The 5 week rule – will it really matter?

Disappointment can come in many packages. Bubble wrapped broken hopes, dreams and unfulfilled goals. When things don’t pan-out as expected, it’s easy to feel downright disappointed.

Here’s my story. So, I was walking along with a good friend one sunny afternoon and she declared she would run the New York marathon in just under 2 years time. At the beat of my heart, a blink of my eye, a mere millisecond I announced that I would join her. In the next heart beat, blink and millisecond my brain kicked in and I was left astounded as to what I’d just signed myself up for. You see, I’m the type who always follows through. If I say I’ll do something, I will go ahead and do it. The other thing was, although I loved running and ran regularly along the beach with my dog, I’d never run more than 11kms before. I’d also heard myself voice more than once that a marathon was not for me!

So, not a person who does things by halves, I set about implementing a plan that would set me up to not only ‘do’ the marathon, but conquer it. Enlisting the aid of a running coach, I immersed myself in a training program that made me feel like a 20 year old elite athlete. I completed two half marathons and ran 20+ training half marathons within 10 months. I felt invincible and secretly in awe of what my body was withstanding.

Then it all came crashing down. In hindsight I was fast tracking my bodily breakdown, over-pushing my limits. First it was the knee, the pain not only keeping me off the track for 6 months but forcing me to limp through the streets, feeling a shadow of myself. Then, after a brief 10-week respite and a re-invigorated marathon last minute training attempt, a femoral stress fracture literally took the wheels off and brought me to a complete stop.

Yes, I felt crushed, disappointed, sad, a failure, angry, and devastated. How could this be happening to me? I’m fit and capable. I know I can do this.

Meanwhile, my dear friend, who hates running by the way, had little time and motivation to train. She, however, was fully intending to line up at the start line and give it her best run-walk effort, knowing it was simply about getting through the day. She was excited, not only for the run, but for the entire trip.

I could have pulled out of the trip; left her on her own. I could have withdrawn and avoided the whole scenario. But I’d made a promise to this friend. I had agreed to show her around New York, a place I’d had the pleasure of visiting at least 10 times while this was her first visit. I’d arranged the whole itinerary!

I sought coaching in the weeks leading up to the event. I was to be there on the side lines. I shifted my focus and reminded myself that it wasn’t about me anymore. As the event drew closer I noticed I was becoming detached from it, I was becoming un-emotional about it. But I was hopeful to gain from it. I thought I’d be inspired to witness the journey and success of others. I thought I’d hear motivating and amazing stories and meet incredible people.

Instead, I learned that I’d built it up in my own world to be far greater than what it is. Yes, it’s a terrific event and an awesome achievement. Yes, the community come out in droves to support it, the atmosphere is immense. But no, it was lesser in terms of a life changing event that it’s dreamed up to be.

People who apply themselves to academic achievement are as inspiring. Those who succeed in business or set up their own businesses, working through multiple disappointments are as worthy, or more worthy, of awe. Those pushing through illness, disease, and pain require more endurance. Those caring for sick, injured or dying children suffer more pain.

This event consumed an incredible amount of time, focus and energy over the past two years. Expectations were not met. But the lessons learned were also unexpected. The biggest take-away? If it won’t matter 5 weeks after the event, then it really doesn’t matter……..

Building perspective and seeing things objectively can help us deal with disappointment and grow from it. Moving forward with the strength of this new learning builds resilience and shows grit.


Author: Kristin McMaster, Director, health Coaches International, ICF Member, Health, Business & Transitions Coach, MNut, Grad Dip Bus, Dip Fitness, Executive Coaching.

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