Make It

The mindset I used to finish my first marathon can be applied to any challenge

Four months of training and 26.2 miles later.
Courtesy of Kathleen Elkins
Four months of training and 26.2 miles later.

On Sunday, November 6, I ran 26.2 miles through the streets of New York City.

It was my first marathon. For four months, I strictly followed Hal Higdon's training program, running or cross-training six days a week.

When I wasn't working, sleeping, or eating, I was running. Training quickly became a part-time job.

On marathon Sunday, I had a knot in my stomach all morning and rightfully so. If you prepare for anything for almost half a year, you should be nervous. It means you care.

To alleviate the nervousness, I approached the race with a mindset my college tennis team embraced during high-pressure, post-season matches: I thought of it as a celebration.

And that's what it was. After all, I had already done the hard part. I had put in the work, logging up to 55 miles some weeks and hundreds of miles in total.

All that was left to do was to embrace and enjoy the moment to approach the race as a celebration of my months of hard work.

For just under four hours on Sunday, I savored the views of New York City and high-fived the fans lining the streets. I smiled the entire 26.2 miles. The next day, my cheeks were just as sore as my calves.

My cheeks were sore after three hours and 56 minutes of smiling.
Courtesy of Kathleen Elkins
My cheeks were sore after three hours and 56 minutes of smiling.

I trusted that I had done everything I possibly could do to own the moment and that not only alleviated pressure, it produced results. I felt strong, mentally and physically, the whole way.

This mindset can be applied to anything in life: a work presentation, pitching an idea to investors, or asking your boss for a raise.

Control what you can control, put in the hard work ahead of time, and when the time comes, treat the big stage as a celebration.

The results will follow.