Life tips learned through sports training

On a recent flight to Mexico, I sat next to a young woman named Rachel Rich who was returning from Jerusalem. There she represented the state of Florida at a half marathon.  Being a former marathon runner, I was curious to learn about her experiences.  Given Rachel had previously run 9 marathons and 70 half marathons, I figured she could impart some interesting observations from her running experience. 

Rachel explained that she used the Galloway method (run three minutes, then walk one minute) to do the race. She lamented that because of Jerusalem’s hilly terrain, she had not done particularly well.  Not unusual for even a serious runner, she hit the wall about mid-way through the race.  Rachel knew she needed to use some mind-game technique to help her complete the race in a respectable time.  She picked the time-honored method among athletes of setting small goals and accomplishing each increment, one by one.  Before long, she was at the finish line.

Another friend, Michelle, discussed using the same process at work. “There are times when I know the next two weeks are going to be brutal in the office.  I just keeping telling myself to take it one day at a time.  And then, it’s over and I can relax.”

This made me think that there might be other tricks learned through sports training which can easily be transferable to normal life. Everyone one knows about visualization, positive attitude and motivational self-talk which athletes use regularly.  Here are a few other concepts which might come in handy in your daily life at home and at work:

1.    Developing grit takes patience, passion and fortitude: Like sports, life is a non-stop express train where you are constantly faced with new challenges.  Grit requires a tireless pursuit of excellence and an ability to hunker down to get the job done.  If you are passionate about your task-- running a marathon, landing a big piece of business or even building a garden in your back yard--you need the same desire to excel in order to produce results that give you pride.

2.    Success is never to be taken for granted:  Even when you’re prepared with proper training and will power, sometimes the stars are just not lined up in your favor.  Learn to accept this reality. But, don’t forget to try to understand what might have been the cause for your less-than-stellar performance—even when it is out of your control. Having a better grasp of the situation and how to deal with it in the future can be a powerful tool.

3.    It has to be fun: Just because it is hard does not mean it can’t be fun too. And, if you are going to work really long and hard, whatever the task is, if there is no enjoyment in the process, you need to rethink what you are doing. Remember, as stated by Martha Beck,  sociologist, life coach and best-selling author, “Having fun is not a diversion from a successful life; it is the pathway to it.”