Whilst running on Sunday morning recently, my friend Belinda told me something I found fascinating about her recent Toyko Marathon adventure.
When she lined up at the starting line she found herself just metres behind the elite runners. Minutes before the race began all the best marathon runners were introduced to the crowd and took their place at the front, ready for the race to begin.
Belinda admitted that she started the race too fast, but her reason for this minor mistake was magnificent. The plan was to run 4:40/km pace for the first few kilometres, however, she and the other runners at the front of the field felt a pull from the inertia created by the elite runners.
Belinda wasn’t offering an excuse. Her comment was more matter of fact that it’s just something you have to be aware of if you’re that close to the best of the best. The crowd was trying to keep up with the elite runners and for a while, Belinda just had to go along with it.
Two things occurred to me on hearing this innocent story.
Firstly, it reminded me of the blog I wrote a month ago about the people you associate yourself with. The natural pull of the elite runners is similar to spending time with people who you aspire to be like. If you spend a lot of time with people that work hard, earn lots, react well to failure there is a real chance that the positive energy and momentum that they create can inspire you to greater heights.
The opposite applies too – spend more time with people surrounded by corrosive, resignative or comfortable energy and you could be dragged towards danger like a rip in the ocean.
The second was how easy it is to be distracted by others. It takes a lot of energy to create habits designed to achieve a goal and it takes just as much energy to stay focused.
Every week hidden distractions test our focus, especially when many look like opportunities. An invitation to a conference, notifications on social media and countless emails are all distractions that use up valuable time and if acted on threaten to take more of our time in the future. All it does is delay us getting to where we really want to be. If not controlled it can put any one of us all in a position where instead of having the things we want in life, we are left with a bunch of reasons why we don’t.
The good news for Belinda was that she dominated her own race and smashed her own personal best by 17 minutes. I hope to do something similar later this year in October in the Melbourne Marathon and appreciate stories like this to help keep me focused along the way.