I recently completed something that some might think insane. Others may think it would be impossible. Others might think it was cool, but they would never ever do it.
In June of 2022, I was reaching the milestone of the big 5-0! Yes, I am sure you can’t believe that the person writing all of these articles over the past couple of years could possibly be turning 50. But, it is true. The other thing to remember about me is that I love big challenges! In previous articles, I wrote about setting BHAGs (big hairy audacious goals) both professionally and personally. So, for my BHAG in 2022, with the reality that I was turning 50, was that I decided to challenge myself to run 50 half marathons (13.1 miles) during the year. I called it “50 halfs in my 50th!”
This meant that every week but two, I would need to get dressed, lace up my shoes, and go hit the pavement for 13.1 miles and run for 2-2 ½ hours. There would be many issues, such as weather (I live in the midwest, after all), the wear and tear on my body, the time away from family, the early mornings, and on and on.
The lessons gained from this are not about running…they are about life. They can help you understand how to build resiliency through consistency.
You are probably saying, “that’s cool,” but asking the obvious question to yourself, “how does YOU running 50 half marathons in a year teach ME about resiliency?” Well, I am so glad you asked. Let’s dive right in, and hopefully, by the end of this article, you will realize what you can do with this insight to make this year a great year for you!
The very first lesson you can gain from this is to set a goal. It doesn’t have to be crazy like mine, but it should stretch you. It should be something that matters to you. It should be something that, if achieved, will improve your life and your mindset.
The reason I decided to set such an audacious goal for myself was for this very reason. I wanted to stretch the limits of possibility for me. I have already run many, many half marathons over the past ten years of running (74 half marathon races to be exact). I love the distance, and it is the sweet spot endurance challenge for me. But, to think, “could I really run a half marathon almost every single week?” Holy cow! Everything would have to line up from a life, health, and timing perspective. The challenge both excited a scared me at the same time. That’s when you know it is a great goal!
The second lesson is you must decide how are you going to achieve your goal. We’ve all heard the saying, “how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” It is so true. You can’t have a goal to do $1 million in business next year and expect it to happen on the first call, first sale, or first anything. You have to break it up into manageable bites. Using the $1 million example, you can break that up by the month. Obviously, $83k sounds much more manageable than $1 million. Or, you can break it down even further if you know your metrics, such as 55 calls per day will result in x sales, which will result in hitting 1 million by the end of the year. If you can identify the effort needed that will create the result, it is much more manageable.
For me, the goal of 50 half marathons meant that I needed to run 1 per week. This meant that each and every week, I needed to figure out when I could get out for 2+ hours. That isn’t easy with work and family obligations, right? But, because it was important to me, I made sure to plan accordingly and not allow obstacles to throw me off. Again, I was not trying to run 50 at once…I only needed to run 1 in the week.
The third lesson learned is to push through even when life gets in the way. Sometimes life does not make things easy, right? You set a great goal; you plan out everything you need to do to hit it; you’re excited by it, and then life finds a way to smack you upside the head. It could be a small thing or something significant. Of course, you have to expect that things will happen. After all, it is called life. But, how you choose to respond the life’s curveballs will be one of the biggest reasons whether you achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself…or not.
In 2022, life decided to throw a few too many curveballs. Over the course of the year, my family and I had to deal with the loss of 3 people close to us (my wife’s Dad, my Mom, and my business mentor/partner), along with our family dog. But we handled it the best way we could. Even with these losses, I chose not to let the sadness derail me. To flip it on its head, I chose to use adversity as a driving force to achieve the goal I set for the year. Instead of letting the curveballs knock me down, I let them lift me up. What do you do when curveballs are thrown your way?
The fourth lesson learned is you must be willing to sacrifice to gain something even more significant. There is a saying a business colleague shared with me many years ago, and it was so meaningful that I turned it into a sign that hung in our office:
“If you want to get what you’ve never had,
you have to be willing to do what you’ve never done.”
Think about that quote...are you willing to sacrifice something, whether it be time, energy, money, sleep, etc, to achieve your goal? This sacrifice may be something you never done. Or you did it for a short amount of time and gave in. If the goal matters to you, you will be willing to do whatever is needed.
In my case, I was willing to sacrifice greatly to achieve this audacious goal. I chose to give up sleep. I also decided to give up time, sometimes starting my half-marathon run at 4:30 am. But, I also had some non-negotiables, such as not being willing to give up too much of my family time. So, I would instead give up a little sleep and still achieve my weekly goal of running the half marathon. That was a small sacrifice for what mattered to me the most.
The fifth lesson learned is you are capable of so much more than you ever thought!
I am a big believer in streaks because they build consistency. For example, in August 2016, when the Summer Olympics began, I jumped into a challenge committing to achieving 10,000 steps every day for three weeks. Because I ran 3-4 days per week, I would hit the 10k during those days and then be hit or miss on the non-running days. Shifting my focus to achieving them every day…just for three weeks … changed my mindset that was built through consistency. I never thought we would be here in January 2023, and I have kept that streak of hitting 10,000+ steps every day for more than 6 years. I would never have thought I was capable of doing something like that.
If I had set a goal of hitting 10,000 steps for at least 6 years, I would have immediately laughed it off. But, by setting a goal that was very manageable (3 weeks), I was able to do something bigger than myself. It has turned into a way of life. This lesson holds true with my 50-half marathon goal. I never in a million years would have thought that was possible. But, I had the faith, desire, and determination to achieve it.
The final lesson learned is even when you think you are done, you still have more to give.
When you are nearing the finish line of achieving your goal, you have a choice: You can do it and stop…or you can keep going. It is that simple. Stop or go. The fact is far too many people achieve their desired goal and choose to stop. They decide to take the accolades and settle back into mediocrity.
What do you do after achieving a goal? I choose to keep going. So, the week after I ran half marathon #50, where many people adorned me with humbling compliments, I decided to wake up early and run half marathon #51. I did it for myself, and I did it to prove this exact point: We all have more to give than we think.
We are all capable of doing more than we thought...
Like Nik Nikic's son Chris Nikic, I hope to continue to live by the mantra that we are all able to give 1% more! (If you don't know his story, I implore you to look it up)...
Like David Goggins, I know that "the human body can withstand and accomplish a lot more than most of us think is possible and that it all begins and ends in the mind." (full disclosure--I was listening to the final two hours of Goggins' new book "Never Finished," and it definitely pushed me!)...
As Jesse Itzler says, "No experience is necessary to push yourself past what you think you can do…
Like the University of Utah football team, I believe we can all do 22% more (in honor of the two players who died in the past couple of years)...
You might think every one of these statements is corny or over-the-top. But I truly believe every single one of them, and I try to live by them. We are all capable of SO MUCH more, and we have so much more to give than we thought
10 years ago, I never thought I could/would run 1 single half marathon...it's amazing what can happen when a mind and body get together and decide to go for it!
If you have read to the end of this article, my hope is that you don’t think to yourself, “that’s great that Chris did that, but I couldn’t do something like that.” Instead, I hope you are inspired just a tiny bit by my stories. I hope that these stories help you realize that you can build resiliency through incremental consistency, whether that is running a half marathon a week for 50 weeks like me, taking your spouse on a date every week of the year, or hitting 1 million in sales by doing $83k a week.
The specifics of the goal only matter to you. Be resilient and make it happen!