“You don’t run twenty-six miles at five minutes a mile on good looks and a secret recipe.”
— Frank Shorter
Running a marathon is no easy feat. I know this from first-hand experience. My husband and I decided to train for a marathon several years ago so we began a training program together along with a group of other like-minded individuals. We had a fantastic program that started with short running circuits and over time, we built up our endurance along with other people who were grouped by fitness levels. Because my husband was a runner in high school and college, and I had never run a day in my life, we were obviously in different groups.
Every Saturday morning found us gathered with our groups for our longer runs of the week. For someone who had never participated in any organized sporting event (I was a band and theatre girl), I was surprised to find myself completely in love with those Saturday mornings. Unfortunately, a medical issue six weeks into the training program forced me to quit. But, I still accompanied my husband on Saturday mornings, enjoying our time together as he stretched, visiting with the others, and taking short walks while they trained.
Finally, the big morning arrived. We made our way to the starting line, excited about what the day would hold. We both knew all the training and hard work would pay off and his preparation would allow him to finish strong. Knowing his average pace, we mapped out the course and I was able to drive from place to place and cheer him on at different locations. After the fourth cheering spot, I headed to the finish line and anxiously awaited his arrival.
His projected time came and went but he did not arrive. I didn’t think too much of this; after all, it was his first marathon so he might have slowed down a little. Time passed, and then more time passed and he still did not come. Almost an hour and a half after his projected time, I saw him rounding the corner limping and walking but still determined to cross the finish line.
Unfortunately, he had injured himself three-quarters of the way through the marathon. No amount of planning prepared him for that. To say he was disappointed would be putting it mildly, but after some time passed, he realized a significant truth. His goal was to finish the marathon and he did just that. Sure, he did not finish it exactly as he planned, but he did finish. His time training and practicing had prepared his body for the unexpected. If that injury had occurred in August, he never would have been able to complete the twenty six miles like he did in January.
Preparation is beyond planning for a goal. It is planning for the unexpected. When things do not go your way, do not lose sight of the fact that your preparation could be training you to handle a different outcome than what you expected.