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5 Key Takeaways from my first Half Marathon

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Have you ever had the desire to prove something?

Maybe it was to yourself. Maybe it was to your friends or family.  Maybe it was to that coach or teacher who made you doubt your own abilities.

lessons from my first half marathonWhoever made you (or makes you) feel that way, their words stick with you. They creep in at unexpected times and you may even put yourself back in that situation where they told you that you were less than.

I am very introspective, so I find myself reevaluating past experiences a lot. Sometimes it’s healthy and sometime it’s not.

Well, in July 2014, I was in a read need to have a personal win. I was forced to go back to work after our real estate business had a tough winter.  I went from the high of leaving my job to the low of having to beg to return.

My wife suggested that I train for a half marathon as it would give me a goal to shoot for. I am the type of person that needs to look forward to things and needs to work toward something.  So, being a former runner as well, this was right up my alley.

I made the goal to run a half marathon by November, but I wanted to challenge myself to actually complete the full distance while running and walking beforehand. My wife even decided to join me.

Not only was it an incredible experience for each of us individually, but it brought us together more as a couple. After all, we had over 3 hours to talk and push each other to the finish line. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for EVERY married couple out there!

With that said, I would like to share with you a few of the things I learned that August day in 2014.

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13.1 miles is long. Very long. Even if you’re walking.

A half marathon is not for the faint of heart. It’s tough on your body and the hills on this particular course were a killer. Over the July 4th weekend in 2014, I committed myself to get back into running. I was a cross-country runner in high school, but got away from the activity in college. You could say I was preoccupied with other things.

However, it was always something I wanted to do. So, Anna suggested that I commit to doing something and we agreed on a half marathon. Part of her reasoning involved allowing me to feel that I truly accomplished something on my own.

Even the biggest hills have a downhill shortly after.

The hills will come. And come.  But, while hills go up at first, there is always the downhill afterward.

Everything ends eventually. The same goes for hills that look insurmountable at first. When we push through, things do get easier for a time, but you always need to be ready for the next climb. Such is life, is it not?

Take it all in. Enjoy your surroundings.

Stop. Just stop.  You need to look around now and then.

Be present. Be engaged.  Stop worrying.

Give thanks to God for something good in your life.

Just allow yourself to see what’s around you and not look down at a piece of technology. Enjoy time with your family.  Put the worry about budgets, debt, and health aside (it will always be there) and find the time to just be with one another outside.

There is always somebody to find the negative.

Not surprisingly, we had haters who told us we were wasting our time with the half marathon. Others thought we would hurt ourselves beyond repair.  I just tune these types of people these days.  While they may think they are helping or coming from a good place, I don’t want their negative energy to spoil my mindset.

Do you have this issue with well-meaning people in your life?

The feeling of truly accomplishing something is second to none.

The “high” I got from finishing the half marathon was incredible. I just want that feeling again.  It’s part of the reason I ran a full marathon and 4 other half marathons since then.

Even more, I was able to take this experience and focus my energy on other things. Instead of being afraid, I can remember what happened in August 2014 in Pennsburg, PA and how I completed the Philadelphia Marathon in November 2014.  I can point to other areas of my life like paying down $60,000 in debt that included $20,000 in student loans.  I did it and I can accomplish other difficult things because I survived it.  You’re no different.

The sense of accomplishment in completing the half marathon is one of sheer joy and gratitude. It was something that brought us together and something we will have as a bonding moment as a couple forever. Further, we get that sense of pride and accomplishment for ourselves as individuals and get to share the gift with others. Not in a boastful way, but in an encouraging way.

Conclusion: Put yourself out there.

So, I say go run your own half marathon -- or do something that you can feel proud to do and be grateful for. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience and a gift that I believe everyone deserves.

As the legendary running coach Bill Bowerman once said, “The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race, it’s to test the limits of the human heart.” Put yourself to the test.  You won’t regret the outcome.

What are some negative influences you’ve had to overcome in life? Have you ever run a half marathon, full marathon, or completed another physically demanding activity?  Tell us about it below.

  • I ran a marathon once and a half a couple of times. And yes, it is more mentally tough than physical. By the end of my training, I was sooooo ready for it to be over. 🙂 I ran the Chicago 10-10-10 and it was in the 90’s that day and people were getting ill. But there was no way I was going to quit after all that training and I knew I would be one and done, so I told myself I was going to complete it even if I had to crawl over the finish line. 🙂 I definitely can use what I learned for other challenges in my life.

    Primal Prosperity recently posted…Why You Need a Balance Sheet for Your SoulMy Profile

    • Hey, congratulations to you for pushing yourself. Most people can’t. Heck, the training alone prevents most people from even trying. But, it’s the mental toughness from training and the goal of crossing that damn finish line that propels you. Humid and hot weather is difficult, so it’s awesome you did it! Have any races coming up?

  • The longest I’ve ever run was a 5k and I thought I was going to die. That definitely was not a fun activity for me. I am definitely not nearly as mentally tough as I need to be and it’s something that I’ve been working on during my bootcamps 🙂 I’m trying to build up so that I can do a Spartan race this summer. But we’ll see.
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted…Guest Post: Keys to Successfully Managing Student Debt After GraduationMy Profile

    • Well, how difficult are your bootcamps? What do you do during them? Spartan races are no joke. I haven’t done one, but they look pretty intense. If you can your bootcamps and a Spartan, you’re more mentally tough then you think.

      The problem with 5Ks is that they’re pretty quick. It’s tough to get in a real rhythm. If you’re a newbie, you see the more experienced runners whizzing by you and it’s discouraging. A 10K might be a better race for you.

  • […] used the songs below to train for five half marathons and one marathon.  All of these songs (plus about 30 more) made it to my playlist for the 2015 […]

  • Kate says:

    I’ve signed up for my first half in October. My husband will run with me (he has done a couple before but not at my slow pace!), so I liked reading about you and your wife doing it together. I can currently run about 7km and the most I’ve ever done is 10. I picked this half as it said fast and flat. Don’t know about fast but flat is all good! I never ran until I was 40 (43 now) and so my negative influence is my own head – I still struggle to get motivated to run and stopped this time last year for some 8 months and had to start right back at the beginning. Love your site!

    • Hey Kate, thanks for the comment! First of all, congratulations on signing up! If nothing else, knowing you signed up and committed to it is enough to keep you motivated as it gets closer. You spent the money, you might as well do the training. If you have to walk and run it, that’s OK too.

      And if motivation is a struggle, go back to WHY you decided to run the half marathon. Is it to get healthier? Is it to do something together with your husband? Is it a pride thing or you want to prove something to yourself or others? The WHY doesn’t matter. What matters is WHY it’s important to you.

      I wanted to prove to myself I could do something big physically. I wanted to lose weight. I liked telling people I was doing this and seeing the amazed look on their faces. All those things together motivated me and continue to do so.

      At some point, if you keep pushing through, if you keep getting out there even when you don’t feel like it, running will become a joy for you. It will become an escape (in a good and refreshing way). It will clear your mind, reduce your stress, and actually make you happier.

      And trust me, every runner gets days they don’t feel like it. But, they push through anyway. There are also some days when you’re fatigued and your body needs the rest. I’ve dealt with both. Sometimes the rest actually works out better for your training in the long-term.

      Good luck as you continue to train and let me know how it goes. If you want, we can feature you on the site after you run the race. I would love for you to tell others about your training ups and downs and your mindset as you raced. How’s that for motivation? 🙂

      I appreciate the compliments on the site! Yours is pretty awesome as well!



      • Kate says:

        Thanks Dave, I only just stumbled upon your great reply to my comment! Your feedback is really helpful, especially now as it’s almost winter in New Zealand and we’re contending with short days and cold nights which makes getting out there during the week a little more challenging. That would be pretty awesome motivation re featuring me on the site- I’ll start taking notes and be in touch! (PS my latest post actually deals with my whys for doing the half, so great minds think alike!).
        Kate recently posted…How to set goals that matter.My Profile

  • I love it, Kate! I’ll check out that post! Shorts days, cold nights … sounds tough, but an awesome perseverance test! Keep it up ?

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