Yesterday and today seems to be race day for many people. Lots of friends in Brighton did the Brighton marathon, some new friends did the Cannes International Triathlon (one coming in 18th place!) while others are doing the Boston Marathon today. Then, next week, many friends are heading to the London Marathon and I’ll be doing the Nice Half Marathon. So what’s the big deal about race day?
For many, it is the culmination of lots of hard work, dedication and self-discipline. It might have meant that other things in life took a back burner while they trained and prepared for the event. Plus, it can mean so much more!
For many, race day has likely been the focus for lots of time, energy and attention for the duration of 12 or 16 weeks while following a training plan to prepare for the big event. It has likely been the reason why they did all what they did in their training sessions and learned what they could from others to help them for the day. It may have dominated many a conversation they had with fellow athletes and non-athletes alike.
In addition to this time, energy and attention, they may have overcome doubts and fears, wondering whether they could actually do what you set out to do. Those thoughts are like internal gremlins that want to keep you within your comfort zones. Yet, we have a choice … we can chose to listen to those gremlins or ignore them and carry on. Many have chosen to carry on regardless of what those gremlins were saying. They have been able to turn down the volume on the negative gremlins and turned up the volume on the positive cheerleaders (pompons are extra!).
Additionally, they may have other things going on in their life such as stresses and worries about work or family, fear about getting re-injured or ill or any number of reasons that had an impact on their energy, attention and ability to stay focused on what they wanted to do. They may have battled through dealing with that ‘life stuff’ and kept on going just because it gave them a positive distraction from things. When we keep on going despite those doubts, fears or struggles, we become better people, stronger individuals and more able to deal with life challenges.
“I’ve never seen anyone, achieve anything worthwhile, where there wasn’t a struggle, a fight, some level of personal turmoil, but in the end, your sense of accomplishment is ALWAYS WORTH THE FIGHT” – Kurt Charnock, Brighton Triathlon Race Series
Overall, hopefully even despite the challenges and the struggles, they are doing the event because they enjoy challenging themselves and because they enjoy the activity they are doing. Unless you are a professional athlete being paid to perform, then you should always remember that you are doing it for enjoyment purposes! Enjoyment of the challenge, enjoyment of the discipline during the training, enjoyment of so many other things.
When I think of my upcoming Nice Half Marathon, I know I am certainly looking forward to enjoying myself. Yet, I will also remember how much I have stretched myself. In the past, I have done the required training to complete the half marathon distance yet this time, I want to see what else I am capable of given recent running results I’ve achieved.
I am just a recreational runner/triathlete who enjoys stretching myself with a challenge. Yet, there are bigger reasons for stretching myself for this upcoming event. The fact that I have just returned to exercise last year after a four-year layoff is significant for me for many reasons. Last year was simply about being able to complete the distances safely and injury-free. This year is about still enjoying the events while challenging myself to give that bit more to see what I’m capable of doing. I have therefore been working with a local triathlete who has been providing lots of technical training advice and guidance. I am familiar with training and preparation for half marathons (having done a few in the past!), yet with his advice, encouragement and support, I am taking things to another level. The approach I have been taking is certainly stretching me in terms of the training I have been doing and the race strategy that I will be taking! So let’s see what happens on race day!
One thing that I will also be thinking of is the fact that the race day will mark four months since I moved to Nice to ‘live the dream’. It will be like a celebration of that achievement. Much like my first marathon I did in Ottawa (2000) only 11 months after I had been ill. That was a celebration of an achievement too! Even though the distances are different, the reasons behind all the preparation and the efforts are very similar! I’m doing it because I can do it!
When you achieve your goal, regardless of what kind of goal you go after or what distance you do, what will it mean to you? What will happen when you get it? How will achieving this goal affect others aspects of your life? How is the outcome worth the time, effort and energy? How does it make you feel?