My First Marathon

This article was published more than 1 year ago. Some information may no longer be current.

“I get by with a little help from my friends.” – John Lennon

In May, I set myself the challenge of running my first marathon by August 28th. My friend and coach, an Ironman athlete, provided a grueling training plan that included speed training, hills, intervals and super long runs combined with yoga.

Some days I found very creative excuses to skip what was on the training schedule but, tired and sore, I always went out and ran… rain or shine, heat advisory or not. I was determined to have no excuses for missing my objective. It was a lonely quest, but I was lucky to have many friends encouraging me plus my great coach providing advice.

August 28th arrived before I knew it! I was scared, but as ready as one can be for their first marathon. Then, surprise! In the morning, Hurricane Irene was poised to hit Quebec City, so the race was abruptly cancelled! Overcoming my disappointment, with the encouragement of my coach, I immediately registered for the Montreal marathon on September 25th. Another month of training – oh, my body was tired!! But I used the delay to continue preparing and building my confidence.

Finally, race-day came. The weather was perfect. I still had jitters, but I felt ready and was excited to be executing the final milestone at last. I ran my first marathon 8 minutes faster than my objective with a negative split, but most importantly, I felt in control and really enjoyed the race.

The four months of training was a fantastic experience of soul searching and self-discovery. I learned that patience and a quiet mind achieve greater results than working in haste and cutting corners. I came to understand the importance of seeking and accepting support when striving for big goals. Finally, I savoured the joy of celebrating my achievements with my friends and my faithful coach over a fantastic meal with fine wine and decadent dessert. Then I asked myself what would the next challenge be?

Upon reflection, the lessons from my marathon apply to any challenging business endeavour:

  • The team must share a fierce dedication to the goal and a determination to succeed.
  • The guidance of a mentor or coach is invaluable. Find someone who has experienced both successes and failures.
  • Prepare a detailed plan, with room for contingencies, that challenges the team but shows a realistic path to success.
  • Tackle the plan one milestone at a time, acknowledging progress as it comes.
  • Focus! It is easy to find excuses to do something (anything!) else. With a hard deadline, there is no time to second-guess goals, change direction or take time off!
  • When setbacks occur, quickly recast targets and help the team understand that sometimes things happen that we can’t change. How we respond to these challenges determines our ultimate success.
  • When the project goal is accomplished, celebrate! Recognition builds confidence and fuels us for the next challenge.

But when the post-race party is over, don’t wait too long to set the next audacious goal. High performance people crave challenges and if you don’t provide them, they may go looking for them elsewhere!