Are you addicted to setting ‘unrealistic’ goals and then meeting them, just to prove that they weren’t so unrealistic? Do you want to really reach your potential? Do you, for some odd reason, enjoy being the ‘crazy’ friend that does what no one else wants to? Maybe a half-marathon is for you.

This September, I ran my first 13.1 miles. Life is quite different now, as I reflect on this moment of personal gain every day for motivation moving forward, literally. As some background, I had to give up running cross country in college because I injured myself from overdoing it in high school, so this was a huge feat for me. My mental stamina has grown so much, as well as my self-discipline. How do you know your limits if you’ve never tested them? The sound of a half marathon sounds super intimidating until you actually do it, and I hope to inspire at least one person to reap the benefits of what this accomplishment can do for both physical and mental strength.

Cheers to Ancient Greece for giving us 21st century-busy bees something to work for – the seemingly impossible challenge of running more miles than the amount of years most of us have spent in school. Deciding you want to join the 1% of the population who has completed these 26.2 miles is semi-daunting, semi-exhilarating. We hear complaints about the growing gap between the top 1% and the bottom 99% in earners, so join this 1% instead; beginning with the half-marathon is a great starting goal, however. Not only is picking a race and a date great for those who enjoy a strict schedule, but it is a great goal to incrementally work for. Fine, you can skip a workout one day, but knowing that you must be prepared by a certain time keeps you quite literally on your toes and out the door on your next run. You do not want to be unprepared for the big day! It’s a lot like one of our favorite things – standardized tests. Now, the date of the feat seems far away, but you know that if you skimp out now, your performance will be meek and upsetting. You wanted this goal, so go and get it.

Perhaps the best mental gain from a wild goal like this is the endurance it takes. Just as before with the test example, this is about enduring. How much can you exactly manage? In my opinion, there really is no limit; our caps are really only what we imagine them to be. In fact, I was watching my favorite YouTube commentator, Dave Rubin, recently interview Jesse Itzler about just this subject. Itzler’s phrase, ‘life resume,’ came up. Similar to a bucket list, a life resume is basically an un-ending list of diverse experiences sought after for the mere sake of the adventure it requires to achieve them. Just a few days after my first 13.1-mile race, Itzler spoke about his 100-mile race. New goal: check.

Aside from the immense personal benefits from running a half-marathon, most all of the funds raised for the races are for charity. We all have a favorite cause that we are passionate about. This is a great way to hold yourself accountable. It is not only you that is losing if you decide to let your goal slip out of your fingertips!

What I like about the actual distance itself, though, is that it is all me, myself, and I. It is a competition between the mind and the idle mind. Once you get a taste of the former winning out, I guarantee you will never look back. Applying this mindset to studies or work responsibilities drastically improves performance as well. It is quite the win-win situation, not to mention the cute medals you get after you complete it…as well as the simultaneous desire to instantly fall asleep but also keep going. That feeling is an experience worth chasing just for itself.

Who knows, maybe the reason it is a ‘half’ marathon is so that you intentionally get addicted and want to work up to a full marathon. You will make sacrifices and you will need to prioritize, but once you are in the routine of doing so, all else seems to dwindle. You begin to see each morning as a new opportunity to improve on your work and each night as a chance to dream up a better tomorrow. As Jesse Itzler says, “Remember tomorrow.” Will you make yourself proud? Surely completing a half-marathon is a step in the right direction! See you at the finish line.

Kelly H