The last 2 weeks I met 3 people who trained for the marathon and might not be able to do it, due to a foot, ankle or hip injury. Needless to say how very upset all three are by the prospect of not doing the run of their life, this coming Sunday.
It made me think of why it is so upsetting and I spent time with Helen, one of the three to find out more. After all, life has a habit of getting in the way of our plans and there is always another marathon or event and the race is only the icing on the cake. Or not?
Can’t run this marathon? Just go for the next one!
A rational approach would be: ‘Look, I have done the training, really went for it and it is just bad luck that I am not able to perform on the day. No one can do anything about it. It has nothing to do with my efforts, it is just bad luck. I am not a failure because of it.’
A big deal, like the London Marathon, becomes a big deal when big emotions are involved and I asked Helen what made it big for her. As Helen mentioned: a new experience, I like to set myself a challenge and feel good about achieving, I run for a great charity and…………….. ??? She thought that was it, but my prodding brought out some more reasons.
She wanted to:
- show her ex she was over him
- impress her father, who always said she was non-sporty
- be admired by some of her friends
- prove she was healthy, as she is a bit of a hypochondriac
- show that she could finish a project, as she was known as a bit of a ‘quitter’
Helen really wanted to show through her run that she is strong, ambitious and confident. She needs an achievement to validate how she wants to feel about herself and that’s why she is attached to the outcome: finishing the London Marathon.
We spoke about what she has done in the run-up. A lot of training, planning and effort has gone into Helen’s project ‘Marathon’. She has watched her food, sleep, supplements and sacrificed her social life. A few weeks ago she was already fit enough to do a marathon. I asked her: ‘Is that not worth anything? Is all this only valuable when it manifest itself on 23 April? You have done most of the work already; and the disappointment is that you can’t show it on the 23 – but that is only a day in the build-up of months of work.’
When Helen realised what her underlying motives were, she got more relaxed about the idea she might not be able to run the London Marathon this year…………….
But, maybe another year or maybe another marathon!