One of the hardest goals I’ve ever set and achieved was running a marathon a few years ago. The training itself was intense and time-consuming. My best friend and I had to get up while it was still dark on weekends and run for hours. Sometimes we would get home and struggle to get calories back into our bodies as fast as we could, or fight to drag our aching carcasses into the shower before we fell into much-deserved unconsciousness or some other near-comatose state on our couch.
Popped blisters on our feet? Check. Sciatic nerve pain for her? Check. Side-stitches? Stomach cramps? Questioning our sanity? Definitely.
But the part that really tested me was race day itself, when all of our training and planning apparently went out the window, and my body rebelled. Horribly.
I had to stop and walk. I had to vomit at the side of the course, more than once. I had to douse myself in cold water and accept a bag of ice from some of the people running the race, and proceed to cram it down my shirt.
They worried they’d have to call an ambulance, but I knew I could push through. I was more worried that I wouldn’t finish, that all the training would be for nothing and I’d never finish my bucket list goal. 26 miles before I turn 26! I’d thought so blithely only the day before.
I felt like an idiot and a failure. It’s not fun puking in front of strangers, or having to slow your marathon pace to a crawl. Talk about humbling.
Isn’t this failing? I thought. I’m not “running” this marathon anymore.
But one of the other racers, who had run many marathons in her life, and who slowed her pace to keep me company while I struggled, explained to me that this race actually gave out a prize to the last finisher. Why? Because it takes incredible persistence to keep going when everyone else has finished.
It takes a lot of endurance and will-power to keep running, walking, or crawling for hours upon hours and not just quit and go home.
And I was determined to finish that race, even if I had to crawl across the finish line.
I was not the last person to finish that race that day, but the lessons I learned were invaluable.
In life, if you want to achieve your goals, you have to want whatever you’re pursuing more than you fear the obstacles. Pain? Setbacks? Disappointment? Doubts? They will test your willpower, and they will crush you if they find it lacking.
What goal are you trying to achieve? Remember to hold on to the reason you so badly want to accomplish it, and the setbacks will begin to seem small. Remind yourself that the pain of failing will hurt worse than the pain you face along the way to accomplishment.
And if you’re fortunate, you won’t have to throw up in front of strangers along the way.
You’ve got this.