"Everything you ever wanted to know about yourself you can learn in 26.2 miles" - Lori Culnane.
I have always had a passion for running, partly thanks to my dad, something that I am forever grateful for. I remember my sister and I joining him on his weekly time trials and lining up for the 2km route back in the day. We thought we were running machines, because 2km is 2km too far when you are in High School. We were so convinced that we had clocked up seriously miles, that we always ensured we could have a burger and chips pre our time trial run, because we needed the energy. We laugh hard at that now. Apparently, carbo loading was some “fancy word” runners threw around and well, we wanted to be runners.
My dad never pushed me into running, I think it’s something I just naturally gravitated toward - partly because we grew up watching him, but partly because there is a competitive nature inside of me. I came stone last in my first cross country event and I would like to say it was the horror and shame of crossing the finish line when almost everyone had gone home that urged me on to train, but I won’t lie, all the doughnuts (and they were good) were gone. I had never felt so deprived and I vowed that would not happen again.
My dad was a running coach, something he was very passionate about and something he was very good at. I convinced him to help coach me because I was adamant I was not ever going to come last again. The humiliation of finding no little glazed sugar doughnut at the end of the race was all too much to bare and as they say – the rest is history.
So here is to running, the sport that has (and continues) to teach me so much about myself, life and leadership in the work place. To anyone that has run, I am sure you can relate, to those that have not, I urge you to try and if you have no plans on attempting the 42.2km challenge, that’s okay too, as they say – life is like a marathon.
- Have a dream/goal/vision & of course a strategy
Anyone who lines up at a marathon does not just get there – it started as a dream, a goal or perhaps a drunken dare with a bunch of crazy mates, point is – once you made the decision to run one, you have to figure out what you need to do to get you to the start and then work towards that – every, single day!
Commitment to your goal & to yourself is critical. I can’t tell you how many times the alarm clock nearly won me over - but when you have a clear intention and are committed to the goal - nothing will stand in your way. I have lined up for training runs and road races after going out until the wee hours of the morning. I do know however, that if I just get to the start and see what happens from there, I have already won. Therein lies the secret folks, because starting, like anything in life really is the hardest part. We all know, once those shoes are on, everything else is that much easier. So no matter what you have committed to just start because small daily steps lead to big wins.
3. Team Work
Let’s be honest, there are a whole lot of people behind the ''I''. That is the “I” that runs the race. You really are only as good as the people you surround yourself with. Most of my running has been done on my own but that is not to say that I still don’t have a massive team of support that helps me get to a start line. Let’s be honest, without the support network on the road or at a race, the outcome would not be the same. So, to all the cheers and support that come from family, friends, race crew or complete strangers – here is to you! You are appreciated – more than you know.
4. Run your own Race
We have all been there, where we are so busy worrying what the person next to us is doing, that we lose focus of our own goal and plans. Your plan is aligned to your strategy. Stick to your own lane and game plan and I promise you will run a better race. Your better race! As a runner we must not forget, as in life we run against the distance and clock, not against each other.
In saying that however, we must always be willing to adjust. It comes down to self - awareness. Sometimes no matter what you want to achieve, things don’t pan out the way they should - but if you accept that, adjust your plan and allow for the obvious kinks in the road, you will still get to the finish line, maybe not how you hoped, but you will get there regardless.
6. Be humble
I have found running one of the most humbling experiences to date. A common bond is formed by runners who line up together at the start of the race. We are all about to go to war –a with ourselves. This I experienced on many marathons and ultra - marathons I have completed and have fallen in love with what running brings to the human experience. It does not matter who you are, where you come from, or what you have, we all have one goal in common and that is to do the distance. There really is nothing more beautiful than when humans care more for all our similarities than our differences.
7. Hard Work
Life, as in running you can’t cheat your way through - sadly not. I have tried and failed miserably. The reality is there is no match for hard work and well you have to do the time (time on the legs and time on the road) Hustle Hard, put in the hours and you will see all your efforts will be paid off. Period!
8. Celebrate the successes
As runners, we sometimes forget about the privilege of being able to move, do what we do and share in these experiences with like-minded people. We often berate ourselves for not running quicker, for picking up injuries or perhaps not doing more, but the truth is there is always something to celebrate. I often remind myself what a privilege it is to line up to a race – any race - because it reminds me that I am healthy, I am strong and I can achieve anything I put my mind too. So next time you cross the line on your 5th, 6th or 20th marathon – instead of wishing you had run harder or supplemented better – raise a toast to your body – for it did not give up on you – even when you wanted to give up on you and that is a pretty big achievement if you ask me!
So if you are not inspired to go for a run (Que “Rocky” music) perhaps you are inspired to live up to YOUR true potential. So much of who I am today and so much of whom I aspire to be is all down to running and it really is the gift that keeps on giving and oh yes, to the person who said diamonds are a girl’s best friend clearly you never owned a pair of running shoes.