Marathon Finish Line
I compare crossing a marathon finish line to living a life that stays on course, fulfilling an intentional purpose and goal. It entails training in small increments, steady focused work and the awareness of boundaries and limits.
Within sports, most running marathon training plans range from twelve to twenty weeks. It is a large commitment of time, energy and resources to be able to successfully run the twenty-six miles.
Studies have shown that our bodies are primed for running. There are definite health benefits. Running can ease depression and anxiety, reduce risk of heart disease, diabetes and even obesity. But there are drawbacks. It can also bring muscle aches, blisters and injury. A 26.2 mile marathon race is no simple run and can take a toll mentally and physically. We will talk about getting to the marathon finish line in both the race of life and business successfully and intentionally, realizing there are obstacles along the course.
Hitting the Wall
Do you ever feel like you’ve hit the wall in your business? Like you’ve done everything you can do and still nothing is happening? You’re tired and discouraged, wondering what it will take to finish well. In fact, maybe you should just quit or start over in another area. If you are honest, you have probably faced self-talk parallel to those thoughts.
Anyone who has run a marathon, including Olympic runners, know the last five to six miles are almost always the most difficult as they hit the wall. Your body’s stored carbohydrates are drained, your legs and arms feel heavy as logs and your brain says to just quit. The secret, as many experienced runners know, is to prepare enough so you don’t hit the wall.
Taking on the mindset of training for a marathon or dividing projects into small increments all the way to the finish line is extremely valuable. In the book Tiny Habits, BJ Fogg speaks of how adding one small change has the power to totally change an outcome, for the better. Those small increments work extremely well when integrated within physical as well as mental training.
Training for the Race
Life’s race is often compared to a marathon. None of us know how many years we have, but most live as though there are an unlimited number of years to live, work and play. Something not often talked about are those last miles of a marathon, last years of life or last days of a business. I also compare this with the last push of getting a project completely done or pushing it out the door.
Molly Seidel ran her third 26.2 mile race at the age of twenty-seven and what she lacked in experience, she made up for in determination. She did a couple things that helped push her up as a top contender to finally win the Bronze in the Olympics Women’s Marathon. First of all, she attached herself to the lead pack of two dozen runners in eighty-degree Fahrenheit heat with the addition of as much humidity in Tokyo.
Molly also used the delay of the Olympic games to her benefit. Her additional training during that delay included adding several half marathons to her resumé, which were solid smaller steps to achieve her goal. On Olympic race day she, along with other medalists, repeatedly doused herself with water bottles and shoved bags of ice down her singlet to stay cool. She also often veered away from the lead pack to run in shadier parts of the three-lap course. Those were small steps that helped, for when others dropped out due to the heat, she kept running to ultimately win.
Molly also used the delay of the Olympic games to her benefit. Her additional training during that delay included adding several half marathons to her resumé, which were solid smaller steps to achieve her goal. On Olympic race day she, along with other medalists, repeatedly doused herself with water bottles and shoved bags of ice down her singlet to stay cool. She also often veered away from the lead pack to run in shadier parts of the three-lap course. Those were small steps that helped, for when others dropped out due to the heat, she kept running to ultimately win. Download free Goals Gameboard.
Slow, Easy Running
Half of Molly’s training volume was dedicated to slow, easy running. Coach Paddy Birch says, Marathoners actually do a lot of their training as easy runs…between 60 and 70 minutes. The purpose of the easy run is to recover. Without proper recovery, runner’s workouts will suffer. The goal of the recovery is to feel better when you finish.
This is an important principle for both professional and personal lives, especially for those with Type A, driven personalities. It may feel like you’ll lose momentum, business or even opportunity by slowing down, but the opposite can be true. With private music students who studied with me through the years, after taking a break, some come back with a freshness and confidence that was not previously apparent. Not all areas of their training moved ahead, but certain areas that can’t easily be taught improved.
If you take even a twenty-minute break to walk outside, take notice of your refreshment and energy in getting back to a project. Jason Feifer of Entrepreneur Magazine found that he could take breaks in his day riding his bike and not lose momentum when moving his family to Denver during COVID. With many jobs, breaks are specified and required. However, entrepreneurs and those in business for themselves need to plan these breaks in their day. It’s not easy with self-imposed deadlines, engagements to fulfill and projects to complete.
We normally think of those who are in their later years as having already slowed down. Some may have done this physically and even mentally, but there are also those I know, like the Pink Lady, a young 89, who have more energy producing a T.V. show than many who are decades younger. Whatever camp you plan to be in, prepare and train in anticipation of those years.
Finishing a recording project can feel like a marathon. Before all went mostly digital, there was artwork to create for CD covers and for those who remember way back when, covers for cassette tapes. Planning strategically in advance is absolutely necessary for a successful promotion, which has growing in importance. With careful planning, the process of most any product won’t be an overwhelming obstacle that keeps you from finishing.Preparation and release of a product readily applies to planning ahead for life’s later days and you don’t have to be overwhelmed or discouraged thinking about it. If you can visualize crossing a marathon finish line, that may help you accept its reality without dread or fear. To do so
successfully, you need to focus on what’s most important in life’s race.
What is Most Important?
For Seidel’s Olympic race, she still ran hard with the leaders of the pack during the race but found shade that helped her regulate her body temperature. She had prepared well, knowing her body’s needs. We can assume that she strategically went over the course and plotted and planned where spots of shade may lie.
You may have always had the energy to run hard. Or maybe you now feel the need train and run harder in order to accomplish your goals. But think of your end game. What will happen to your business when you are no longer able to run it? What will happen to your belongings? What will happen to all your projects?
I can tell you what will happen to some of those belongings. You can find an estate sale in most every neighborhood block full of treasures no longer needed or wanted. Our kids will have no use for the extra CD’s that are stored in my closet. And they’ll probably laugh when finding cassette tapes. (which I haven’t had the heart to throw out!) As you prepare for your marathon finish line, give of yourself and your work to others while you are still able. Then enjoy the relationships with those around you and make sure you are as ready as possible for the time you cross your final finish line with a race well-run.
Crossing a marathon finish line is like living a life that stays on course.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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