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Contributed by: Wood Mackenzie, A Verisk Business
“The excitement around half marathons often is the same as at a marathon — except you get to go home early.”Hal Higdon, legendary running guru and former world masters champion
When I decided to commit to running Houston’s half marathon this year, I knew it would be a personal challenge at all levels — family life, work demands, and of course, physically. What I didn’t know was how I was going to work it all out.
Setting the pace
People talk a lot about work-life balance. But life just doesn’t fall neatly into two buckets. On any given week, the scale is probably tipped in one direction or the other. But we can manage our time more effectively, and launching a multiweek training program was going to force me to get even more serious about it. So I made a schedule at the outset to keep track of my training runs, along with my regular work commitments, and shared it with my family.
As a marketing VP and team leader, I’m a firm believer in workplace transparency — but it’s just as important at home. By sharing my plan with my family, I not only carved out time to train, but also set an example for my kids and talked to them about why I was committed to run the race. Having the support of my husband and kids was critical to my motivation, and knowing that I was showing my littles that it’s possible to achieve big goals — with hard work and determination — felt incredible.
That’s when the really hard work started. I’m a regular runner, but hadn’t gone beyond a 10k in years. The early runs were fun, but the second half of the program was going to be a bit brutal. So that’s when I started using visualization techniques.
Running is a mind game. Yes, it taxes your body, but the biggest limiting factor in training for a race or running one is mental. Endurance athletes often use visualization tactics as part of their regular training — but you don’t have to be a pro to do the same thing. Some runners map out the whole race visually in their minds. Where is that hill? Is there a sharp turn that will affect my pace? They imagine themselves running the entire course — where they will slow down or gain momentum.
I prefer to visualize success. Whether it’s a long-run training day or race day itself, I breathe deeply and see myself crossing the finish line. I feel the rush of happiness that I’ve passed another milestone — that I didn’t give up. I tell myself I’m strong, I can do this — and envision myself just crushing it at the end. It may seem silly, but visualizing a positive outcome can get you past all kinds of hurdles.
In fact, I use this same technique in the office. Before I go into a meeting, I visualize myself delivering my presentation or ideas, and how people will react to them. I see myself walking away from it smiling. I go into challenging situations envisioning myself solving a problem or conquering my fears.
Bottom line? You don’t have to run a race to feel accomplished. If you can see yourself succeeding, you will. Trust your instincts and prepare your mind with positive energy, and you’ll cross finish lines, big and small, all day long.