Life Lessons Learned in 26 Miles


I remember the exact moment I decided to sign up for a marathon. It was June 16th and I was sitting in the airport in Houston, Texas, getting ready to fly home after a business trip. I was reading this amazing book “You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life,” by Jen Sincero. It got me thinking about ways I could challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone.

I had completed numerous half marathons, but never a full. I had told myself it would be impossible. I had bad knees and running for four hours, which is about how long it would take me, seemed like torture. However, in this moment I felt inspired. It was then and there I committed to run a marathon.

Once we landed, I decided on the Baltimore Marathon. It was in October, which would give me plenty of time to train. It was also near family in Washington D.C. so they could come and watch.

Over the next three months, I dedicated my life to training — sunrise runs, morning strength training sessions, followed by afternoon track workouts to build my speed. Saturdays were dedicated to long runs, which meant my social life went out the window. Friday nights involved eating a strict diet of carbs and early to bed. By the time I finished my runs Saturday I was too tired to go out. My co-workers and friends thought I was nuts, but they knew how much it meant to me.

This past Saturday, on October 15, 2016, I ran my first marathon. While crossing the finish line and actually completing the race was a very emotional and gratifying experience, there were a few lessons I learned along the way that were even more valuable and can be applied to any almost any situation in life.

  • Your Support System Is Everything — I would not have made it to the finish line without the support of my co-workers, friends and family. Trust me, when you are struggling, they are the ones that lift you up and get you through the tough times. My support system was there when I need advice, someone to clam my nerves or someone to just listen. They would text me after my runs, just to see how they went. The night before the race, the encouraging words I received helped boost my confidence through the roof. In life, it is essential to surround yourself with people who support you and lift you up when you least expect it.
  • You Can Do Anything You Set Your Mind To — I have heard this saying many times but it never felt the true meaning of it until now. I always said, I would never be able to run a marathon and would list a million excuses why. But once I committed to it and was dedicated to the training, I made it happen. If you create a plan, commit to it and put all of your effort into the outcome you can really achieve anything.

With this in mind, I challenge you to think about something you have wanted to do but was fearful of failure. Something you thought you never could achieve. It could be applying to graduate school, getting a PhD, applying for a grant, starting CrossFit, or running a marathon. Identify a goal you would like to achieve in the next year, create a game plan, commit to it, gather your support system and watch the miracles happen.

Emily Harbourne was a previous editor for Campus Rec Magazine.

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