As many of you know, this past Sunday I ran in the prestigious New York City marathon. It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had! Whether it’s in dance, school, work, at home or literally running...there are lessons I learned by training and running my first marathon that we can all apply to different aspects of life and I want to share them with you!
Lesson 1: You can do anything, if you put in the work
While I’ve run recreationally and done a few 10k’s over the past few years, I never considered myself a “runner”. I don’t have long lean legs and a body that glides through the air effortlessly like a gazelle; nonetheless I love fitness, a good challenge and the exhilarating feeling that running (like dancing on stage) gives you. I guess on a small scale, I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie. I started seriously training for this marathon 6 months ago by following an online training plan and committing to early morning and weekend runs whenever I could fit them in. Stop making excuses and telling yourself all the reasons why you can’t do something and focus on how you’ll make it happen. I know this can be easier said than done, but to achieve your goals you must be open minded and put in the work. Think of this..it’s hard for everyone, everyone gets tired, most people would rather do anything else than wake up crazy early in less than stellar weather to run but the most successful people put in the work to complete their goal, no matter what it takes. There’s no shortcut to anywhere worth going, anyway. I’m a huge advocate of setting goals, always learning and creating vision boards/visualizing your self achieving your goals. Maybe you aren’t the most flexible dancer or naturally graceful ballerina, it doesn’t mean you can’t be successful in whatever you want. Make a plan, commit to it, picture yourself completing it and give yourself a realistic time to get it done. Some days the training is easier than others..that’s okay. During training, I took it slow when I needed and pushed hard when I could but I didn’t give up.
Lesson 2: Be patient and give yourself grace
In dance, I see many kids get frustrated because they don’t master a technique right away. Most us don’t work like that! I know I don’t. With running, one day I would run 13 miles and it felt like a I could’ve gone forever and other days 3 miles felt impossible. I wasn’t perfect in my training and there were definitely days I missed training or didn’t do what I should’ve. On the hard days I did my best to show up, do what I could and told myself to be proud for getting out of bed at 3:30 A.M. and walking 3 miles, tomorrow would be better..and it was. On the good days, I pushed as hard as I physically could and felt proud of that too. No one expects us to be perfect, so we shouldn’t put such unrealistic expectations on ourselves. One of my favorite quotes is “Do the best you can, until you can do better..then do that”.
Lesson 3: Attitude and perspective are everything- Practice gratitude
I consider myself an optimistic realist. I do see out of rosy colored glasses, but I can also see when storm clouds are rollin’ in...haha! I truly believe what got me through my training and 26.2 miles through 5 boroughs and 4 bridges was that I constantly reminded myself that from the very beginning of training, I told myself that I will not stop. I would complete this marathon and I was going to be grateful that I could do so. Rather than thinking of the marathon as a daunting experience, I constantly reminded myself how lucky I was to get to experience the largest race on earth with a healthy body and the most perfect weather. Yeah, my legs hurt but everyone’s legs hurt towards the end of a marathon. Some people literally don’t have legs and STILL completed the marathon by hand-cycling. Could you imagine hand-cycling up a 1 mile bridge, then to have the control to go DOWN the next 1 mile on a bridge? Me either! When you look at it like that, us healthy people should really be using our bodies more to keep them running well because we are SO lucky to have the ability to do what we want! I’m constantly asking my dancers if they could be trying harder. If we train our brains to just push a little harder when something is tough, it makes the challenge a little more fun and easy to accomplish. This may be easier because I work with kids, and A.M. constantly reminded of their zest for life and innocence but I’m always looking at things from their perspective. Kids play outside for hours without complaining, in fact they often beg for more time! What difference is running around a gorgeous city for 5 hrs? Not much, actually!
Lesson 4: Remember Tomorrow
You only have one “first time”. Whether it’s your first audition, first impression, first day of the rest of your life...you’ll never have another day like today. I truly think what kept me on my pace when the marathon got tough towards the end (mile 22-26 were hardest for me) was was the fact that I would never have another first marathon and how I wanted to remember it trumped how I felt in that moment. Jesse Itzler is an amazing businessman and ultra marathon runner that I follow and he has this quote “Remember Tomorrow” and it really sticks with me. If you can get out of your head and think of how you’ll feel after today is said and done, when you get to your first dance competition or to your next recital or after your marathon, it’s a little easier to give it all you’ve got. I didn’t want my first marathon to be one where I thought I could have given a little more or I walked too much because my feet were tired. Essentially, it’s thinking before speaking or not wanting to have regrets. You have to put yourself in your future self’s shoes. How do you want to feel about this experience is over. After your dance recital, do you want to think that you could have worked a little harder in class or pushed through when your legs were tired? No! I promise you, you want to feel proud of all that you did and the only way to truly be proud is to be honest with yourself and give it all you’ve got!
I’m sharing all of this because I have so many people tell me “they wish they could....” or “I’d love to do _____, but...” well you CAN! Working with kids is such a huge responsibility and I don’t take it lightly. I want our On Pointe dancers to know they can truly accomplish anything in life. The sky is the limit!
If all you take away from this blog is giving a little extra effort in even one part of your life, setting a new goal or living your life a little more fully...that’s enough for me. I’d love if you share a goal or “bucket list” item you have with me!