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13 Things I Learned in 13.1 Miles

By Cheri Alguire

1.The Importance of Setting a Goal

Many of you are coaching clients of mine and have just finished your business planning and goal setting for this year. I wanted to share with you a personal story of goal setting and goal achieving that took place for me this past weekend. I don't ask you to do anything I wouldn't do. I really do live what I teach and preach.

It started over a year ago when a past coaching client of mine asked me to join Team Emily and run a half or full marathon for charity. Me. At that point in my life, running was something I did to the grocery store, to the dry cleaners and to the bank. I could only run (okay, lightly jog) for 20 minutes on the treadmill at the beginning of my work out, but for the most part I left running to my son Blake, the High School Senior and All State Cross Country Runner. I had never run for more than a mile at a time and that took me a good half hour to finish that.

I agreed to do it, half thinking she would forget in a year that I had even committed. It would be fun, I thought, and help me get into shape. I even started to get a little excited thinking, wow, wouldn't it be cool to say "I ran a half-marathon!"

The first thing you have to do is set a goal to do something. No matter how crazy it may seem, no matter how far off in the future or even if you are not sure how you are going to do it, the first thing to do is to decide.

2.Accountability: Everyone needs it

I remember talking to a friend who was an avid runner and telling her about the charity and the event. She wanted to do it with me. Okay, now I was committed. I couldn't rely on anyone "forgetting I agreed to run now. She didn't live close to me, but every time we talked or emailed, she always asked me how the training was going. I didn't want to tell her I hadn't started yet, so I would just say "great! She did not let me off the hook.

Along with my own personal trainer, Team Emily was under the training supervision of Coach Jack Daniels, PhD. He was named the NCAA Cross Country "Coach of the Century," has been the "National Coach of the Year" three times and was named the "World's Best Coach" by Runner's World. Jack has published five books on training and over 50 articles in scientific journals on both running and training. Check out his latest book, "Daniels Running Formula."

After you have set a goal, tell someone, anyone, everyone what you are going to do. Tell someone who will be excited and encouraging to you and hold you to doing it. Everyone needs a coach!

3.Become a Student of the Game

Running. You can do it by yourself or with a group. Other than a good pair of shoes, you don't need any special equipment. You can do it anywhere. So, when I decided to get out there and just do it, I found it more difficult than I anticipated. I needed to become a student first. I went to the bookstore, looked through every single book on running and bought five. (Yes, the cashier gave me a weird grin.) My favorite books were the "Absolute Beginner's Guide to Half-Marathon Training and the "Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer."

Knowledge is Power! Learning has never been easier. You can research practically anything on the internet and books have been written on every subject. Don't worry if you don't know how to do something. If you are willing, you can learn the rules of the game!

4.Practice, Practice, Practice

After I had read the books and hired the trainers, I just had to get out there and run. I knew I had to work on my cardio. I knew I had to work on strengthening the muscles and ligaments that would need to take me 13.1 miles. I had to practice.

Whether it is practicing running, scripts or an elevator speech, we all need to practice to improve at the skills necessary to be successful in running, business and in life.

5.Self Discipline is the Defining Quality

Yes, there were days I was too tired and really didn't feel like doing my training run, but I had to do it anyway. There were actually a lot of days like that but I knew I had to do it. No one was making me do it, I had to stay disciplined and do what I knew I needed to do.

Everyone knows the things they are supposed to do in their business from creating a business plan to lead generating. No one is going to make you do those things. You have to have the self-discipline to get your self to do the things you know you need to do.

6.The Importance of Visualizing

The Saturday before the race after I picked up my race number, I took the course map and drove the streets I was going to be running on the next morning. I noted every turn and bridge and underpass and visualized myself running it the next day. I even paid attention to where the water and "pit crew would be. I visualized running farther than I ever had. I visualized myself that night running the course and crossing the finish line with my hands held high in the air in triumph! The next day when I was actually running it, I was surprised at how quickly I was passing all the markers from the day before and could visualize what I had left to run.

In order to be successful in business and in life, we need visualize where we are going. You need to visualize yourself achieving the goal in your mind, before you will ever be able to do it.

7.Benefits of Starting from the Back of the Pack

This was my first ever organized run of any kind. On the application it asked what I projected my finishing time to be. I didn't have any idea so I left it blank. I would just be happy to finish in the four hours we were allowed. Because I left my estimated time blank, I was assigned corral number 24 out of 24. That meant there were 23,000 runners lined up in the 5 block stretch ahead of me. It took forty five minutes from the sound of the gun until I got to cross the start line. That meant I was back with a lot of people who were planning on walking the half-marathon instead of running it.

Because I was running, it meant I had to weave in and out of people passing them on the course. As challenging as this could be at times, it also boosted my confidence. Others I was running with eventually stopped and walked and I was able to continue running. I was able to build off my success and even after I passed the five mile mark which was the farthest I had ever run before, I was able to continue running until the very end.

Everyone has to start somewhere and usually that is at the bottom, the beginning or even the back of the pack. Build off your past successes and keep going for it!

8.Be able to find your own Dog Beach at Sunset

Part of my training the five months before the race included long runs on Sunday afternoons. These were the hardest for me to do so I decided to not run the same areas I ran the rest of the week. I instead went to one of my most favorite places, Huntington Beach. There is a beautiful six mile stretch of beach that you can park at, run and turn around and come back. In the middle of that six mile stretch is the famous Huntington "Dog Beach and I would typically hit that on my Sunday afternoon runs just in time for the sun to set. There is nothing like keeping stride with the silhouette of a Labrador or Retriever running carefree after a stick thrown by his owner. That inspired me on the training runs and when I hit mile 7 on the day of the half-marathon, I just kept remembering Dog Beach at sunset and drew inspiration from that memory and didn't even notice as the hot desert sun was getting higher in the sky. All I could think about were the dogs playing in the ocean waves.

Sometimes, the days get long and you are doing something that is monotonous or tough. Those are the times to go to your own Dog Beach at Sunset.

9.Running from the Neck Up

Before this weekend, the farthest I had ever run was four to five miles. There came a point when my right ankle and left knee, both of which I had wrapped, were beginning to ache. I had to concentrate on not thinking about the pain. I had to "run from the neck up." If one of the people I was running with would say something about an ache or a pain, they would hear me repeat "It's time to run from the neck up."

As I sit here days later still on the mend, I would do it all over again. You see, that was my chance. That was the moment I had been studying for and training for all year. I was going to finish. My body will heal, I knew that. I know others have done what I was doing and even though they felt the effects, they did it, and so could I!

Sometimes you don't see how you can do something. Sometimes you just have to know that you know that you can do it and complete the task. There comes a point where you just have to "run from the neck up!"

10.Cheerleaders are Underestimated

When I think back to how I was able to run farther in less time than I was ever able to do a much smaller distance, I know that part of that victory is shared by the thousands of cheering spectators, honking cars, cheerleading squads and bands that lined that route. As hard as it was for me to run for 2 hours and fifty-four minutes, they had to stay upbeat and cheer 24,000 runners and walkers on.

Find your cheerleaders and draw energy from them.

11. Importance of FLOW

I had heard that distance runners were able to run in "flow." I understood this intellectually, but never did find it for myself training for the half marathon. I did find it somewhere in those 13.1 miles. I am not sure what mile marker it came, but I noticed when I stopped to walk through a water stop, that it hurt to walk. Running was just very automatic. I was in flow. It only took three steps after I began running after walking through the water station to find the flow and then the running was almost effortless.

If you have the determination to keep pushing forward, you can find that flow in business and in life. You just have to be willing to keep pushing until you finally find it, or maybe I should say, until it finds you!

12.You really can do anything you set your mind to

My mother stopped over to see me the day I got back from the seven hour car ride back from the 13.1 mile event. She said something that night that has been repeated by friends and relatives that have called over the past few days. "You really can do anything you set your mind to."

If you really want to do something, or become something, or live something, you can. You really can do anything you set your mind to.

13.When you do something for the benefit of others, you receive so much more in return

The things I gained from this experience are absolutely priceless. I really did not believe until a year ago that running 13.1 miles was something I would be able to do. But I did.

When you do something for the benefit of others first, you are rewarded in ways you never would have dreamed possible.

This said, I did not run this race for my own benefit, but to raise awareness and money for a very worthwhile charity. I invite you to visit

I will never forget that moment that I crossed the finish line after running 13.1 miles, with my hands held high over my head in triumph, running from my neck up, with wings silk-screened on the back of my running shirt to let everyone know I was running for an angle, for Emily.

About The Author

Real Estate and Life Coach Cheri Alguire has partnered with hundreds of Real Estate Professionals to help them become more successful in business and in life. Coach Cheri is also the creator of the highly sought-after Five Year Business and Life Planning Guide for Real Estate Professionals. Learn more about this and Coach Cheri's other products and services at


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