Why Persistence Is Vital
Nothing can take the place of persistence.
I have realize how motivated and disciplined runners are.
Folks that have never run a step in their life are also highly motivated, extremely dedicated people but this post hits home for me personally.
My heart goes out to those who have trained so hard only to run far below their capability.
I have been there in this sport.
People experience failure in different ways but persistence decides who wins in the end.
Some handle it with dignity, others not so much.
It is hard to keep racing when all your efforts seem for not.
Have you experienced this in your own training?
The reason persistence is so vitally important is because failures erodes enthusiasm for many people.
You have to go from failure to failure and not lose enthusiasm.
Once you have mastered that there is no distance running goal you cannot achieve.
Some may take a month, year or decades to achieve but they will become reality.
Will My Story Help?
I don’t know if a personal story will be interesting for my readers but I hope some of the thoughts I publish will have an impact on you and your training.
I have had a great deal of disappointment and utter frustration over the years with the marathon distance.
I know I am not alone in this department, which is why writing this post is so important for me.
To help those of you have endured this with me.
If I can get you motivated by what I have went through hopefully it will give you clarity in your racing plans and ultimately your race outcome.
You may not be looking to run a national or world-class marathon time.
You may be a miler, you may be a 5K specialist or focus on the 10,000m.
You could be a walker who is working to get into the running side of the house.
I have lived and trained with world-class athletes and feel just as home with any jogger or someone simply seeking answers to questions about how to get in better shape.
The same characteristic revolves around us all and persistence is at the heart of it.
Success and Learning
No one wants to be average.
People may make the wrong choices but they don’t want to be unsuccessful.
If you went up to someone and asked them, “Hey, isn’t being average awesome”?
More than likely they are going to look at you strangely.
Runners, fitness minded individuals, military members etc. are all highly motivated people.
What happens when you do everything right and you fail to meet your objective?
How motivated and successful are we then?
I can assure you that in those moments where you most want to give everything up.
You have put forth all of the energy you can stand and feel like you want to quit and you don’t feel the love you once had for running.
It is in those times where you have to truly dig down, envision that masterpiece you have been working for and overcome the hardships of a disappointment. You are already a success for trying, period.
The heights by great men (and women) reached and kept, Were not attained by sudden flight. But they, while their companions slept, Were toiling upward in the night-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
How many people in the world live with regret for not having done something they were afraid of doing?
Persistence matters because without regret will be somewhere in the equation.
How many have overcome that fear, took a risk?
What happens if they took that risk and failed?
The difference between the two is one relied on persistence and the other didn’t, one lives with regret, one lives with the knowledge that they failed but tried.
Crowd into that upper group that tried because it is a much more uncomfortable feeling knowing you quit before you even realized your potential.
There are a lot of abbreviations used in the military and one I appreciate the most is Bottom Line Up Front.
Tell me specifics.
What must be done to achieve what.
Well, the BLUF in what I am writing is to live your dreams.
See your goal through and don’t let the little failures along the way as reasons for you to quit.
Do you know how many times I have failed at the marathon?
Nearly every one I have run.
We all define success differently but when you’re pushing elite Kenyans in training and going out and running far slower than what you are capable of, it tests your spirit.
It tests your belief in yourself. I dealt with this for the past five years.
The Kenyans understand persistence very well.
They simply do not understand what it is to quit.
I took 4th place and ran a finish time of 2.19.35 at the 2007 California International Marathon.
My previous best was a 2.40.02.
When you derive pleasure and pride in perfecting seemingly “minor” details-and teach those you lead to do the same-big things eventually start falling into place. This is what separates achievers from the also-rans, the great from the good, the doers from the dreamers. (Of course, you have noticed that many exceptional achievers are both doers and dreamers. It’s a good combination, so long as you make sure to do those little things with love – John Wooden, Legendary Basketball Coach
It was a perfect race, everything came together.
I went out with the lead Kenyans in 1.07.09 at the half-marathon point and was still on 2.16.15 marathon pace through 20 miles (hit in 1.44.05).
My best time for the half-marathon was 1.07.06 going into the race.
What on earth was I doing?
A 2.40.02 and 1.07.06 half-marathoner had no business trying to run with 2.10-13 marathon types.
Well, I didn’t believe that and I am urging you to think the same thing in your future races.
Do not set the limits for your racing before the racing even starts.
You have to believe that, no matter what, you are ultimately going to reach your goal.
Persistence is everything
Don’t give up!
If you lose heart when tough times come along in your training and the results don’t come on your watch.
You can’t let this dictate your future success. This is so important and what I have kept in mind training for marathons.
Your reliance on persistence and your ability to focus regardless if you succeed or fail determines your long term success in this sport.
John Wooden, legendary basketball coach, wrote a book called Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization where he brings up a statement by Mother Theresa that I feel is important for this post
There are no big things. Only little things done with love
Wooden goes on to write…
Strive to accomplish the very best that you are capable of. Nothing less than you best will suffice. You may fool others, but you can never fool yourself. Self-satisfaction will come from the knowledge that you left now stone unturned in an effort to accomplish everything possible under the circumstances
Let THAT be enough!
You can’t lose the love for what you’re doing on account of times, places, awards or to prove something to someone else.
The only person you need to please is yourself, period.
The reason those who may have run faster than you isn’t that they have any higher level of persistence but they sure have used it thoroughly.
2011 Monumental Indianapolis Marathon
I failed over and over again from 2008 all the way to the 2011 California International Marathon (which I ran only 4 weeks after the Monumental Indianapolis Marathon as my last ditch effort to qualify for the 2012 US Olympic Marathon Trials finishing in 2.32.24 (with a 1.09 opening half).
The point of this whole post is just to give you an incentive to keep trying while you’re down.
I had miserable (for me) marathon times ranging from 2.36 (2009 California International Marathon) to 3.05 (City of Los Angeles Marathon…my worst marathon time ever).
I was at a loss. The results weren’t coming. I ran two marathons above 3 hours.
I was walking and jogging the last 15 miles of every marathon I ran.
I kept running out of fuel
It was hard. 2011 wasn’t a spectacular year but ended well considering.
Persistence and Failure
I had run a 2.40.24 at the BMO Vancouver Marathon (after an opening half in 1.08.56), experienced a miserable last section of the race and was starting to question if my marathoning days were done. Have you felt this way?
I finished in 10th place and, like many runners, payed my own way up to Canada.
I needed a time of 2.19.00 to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Trials.
I have a PR of 2.19.35 and thought I would improve 35 seconds starting in 2008 when the 2012 Olympic Trials qualifying window opened.
Persistence Helps You Overcome
After countless failures running 2.26.42 at the 2011 Monumental Indianapolis Marathon, my second fastest marathon, was almost as sweet as breaking 2.20.00.
It was not good enough to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Trials but the amount of work I had put in leading into the race was sufficient.
It had to be as I could not have done anything remotely different.
My training signaled a marathon time of 2.15-18 was possible. I had even done a 20-miler in training in 1.50.02 (5.30 per mile average).
In comparison, prior to running 2.19 my best 20-miler was a 1.56.53.
It didn’t happen but after running so many lackluster efforts running a 2.26 was what I would consider a breakthrough.
I didn’t want to live with regret and had to try one more time. If I failed to reach the 2.19.00, at least I could live with no regrets that I didn’t give it everything I had.
I flew to Sacramento, California to compete in the 2011 California International Marathon (4 weeks later) and ran 2.32.24 (with a 1.09 opening half). No regrets!
- Don’t let up when things get challenging
- Persistence is key, focus on it.
- Read as many positive, inspiring books you can get your hands on
- Listen to advice i.e. coaches, mentors, co-workers, family…anyone who can assist you in your quest
- Focus on your goals, think about them constantly..sooner or later you are going to strike gold
- Respect and appreciate your improvements (not matter how small they are)
- If at first you don’t succeed, TRY, TRY AGAIN