The biggest lesson from my first marathon

The journey to your goal is the goal itself


Happy Sunday and thanks for opening today’s #TheLifeofJLOWE newsletter.

It’s now been one week since I ran my first marathon in Miami, FL and honestly I’m still on a runner’s/finisher’s high. My legs are about 85% recovered, but I got a bruised big toe that’s been making walking a task for me. All in all though, I’m still feeling good about the body I’m in and happy with the fact that that life milestone is behind me.

P.S. A huge shout-out to all of you who tracked me online and followed along as I conquered those 26.2 miles. Your support from afar meant the world to me!

Last week I shared a bit on what training for a marathon taught me, and this week I wanted to share the biggest lesson that actually running a marathon taught me.

The Lesson:
The journey to your goals will be unpredictable

Before I ran the marathon, I wrote on a little sticky note a very concise overview of how I imagined the marathon to play out. I knew it would be a mental challenge, so I wanted to make sure I prepared my mind for the various stages of the journey:

I wrote this down to calm some anxiety that I was having a few days before the marathon, when I began to overthink and feel like I hadn’t given the race enough thought.

What gave me a lot of anxiety leading up to race day was talking to people who had experience with running marathons, and they would ask me questions like “what has your nutrition training been like?” or “how many 20-milers have you done?” or “what’s your hydration plan?”

Honestly, for me, while yes - I did end up sitting down and thinking through how I would eat and drink both before and after the marathon - my training wasn’t that "disciplined” in terms of a following a strict regimen like that. So when someone asks me those questions 2 days before the marathon - when there’s literally nothing I can do about it at that point - all it did was induce anxiety and make me overthink my own training.

As I said last week though, your timeline is your own and it will be different from everyone else’s.

While I started to believe that I could plan out the marathon (hey, maybe if I had trained that way, maybe I could) what happened on the day was unpredictable.

How the marathon went: Hot, humid and muscle cramps

It ended up being a ridiculously hot and humid Miami day. The first 15 miles (2.5 hours or so) were easy, because we started at 6:30am running in the early morning before the sun came out. By mile 16, the sun was out in full force, and we ran over the Key Biscayne bridge with no shade, being absolutely pummelled by the sun.

I actually took a picture to document how blaring the sun was at that point:

After running that bridge, I realized that I would have to hydrate more and find a way not to cramp from dehydration.

But by mile 18, my left thigh started to cramp, and I had no choice but to take the pace down to a light jog/walk because I was in so much pain. I ended up alternating jogging half a mile and running half a mile between miles 20-22, then picked it back up running for the last 4.2 miles.

Obviously, this isn’t what I had planned, nor was it the most ideal outcome of my first marathon. But that’s exactly where I found a lesson in this struggle:

I still finished.

It doesn’t matter how you do it, it only matters that you actually do it.

Through that experience, I’ve learn that with any goal that you set, you’re gonna encounter challenges, setbacks and obstacles along the way that you couldn’t have seen coming. There’s gonna be a ton of unpredictable “side-quests” that you’re going to have to get through to achieve your main goal.

With anything that you set out to do too, another thing that I’ve learnt is that the person that you are when you set the goal is different from the person that actually achieves the goal.

What do I mean by that?

The person that has the ambition to accomplish something is still there, of course, but when you achieve a goal that you set, you’re a different person because of the journey that took you there. You’re battle hardened, you’ve experienced setbacks, failures, cramps, dehydration and a slew of other things that you would have never experienced if you didn’t set out to accomplish your goal in the first place.

For me, that’s the beauty of goal setting, and the beauty of doing things that sometimes seem hard to do. And more so, it’s the reason that you should set goals and set out to do things that you have no idea how to do. You’ll never learn or gain new experiences unless you get yourself out of your comfort zone and out of the place where you already know how everything works.


A marathon is just one example of a goal that I set and learnt tons about myself by training and by actually doing it. But in this life there’s so many different things that you can do that you don’t know how to do.

When you set your next big personal goal, career goal, new year’s resolution or anything of the sort, think about doing something that you never thought you would ever do. Or on a smaller and maybe more reachable scale, think about taking something that you already do to another level. For me, that was running.

Once you zero in on a goal, don’t worry about planning out every step of how you’re gonna get there. As I said last year about half-marathon training, fall in love with the process. Learn something from the journey.

Even if you don’t accomplish the goal, or even if the goal changes as you learn more about who you are and what you want on your journey, the whole beauty about pursuing it will be the lessons that you learn about yourself on that journey.

The journey to your goal will be unpredictable, but at the end of the day - that’s the goal anyways.

Until next Sunday,


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