Life Lessons from an Ultra-Marathoner

RunningShoeHaving trouble getting inspired to make (and keep!) that list of resolutions? Giselle Carson, president of the Jacksonville Bar Association and Ultra-Marathoner, has 3 lessons she has learned from her first ultra-marathon experience that will help each and every one of us hit the ground running (pun intended) when January 1st rolls around:


Lesson #1: We have more in us than we can imagine
As you plan for 2016, I invite you to think big and challenge yourself.

On Sunday, I did my first ultra-marathon – a 50K run in the beautiful Guana Preserve. I was up at 5:00 am, drove to the Guana Park, lined up at 8:00 am and ran for the next 5 hours and 20 minutes. I had plenty of time to reflect on important life and ultra-marathon lessons.

I knew running a 50K would be difficult. I had had no time to train for this distance; had no experience running this far; and at mile 5 my right toes started rubbing against my shoe, causing me to be in pain.

There were many times when I wanted to just walk, but each time, I refocused, set a small goal (like running for the next 1/4 mile) and I was able to keep going. This happened for many miles, and I realized that I had a larger reserve of determination and grit than I imagined. And, you do also!

As you plan for 2016, do not be afraid to try new things… embrace and grow with each new challenge.


Lesson #2: When we change our thoughts, we change our lives
While running for 50K, it was easy to find a reason to complain – my feet hurt, it was cold and windy, and I was tired. When I stopped focusing on the negatives and started focusing on the positive – that I was healthy, free and capable of running a 50K, that I had the chance to run in a beautiful nature preserve without having to worry about cars passing by, or that I had a very good reason not to check my emails… my ultra-marathon journey became amazing!

It is not that my challenges disappeared, but instead of thinking “I can’t,” I started saying “I will,” “I can.” James Allen in As a Man Thinketh said,  “You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”

As you go through your day, week and year, watch your thoughts and make an effort to think positively. You might have to use some creativity, but that is also good! You will find that overall your days and life will be more enjoyable.

In fact, I encourage you to take a challenge: from today until the end of the year, challenge yourself to think positive every day!


Lesson #3: Finish strong
The race began with a tight pack of about 300 runners, some doing a relay and others like me, taking the full 50K challenge! The pack quickly thinned out and I found myself running with my friend, Maria.

Maria is the perfect running partner – as we ran, we strengthened our partnership to keep each other on pace and motivated. Together, we built up our momentum to push forward, mile-by-mile, closer to the finish line.

There were many things that acted as distractors – pain, tiredness, mental fatigue, tripping over roots (this was a trail run), but after my Garmin hit my new running record of 27 miles, I knew I could and would finish the race. From that point forward, I kept the thrill of crossing the finish line vivid in my mind.

During the holidays, it can be difficult to stay on track. It is important to remember that our successes in 2016 depend not on what you begin doing January 1st, but on what we begin doing today!

To finish strong and prepare for 2016, here are my tips:

  • Create a list of your Marias – partners who can help you achieve your goals (remember that your success depends not only on what you can do, but also who you do it with);
  • Be aware and fight distractions that might deter you from your path (excuses will always be there for you, opportunity will not); and
  • Create a picture of what you want to achieve in 2016 (similar to a visualization board) and look at it every day.

Are you going to finish strong?  I have started to take action on my 2016 goals and hope you have as well? If not, get started today!

“A year from now you will wish you had started today.” – Karen Lamb



image courtesy of flickr CC/Andrew Coyle