Almost six years ago crossing the finish line at the New York City Marathon was an emotional rollercoaster event. The months of training, the painful nights after the long runs, the leg wraps and the knee braces all come down to a step over the finish line. Around me I saw several people break into tears as the volunteers doled out medals and foil blankets.  There have been a few life lessons learned from this experience apart from the original goal of checking off a bucket list item.

Training is Essential.  I would go far as to substitute the word learning and education in place of training.  Any goal or journey cannot be accomplished without a learning process.  From the start of the journey to the end, there must be an open mind to take in new processes, concepts and strategies. A recognition that you do not know the answers and some of what you think you know will need to be unlearned.  My training coach would say “Running a Marathon is 90% mental and the other 10% is in your head.”

Life takes Grit. The ability to persevere when the odds are against you. When the infamous 22-mile wall hits you, and your brain wants to lay down on the street in the fetal position and go to sleep, its grit that moves you forward. According to Angela Duckworth’s TED talk, grit is a combination of passion and perseverance.  That grit not talent or luck will make you achieve your goals.

Pace is key.  Life is a marathon not a 100-meter dash.  So many have treated life as a 100-meter race, frantically and anxiously going thru the motions of life, only to burn out. Our body, mind and soul need to rest and reset. The rest days during training are key to recuperate and allow the muscles to heal. The ability to pace yourself during a long run and slow down as needed gives you the stamina to cross the finish line. The corporate life takes a toll on our mental and physical health.  At what cost are you trying to impress your boss. Take the vacation you have earned, take the mental health day. You will be more productive in the long run.

Life is Worth fighting for. The saying you only live once can be turned around to say you only die once, you live every day. Running four or five times a week was a form of meditation. I always ran without music so I could hear the sounds.  The sounds of the birds in the park, the shoes against the gravel, the waves lapping against the shore and the wind or rain beating against the trees.  The thumbs up or a good morning from fellow runners as you trudged up a steep hill.  The rhythm of life comes alive when you are running against a seemingly impossible task.

The road may seem long, the answers may be unknown, and the wind may be blowing against you.

Yet, the little voice inside you knows that you will make it.