Many of us have had the fleeting thought as we see the Olympic marathon runners cross the finish line, that running a marathon is on our bucket list! Just as quickly we dismiss the idea that we could never do it. However, this dream is definitely achievable if you are willing to make the commitment.
Okay, you may not want to run a marathon but there may be something you really want to achieve. I hope my story and the suggestions made will encourage you to go for whatever you want.
I am now 56 years old and up until 5 years ago my fitness regime was erratic. I started running 6 years ago and had competed in my first half marathon when I turned 50. If you had said in the beginning that I would be able to run I would have laughed at the idea. I was working in an office with 5 women all much younger than me. The decision was made to run in a 10km fun run and at that time I couldn’t even run from one lamp post to the next.
Reluctantly I purchased some running shoes and donned the t-shirt and shorts and joined them for runs (or should I say a fast walk) after work a couple of times a week.
At first, I struggled as I was not fit. Running is defi- nitely a mind game that you play and I certainly didn’t want to play this game. However, I stuck at it and the short jogs became longer each week until I could run a distance without requiring paramedic assistance!
We achieved the first goal of starting and then con- tinued until we all completed the 10km Fun Run. Receiving the finishers’ medal was a great feeling even though every finisher received one.
I must have been delirious at the time, however, as I suggested to the girls that we aim for a half mara- thon and although they agreed that my mental state was not sound at the time, we set the goal for the following year. I would run a half marathon before I turned 50!
Once that goal was achieved (and of course another finishers’ medal to prove it), I thought I had achieved it all. But there was a voice that popped up every now and then asking why I didn’t try to achieve the final goal of a marathon.
I had joined a gym with my husband in September 2011. He joined for health reasons and it made it easier to go with someone else as you are more likely to stick with it because you don’t want to let the other person down.We love travelling and wanted to be healthy and fit to enjoy life to the full and the many wonders that the world has to offer.
During a Saturday morning social run with my friends in early 2012, I blurted out that I was going to run a marathon – 42.2kms! Well, that was it, I had spoken the words out loud to others and so my pride kicked in to ensure that I at least gave it a shot. My goal was to complete the marathon before my 55th birthday later that year. My husband was very supportive and encouraged me to ‘go for it’ and what was the worst that could happen?
And so began the many months of training and ed- ucation. Having never run a marathon before I re- searched training programs from the internet and found one that would be suitable.
I needed to educate myself on what foods to eat to provide me with enough energy during the training runs and also the marathon itself. To be totally fit you need to exercise and watch what you eat in or- der for your body to perform at its optimum level. Again, my husband was great and made sure I had everything I needed to keep up the energy levels.
Keeping focused and committed to my goal was im- portant and that meant not missing any training ses- sions. The gym was great as I had to fit in training sessions around work and home, sometimes going to the gym at 4:30am!! With the gym being open
24/7 I would always make a training session even if I couldn’t run outside. Improving core strength was important so I made sure that I did some gym work revolving around that. Exercises like the plank, tummy crunches, squats and light weights all helped to improve my overall strength in addition to the running.
It wasn’t easy to leave a nice warm bed on cold, dark mornings but it is so worth it in the end when you achieve your goal.
I managed to convince my friend who had been training me to enter the run and also a colleague from work. They were both just as nervous as I but were so elated when they had achieved the goal. It made my day when they both said that if it wasn’t for me they would not have done it. That was a special feeling for me to know I had inspired others.
The months flew by and suddenly the day had ar- rived. I felt good because I had put the work in. I felt relaxed because let’s face it I wasn’t going to be leading the pack so was content to run my own race. I achieved the time I wanted and ran the whole
42km. The feeling of achievement coming over that finish line is fantastic and now I had the finishers’ medal to prove it!!! Two weeks later I celebrated my
Since then I have completed bootcamp 3 mornings a week and had two wonderful overseas holidays. I have now retired from full time work but haven’t re- tired from life! I try to surround myself with posi- tive people who can inspire me.
As I mentioned earlier, running a marathon may not be your thing but any goal you want to achieve has the same components to running a marathon.
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Commit – Think about what you want to achieve and commit to that. Don’t just commit mentally but commit publicly. Share with your partner a few close friends what you want to achieve and you will be surprised at the support you receive. Remember though only you can achieve your goal – no-one can do it for you. Write your goal down and put it ina prominent place that you will see every day. This will be your mantra.
Set up a plan of action – it is one thing to say ‘yes I want to achieve this’ but totally another thing to do it. It won’t happen overnight and you need to have a plan of action to keep you on track. Write down the plan and set mini goals along the way. This way you can tick off the sub goals and the more ticks show the closer you are to achieving your ultimate goal.
Educate yourself – research the internet, talk to others have achieved what you want.
Start – once you committed and you have set your plan of action, START! ‘Walk the talk’ as they say and don’t procrastinate. You will feel great once you have taken that first step towards your goal.
Mind games – If the goal is important it may not be easy all the time and it does require effort on your part. But if you feel it is worth it then you can do it! Of course you will have days when you fall off track or the voice in your head is telling you that it is too hard. Don’t beat yourself up about it just get back on track as soon as you can. Don’t forget your support network either if you need extra encouragement. It is surprising how strong we can be mentally if we really want to achieve what we are working towards.
Motivation – It is not always easy to keep motivated however there are many tools you can utilise to keep that motivation going. Set up to receive daily motivational quotes through social media. Join a group of like-minded people. Reward yourself along the way you have achieved a milestone in the journey to your goal.
Keep the eye on the prize – Sometimes you need to be a little selfish to achieve your goal. Ask any athlete or successful business person and they will tell you that total commitment is required for success. This is where you need the support of your partner, family and friends. Once they realise you are serious they will be happy to support you and understand that you need to focus on the end goal.
Remember, You can do anything if you set your mind to it. Just believe in yourself and keep focused on your goal and you will achieve it
Be happy and healthy!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Sue Loncaric – firstname.lastname@example.org