A marathon is high on many people’s bucket lists. And for good reason: it is a challenge of your durability, a test of your resolve, and an assessment of your character. If you’ve ever wanted to push yourself and see what you’re truly made of, I highly recommend you try setting the goal of running a marathon.
In 2021, I ran two marathons in the span of 4 months. And I learned a few very valuable life lessons from these two endeavors that can be of great utility to any goal or undertaking you wish to pursue.
In this article, you’ll learn the valuable lessons that I took away from running two marathons. It is my goal (and hope) that these lessons will serve you the same way they have served me.
But before we get to the marathon life lessons, let’s take a look at the journey that led me to uncovering these revelations.
My Journey of Running 2 Marathons
No matter what goal you’re trying to achieve, always remember to…
Start Small But Think Big
I set the goal to run my first marathon in August 2019. And even though I was already in decent shape, I certainly wasn’t prepared to run a full 26.2 miles yet. So I started small with that big goal in mind.
I began with 5K’s, then once I become comfortable with those, I bumped it to 8K’s, then 10K’s and I continued to work my way up as my endurance increased. Soon, I was running half marathons without needing to stop for breaks.
It took time and effort, but I remained committed to my training regime by showing up every week – without fail…
And soon after, I began to realize that if I was going to pull this off, I would have to change a few more things than just my exercise habits, because, for marathon training…
Preparation Goes Beyond the Trials
I was hitting the pavement almost every day, and that was great. However, it wasn’t enough, I began noticing that regardless of how hard I trained, I couldn’t break past certain athletic barriers.
For example, it felt impossible for me to clock in a 10km run in under 50 minutes. So I realized something else beyond my training needed to be adjusted. As a result, I turned to my lifestyle and I began to:
- Eat more organic and healthy foods
- Drink more water
- Get better quality sleep
- Stick to a schedule
- Feed my mind by only positive content for motivation and inspiration
All of these little acts outside of the actual act of running made a tremendous difference! After a while, I was clocking in 10km runs in 45 minutes. I thought I was the man!
That is until race day…
Failure is Part of the Game
The pandemic made it impossible for large crowds to gather for a marathon race, so instead of waiting until things opened up again, I decided to run my first marathon by myself! I scouted out a run of 26.2 miles (42.2 km), informed a few close friends and family of the day I’d be running, and arrived on the day – ready to go.
I had a few close relatives show up to support me. I was prepared – or so I thought – to do a great job. And so off I went!
The first 10 miles were great, I felt on top of the world. But once I reached the halfway point, things took a turn for the worst. My legs ached, I ran out of water and running gels, the sun was beating down on me, mercilessly.
I felt like I was dying…
I crossed the finish line at 5 hours and 42 minutes, and even though I accomplished my first marathon run, I was ashamed of that time because I knew I could do better – it felt like a failure.
4 months later, things finally opened back up and I had the opportunity to redeem myself. An in-person marathon was being held. This time I wasn’t going to blow it! I learned from my mistakes and now I was ready.
This time around, I was running the race with a couple of friends who signed up with me. And so off we went, I felt elated being surrounded by so many runners who were all on the same path as me.
I had ample amounts of water, an abundance of running gels, and I was making headway. I didn’t focus on anything except keeping a steady and constant pace, and when I finally crossed the finish line, I clocked in at 3 hours and 38 minutes.
I shaved two hours off my first marathon time!
5 Life Lessons I Learned From Running Two Marathons And How it Applies to You
There were so many lessons that sprang from these experiences. Let’s look at the major ones and discuss how they apply to you and your goals.
1. Commitment is Key
Training was hard: I had injuries, I dealt with marathon cancellations, I had countless days of running in the freezing cold and hitting the gym on weekends when all I wanted to do was watch Netflix. But I was committed
So I stayed the course…
And eventually, I accomplished my aim, and it was one of the most enriching and empowering experiences of my life.
What goals are you aiming at? Are you willing to sacrifice and do whatever’s necessary to make it happen? This is one of the most important life lessons I learned from running a marathon – commitment is key.
Without it, you’ll falter at the first sign of opposition. As soon as things get a little rocky – and believe me, they will – you’ll bail. To prevent this, ensure that you have enough reasons behind you to bolster your resolve!
Why are you doing what you’re doing? Why is this so important to you that you’re willing to forego treats, candy, Netflix, comfortability, etc? Answer those questions and you’ll become unstoppable.
2. Lifestyle Changes Will Be Required
In order for me to run a marathon, I had to train almost daily, I had to eat healthily, get good sleep, drink lots of water, etc. Without making these changes in my life, there’s no way running a marathon would have been possible for me.
When working toward a new goal, there’s a good chance you’ll have to not only change what you’re doing, but also how you’re living.
Whatever goal you’re aiming at, ask yourself, “what do I need to change in my life in order to attain this goal?”
If you didn’t have to change anything about who you are and how you live to reach your objective, you’d already have it. But the fact that you don’t means there are some adjustments that need to be made.
When you figure out what those adjustments are, make the change and hold the line.
3. You Have to Learn From Failure
There were so many things I did wrong on my first marathon run.
- I didn’t bring enough water.
- My running gels were in low supply.
- I started running later in the day which meant I would be running during the hottest part of the day when I reached the halfway point (this is why most marathons start early in the morning).
My ignorance cost me. And it hurt. But I learned from my mistakes and refined my approach in my second marathon run. Yes, it sucks when you fail. But the worst thing you can do when it happens is whine and cry about it or feel sorry for yourself.
Instead, learn what went wrong, resolve to do better, and try again!
4. You’re Capable of More Than You Think
When I clocked in at 3 hours and 38 minutes in my second run, I had no idea that kind of time was even possible for me! Honestly, I was just trying to beat my first marathon time.
I shocked and surprised myself!
I couldn’t believe I did that. Similarly, there are probably many things in your own life that you feel you’re unable to do, and as a result, stop yourself from even trying.
Give yourself an opportunity. Work hard, study, practice, train, develop your skills and grow your reserve of knowledge toward whatever it is that you’re aiming at. And then, take a crack at it and give it your best shot!
You never know what might happen, and just like me, you may surprise yourself with the results.
5. Goal Setting is Extremely Important
Running two marathons taught me the true value of goal setting. And believe it or not, you don’t set goals to achieve them. Now, don’t get me wrong, of course, you want to achieve your aims, however that’s not where the real value lies.
The real value of goal setting is what the goal makes of you when you accomplish it!
Before running two marathons, I was a pretty active guy, however, I certainly wasn’t an athlete by any means.
It was only after the set the objective; began eating healthy, taking cold showers, waking up at 5am every day to hit the pavement, etc, and then finally achieving my desired outcome that I realized what these goal did to me.
They transformed me from your average, run-of-the-mill guy to an endurance athlete and competitive sportsman. I have since moved on to practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (a martial art and combat sport) where I have competed in two tournaments.
There’s no way I could do that if I hadn’t built the identity of an athlete by running two marathons. And so it is with you. Whatever your goals are, remember that they are affecting you.
So make sure that you’re setting goals that will force you to grow, stretch, and become more.
About the Author:
Alex Brown is a self-improvement writer who specializes in health & fitness, goal setting, self-discipline, and high-quality living. – See more at: https://iamalexbrown.net/about/