5 Lessons I Learned About Life From Completing My First Half Marathon

It is said you always remember your firsts.  Your first crush. Your first love. Your first kiss. Your first home. Your first half-marathon.  Sometimes you can recall even the most minor detail of that experience. This is true for me.

I remember it all.  I remember each step.  I remember the pain in my foot at mile 7.  I remember how good it felt to pass the old guy with the cane (hey, he was fast).  I remember the mental battle that waged inside my head and how I had to overcome.

I remember what it felt like to finish!

5 Lessons I Learned About Life

After recovering from this experience, I realized that participating in this half-marathon was a metaphor for life and that there are lessons built into this experience.

Here are five lesson I learned from this experience:

  1. Training Helps – the experience becomes easier if you have trained for it.  If you want to do your absolute best, you need to train.  I did not do enough training to support my 13.1 mile race. I squeaked by on grit and shear determination.  This will not get you by in life.  It will help, but if you spend a little bit of time then you can really excel and blow any time or anything out of the water.


  1. Finish the Race – completing the race matters more than we realize.  In life when we set goals, our most basic desire is to finish; however, we often allow our mind to squash the importance of completing the goal.  We rationalize the achievement away.  We say it doesn’t matter or we will get to it next time, but the truth is there might not be a next time.

Finish Line

  1. Win the Mental Battle – this is the most important lesson I took away from the half-marathon.  I was strong through the middle miles, but as the beach lingered on with no variation, my mind started to weigh on me.  My feet started to hurt and the mile markers didn’t appear as quickly as earlier and I started to get discouraged.

Mental Battle

At one point, my feet hurt so bad I wanted to pull my shoes off and just rest; however, I knew if I stopped I would never start again – I had no choice, I needed to keep going. When life is tough and you face a crossroads, you can either stop and throw in the towel or you can keep going one step at a time. I chose to keep going and I hope you will too.

  1. Better Together – you do not need to be a lone ranger.  I did this half-marathon with six other friends and colleagues.  One friend tackled the marathon and the rest of us toed the line in various waves of the half.  We laughed. We moaned. We questioned our sanity. We conquered fears. We listened to a lot of great tunes. We experienced the race…together.

Group Celebration Picture

When you tackle a challenge together, you have someone to lean on and in life that is so important. No one is an island, we were created to live in community and even when the journey is long, frustrating and even painful having a shoulder to lean on can help you get through any challenge.

  1. Celebrate the Victories – finishing is one aspect of the journey, but celebrating the achievement gives voice to your accomplishment. After the race we took time to celebrate what we had achieved by sharing a meal together. We recounted how we felt, what our times were, and how we plan to better it next time. When we crossed the finish line, we received our finishing medal – it was the culmination of our journey and validation of our hard work.


Be proud of yourself for your accomplishment – it means something great happened!

It seems like just yesterday when I could barely walk to lunch after the race and by feet were barking at me or rather yelling at me, but I was proud of what I accomplished – my time: 4:01:16.

I was proud of what our group accomplished.  My parents were proud of me and even at 39 years of age that matters.  My friends kids were proud of their mom. And we, as a group of friends and colleagues, were proud of each other and told each other.

In life, these moments when we accomplish our dreams…complete a goal…scratch another item off our bucket list…these are the moments we will remember.

Question: What lessons have you learned from your accomplishments?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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I help facilities manager and planner create spaces that are backed by research, engage employees of all generations, and drive business objectives. I am also the founder of Dave's Book Club – a once per month reading experience designed to help professionals grow their influence.

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