6 Principles For Life I Learned in Running a Marathon

6 Principles For Life I Learned in Running a Marathon

I wanted to do achieve something that I would never believe I could accomplish.

I am not a runner but when my friend completed his first marathon he challenged me to run the next one with him. What I got out of the experience changed my life forever.

It was the most spiritual and mind developing experience I ever had up to that time.

Here are the 6 Life Principles I learned from training and running the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati Ohio.

Principle One:  Taking the 1st Step:

When my friends Andy Johnson ran in the “Flying Pig” Marathon the year before I thought to myself, “I could never run 26 miles.”

The next year, he invited me to run in the marathon with him and I explained that I had never run over two miles at one time, let alone run 26.2 miles in a marathon.  Andy said, “Jerry, can you run for four minutes?”

I responded, “Well, I can jog for four minutes.”  He said, “Then you can run a marathon.”  “What do you mean?” I asked.  He said, “Well, if you can you run for four minutes and you walk a 1 minute you can run a marathon.  Do you think you can run three miles?”  I said, “Well, I can run two miles.”

So we jogged one day for two miles, running for four minutes and then walking for a minute.  A few days later, we ran three miles with the same style of running four minutes and walking one minute. Before I knew it I believed that there might be a possibility that I could run a long distance.

Andy said, “Jerry, taking the first step is the hardest.”  I realized that the most difficult part of doing something new in life is all about taking that first step

Many times when people want to do something new they stop themselves from even trying because they tell themselves all the reasons they would never succeed even if they tried. “I don’t know if I have the skills to achieve it”

“Even if I start I will never be able to finish. It’s too hard.” “If I try and fail I will embarrass myself in front of others.”

If we keep telling ourselves all those reasons why we shouldn’t even try ,we will  never begin. Taking the first step is the most important part of the journey.

Is there something you have wanted to improve, deepen, or experience in life that you have put off because you did not know how to begin?

Focus Point: Take the first step, in your mind and in your body.

So much of what happens in life begins and ends in our own mind.”

Principle Two:  Share the run with someone.

As I began to run three miles and then I increased it to five miles, through the week when I would run by myself, I found it was easy to say “no” to getting off the couch and start running but when I had somebody else who was counting on me, somebody who was waiting for me to make that date to run, I would find myself moving beyond my resistance.

There was somebody that I didn’t want to disappoint or somebody who would call me and challenge me to keep on going.   I realized it is the same way in life.  We need accountability partners, people who will be there to encourage us, to challenge us and to share the journey with us.

So often, we think we can do things alone, but we will have greater chances of developing a new behavior if we have someone who will mentor us. We can get through the times of resistance, trials and difficult times because we realize we are not alone.

If you want to grow healthier physically or spiritually find a group or at least one person to join with you on your adventure. Begin to pray that God will bring the right person to help mentor or guide you.

Focus Point: Having an accountability partner will dramatically increase your chances of completing your task

    “So much of what happens in life begins and ends in our own mind.” 


Principle Three:  Running MY Race..,

As I began running I realized that I might actually be able to run 26 miles.  When I ran my first local 10K run ( 6.2 miles), I saw all these people running ahead of me and rather than  running at my pace, I tried to keep up with the people in  front of me .

After the first three miles, I was depleted and had to walk the last mile. Even though I finished the race, I barely finished because I had used all of my energy in the first 2-3 miles, trying to keep up with the people in front of me.

After that race, I realized I was running somebody else’s race and not my own.

It is that way in life.  If we don’t have a clear understanding of what we want and how we want to live our life, we end up accommodating ourselves to other people, or we try to live out their dreams or their goals. There will always be people who have a faster time than I will have when I run a race, and there are some people who will have a slower time than I will.

I need to run MY race.

I understood that when I ran the race, it wasn’t about beating everyone, but rather, it was running the race that I wanted to run at a pace that was realistic for me.

I realized like running the 10k,  in life I wanted to run my own race, the race God gave me to run.

Whose race are you running?

Focus Point: Run YOUR Race.

So much of what happens in life begins and ends in our own mind.” 


Principle Four:  Develop Discipline and Set Good Habits for Life:

        “Watch your thoughts; they become your words. Watch your words; they become your actions. Watch your actions; they become your habits. Watch your habits; they become your character. Watch your character for it will become your destiny.”
— Frank Outlaw

Since we started to having  longer training runs on the week ends , there were times when I would think that I could skip my shorter runs during the week, I thought if I missed 1 or 2 days of working out, it really wouldn’t make that much difference.

When I started skipping my shorter run workouts a little more, my long runs became a little harder and finally I realized I was never going to be able to reach my goal if I didn’t keep a schedule.

It is the same way when we want to develop some new aspect of our life. We need to develop a process to reach our goal .

I finally had to make decisions about what was really important and what I wanted in my life. I had always liked to do what felt good at the time but I realized sometimes I didn’t feel like doing what I knew I needed to do to accomplish my goal.

They say to make a new behavior a part of your life you have to do it 21 times on a consistent basis. Once I started to develop a new habit in my life, I actually would miss not doing that behavior.

I had to embrace those things in my life that were healthier and let go of some of the things that had been holding me back from reaching my goal… from living my goal.

Focus Point: Develop a plan and stick to it

“So much of what happens in life begins and ends in our own mind.”


Principle Five: Practice and Persevere:

Someone once said, “People who are successful will tell you that accomplishing their goal was 80% perseverance and 20% talent.”

I understand that being able to run a marathon or doing anything that is important in life is having the perseverance and the practice to continue to work through the difficult times and not giving up.

On one of the days of our practice runs, it became terribly cold and as we were running, it started sleeting and snowing. There were so many times that I just wanted to stop.

One of wonderful things that Andy, my running partner and mentor, did is that when we would do our training we would run away from where our car was located. So to get back to our car, we would have to run back.

When we ran six or eight miles out, we would have to run the six or eight miles back.  Psychologically, I felt that I could see myself running six miles but I couldn’t see myself running twelve miles at that point. Once I got out to the six mile turn around and realized I had to go back to where the car was, I was going to finish no matter how hard it was, even if I had to walk .

I was going to finish!  I wanted to get home!

It is the same way in life. There are so many times when we just want to give up, but realize that the more times we finish whatever our task, we develop strength of character to overcome difficult obstacles.  If we find ourselves quitting and giving up every time things gets hard, we will never grow or achieve our goal.

There are many times when we would see our great leaders or people of strong faith going through a difficult time, but they found that strength and the character to never give up.  That isn’t something we are born with, but is something we develop.

What I learned every week in reaching and completing my goal was that with perseverance and practice I was able to finish.

Focus Point: Never give up

 “So much of what happens in life begins and ends in our own mind. “


Principle Six:   Set Short Goals 

When I was running up a long hill, even when I thought I could not run for the four minutes because the hill was so steep, I would set my eyes on a shorter goal to run, maybe only 50 yards or 30 yards ahead of me. If I set my mind on running to the top of the hill it would seem so far and hard to achieve I would give up mentally, which would cause me to give up physically.

Sometimes we have to focus on the immediate task ahead of us and not worry about the end goal. There are times in life when thinking about the tasks we have to accomplish for the week is overwhelming and it drags us down mentally and then physically.

Focus on what you are doing at that moment not thinking about anything else, enjoying the task,  finding the magic in that experience.

Focus Point: Keep your eyes on the task at hand

 “So much of what happens in life begins and ends in our own mind.” 

I hope these reflections will be as helpful to you as they were to me

Be a Miracle



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