Closing the Gap

As many of you know, I have been training for my first full Columbus Marathon in October. The race will be a special one, not only because it’s my first 26.2 but because I’m doing it to help raise money and awareness for my good friend, Lindsay Giannobile.

[To see her full story, visit ForLindsay.com]

Running was never my thing growing up.  I played volleyball in high school, a sport comprised mostly of compact, precise, explosive movements with periods of rest in between.

Eventually running a marathon was an item on my long-term bucket list, but it always seemed fairly unattainable – not because it had never been attempted before, but because my idea of a “long run” was anything over two miles.

Put another way: the gap that stood between me and reaching a life goal was too large. I didn’t want to train. I just wanted to wake up one day, magically have the ability to run 26.2 continuous miles, and check “marathon” off my to-do list.

And that, of course, is the problem.

So many of us want to skip over the gaps in our lives – our careers, our financial situations, our relationships – that we aren’t willing to put in the work it takes to make that keystone event a success.

Small Successes Lead to Larger Opportunities

Back when I started training for the full marathon in May, my average distance was 3.1 miles and I was happy to break the 9:40/mile pace. This past Sunday, I ran my fastest 15k ever (7:52 per mile) and felt great. I even finished in the top 20% of all participants.

Why?

  • Did I buy new shoes?
  • Hydrate using a new supplement?
  • Will it to come true?

Nope.

It was a byproduct of all the training I had done leading up to the race. I ran 3-4 times per week for the last four and a half months. I did sprints to increase my speed, long runs to increase my endurance, and cross-training to strengthen ancillary muscle groups. It was nothing more than little chunks of hard work repeated over time. But together, they produced a run I am very proud of.

Hard Work Is Necessary

Hard work increases our pain tolerance and shapes our character. Hard work proves that we are able to change, improve over time, and grow stronger with repetition. It shows us what we’re made of and what we’re capable of. Without hard work, our dreams and plans remain figments of our imagination. And the gap remains as wide as it started.

This graphic is my training log from the Nike Running app over the past nine months. It contains most of my runs during since the beginning of the year and is proof that “big” achievements become stepping stones to larger opportunities over time.

“If what you did yesterday seems big, you haven’t done anything today.” -Lou Holtz

“Long” runs (4.5 miles) become short runs, and short runs become warm ups. Who knows, one day 26.2 miles might seem like a short distance.

Nervous, The Opposite of Prepared

I have been following certain conversations on Twitter lately, looking mostly for training tips and race day preparation plans. I am feeling pretty good about my training up to this point, which is why I’m always surprised to come across people who are “nervous” about the race.

My question is: What is there to be nervous about?

Sure, factors out of our control like bad weather or a random cramp might impact finish times, but if you have put in the work leading up to your goal, there is nothing to be nervous about.

Unpreparedness is the only logical reason for fearing the outcome. What are you nervous about?

Hard Work Can Build a Bridge

Life isn’t about waiting for your chance to magically appear (it won’t). Life is about taking small, consistent steps toward a goal, learning from your experiences, and closing the gap little by little.

But the first step is to start.

Start small. Start with something you know you can accomplish. Start with something that comes easy to you. Just don’t say you “can’t” accomplish something before you’ve even tried. Start closing the gap today, no matter how insignificant it seems.

In the end, you’ll look back and think, “What was I so afraid of again?