When you consider your life as a whole, it is bound to be full of ups and downs and in a lot of ways that is the essence of life. In a lifetime where you haven’t failed at all is one where you haven’t tried anything new at all. That is something alarming. Anytime you think of taking a risk; it is given that there is a solid chance of failure at the end. But you still got to do it, not just for the sake of experiencing things but for the need to get ahead. Learning is achieved through failures and downfalls. The will to stand back up and keep going at it is what defines your character.
The Back Story
Completing a full-length marathon has always been a pipedream for me, and at a certain point of time, I decided I was going materialize and worked towards realizing it. I started working towards the ultimate goal and completed a half marathon in October 2016. The success probably got to me as I decided on an impulse to go for a full marathon within just two months. The glory was perhaps what I was eyeing, and I failed to see the bigger picture – the training and back-end work one has to put up before being confident about my readiness to run. Needless to say, I wasn’t able to complete it that year.
Fast forward a year – in 2017 I was now determined to overcome all my shortcomings from the previous year. But what I completely overlooked was one of the most essential elements – Discipline! Training for a marathon requires a lot of strength training and conditioning, almost as much if not more than the actual run. I started training quite late and then haphazardly. One important thing to remember when you are training for anything the way is to go step by step. You run 10 miles on one day; then you cannot possibly expect to do 20 miles next week. It is always a gradual process, requiring daily efforts. The old tale of a hare and tortoise tells us to win races by being slow and steady, but I took the rabbit’s way. I went in it hard and fast and ended up hurting my knee just a few shy of the race day. The wait extended by a year!
“Why do we fall? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.” -Batman Begins (2005)
The Current Scenario
The third time around and that is this year; I had learned a lot from the previous debacles. I was now determined to go beyond, cross all the obstacles and reach the destination. It was now time to take up the gauntlet and knock it of the park. This time, the training began much earlier, as planned. I went in one step at a time, progressing towards my aim one day at a time. The training gradually starts growing on you till one day it’s like an addiction. All you have to do is stay consistent, be persistent and see the progress. Every day, you have to work a little harder to go an extra minute. You can achieve that, and you will make progress for sure.
How to Stay Motivated and Prepared
* Building a Peer Group –
Around this time, building a peer group of like-minded runners is very helpful. These peers are not only to push when you think you cannot go any further, but also to keep you motivated enough till and during the race day. Healthy competition is necessary to inch closer and closer to your goal.
* Set Clear Goals –
Another thing that has to be taken care of is to have a clear goal in your mind, a goal that has to be specific and achievable too. There is a thin line between achievable and going too easy. Going easy will just make you lose all your tempo, but a challenge tough to achieve but achievable nonetheless is something worth going the distance for.
* Social Pressure Helps –
Another thing that helped was social pressure. This year, I made a public announcement that I’ll be completing the upcoming full-length marathon. The heat of the moment announcement but it somehow build enough social pressure around me. Social pressure that helped me to keep going and kept me from quitting midway. I had to prove myself and show the world!
The Day of Showdown
After tireless hours of training, the day came. The day I was going to prove myself.
The nervousness was evident in the air on the day of the run. Thousands just like me had come there to run. Some were there to prove a point, others just for the fun of it while a certain section was made up of people who ran as a habit and didn’t want to know otherwise. The race began, and I consciously controlled my nerves. In my excitement, I would have gone too fast at first and then would exhaust myself at the 20th mile or so. I was well aware that this was the rubber match for me and the marathon. This time, I was determined to conquer!
During the run, you have to have some sort of motivation. There are a lot of ways to do that – music, talking to your peers, self- talk, etc. Self-talk is very necessary for such situations. Very often, our brain gives up way before our body actually has to. This result is human beings giving up way before their capacity. Our body is capable of going amazing lengths and staying unaffected; we are just scared to test it. Self-talk helps you tune out everyone else and focus on your own physical being.
“It ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” -Rocky Balboa (2006)
I finished the race my third time. Isn’t it said that third time’s the charm? I sure do agree with it now. The satisfaction of finally finishing it was a bit overwhelming, to be honest. When you finally accomplish a task, there is this feeling of completion and the knowledge that you don’t have to work towards achieving it again from tomorrow. However, you become more than determined to get even better the next time around.
While running, you realize that once you are going at your absolute peak, the outcome is not going to affect you at all. Whether you finish or not, you start enjoying the moment. And at the moment, results and outcomes hardly matter. The only thing that matters is having fun, giving your absolute best and enjoying the process. For the final eventuality may last forever, but the journey is always the one that stays etched in memories.