The headline's no metaphor. Yesterday morning I ran my first race ever - a 13.1 mile half-marathon around Central Park in 20 degree weather. See proof below:
As someone who is slightly obsessed with preparation and goal reaching, it makes sense that running a half-marathon and training over months to reach a target time and distance is something I would love. To be honest, I'm surprised it took me this long to sign up. While my ultimate goal is to finish the Paris Marathon on April 7, 2013, yesterday's half marathon served as just another benchmark on my way to what they say is the world's most beautiful marathon (complete with a route along the Seine River, through the Eiffel Tower, and by the Champs Elysses).
The Hardest Thing About Training for a Marathon (full or half):
Oh, you know, just the endless toil on my legs after running 30+ miles per week in sub-freezing weather. Did I mention it snowed in New York two days before last weekend's race?
The Easiest Thing About Training for a Marathon (full or half):
Often, people identify a goal and then work backwards from that goal to develop a plan of how best to accomplish. In running, this means getting a certain number of miles under the belt every week. Each week that number goes up until the day of the race. Preparing to complete a marathon is about as clean and clear as any plan could be. With the caveat that my body is relatively healthy and my legs are intact, the road map to successfully running a marathon is one of the more stable executions I've gone through. Here's another way to look at it: completing a marathon is mostly a matter of doing, a matter of putting one foot in front of the other repeatedly. Unless your goal is to win the actual race, there is little strategy involved regarding competition, contextual factors, etc.
What I've noticed is that this is rarely the case with other goals I've identified in my life. The necessary steps on the way to success are always so variable. Do I want to run my own start-up? Well, yes, but it depends on the industry, and the other competitors in the space, and the resources at hand, and so on and so forth. When it comes to these other life goals, action plans are always being rearranged. Putting one foot in front of the other seems to be necessary but not sufficient.