANY GOAL worth achieving requires training!

It’s also important to acknowledge that the “finish line” is nothing but a milestone. If we’re working towards a goal that we REALLY want, the finish line is never really the end, because once we achieve that goal – usually even before we achieve it – we’ve usually got another, bigger one in mind. We’ve stretched ourselves and we’ve expanded what’s possible. And that growth has come through training.

You know you’ve really reached the real start line, when you’ve trained enough that you can’t go back to your old mindset or state of health/fitness.

On a totally related and timely note: my daughter Eve is also learning this perspective on the “start line”, as she’s begun to take Karate this fall. In only 3 short weeks of classes, she’s already learned that getting to her black belt is not in fact the finish line. It’s the start  line in karate. Moving through and graduating each belt level is the training to get there; and crossing finish line is achieving mastery. Great lessons for our kids to learn too!

When I write this out, it seems so obvious. It makes so much sense to me. Yet, for so many years, I continued to try new diets and fitness programs to reach a physical goal, without first preparing my mind and body (i.e. training) for achieving the permanent change I was looking for. And I see so many people – women especially – doing the same thing, which is why I wanted to share with you what I’ve gained from my marathon training – without which, I wouldn’t be able to show up at the race start line this coming Sunday morning.

Here are the top 3 reasons I’m celebrating my first Marathon accomplishment BEFORE race day:

1) I’ve built my belief that I can actually do it.

Gradually increasing my distances every week over the course of 6 months, has not only stretched my body’s physical ability (strength, endurance), but it has also stretched my MIND. In the beginning, when I first wrote out my training program, 32km to me seemed like an almost impossible challenge – never mind a full marathon (42km) distance! But I trusted in the training process, and followed it week by week, and just tried to avoid looking too far ahead.

When I first started out in April, the longest distance I was running was 10km (and the longest I’d ever run in my life was 21km, a half-marathon – pictured above). After the first few weeks, that training distance quickly increased to 16km – which felt super challenging at the time. It required a lot of my body and I was totally energy-zapped.

This past weekend, I ran 16km with ease. After increasing my distances up to 29km and 32km over the course of my training, going back to a 16km distance to start my “tapering week” was a piece of cake! My body handled it well because it had adapted to distances much longer than this. And so had my mind.

Notice that in training, I haven’t run the full marathon distance – I don’t actually have the “proof” that I can do it. But I do have the belief.

2) I’ve increased my self-awareness.

Everything from the right stride, pace, and fuel that works best with my body was part of the learning process over the course of my training. Even determining the right clothes to wear to keep me at a comfortable running temperature, was important to learn for my optimal performance.

With this acquired self-knowledge, I know I can show up confidently on race day, having never actually run a 42km distance, and know how to get to the finish line in a way that works for my body.  (BTW – listening to our bodies, no matter what it’s for, is a beautifully transferable and highly-beneficial skill!)

3) I’ve strengthened my willpower “muscle”.

This training has shown me what I’m capable of doing (for example, running in ANY weather, or time of day) as well as what I’m capable of giving up (i.e. wine, late nights, or anything that would render me sluggish, tired or dehydrated) in order to achieve a goal that I want badly enough.

My resolve to do this started with a very strong motivation, which made keeping my commitments even more important: my big WHY was to prove to myself that I AM an athlete after all – in effect, overcoming a long-standing limiting belief of “I’m not, and never have been, athletic”. I’ve also wanted to cross running a marathon off my bucket list for a very long time!

Willpower is just a muscle that gets strengthened each time we make a choice that supports our goals. So no matter what kind of goal we’re after – physical, financial, business, etc – if we strengthen it in ANY area, it can help us in ALL areas. It’s no coincidence that my will to run a marathon this year has also strengthened my will to finish writing my first book (almost complete – and coming soon!).

So if YOU have a goal that you haven’t yet achieved, I encourage you to start identifying what YOUR start line would look like. What would it look/feel like to BELIEVE that you can achieve your goal, and what training do you need to start investing in right now so you can get there?

Believing you can do it is your start line.  Training is how you get there.

I’m one of 1350 people registered to run the marathon this weekend, and I’m guessing that each marathoner who shows up on race day will likely have also experienced these 3 benefits on some level. Marathon training is nothing more than a self-improvement strategy – made up of expert advice/coaching, self-care, tuning into our bodies, doing the required work, and making choices that support (not sabotage) our success – just like training for any other goal.

You just have to decide WHAT it is you really want, WHY you really want it (sometimes the really motivating finish line isn’t as obvious as we think!), and then from that space, invest in a “training program” that best suits you, so that you build your belief that you CAN have it.

Once you get to the start line, there’s no turning back. And that’s a good thing 🙂

So, what “start line” will YOU begin training for today? Leave a comment below so we can cheer you on!

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