One Step At A Time
26.2 miles. In 2010, that sounded like an impossible distance to run for me. Don’t get me wrong, I was in pretty good shape and teaching group fitness classes had helped my fitness level improve, but I was not (am not) a born runner. I’m not a natural runner, one of those people who seem to just gracefully float along when they run. Running for an entire 26.2 miles in one week was beyond me, much less in one day.
Perhaps it’s a lack of intelligence but I’ve never let the size of a goal stop me from setting it. I may not have been born a natural runner but I was given a healthy dose of resilience and tenacity. Some would even call it stubborn. When I set my sights on that 26.2 miles, I was convinced that it was more a mental effort than a physical one.
I was half right.
I realized quickly that all the determination in the world would only get me part of the way. I still had to have the physical endurance as well as the mental toughness. I realized I needed a coach. I couldn’t get there by myself. If you look at almost every very successful person, professional athlete, or high achiever, one thing they have in common is the fact that they have help to get there. (Serena Williams has three listed on her website.) There is a coach or mentor in their life that helps them along the way by identifying the roadblocks and helping them overcome them. I was no different and quickly realized I needed a running coach. Five months before my marathon I found one. Life was already full. I was working full time 50 hour weeks at the hospital, a part time job teaching group fitness, and going to school for my MBA. Like most other women I know, I also had the job of keeping house and those responsibilities too. But, regardless of how full I thought my life was, I knew that to get better, I had to work harder. I had to fit in the time for a running coach if I wanted to reach my goal.
Somehow I found the time. It was a privilege to work with Lesley and she taught me as much about myself as she did about running. With her support, I realized I could run – much faster than I thought! She showed me what was possible and helped me realize my self-limiting beliefs were just that – self limiting. That’s one reason I have such a passion for coaching others and helping them reach their own goals, because I have seen the powerful results that having a coach can bring. (Lesley is in Canada now and considering the next steps in her own journey.) The weeks and months I spent working with a coach challenged me in many ways, stretched me beyond my limiting beliefs and suddenly, I realized I was a runner after all – I simply had to stop telling myself and everyone else that I wasn’t.
I will not pretend that the marathon was easy. No goal that is worth setting and reaching is ever easy. Whether it’s a professional goal like a new career path, a promotion or finishing a degree, or a personal goal like weight loss, a better relationship, or your own marathon, the triumph is greatest when the struggle is hard. On that chilly morning in March, 2011 I got dressed while it was still dark and fought off the urge to quit even before I started because then I wouldn’t face the fear of failure. Almost everyone I knew was cheering me on, and the pressure I felt to finish the race was intense. Because I had so publicly declared my goal and couldn’t quit in the face of fear.
At mile 3 I developed shin splints.
At mile 7 it started raining.
At mile 13, more than two hours into the race, I realized I was not quite halfway and I wasn’t having fun anymore.
At mile 16 I was swallowing aspirin to try to offset pain in my legs.
At mile 18 I decided not to quit.
At mile 19 I decided again not to quit.
At mile 21 I decided even if I had to walk the entire rest of the way, I wasn’t going to quit.
At mile 23 I wanted to cry.
At mile 24 I did cry.
At mile 26 I picked up my feet for one last push and ran the last quarter of a mile across the finish line. I had set out five hours and nine minutes earlier and it wasn’t pretty, glamorous or fast, but I did it – one step at a time. The picture says it all, shoulders slumped, clearly in pain but a smile worth a million dollars. Achievement is something that no one can give you. You can’t buy it. You can’t take a prescription for it. You can’t find it at Wal-mart. The feeling of setting a goal that is bigger than you are and reaching it is incredible – not because of the goal itself, but because of what it represents. It represents the hard work to get there. The mental discipline of giving yourself a direction and following through with it. The consistent effort, time and energy to work towards that goal and even when you want to give up, you don’t. Like anyone, I didn’t get there alone and couldn’t have done it without my coach to help me see what was possible, what I needed to correct and improve on, what goals I could set each week, and how to get there.
What goals do you want to set in your life? How will you get there? Who will help you? If you are stuck and are ready to move forward, click here for more information on my coaching programs.