Taking part in a marathon teaches many life lessons

Taking part in a marathon teaches many life lessons

Portarlington psychologist and Operation Transformation expert Dr Eddie Murphy

Last week I stood in the sea in Connemara, up to my waist in cold water, nature's physiotherapy after running the Dublin City Marathon.

This was my fifth and hardest marathon, running on injury is never a good idea. Nevertheless as I stood in the icy sea, I thought about particular life lessons from marathons.

Practice & Persistence

You don’t decide to do a marathon without practice. To get competent in something they say it takes 10,000 hours. In life to reach your goal, your dream, it takes focus. It means that you miss out on things because you want to master the skill you desire. Think about where your energy and efforts should go. Is it in the right direction to wellbeing, or toward ill-health or toxic people?

Goal Setting

For some it maybe the marathon for others it’s getting healthier, talking to a long lost friend, finding a life partner, having a child. Regardless of age, it’s never too late to have a goal.

I am a big believer of having a big vision for your life, often termed a BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

It can be personal or it can set out how you would like things to be; for me, Ireland as a society where mental health and suicide prevention needs are immediately accessible, comprehensive and compassionate.

Do it For Others

Many marathon runners ran for charities, others in memory of loved ones. Doing something bigger than yourself is inspiring. I ran for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland, so at hard times I focused on their phrase ‘Every Breath Counts’.

When you do something for others you don't just discard stress, fear, anger or low self-esteem, you thrive and feel satisfaction, cheer, joy, hope and gratitude. Individualism leads to alienation and narrow interests.

Friends Help you

Many people run together and train together. I run with my sister Jean and friend Mary. On the long runs we laugh, cry, grieve, problem solve, connect and talk. Without them I would find it almost impossible to run. I truly admire the discipline of people who train on their own. However we are social beings and having friendships is good for our wellbeing.

Join your local athletic, walking, fit for life or park run group. On the run itself we got split up, but you always meet up with people on the marathon. Multiple acts of kindness occur. Encouraging words and smiles are a plenty.

Full Fitness

While it takes physical fitness to cross the line, mental fitness is essential. Opportunities happen and we choose to step up or step back. This is why some people perceive their lives full of luck. Instead of giving in to worry about what could go wrong, they think, 'Isn't that interesting? I'll give it a try'; It builds confidence, other opportunities emerge and your mental fitness grows.

A maj0r mental fitness skills is flexibility. Shake up your routine to create optimism and hope.

Sometimes marathons are not 26.2 miles but a life journey.

It’s not just about the finish, it’s the journey.