For best results, set your own goals, standards

This weekend, I participated in my first half marathon, the Bearathon. Prior to this, the longest distance I had attempted to run at once was about 6 miles.

The distance seemed daunting at first, but with the help of a wonderful running buddy, she and I progressively chipped away at the mileage.

The morning of the race did not go quite as planned–we woke up late and ran a mile to the start–but we made it just on time for the singing of the national anthem and were able to start running with the crowd.

Mile 1 passed us by and we were able to chat lightly; Mile 5 we were breathing heavily, entering Cameron Park; Mile 9 we were dragging ourselves out of the terrible park, doing our best to continue shuffling up the monstrous hills; Mile 11 the finish was so incredibly close; Mile 13 all that was left was the sprint down the Pedestrian Bridge, surrounded by a crowd of excited supporters who were willing to wake up before 9 a.m. on a cold Saturday morning.

And that was it; 13.1 and done.

Looking back on the month or two we trained, pacing ourselves and scratching our heads over how many more miles would be sufficient for each run, it almost seems ridiculous that we practiced for a single day where we raced against the clock rather than others and left merely 15 minutes after it was done. However, it also makes incredible sense to me. I was able to accomplish something that had at one point seemed unachievable.

Pushing yourself often isn’t about your physical abilities, even in the case of the Bearathon. In order to grow as a person in any way, shape or form, you have to change your mentality.

There are countless self-help books written on the subject of mentality, ranging from weight control to video game addictions. While these may seem helpful, change is much simpler than a 360-page guide.

Start by making a goal for yourself. If you feel strongly enough about your goal, the habits needed to reach it will follow.

My goal included hours of physical exertion, but yours might be to speak up in class more, or to spend fewer hours pressing the refresh button on your social media. Regardless of the level of change, it is important to hold yourself accountable.

Beginning slowly is a way to ensure more success. Few who strap on their never-worn Nikes and sprint through the first few miles will find the remaining 10 miles enjoyable or possible. Both the shoes and the distance need to first be broken in. Instead, set intermittent goals. These will encourage change in smaller amounts, causing the end goal to seem less overwhelming.

Also, remember that success is not always easy. Sometimes you may miss your goal, and have to analyze what may be keeping you from continuing on your journey. What is important is that your mentality grows equally when you fail and when you succeed.

Some may scoff at my goal being merely a half marathon, or some may not see the point of running in general. In any case, my goal has been met, and that is something I am proud of, and hopefully you will be too.

The more that standards are set personally, rather than by those around you, the easier it will seem to reach them. In turn, the more capable you will be of growing and changing as a person, mentality intact.

I leave you with the wise words of Forrest Gump: “I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well turn back, keep right on going.”

Maybe next I’ll double the distance. What will you challenge yourself to do?

Liesje Powers is a freshman journalism major from Hewitt. She is a staff writer for the Lariat.