I never thought re-starting a fitness regimen over 15 years ago would lead me to where I am today. I have completed 4 marathons to date, completed my first Black Ops Warrior last year and am building a respectable career as coach and motivator of individuals and companies looking to realise their dreams and goals. …And to think it all started after busting my knee at a Christmas party in 2005. I was wasted, and doing the equivalent of 1 meter box jumps while trying to lift 110kgs (my body weight at the time) with very little muscle to support the takeoff or landing.
The reason we set personal goals is not only to meet a specific ambitious target, but to carve out a strategic path that will give us the opportunity to reach our goals, navigate obstacles, manage failure and to keep motivated. Manage failure, don’t avoid it! If you fail because you don’t try, that’s failure. But if you make attempts at your goals in spite of failure, that’s tenacity.
The plan is there for us to initiate action, track progress and modify what needs to be altered for the greater personal vision. We know if we don’t plan, we are planning to fail. It’s like going to the grocery store without a shopping list, and not expecting to disappoint the family when you get home. We need to come to an agreement on the list once competed so that we don’t get the proverbial, “We ‘ve run out of toilet paper! Didn’t you receive my sms?”
The transformation plan initiates action. It is your alarm clock. It is an agreement with yourself to do what you said you were going to do. And just like any effective business plan, wedding plan or shopping list, you must write it down. Dates, times, processes, resources, expectations and contingencies all form part of the plan. They represent the guardrails that protect you from running off course.
I am not big on tracking devices for training. I like to consider myself old school compared to these new technologically advanced bionic men training with straps across their chests linked to a pulse meter around their wrist calibrating calories burned, amount of exercise time, amount of sedentary time, current pace, goal pace… all while accepting Whatsapp messages, emails and Facebook posts. However, the intention of these tracking devices would help with my planning if used responsibly. Although I have 4 marathons to my credit, there is another goal that forms part of that goal that I have yet to achieve… a timely finish. A qualifying marathon time is Sub-5 hours. The best I have done is 5:27:00. So, I need to improve my planning if I am going to drop another 27 minutes on my current marathon finishing time in order to gain a respectable ‘Sub-5 hour Marathon’ that can advance me to the next level. So, my plan gets altered as I achieve goals, and continue to raise my standards.
So, whether I decide to use a tracking device or not is less important. What is key here is that I do something differently. And it starts with the planning. My initial goal after my knee injury was to overcome a sedentary lifestyle of beer drinking and lots of braais with like minded friends and family. That is a broad goal, but not a plan. The plan meant that I needed to get the right information from trusted sources about health and well being that dealt specifically with weight loss, nutrition, exercise and recovery. Enter Group Personal Trainer, Ryan Manthe of Benoni’s Planet Fitness in March of 2006. He, along with Leanne, my wife Joyce, like minded transformation seekers at the gym and some Internet searches put me on a new trajectory. That plan is what put me on a journey that I thought was a six pack stomach, flexing on stage with Ryan Manthe and impressing myself and others with an amazing physique. But after years of modifying the plan, learning more about myself and the expectations of my vocation, I have altered the plan. But I have a plan. And in refining that plan I have added goals, and become more ambitious which have caused me to consider a tracking device to improve on my new goals for running marathons, despite my ‘old school mentality.’ I am willing to do what it takes t grow, develop and achieve regardless of what it looks like to me or others.
I didn’t have personal fitness goals in those first years after landing in South Africa. I just wanted everyone to like me. To have a plan, is to be on a mission. And to be on a mission with others who are on the same mission as you.
The plan is the general blueprint that helps make your vision and your goals concrete. Don’t wait until you have a personal transformation plan the size of a business plan. You need not set yourself up for every eventuality, every contingency and so forth before you initiate action. “If you waited to you had all of your ducks in a row, you probably would never start anything.“ Rather start immediately with a makeshift plan and grow it by trial and error until your goals become clearer than to wait and research all the theories that may have you never get started.
Preparation is about ongoing research, finding like minded crew and simply being in the environment. You need to prepare yourself for success by acting like you’ve already got it. Claim it before you realise your dream. Muhammed Ali said he was the greatest long before he became heavyweight champion of the world. He prepared for his success before he had the full plan, before he had physical proof and while he was still in the trenches refining his craft.
Planning is part of the preparation. The more you prepare the better your plan becomes. Strategically try to place yourself at the right place, at the right time. The only way to do that is to show up as often as possible with the right people doing the things that are in your plan.
Going forward, my preparation for a sub-5 hour marathon is gearing up with the right shoes, having the right attitude and engaging the right running partners and coaches with the experience of ultra marathons like Comrades. I’ve run 4 marathons. I’m looking for mentors who have run 10 Comrades Marathons.
“I am a sub-5 hour marathon runner! I can visualize it, so I say it! And now more than ever, I am determined to realise this goal.”
Gary Player was once told that he is lucky. He simply and profoundly answered, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” Anthony Robbins asked the greatest basketball player of all time, “What sets you apart from all the other great basketball players?” Michael Jordan answered, “I admit that I am gifted with a unique skill and talent to play this game, but what makes me special is that I continue to raise my standards.”
We tend to look at successful people achieving great things, but don’t often get to see what is happening behind the scenes. It the grind before the curtain call that makes successful people appear great. The training sessions and spray tans before going on stage. The endless days of driving golf balls and a meticulously mastery of putting months before a golf tournament. The countless hours of repetition that nobody sees before your business presentation at work. Les Brown was playing a board game with his son. And after winning a couple games in a row, the father told his son he was tired and wanted to go to sleep. His son asked if they could continue playing. The father obliged seeing the determination on his son’s face. After a few more consecutive wins, the father asked his son if he had had enough of losing. The son answered no, and they continued playing. And so they did. And this went on for awhile until the son, exclaimed, “It’s not over until I win.” And eventually the son beat his father at the board game, but not before several attempts at the same board game over and over. He needed practice against a better opponent, his father. And he was so determined, that he would not give up, until he won.
The same legendary basketball giant, Michael Jordan once said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games, 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in life. And that is why I succeed.” Remember that failure is not the opposite of success, it is part of the process.
The only way to win is to practice. Don’t let luck or skill or talent or experience distract you. Keep practicing. Even when you don’t feel like it. Even when it’s raining, or your workout partner fails you, or you short of cash, or you lose your job, or the council cuts the lights off, or someone tells you that you’re not good enough. Keep at your dream in spite of what it looks like.
My plan for a sub-5 hour marathon has failed each and every time. I know that my plan has to change. But before I even go to the blueprint for a sub-5 hour marathon, I know a key to my success is simply more quality kilometres on the legs. I need to condition my mind and legs to endure the amount of time and effort it takes to run a successful marathon… to reach my personal best. Being on the road more often will automatically alter my plan. The more I practice, the more my plan will include varying my strength workouts, speed drills, hill running, long and short distances. And I will see improvements in practice long before the gun goes off at another race.
Practice is not the thing you do once you’re good. It is the thing you do to become good.
While you are planning, preparing and practicing, you are finding the deeper meaning of your purpose. Find the ‘why’ and you have found gold. I say pursue purpose because you have to listen to find purpose, you have to act to find purpose, you have to fail to find purpose. You must continue to explore your inner ability and your surroundings in pursuit of purpose. It is not likely that you will find purpose by sitting down and meditating on it alone. You must try and you must fail. You must be like a scientist constantly tinkering with beakers until you find the right ingredients with the right balance that makeup your own specific and unique purpose formula. It is a combination of what you love, what you’re good at, what people confirm you’re good at and what people will pay you to do.
Purpose is that thing that binds your whole plan together. Whenever your plan is failing you, or you don’t know how to prepare or you don’t feel like practicing. Ask yourself, “Why?” What is my purpose. It is that thing that will keep you going no matter what.
We often think that the obvious purpose is to win. Sure winning is great, but it is not everything. In fact, winning may be the ultimate goal, but you can’t win ‘em all. What happens when you lose? What keeps you focused is not just winning, but fulfilling your purpose.
My purpose in running a marathon is not to win, nor to run a ‘sub-5 hour’ qualifying time. My main purpose for running a marathon is to to teach myself to finish. I have always been a great starter. I have started my own business ventures since University. I have created original songs and literary writings. But there have been some very meaningful things in my life that I have started but not finished. My first marriage, parenting my daughter in the states, early business ventures… These were all failed attempts at very important opportunities in my life that have been difficult experiences, but they have created in me a deeper purpose… to be a finisher. As a great starter, I know that if I can finish my life is more fulfilled. So, my main purpose in running a marathon is finishing, the immensely invaluable by products of finishing a marathon are numerous… stamina, strength, mind power, weight loss, endurance, camaraderie, fresh air. Finishing a marathon means that I must put into practice similar scenarios to running a marathon. So, I don’t just benefit from the by products of a marathon on race day, but also during practice.
When you find your purpose with your personal transformation goals, you will learn that you are not exercising, but rather training for a bigger goal. Losing weight is a goal, but it should be a by product of something bigger, a deeper purpose that takes the attention off of just the physical. I have always said that one of the most difficult sports is body building and fitness model competitions because it requires so much focus on the physical without giving accolades for the contestants’ personal stories into what makes us human… our purpose for living.
With a foundation built on a Plan, Preparation, Practice and Purpose you are sure to win! But the final ingredient will guarantee you success! Passion. It is the oxygen of the soul. We are all born with it. How and when we express it, is the key to its effectiveness. That is why when we turn on a garden hose left to its own devices everything gets wet except the garden we are trying to water. If we direct that garden hose to the flowers we need to water with the right amount of pressure and direction, we obtain optimal results.
Fuel your passion with the desires of your heart. That is your purpose. Use the planning, preparation and practice to ignite your passion. To have passion is good. To have passion for something specific is great, and will yield better results.
I have always been a passionate person, full of fire. But until I found my purpose, my passion was being wasted. I can be passionate about running, but if I watch others run and flip through running magazines and watch related events on television instead of hitting the road myself, I don’t gain what is necessary to be a great runner. The fact that I participate in long distance running races on a regular basis shows my passion for running. I am not just flaunting a passion for running. I am using my passion for running.
Like purpose, my passion for running is linked to so many other aspects of my life, such as my passion for motivating others through action, encouraging people living sedentary lives off the couch to exercise and helping people go deeper than exercise to train for an event that can be more rewarding and fulfilling than just going to gym.
To be the best version of yourself is to find your purpose by designing a plan, making preparations and practicing. And then taking the gift of passion and directing to find the greatest in you!
Remember you don’t ask permission to be great. You claim it at the start of your journey towards your goal.