Happy marathon finishers (Hobart's Cadbury marathon, 12 Jan 2014)

Resilience in the face of adversity

My last marathon was a real challenge. With my injuries starting to manifest themselves after only 5km, I knew I was in for a very long run…

Happy marathon finishers (Hobart's Cadbury marathon, 12 Jan 2014)
Happy marathon finishers (Hobart’s Cadbury marathon, 12 Jan 2014)

As I had expected and shared with you in a previous post, my last marathon was a real challenge. With my injuries starting to manifest themselves after only 5km, I knew I was in for a very long run…

In a racing environment such as this, realising you are no longer competitive (even if you’re competing against yourself only) can be very disappointing and frustrating. (I can only start to comprehend the emotions Rafael Nadal went through at the Australian Open final last Sunday…)

For me, this marathon became a mental battle – every step of the way. I jumped between feelings of hope and pessimism; zoning out to forget the pain and focusing on the pain to try reducing it; tears in my eyes and cheerful encouragements for other runners. By far the biggest lesson I learnt about myself from this event: I am mentally strong (or stubborn and borderline crazy, some may say).

Resilience, that is ‘toughness’ or the capacity to recover from challenges, is an important life skill to help overcome setbacks and keep working towards our goals. But what exactly does mental toughness look like ‘in the moment’?

With the benefit of hindsight, I can reflect on thoughts and actions that helped me practice and build on my resilience during the marathon:

– Recognise the difficulty: The first and most difficult step for me was to acknowledge the pain and the fact that I would not finish the race in a good time. Recognising this helped me set a new, more realistic goal: to finish the race.

– Talk about it: Sharing my pain with my two running companions allowed them to express empathy and encourage me to keep going. This peer support played such an important role in me completing the race.

– Be positive: Running for 42km gives a lot of opportunities for self-talk… Telling myself I was doing well and I had done great training for this event really helped boosting my confidence level. Another factor for me was to focus on external things such as how beautiful the scenery was. 

– Focus on small steps: One of the things that kept me going one kilometre after the other was to focus on smaller goals. In this case, I was focusing on running non-stop until the next drink station, where I could walk for a short time while rehydrating myself.

– Prepare: The training I had done for the event gave me a level of confidence which helped me remain tough in the face of adversity.

– Support others: Last but not least, cheering other runners (particularly my two running companions) and encouraging them to keep going helped increase my own energy level and generate positive team spirit (“we’re in this together”).

Although I had many low moments during my run, these thoughts and behaviours supported me to forge through to the finish line in a time of 4h 03m (as opposed to my personal best of 3h 26m).

When has your own resilience been put to the test? How could these principles be applied in a work situation? Or in your personal life?

6 comments on “Resilience in the face of adversityAdd yours →

  1. You’re my hero. It would have been very easy for you to pull out. My long bike rides are always a struggle but I keep going because it feels so darn good when you get to the end. I particularly like the tip about peer support. I think that women are instinctively much better at this than men. You are truly resilient. A fabulous quality to possess. Well done.

  2. Bravo pour ta persévérance. Tout-de-fois fais attention pour ne pas dépasser tes limites naturelles et t’occasionner des blessures qui seront endicapente de façon permanente. Aujourd’hui je dois composé avec de l’usure aux épaules provenant de mauvais entraînements qui me limite dans ma volonté de faire certaines choses comme la natation. Moi je suis de la pensée que l’on doit avoir un certain plaisir à faire des activités afin de prolonger ce plaisir dans le temps, quite à ajuster soit le rytme, la façon de faire ou autre… Encore bravo, 4hres 03 avec une blessure, c’est à mon avis une grande victoire. Ton papa qui t’aime XXXX Date: Tue, 28 Jan 2014 23:01:19 +0000 To: rejeanlarochelle@hotmail.com From: comment-reply@wordpress.comMoi Subject: [New post] Resilience in the face of adversity

    Corps du message

    klarochelle posted: ”

    As I had expected and shared with you in a previous post, my last marathon was a real challenge. With my injuries starting to manifest themselves after only 5km, I knew I was in for a very long run…

    In a racing environment such as this, realising”

  3. FÉLICITATIONS!!!! Tu es la meilleure…. Quelle courage, tu n’abandonnes jamais!!!! encore Félicitations, tu seras toujours mon idole…. je t’aime xxxx

  4. Terminer un marathon avec à peine 30 minutes de retard sur son record personnel alors que vous êtes blessée me laisse pantois. Vous avez une force de caractère peu banale! Plus je vous lis et plus je découvre une jeune femme surprenante à tous les égards. Continuez encore longtemps votre blog. Vous me faites du bien.

  5. Merci pour les beaux mots d’encouragement (papa – et de sagesse). Je suis très reconnaissante de votre support.

    Thanks for the wonderful encouragement. I’m grateful for the wonderful support network I’ve developed.

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