What a difference a year makes! Last February I wrote about my reluctance to run a 15K.

Afterward, I wrote about my race experience.

This journey of training and setting running goals for myself has taught me a lot. One of the greatest lessons I learned was that sometimes it takes failure to get me to be grateful for how far I’ve come, and that believing in myself takes practice just like training for a marathon.


I spent months preparing. Even after only completing two 5K’s and a 15K I was determined to run 26.2 miles. Sort of.

As the race approached, I heard myself saying things like “I’m going to try…” and “I might want to stop at the half.” I worried when those words came out of my mouth. I still didn’t quite believe I could do it. Then sure enough, on race day I reached the point where I could turn right and finish a half marathon or continue and loop for the full. I turned right and then felt the agony of defeat. I had let myself down. Instead of celebrating my first half marathon I went home sad.

In the weeks that followed, I learned two things. First, I had been way too hard on myself. I should’ve celebrated running over 13 miles and the work it took to get there. When I went back and read my post  Couch to 15K, I realized that once there was a time when 7 miles felt unattainable. Now, 7 miles was an easy workout. I needed to feel gratitude for that accomplishment. Second, I learned that it was my perceived failure that drove me to finish a marathon two months later. Having to pick myself up and try again gave me the strength to eventually reach my goal. I knew as I walked into the Expo the day before the race that no matter what I was going to run 26.2 miles. The word try did not come out of my mouth. During the race at mile twenty-five when my feet began to cramp, I told myself I would limp to the finish if I had to. I was not going to give up.

Believing In Yourself

My race experience led to the understanding that simply saying you must believe in yourself while setting a goal may not always be possible. Maybe you have to set your goal and believe in yourself just enough to make it to the first step. Otherwise, the fear of not reaching your goal will cause you to give up. Once you’ve celebrated your accomplishment of reaching the first step it helps you to believe enough to continue climbing.  For example, if your goal is to lose twenty pounds it can be too overwhelming to think of all the life changes you’ll have to make to lose that much weight. So instead, break it up into steps. Believe in yourself enough to lose 5 pounds. After you’ve accomplished that, believe you can lose 10 pounds.  I can guarantee that if you lose 10 pounds, you’ll have enough belief to lose another 5. And then when you’ve lost 15 pounds you’ll know it’s possible to reach your goal. In other words believing in yourself takes practice too. It doesn’t just happen. There’s great fear in the journey to accomplish the unknown. Once our minds know we can do it, it becomes much easier. Now that I know I can run a marathon, every time I go on a shorter run and feel like stopping I remind myself of what I’m capable of running. It makes all the difference in the world. Once we know we can, we do.

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