My intention has always been to inspire a healthy lifestyle. After trying out a 10km run at last year’s Standard Chartered marathon, I decided to challenge myself to a half marathon at the just concluded Nairobi City Marathon. Sure, my brain may be convinced that I’m still a vibrant 25 years old, my body-well, it hurts almost all the time. At 45 and weighing in at 99.9Kg, I doubt it was a wise move. But I am so proud that I took the challenge.
Like millions of runners, I’ve never been a serious competitor, but like those others, that doesn’t keep me from enjoying the thrill of a big city run. Whether you run for the endorphins or the T-shirt, or the scenery or for the medal, you are better than all the others who are still procrastinating about it. Although my intention has always been to inspire a healthy lifestyle, I have never enjoyed running as much as I enjoy other forms of exercise. Here are some of my greatest lessons from the experience.
Preparing for a marathon involves setting specific goals, such as finishing within a certain time or improving personal records. It teaches you the importance of setting realistic and achievable goals, breaking them into smaller milestones, and working towards them consistently. My goal was to run the 21km under two hours. I managed a personal best record of two hours 24 minutes and aim to improve that in an upcoming Standard Chartered marathon coming up in October.
Goals help reinforce motivation and working towards a goal fuels changes in behaviors that are needed to achieve that goal. A goal needs to be a little tough so that it provides the proper motivation for achieving it. Set the goal, do the analysis and put in the work. Don’t just wake up on race day and run. Start off with walks, jogs, walk jogs then build up to short runs before attempting a short race.
Among the many strategies that could help clients learn how to not only make exercise a regular habit, but also use it to change their lives in meaningful ways, is proper goal setting. Goals are an important part of the fitness journey and are typically why clients seek out our services as health and exercise professionals.Joe Decker.
Health And Well-being.
Training for a marathon requires adopting a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and adequate rest. It teaches you the importance of taking care of your physical and mental well-being, leading to improved overall health. Preparing for a marathon requires that you build endurance over time through regular practice and disciplined training schedules. It taught me the value of discipline, consistency, and hard work in achieving long-term goals. Other than our 4 weekly gym sessions, we did several Saturday runs. I had to get to bed early, stayed well hydrated and monitored most of what I ate prior to the race.
Teamwork And Support.
Marathons often have a strong sense of community, with fellow runners, volunteers, and supporters cheering you on. I stopped to help stretch a stranger who had some calf cramps along the way. It teaches you the importance of teamwork, camaraderie, and the support of others. I realized that achieving my goals became easier because I had a strong support system around me. When people of a variety of backgrounds, races, ages come together for a hard workout, a strong of community and lasting friendships are formed. I even met with a friend that I hadn’t seen for over twenty five years.
Working together and suffering through physical challenges requires people to come together to work as teams, which ultimately develops into strong bonds and friendships. Everyone wants to to see another do well and be successful, so they help motivate one another to finish their race.Feel Fitness.
Patience And Perseverance.
Running a marathon requires immense dedication and a long-term commitment. It teaches you the importance of staying patient and not giving up when faced with obstacles or setbacks. One of the things I have learned in my years of body building competition, hiking, running and in any form of exercise, is to focus on the next task at hand. Any time you are in a difficult situation, recognize that you cannot do everything at once. Whether the event is 8 hours or 42km, the approach is the same: simply pick one task, complete it and move to the next one. As you move from one step to the next, you are moving closer to your goal of completing the marathon. A lesson that can be applied to almost any situation that life can throw at you.
Builds Mental Strength.
A marathon is a s much a mental challenge as it is physical. It teaches you to overcome self-doubt, push through mental barriers, and develop mental resilience. You learn to stay focused and motivated even when your body feels tired or challenged. I remember my quads getting cramps after 16km, I had to walk but kept going. It taught me to adapt, to change strategy but I bounced back and jogged to the finish line. The last 5 Kilometers were literally a battle of the mind. Voices kept asking, “what were you thinking? Did you have to do this? Do you want to kill yourself? Why didn’t you just do the 10km? you would have finished by now”. Another kept shouting “just a few more kilometers to go”
Self-belief And Confidence.
Crossing the finish line of the marathon instilled a sense of accomplishment and was a big boost to my self-belief. I can’t wait for the next race. It taught me that with dedication, hard work, and perseverance. I can achieve things that may have once seemed impossible. It build confidence in my abilities and encouraged me to push beyond my limits. I learned to be resilient. You can also do it. Start your climb and register for the next hike or marathon and thank me later.
Beyond The Run.
While crossing the finish line is a significant achievement, the marathon journey itself is equally important. It taught me to appreciate the process, to enjoy the small victories, and I found joy in the progress I made along the way. If you are still seated on the fence, the Feel Fitness family will be glad to walk with you in the preparations of upcoming hikes and marathons. Join the healthy community.
Many lessons learned from running a marathon can be applied to other areas of life, such as work, relationships, or personal goals. It instills values like discipline, perseverance, goal-setting, and a positive mindset that can help you succeed in various aspects of life beyond running.