Provision #119: Have a Partner

LifeTrek Provision

This LifeTrek Provision is unabashedly autobiographical. If that turns you off, or if you don’t enjoy reading about marathon running, then read no further. But there are lessons here with wide applicability. Running, after all, is a metaphor for life. And this particular run became especially so.

Bob runs two marathons a year, one spring and the other fall. The spring marathon is a little harder to prepare for, since he’s training through the winter with more weather interruptions. Having access to an indoor track or a treadmill is a good idea in this part of the country. In addition to weather interruptions, Bob encountered two other problems in his preparation for the Cleveland Marathon.

First, he developed a pulled hamstring muscle about 2• months prior to the marathon. Lesson: take time to stretch and warm up before exercising vigorously. Metaphor for life: don’t be in such a rush to get going that you fail to get ready. Adrenaline can get a lot done, but it takes a toll. We can suffer or hurt ourselves in the process. Better to work effortlessly, with balance and energy.

Second, he followed an inadequate training schedule. It was long enough: about 46 miles a week, but it wasn’t planned right: too many sub 60-minute runs and too few 180-minute plus runs. This was partly in response to his pulled hamstring, but it was also a lack of knowledge about what makes marathon running effortless. Metaphor for life: master your subject if you want hard things to be easy. That’s true in every area: true mastery appears and feels effortless.

In the weeks prior to the marathon, Bob overcame his pulled hamstring with reduced mileage and the assistance of a massage therapist. Metaphor for life: don’t be afraid to spend time and money to take care of yourself. It can pay big dividends in the end.

Bob could not overcome his inadequate training schedule, but fortunately he didn’t know that at the time. So Bob arrived at the starting line filled with enthusiasm and armed with a plan for running a sub 3:40 marathon. More importantly, he also arrived at the starting line with two friends, running buddies, who had gone to Cleveland with him to provide more than just moral support. One, Linda, was running in the 10K race. The other, Mark, was going run the last six miles of the marathon with Bob.

Everything went according to plan during the first half of the race. Bob passed the halfway point at 1:49, on target for a sub 3:40 marathon if he’d run a negative split. But he faded in the second half of the race. Where were those long training runs when he needed them! It also didn’t help that it was a warm, sunny day. A great day, in fact, for a picnic but a lousy day for a marathon run. Metaphor for life: learn to accept the things that are truly beyond your control.

The heat and sun caused dehydration that made Bob a bit silly and disoriented from mile 22 forward. As one veteran marathoner quipped: mile 22 is the halfway point of a marathon. This was surely true in Cleveland on May 2. To compensate for his borderline delirium, Bob reached out and grabbed Mark’s hand as they were running. He thought it would help to hold hands for just a minute. They ended up running the rest of the race that way, crossing the finish line together with clasped hands lifted in triumph.

Bob and Mark finishing the Cleveland MarathonMetaphor for life: have a partner. Someone you can count on and draw strength from. Someone who can anchor you in the present moment. Someone who can share your pain and their reserves. Someone you can touch and feel. That’s why many people retain coaches. No one goes through life alone. But we often act and feel like we do. It’s time to abandon the notion that real people do it by themselves. Have a partner and do it together. It’ll make the hard times easier and the easy times better. It’ll assist you to finish the race in style.

Bob finished the Cleveland marathon in 3:46, short of his goal but nevertheless a personal record that would not have been possible without Mark’s assistance in the final miles. Thanks, Mark, for being a great partner in the run.

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May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School
Immediate Past President, International Association of

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