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3 Painful Lessons About Practice

My medal for completing the 2013 Frederick Half Marathon

My medal for completing the 2013 Frederick Half Marathon

Four weeks ago I ran and completed the 2013 Frederick Running Festival Half Marathon – a 13.1 mile jaunt through the highways and byways of Frederick County Maryland.

Now mind you, the last time I had run a distance that far was early last summer before the birth of our son.

Even though I’m in better shape than I was then – great cholesterol and blood ratios as well as a 31 lbs weight loss – I still had not been training or practicing for the distance.

I signed up on a whim after a running buddy called me the Friday before the race. We both agreed to give it a whirl and registered the next day – committing to run the very NEXT day.

For the record, I’ve successfully completed a total of five full marathons and nearly a dozen half marathons – however, I trained and practiced for each one of those.

While I completed this most recent half marathon in a respectable time of 2 hours, 4 minutes – I was not successful, because I was hurting and continued to hurt until last week because I didn’t practice for this event.

Hence the title of this post….

1. Practice Prevents Pain

The old saying “practice makes perfect” doesn’t mean much to me because I don’t find it to be necessarily true.

I know plenty of people who practice their respective craft, hobby or sport many hours a day and are stuck at a certain level.

While practice doesn’t always lead to perfection it most certainly prevents physical pain. Regardless of the activity, the more you engage in it the stronger and better adapted your body becomes.

However, proficiency and perfection at that activity is another matter completely.

2. Practice Promotes Perseverance

During the hundreds of miles I’ve logged running the past few years, I’ve come to realize that the mind is tougher than the body.

On dozens of occasions and in the midst of several races when my body wanted to quit, my mind compelled me to finish.

That perseverance was practiced many times during training runs and became so habitual that it manifests itself on race day.

3. Practice Prepares Performance

If you’ve never competed or ran in an organized race I would strongly recommend you try it – event if it’s a 5K relay where you’re running/walking a mile. There’s an excitement around the starting line and the event that’s difficult to describe.

That sense of anxious excitement is exhilarating – especially when you know that you’ve logged the hours on the road, gotten your needed rest and visualized yourself crossing the finish line.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of confidence to perform that comes with a strong practice regimen. Those past practices help you realize that there isn’t anything on this course that you can’t handle.

It’s like being in school when you’re able to take a test in your favorite subject, with your favorite teacher and you’ve done all the homework and reading leading up to final exam.

You’re ready to perform and you know it.

Expect Pain When You Don’t Practice

I’m not surprised that my lack of practice for this latest race resulted in a painful outcome, but I was surprised at how long it endured. Luckily, I didn’t seriously injure myself – so I’m back running and walking.

Hopefully, I’ve learned something from this painful lesson.

Question: What’s one thing you’ve done in your life before you were ready that you regret?

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  1. Are you sure the ambient temperature had nothing to do with the aching that persisted? Not that practice is not important, but…

  2. Great thoughts, Tor. I am prone to race through everything. I consciously have to slow down. I find that when I do take the time to really learn and do something…I am much more efficient.

    • Thanks for the comment Eileen – I have to tell you that when it comes to making major decisions in my life clarity follows calm, which is a result of slowing down….

  3. Tor you are rocking it! How did you lose 31 lbs? Not saying you have the magic bullet–I bet you ate less and worked out more right :)

  4. I became a manager before ai was ready. It didn’t work out well.

  5. Perfect plethora of points promoting premeditated practice (promulgating persistent practices).
    Thanks for sharing these important lessons.

  6. I was going to attempt to complete my blue belt test in Gracie University without proper drilling practice. I felt because I had worked and taught the material for the last couple years I was ready but I quickly learned differently. Now our training has a drilling period each session and I should be ready at the end of the summer. Good post, Tor. Pain can be a good teacher sometimes. I don’t pitch a wiffel ball anymore.

  7. Wow, congratulations, Tor! I have friends who do marathons and I so admire you.

    I wouldn’t say I regret the event, but I do regret the lack of training for some of my 3-Day, 60-Mile Walks for the Cure. I will be doing my 10th 3-Day Walk in November and had the last 3 or so been prepared through training (practice, I guess yo’d say). ;-)

    The first couple of 3-Days I did, I trained religiously, but still got tons of blisters. Then I barely trained and added aches to the blisters. I finally found the right socks, the right shoes, and I found daily walks of 5 to 6 miles worked better to train me for 3 days and 60 miles than anything else I tried.

    I hit my 60th birthday after my 8th Walk and feel better than ever. :-)

  8. Tor, you exemplify the “train don’t try” approach. Thanks for the example you set! I’ve noticed many top leaders have a story on how they’ve made exercise and health a major priority…looking forward to clicking through to your linked post on the weight loss.



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