Are You A Victim Or A Survivor? It’s Your Choice.

Victim or Survivor? It's Your Choice.

Are You a Victim Or a Survivor?

On Sunday I ran my first marathon at the Yuengling Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I had started training six months previously and had reached a 20 mile run. Then I ran into problems (no pun intended) and several times I seriously considered abandoning this marathon:

  • Three weeks before the run I was sick to my stomach most of the week and finally needed antibiotics to cure it. This was a bummer because I now didn’t have time to do my scheduled 22 mile run in order to be ready for the marathon.
  • Then I pulled my back before boarding a plane to San Diego for the week. Normally when this happens, I immediately go to my chiropractor and within a few days I am OK. I had to wait a week to get back to town to see my chiropractor 3 times before I left for the run on Saturday.
  • I drove 4.5 hours to Virginia Beach, woke up Sunday morning at 6 AM with back pains and aches in my legs…I figured from compensating for the ache in my back for 2 weeks.
  • I had heard the horror stories about “hitting the wall” and “cramping up”. After much internal debate ( “Don’t wimp out!” “Why bother starting? My back could go at any time.” etc) I decided to try.

And to be honest, I was a little pissed. Here I had been very careful in my training all these months to not over do it and avoid getting injured. It is common for runners to get hurt by over-training for a marathon.

And what do I get for my diligence? I get sick and pull my back! Bummer!

It’s not fair. What did I do to deserve this?

Well you know the answer. So what!! Who said life is fair?…… and I didn’t do anything to deserve this!

By the way if you ever ask yourself “what did I do to deserve this?” Your subconscious will come up with lots of reasons why you DO deserve it. So don’t ask!!

It’s My Choice. Am I a Victim Or a Survivor?

Someone said when you are a kid and bad things happen, you are a victim. However, when you are an adult you are a volunteer.

I had choice. Do I act like a victim or a survivor? I decided I would chose to be a “survivor”. So what if I didn’t run my last long run. I had run a 20 miler. I had recently read that you don’t need to run more than 20 miles to be ready. In fact I found an article that said you shouldn’t run more than 20 miles. Plus, I now had 7 weeks since my last long run and so my body was well rested….that was a positive thing.

My back being on the verge of potentially going out again was another issue. I reminded myself that while I was in San Diego I ran 3 times on the treadmill and golfed twice. (Torrey Pines! I had to play it as I had already booked it.) Granted, I was popping more Advil than I probably should have, but I was very mindful of being careful when I ran, turned or bent down, and I survived.

Given that experience, I decided I should try the run and just be careful

A “Sunk Cost” Decision Plus

Btw, this was partially a “sunk cost” decision. I had spent several months training. I paid my marathon entry fee, the hotel, and invested 4.5 hours and gas to drive to Virginia Beach. All that would go down the drain. What a waste.

Plus, with hot weather coming, I would probably wait until the fall to run which meant training again at the end of summer. And who knows what could happen then?

However I had weighed my options and the risks. I had a plan to run at an easier pace to finish and not over-exert myself and risk injury.

I had a choice and I took it.

I ran. I finished.

What I Learned.

      Experience and just doing leads to new opportunities. Some you may never even have dreamed of. It is amazing how one thing leads to another. Two years ago a 5K run at my son’s company to raise money got me into running. I went from that to a marathon. What you are doing today can prepare you for the future.

      You can do what ever you put your mind to. I never ran until 2 years ago. I thought it was pointless. A year ago I never contemplated running a marathon. However, once I had decided, I learned and trained for it.

      Whatever you decide to do, there are people out there who have done it before. Find them and learn what they did. What was their thinking model? However, beware! What works for someone else may not be right for you. Take what works for you from different people, models and sources. Make it your own. Don’t be wed to just one idea. And by the way most successful people love to help…..but you gotta ask.
      Make mistakes early. It’s what you don’t know that you don’t know that can hurt you. I found this in my training when I ran 17.5 miles and had severe cramps for the last 2.5 miles. I had planned to do 18-19 miles that day. It was so bad I couldn’t walk. It took more than 2 hours to recover. As a result I found out from a friend that I needed to take electrolyte supplements during the run.
      Break big tasks into smaller tasks. I focused on 5 mile increments and within each I focused on each mile and within each mile I focused on how many more minutes I needed to complete that mile. I also set pace targets for each segment and milestones along the way such as each 5 mile segment, passing specific landmarks and achieving the 13.1 mile half way mark. It is similar to major business objectives. It is easier to explain, manage, adjust and achieve smaller goals that lead to the overall goal than strictly focusing on the big event.

        Lastly you gotta really want it! If you want to accomplish something…if it is not just a “nice to do”…it is important to you personally…in your gut…then you will find a way to overcome any barriers that get in your way. That is the major difference between achieving something or not.

        Think about something you really wanted to do and the things you overcame to make it happen. Maybe it was something as simple as going on a long weekend trip (family, the “guys”, the “girls”) you really wanted even though you had too much work to finish or the car broke down or something else could easily have caused you to abandon your plans. But you still made it happen.

        Now think of another event you really didn’t care whether you attended (ballet, committee meeting, another school concert …) and how much easier it was to let some issue keep you from attending.

        It is the same for business teams. Everyone on the team must believe in what they are doing, be committed to it, have a personal stake in it, and OWN it. Otherwise they may as well be just punching the time clock and going through the motions.

26.2 miles. I wanted it. I made it happen.

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About Richard Reid


  1. WPMuse says:

    Congrats, Richard! You nailed it in this post — life is all about the challenges and how you *choose* to handle them. There is a lesson for almost anyone in this post about how you can have goals, get sidetracked but still have the desire to embrace the challenge to reach your goals.

    Those who succeed in life never even think about that “V” word!

  2. Coach says:

    Thanks for your comments. Your last line is so true. They take responsibility for their mindset and their future.

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