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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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