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Here’s What Training for a Half-Marathon Taught Me About Life

Here’s What Training for a Half-Marathon Taught Me About Life

I used to see packs of runners on the street early in the morning, zooming past as I yawned and lazily collected the morning paper. These runners always wore fancy workout gear, and they ran with such determination and vigour that you knew there was no stopping them. They made running look easy.

Somehow I ended up in a pack of runners this summer, when I decided to sign up for a running clinic and train for my first half-marathon.

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I hated running when I started. It hurt to start. It hurt to keep going. And it hurt the following day when my muscles were achy and sore. Running was a chore. And the final race distance of 13.1 miles made me tremble in my shoes.

I am now halfway through training, and my perspective has gradually shifted. Here’s what training for a half-marathon has taught me about life:

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1. When You are Moving, Progress is Inevitable

When I started out, my short runs seemed pointless. I kept thinking, “How will running 2.5 miles help me run 13.1 miles?” What I didn’t realize was that by getting myself moving, I was slowly training my body to handle the longer distances. It’s easy to feel like you’re not making any progress when you work on the little things. But you will be surprised by how far your ongoing actions get you. As they say, big goals start with small steps in the right direction.

2. It’s the Little Things that Matter

When I first started training, I completely underestimated the importance of the tiny details. Soon I learned that the more prepared I was for my run, the more enjoyable it was. It was the little things that made all the difference: double knotting my shoelaces, eating Greek yogurt for breakfast, listening to upbeat music, and stretching every day. There may be small things that you can do for yourself to make your goals easier to accomplish. It’s the minute details that really add up. What tiny things would make a difference for you?

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3. You’re All in it Together

When I signed up for the running clinic, I figured I would connect with a few people who were working towards the same goal. Little did I know just how much of a gift it would be to run with a group, week after week. When we met up for our runs, everyone added something, no matter their age, experience level or pace. There is a huge benefit to having a support system around you when you are working towards goals. There is an irreplaceable sense of comradery that grows when you connect with like-minded people. After making progress, a high-five from a friend can really make your day and give you the energy you need to keep pushing forward.

4. You’ve Got to Trust the Process

I had my doubts with the training schedule when I signed up for the running clinic. Despite knowing that hundreds of runners successfully completed the clinic race, I kept thinking, “Is this actually going to get me through the distance?” No matter what you are working towards, there are others who have been there before you. There are proven processes in place, and tried and tested strategies for success. Sometimes you have to take a step back from your worry and doubt, and put your faith in the process.

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5. Don’t Forget to Enjoy the Moment

I started out my training thinking, “Let’s just get this over with.” I soon realized that there was a lot to appreciate: The weather, the interesting people, the thrill of running, the exercise, and the sheer excitement of building towards an unbelievable goal. Instead of wishing we could just accomplish our goals overnight, and setting our sights on the finish line, it’s important to soak in the experience. Chances are, you will never have the same opportunity again. It’s up to you to find the fun in your goals.

6. It’s Not as Hard as You Think

Training for a half-marathon has not been as hard as I anticipated it would be. When I started out, all I could think about was the looming final distance, which seemed impossible to fathom. I didn’t realize how much stronger my body would get through training, and how much my confidence would increase in the weeks leading up to race day. Oftentimes, we underestimate our abilities. We get discouraged by the space between where we are and where we want to be. Yet if we start to shift what we think we are capable of, everything starts to change.

Featured photo credit: Young lady running on a rural road via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on October 20, 2020

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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