13 lessons I learned from training for a half marathon

Last December, I decided that I was going to run a half marathon. I had never run more than 4 miles and the idea of running 13 miles was intimidating to say the least. I signed up for a half marathon in May and I began my training. It was the hardest thing I ever did physically. But I did it! In fact, I completed the race in 2 hours and 15 minutes which is excellent for a first time runner. I’ve never been so proud of myself for accomplishing something like this. I ran 13 miles! Holy crap!

When I thought about all the things I had to do to be successful, I realized I learned way more than just learning how to run a half marathon. I learned critical life skills that can be applied to all areas of my life to help be reach my goals for this year.

Here are the 13 life lessons I learned while training for a half marathon…

1. Slow down

When I started getting stronger in my training, I found myself pushing myself to go faster to finish my long runs sooner. This only lead to injury and burn out. In life, I’ve learned to stop racing to get from point A to point B and to stop being so focused on finding the fastest path or stressing about how long the journey is taking me. When I finally slowed down, I learned that the journey can be far more enjoyable than the destination.

2. Power through

There were days when I didn’t want to run. The idea literally pained me. This is a defining moment. When you hear those voices and simply say “Thanks, but I’m going to do this anyway.” When you power through your mind convincing you otherwise is when you will see self transformation.

More: Quitting my workout was the healthiest decision I ever made

3. Expect pain

If you think you’re going to be able to train for any sport and not incur injury then you’re fooling yourself. Running doesn’t always feel good. There will be pain. Just like assuming you will go through life without hiccups and failure is false. The sooner you accept that a low is part of life, the easier it is to power through, because after a low there is always a high.

4. Be ruthlessly consistent

The greatest success I’ve had in any part of my life is when I’ve stuck to consistent behavior. This may be the one bullet in this list that is the hardest to stick to for me. I have to keep reminding myself of my success to keep going with consistent habits. When I trained for my half, I ran every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Without fail. I never missed a day. When I set the same sort of rules for my business or eating habits, I see success. Positive habits are powerful.

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5. Set small goals

It feels good to succeed. I set myself very small, realistic goals that I could celebrate when I achieved them. Just adding a half mile to my route was worth a celebration. When setting goals for myself personally, it find that I’m much more likely to reach them when I have small goals to meet along the way. I need to feel success sooner.

6. Upgrade your environments

This is one that was huge for me. I realized I couldn’t run in my old running shoes and I was ill equipped for the colder weather to run outdoors. I invested in excellent running shoes and high performing running gear. I also downloaded personal development webinars and audios for my long runs. It’s difficult to be successful if your environment isn’t set up for success.

7. Don’t stop

A body in motion stays in motion. Don’t stop. Slow down. Change your pace. But do not stop. It takes ten times more energy to start back up after quitting. You’ll make mistakes. You’ll break your habits. But don’t stop. Course correct and keep working at it. Success only comes to those that don’t quit.

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8. Celebrate ALL achievements

I think this is one thing that so many of us don’t do for ourselves. We meet a small goal or milestone and instead of celebrating we criticize ourselves. I caught myself saying… great job on running 5 miles, but you need to be able to run 13. What I really needed was to celebrate my victories. Small or big. They all deserve to be celebrated. Otherwise, what’s your motivation to keep achieving goals?

9. Focus on accomplishments, not failures

Our brains our so good at focusing on the negative. When I was able to run 7 miles, I caught myself focusing on how sore I was, how tired I was, that I wasn’t having fun. None of this thinking served me well. In life, pay attention to how many times you focus on the negative. This includes scolding yourself, gossiping, complaining, being disappointed. Ask yourself, what is good right now?

10. Understand disappointment

It’s OK to be disappointed but I had to learn why I felt this way. Disappointment comes from not meeting an expectation. I expected to run 10 miles and I didn’t. I expected to run a 7 minute mile and I couldn’t. Try to look at the result differently. It is what it is. There’s no point in being disappointed when you have no control over a different outcome. It simply is what it is. And that is perfect.

11. Good days and bad days

Some runs felt fantastic! I was on a high. Other runs, I barely made it. Some days will be amazing and other days… meh. I think the real lesson for me was to do what I said I was going to do despite the lows. Power through.

12. Take care of yourself

When I was running, I neglected to take the time to take care of my body. Stretching, massage and rest. This caused a serious hamstring injury that took a couple months to ease. I learned to take care of myself first. Because if I don’t take care of myself, how in the world can I take care of the things and people that need you?

More: Running marathons helped me get over the stigma of being a fat kid

13. Have FUN

If I’m not having fun, then I’m unlikely to do it. Make every step as enjoyable and fun as possible. I played music and took scenic routes. If cleaning out the garage is a goal, make it fun. Pump music. Get friends to help. The task isn’t always going to be your favorite but you can still make the best of it.

Originally posted on BlogHer. http://www.blogher.com/13-life-lessons-i-learned-training-half-marathon

Jen Thoden is an online color stylist, entrepreneur, runner & mother-of-the-year (not) dedicated to helping women (re)discover their unique self and inspire them to take back their their power in fun and creative ways. She is the founder of Your Color Style™, a proprietary online color system that makes it easy for women to discover their best colors and to learn how to style themselves in ways that make them feel amazing.

“Wear what you love. Love what you wear.”



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