I thought I would share with you 8 lessons that marathon training has taught me about achieving goals. Oh, and I believe these 8 steps work for ANY goal.
1. Dream Big
“No dream too big, no dreamer too small”
When I was a kid my Dad ran in a local half-marathon and from that day onward I always held a dream of following in his footsteps and being a distance runner.
The problem was that I was never particularly sporty. In fact, at school I was always one of the last to get picked for sports.
That didn’t stop me dreaming, and once I got my health back through juicing and lifestyle changes I eventually took the next step…
2. Commit to Your Dreams
The only thing in life where you don’t want to give 100% is when donating blood.
If you want to achieve big things in life then you not only need to have big dreams, you also have to be completely committed to them.
I am a big fan of putting commitment in writing and making public declarations. This is so easy to do thanks to social media, so why not share your plans with friends and family on Facebook and Twitter, or even start a blog or Facebook page for people to follow your progress.
3. Make a Clear, Strong Plan
When training for my first marathon I started by reading the No Meat Athlete Marathon Roadmap and adapting the included training plan to fit with my weekly schedule. I made a clear plan with the daily activities mapped out and put the plan on the wall in my kitchen so that I would be reminded of the actions I needed to take in order to achieve my goal.
For almost any activity there are many resource you can use when preparing your plan, including books, videos and blogs. Don’t be afraid to adapt a plan to fit with the other demands on your time, but once you have your plan on paper commit to each activity.
4. Find Your Motivation
To make sure you stick to your plan it is important you are clear with yourself about the reasons you must achieve your goal.
When I was training for my first marathon will power didn’t get me out of bed on cold winter mornings to complete 3 hour training runs. My commitment to support the Cystic Fibrosis Trust did. The example I was setting for my children got me out of bed too.
The more reasons you have to make it so that failure is not an option, the more likely you will achieve your goals. For me, being a strong role model for my kids is one of the biggest motivations in everything I do.
5. You Have More In You Than You Imagine
You have probably heard of distance runners ‘hitting the wall’. There have been numerous times on long runs when I’ve thought about simply giving up and heading home, but by continuing and completing each training run I know I become stronger and more capable of achieving my goals.
Have I ever quit a training run? Yes I have. Twice in the 2 years that I’ve been running, but the lesson those 2 failed training runs gave me was an even greater determination to keep going, avoid the temptation to quit and to run straight through the wall.
6. Life is Full of Ups and Downs
My marathon training includes regular hill running, something I find it to be a great metaphor for life. It can often be a struggle to get to the top, but the feeling of success is worth the effort. Oh, and the easy parts (like running on flat surfaces or picking up speed downhill) are a great time to prepare yourself for your next climb.
7. Compete Less and Enjoy The Moment
When running in races I always feeling incredibly grateful for the support from other runners and spectators.
There are a small number of elite runners who are focused on competing and winning the race, but from my experience everybody else seems to understand a really important principle: there is room at the finish line for everyone.
By enjoying the moment, encouraging and supporting each other, distance runners demonstrate an amazing quality where every runner wants every other runner to succeed. For many runners the positivity this gives can be the difference between a medal and a DNF (did not finish).
Find people who share your dreams, support each other and enjoy the journey.
8. Finishing Requires Consistent Effort
To train for a marathon you need to be consistent with your training. You cannot skip weeks of your training plan and then try to cram the miles into the last few days. I believe this principle applies to all of our dreams and goals.
If you want something badly enough you do not quit. If something isn’t working you find another approach, but you keep going. Success is an accumulation of consistent effort.
When I was around twelve years old I heard a saying that has stuck with me ever since: “the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.” It has become a bit of a mantra for me that has helped me achieve so many of my goals in life.
Remember to dream big, make a plan and be consistent. I look forward to hearing what you achieve.
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