In the Long Run : Lessons from Completing a Marathon

Ya akhoee (O brother in Arabic) would you like sit in the Ambulance shouted the doctor. I tried to put on a brave smile and told him “No thank you”. It was the last 5 kilo metres of my first marathon and after running for 37 kilometers, I was not about to give up. My wife and my friends cheered me on. Running a marathon requires a lot of “Running”. You have to train close to six months for running this race. A distance of 42.3 kms is not easy to cover. I spent most of the days after work “Running” and most of my weekends “Running”. Working six days a week did not make it any easier. The lessons I learnt during the process of running the marathon were many. I want to share these lessons with you.

Lesson 1 : Be clear on the objective : It is a simple question you can ask yourself. “Why do you want to do this? “ Why did you choose do this? “ Being clear on the objective helps you to focus. My objective for running the marathon was to get a feeling of achievement. For once in my lifetime I wanted to experience the feeling of working on a project, following through it and in the end completing it. My life was like a roller coaster ride with lots of ups and downs, starting projects enthusiastically and later giving it up for silly reasons and I wanted to complete at least one project in my life.

Lesson 2 : Don’t try to climb the mountain yourself—Take Help. When I decided to train for my first marathon, I was looking for help. I did not know anything about running a marathon. While researching I found that there were a lot of running clubs in Dubai. I got in touch with Malcum Murphy of Dubai Creek Striders Club. It was great meeting him and the group helped me to train for my first marathon. The best thing for me as a novice was to hear stories from others as to how they trained for their first marathon. For any goal you want to achieve in your life, it becomes easier if you can associate with people who have achieved the goal before or people who want to achieve the same goal as yourself. You get more ideas for achieving your goals.

Lesson 3 : Take Baby steps—–“A journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step”. I would like to change this quote to “A journey of a thousand miles begins with baby steps”. Start slowly. A journey for running a marathon begins with you seeing if you can run atleast half the distance. I ran a half marathon a month before the race. One of the major mistakes which a novice marathon runner makes is to start from the very front of the starting line at the beginning of the race. As a result they start running at a fast pace at the beginning of the race and are unable to complete the race as they run out of steam. Start slow and then gain pace. The most important part of the race is the last 21 kilo metres that is where you need your energy. Start slow, analyze your mistakes, correct the mistakes and then gain speed from the half way mark to achieve your goals.

Lesson 4 : Have a support group—My support group were the members of the running club, my family and friends. The icing on the cake for me was my wife running with me for the last 50 meters of the race. She was there throughout the course of training and running the race. It was a great feeling to be running with her. A support group helps you by giving feedback, correcting your mistakes. Most importantly they help you to keep your motivational levels high. So the question you have to ask yourself when you are trying to achieve your goal—“Who are part of your support group”.

Running the last 50 metres of the race with my lovely wife Aishwarya.

My support group in 2004.Aishwarya, Mom ,Dad my friend Shrikant. Aishwarya has taken this picture 

If the Desire is Strong then Goals don’t remain as Dreams : My Story

If you have a goal which has been lingering your mind for many years, something which you constantly think about at every point of life, then the forces of nature will work in a way that the dream will get fulfilled. For the pull of your goal is so strong that you do things to achieve your goal. For if you don’t anything about the goal you want to achieve, it remains a dream , a dream which you can fondly reminisce in your later years with regret and  a thought that If only I had something about it when the thought came into my mind, I would have been more happier and achieved a lot in my life.

The above thoughts replicate what I did to achieve my goal to be a trainer and teacher. I had this desire to be one, when I attended a training course delivered by Steve Crowe from 3M Consultants. The course was about selling skills and I enjoyed attending the course. It was for the first time that I was feeling enthusiastic attending a course and had a great learning experience. I loved the way he kept the training interesting from me. Lot of activities and lot of practical examples which helped me to understand the concepts.

So the seed to becoming a trainer was put in my mind after attending that training. I wanted to be a trainer who would not just flick power point slides and have a target number of slides to go through before ending the day. I wanted to be someone who would bring a change in the thinking of the participant who would be attending the training program. So with that thought in mind, I spoke to my wife about this burning fire inside me to be a trainer. My wife calmly told me” Let’s wait for few years as we need the money to survive and settle our lives”. I was getting angry as I wanted to quit the job immediately and be a trainer. But after my anger subsided, I understood what she meant. Sometimes when you are excited, you don’t thing clearly. So instead of jumping in the valley without thinking, it is important to give the DREAM sometime and see if the desire is still there in your heart after the initial incubation period.

So even though I had put a brake in my desire to be a trainer, I came to an agreement with my wife that by the time I reach 40 years I will revisit my dream. And if the desire is really strong then I will take my plunge into the exciting world of Training and Teaching. I was 37 years at the time when the desire to be trainer started in my mind. Instead of waiting for the 3 years to be completed, I started reading a lot about training. I started looking at organizations who were   training providers. I also started improving my network and added lot of trainers in my circle of contacts. I started reaching out to training providers and conveyed them about my experience and my interest to be a trainer. Slowly and steadily my network improved and I started getting an idea as to what it takes to be a good trainer.

One of the first requirements to be a trainer was to have an experience of speaking in public. And that’s something I dreaded.  My earlier experience with public speaking was not good and I was classified as loud. OS in order to gain some experience in speaking, I joined the toast masters club. It was a great way of meeting people and getting a chance to speak in front of a crowd. Toastmasters is an organization which teaches public speaking and organizational skills. It is a place where you are given a topic to speak and the audience will give you feedback on how the speech was. The speaking time is not much, but the atmosphere is just fantastic to hone your skills. You get to speak about a number of topics and sometimes, you have to speak on topics with no preparation. And I was a selfish speaker. Whenever I got the opportunity to speak, I spoke. I was in the forefront of speaking as my sole aim was to gain speaking time or floor time as it’s called.

During that time, I was looking at opportunities to train people. So I grabbed whatever I could get. I distinctly remember my first experience of a non-paid training job. It was on short notice and I was excited to do the job. Another experience which stays in my mind is the one where I had to do a demo with a training company. They asked me to prepare on my favorite topic. So my  favourite topic was Selling  and I spent my time preparing for the demo training. I arrived on time and that’s when the interviewer told me that the projector is not working. I said to myself this happens and maybe I should have checked before going. Its said when disaster strikes, it keeps on striking. So to add to my woes, the power went off and my laptops battery also gave me a high five. So here I am with no supporting materials, but was determined to do my training as my main objective was to do the training and get some feedback. Luckily for me there was white board with marker pens available. So I did a enthusiastic presentation with the tools I had in hand. The training went on well but I did not get the job. But I was super thrilled that I could engage a audience for 1 hour.

As the days passed by, I continued with research. I was determined to be a trainer. That’s why its said “ When the desire is strong, the forces of nature will work for you”. The day I turned 40, I put in my resignation with a dream in my mind but no concrete plans. But the future had different plans for me. Suddenly out of the blue I receive a call from a organization “ Hi,You had a put in a CV a year back. We are interested in speaking to you”. I could not believe my ears. A year after I sent my CV, someone is calling and that too when my dream was just a dream. So I went and met the organization who was on the look out for a trainer and they asked me to observe a session done by a senior trainer. I was a keen observer and I made lot of notes during the session. The senior trainer then asked me to do the training for the next session. That’s how my journey as a trainer started. With no experience , but just a spark inside me to follow my dreams.

So my first real training , I spent lot of time preparing. I was at my super enthusiastic best. The senior trainer was there as an observer who was making notes to give me feedback. So at the training program , I got a shock. The participants had pooled in money and bought a Pen for me. I was in a state of shock. These participants wert out of their way, contributed money to buy me a pen. The senior trainer who was a observer was also in a state of shock. He told me that during the time when he had done the training, he had his picture taken, but never was he given a gift by the participants. I took that as a good omen for my future. So as things would turn out, I did 12 sessions for the company before I got another shock. The company who had rejected me came back with a offer. That’s how my career as a trainer began. Its been 6 years since I did my first training and its journey I am enjoying. Lots of ups and downs, but my soul is still intact and my life is full with the joys of sharing knowledge.

I feel truly blessed that my dreams came true with my hunger and help from the forces of nature.