Life Lessons I Learned from Running a Marathon

The power of mindset...

Ben Tucker

1 month ago|5 min read

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I recently ran the 2022 LA marathon. My finishing time was 3:42:09. To put it lightly, it was hard. To be realistic, it was the most challenging thing I have ever accomplished in my life.

I know I’m only 22 and that doesn’t mean much at this point in time. But still. I can affirmatively say the human body was not designed to run 26.2 miles.

This is coming from a college soccer player. I’m used to running for long periods of time.

I did however learn a lot about myself throughout my nearly four hour session of agony, and I’d thought I’d share with all of you the most valuable things I learned.

This is not specific to runners, and applies to everything you do in life.

Practice Makes Perfect, Sort Of

My first takeaway from this experience is that practice trumps literally everything. To achieve anything, you have to practice with intensity, purpose, and consistency.

I’m not just talking marathons here.

Training for something you care about or some goal you want to achieve requires far more energy, effort, and time than you could possible imagine.

For context, I ran between 20–25 miles PER WEEK. While this is definitely a lot of miles, I can safely say this was short of what I probably should’ve been doing.

Popularized in Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers”, the 10,000 hour rule is something I’m sure most of you have heard of at some point.

The basic idea is that to truly master a skill, a minimum of 10,000 hours of practice and intensive training are required.

Note the key word here, intensive. Training or practicing for something is one thing, but doing so with intensity and purpose is another.

Now I’m not saying you should run 10,000 hours to be able to run a marathon.

Or to do anything in life.

But this idea is tangentially close to what I’m trying to get at here. Practicing for anything in life, whether owning a business, learning to swim, becoming a samurai, or running a marathon all require an unbelievable amounts of time and dedication.

I would argue that “practice makes perfect”, really means “practice makes almost perfect, undying discipline, consistency, and devotion makes perfect”.

Whatever your goal is in life, make sure you practice and devote as much time as you can to it.

And treat your practice like the real thing. The old adage is that “you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training.”

This might not be true for some of you, but really think about how often this could apply to you.

The problem most people have with achieving things is that it’s easy to be seduced by short-term thinking. Everything in life takes time.

The “get rich quick” or “get good at anything” scheme is impossible. Time is our greatest resource. When used wisely can help us achieve whatever we want. And I truly mean that.

If you really want to master or achieve something, you must be willing to devote an unbelievable amount of time and focus to it.

While I am undoubtedly proud of my marathon time, it was 12 minutes and 9 seconds shy of my original goal. Perhaps more training and practice could’ve pushed me to my true goal.

You Are Your Own Worst Enemy, and It’s Not Even Close

Your mind is far more powerful than you think.

For better or worse.

And no, not the force. Although I would settle for that.

Our minds help us all achieve things we never dreamt possible. Our mind can push us to be bigger and better, chasing our dreams even when others stand in your way.

The thing is, other people are the lesser of two evils here.

As glorious and powerful as your mind can be, it is your worst enemy. For all its power, the mind can be the true villain of our lives.

Think of all the times you’ve thought to yourself…

“I don’t think I’m good enough to…”

“There’s no chance I…”

“I’m not sure if…”

“I hope I don’t…”

Just to name a few. These are all self-defeating thoughts I’ve found myself at the mercy of before. I know I’m not alone here when I say I’ve had self-defeating and negative thoughts on what I can or can’t do.

Now I’m no Tony Robbins or The Rock or any other motivational speaker. But I am right when I say this. You are in full control of your success through the power of your mind.

The way you view your skills, dreams, and goals will ultimately define your success.

Mile 23.

That’s where I started having negative thoughts as to why I was running this damn marathon in the first place.

I had six separate muscles cramping simultaneously. Both hamstrings, both calves, one of my lats, and the bottom of my right foot. Yes, please laugh at that.

It would’ve been very easy to let negative thoughts dictate the end of my race. Did I beat my initial time goal? No. Did I complete the marathon? Yes. Did I let negative thoughts invade my mind and deter me? Absolutely not.

My takeaway here is to be the master of your mind. Sounds funny.

The mind is something we ultimately control, but a lot of the time it controls us.

Don’t be the creator of your own downfall. Keep out negative thoughts at all cost, and find how a powerful and dangerous a positive mentality can be.

Ceilings Are Comfortable, but Will Trap You Forever

Ceilings are comfortable. We love having rigid definitions about everything in life. We literally invented math and science to make ourselves feel better about what’s going on in the world.

We are prone to setting ceilings and limits, because they are comfortable. Because limits and ceilings give us easy benchmarks. Ceilings ultimately make life easier.

Easy tip, never set ceilings for yourself. Push outside your comfort zone. Outside what you think is possible.

I always and am looking for ways to do this, and I hate it. But ultimately, it will help me achieve and attain my dreams.

Even if you fail and do something completely and utterly embarrassing that you will never forget. At least you tried. At least you ventured past where you thought was possible for yourself.

Again, this was mile 23 for me. At mile 23, I considered walking the rest of the marathon.

Believe me, that would’ve have been VERY comfortable.

And a week later since running the marathon, my body definitely wishes that I set more boundaries and stayed in my comfort zone.

For three miles I ran and limped, with intense cramping and sharp muscle pain. So much so that I shed a couple of tears along the way.

But I was so determined to not set limits for myself that I ultimately prevailed. Did I fail? Yes, I missed my marathon target time. Did I limit myself? Absolutely not.

Who knows. Maybe if I walked the remaining miles my body would’ve fully given up on me.

Never build ceilings for yourself. How can you “reach for the stars” if there’s a damn ceiling in the way.

Life is about pushing boundaries, not setting limits. Limit yourself and you will forever find yourself living in comfort, but haunted by untapped potential.

I hope these lessons find you well. Just remember you always have the ability to make your dreams and goals a reality.

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Ben Tucker

I help educate people on finance and successful habits. Check out my website for more content: www.lyfeblog.com Business Email: [email protected]

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