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Beating the Odds

Life Is a Marathon

You’re running a marathon today.

Maybe it’s not the Boston Marathon, but it’s a marathon just the same.

Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

Acquiring skill is a marathon, not a sprint.

Staying in shape is a marathon, not a sprint.

So for sure you are in a marathon. In the following quote, you can substitute the word “practicing” or “dieting” for the word “running.”

“Running is a big question mark that’s there each and every day,” said Peter Maher, Irish-Canadian Olympian and sub-2:12 marathoner. “It asks you, ‘Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?'”

To compete over the long haul, you must form some habits and change some. You must rearrange your life and your thinking. You must respond in a different way to adversity and to challenge.

“If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon,” said Emil Zatopek, who won three gold medals at the 1952 Olympics.

Anyone can deliver for short periods of time. Anyone can practice in sunshine. The landscape is filled with people like that. Running marathons requires more. Deliberate practice requires more. Accumulating the 10,000 hours needed for mastery requires more.

“I have to change a lot of things before I become a good marathon runner,” said Haile Gebrselassie, already a championship marathoner.

My friend Larry O’Connor was training for the Boston Marathon, but a bad hamstring kept him out. He blogs about the marathon mindset at the well-worth-reading Running for Your Life.

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Mike Tully speaks to sports, business and educational groups. He also works with coaches, athletes and teams to make their practice time more productive and efficient. He and Gary Pritchard are co-authors of “Ten Things Great Coaches Know.” To see Coach Tully and Coach Pritchard discuss “Seven Ways to Prepare for Adversity,” click here.


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