Don’t let minor setbacks obscure overall success

This weekend, a good friend of mine will run her first marathon, a wonderful achievement for any athlete but it is unlikely to be the experience she imagined when she decided to enter it.

But THE marathon isn’t this weekend, it’s usually in April isn’t it? Well, the London Marathon is in April, but there are probably over a 100 marathons a year in this country. For those that do not know, a marathon is ALWAYS 26.2 miles and therefore completing any one of them is as much an achievement as the other.

Why will the experience be different from expectations? When she entered this marathon, she was fresh off the back of personal best times in the half marathon, running around 1:45 on fairly challenging courses, full of positivity and determination, a marathon seemed like the obvious next step.

The next step in a long journey – when she first joined the running club 20 months ago she was only able to run for a couple of minutes at a time, and was 50lbs heavier. Now, she helps run the club and has helped inspire a great number of others into, not only running but enjoying running.

Marathon entered, she trained, and she trained hard. In all weathers, and building that ever-important long run up past 13, 15, 16 and 17 miles. Then she picked up a knee injury which hampered the 18 mile run. Not one to accept defeat she adjusted her training, including walk breaks to minimise the stress on the knee and eventually tackled the longest training run of 20miles.

Her knee developed a lot of pain and trips to the physio brought instructions to rest totally. 3 weeks later and the big day is nearly here and I know that she is worried, feels that she has to run now a few hundred pounds has been raised for charity.

We spoke today and she has changed all her plans to include even more bouts of walking and to run at a sensible speed and respect what her body is telling her.

Having run a number of marathons myself I truly believe that the hardest part is the training; the relentless drain on your time and energy if you let it, the need to watch what you eat, get plenty of sleep, fit in 3 hour or longer runs, and somehow do a job and raise a family.

Once you are on the start line, the only thing you have to do is keep going forward, do that and you will finish. It may not be as quickly as you want, but you will do it.

Whatever happens in the marathon I hope my friend will recognise the huge changes she has made in her life and therefore the success she has already gained. The organisation, determination, focus and dedication required to get to the start line have inspired others, improved her health and totally transformed her appearance. By recognising just how far she has come, hopefully it won’t seem quite so far to go on the day and she can try to enjoy the feeling of what she is achieving without the pressure of arbitrary time goals.

How many of you have ever lost a stone or so and then beat yourself up because you put one pound back on? All too often I hear people focus on that one awful pound that has blighted their life, and not on the great achievement of their recent 13lb weightloss.

So if you’re bemoaning a recent setback, or plateau in your training, remember what you have already achieved and the skills you used to achieve it. Then use those skills to adjust if necessary, and just….keep…moving….forward.

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