20 Years Later

In 2003 I ran a half-marathon. And now 20 years later I ran it again. But I made some much needed changes.

11 months ago, I embarked on a running journey that has transformed both my physical and mental capabilities. Starting with mere 1-minute runs followed by 1-minute walks, I gradually progressed and after a few months, began contemplating a significant goal.

This led me to register for the Calgary half-marathon, which took place this past Sunday, May 28th. With a target of completing the race in under three hours while ensuring an injury free finish, I am really grateful to say that I achieved both objectives, finishing with a time of 2 hours and 56 minutes, and feeling really great the next day. A bit of race day stiffness is all that is left.

I had previously participated in the same half-marathon 20 years ago, hence the title of this article. Believe it or not, I didn’t train for that first half marathon. At the time, I played competitive soccer, and thought it was almost the same thing. As I limped across the finish line in 2003…injured and depleted, it was very evident that it wasn’t the same. So, while I ran it at a much faster pace, I learned so much more about myself at this half than I ever did at that first one. 

Running, business and life share numerous parallels, but it is when you find yourself at 16 kms, fatigued, questioning your decision-making, and sweltering in the heat… that these parallels truly resonate.

During those three hours on the course, I had some time to think, and so today I share with you what running has taught me about my coaching practice and life in general.

Run your own race.
Though it may sound cliché, nobody else can define what your finish line looks like. Whether in running or in business, your goals and aspirations are unique to you. Comparing yourself to others is futile because their journeys differ from yours. My objective was to achieve a sub-three-hour time and finish without injuries, aligning with my capabilities and training. There were a lot of other half marathoners there with very different goals, but that had nothing to do with mine. Someone else’s finish line can never be your finish line. Simple as that.

Success is a gradual process.
I dedicated six months to training before even selecting a race, followed by another five months of focused preparation. I ran 573 kms training for a 21.1 km race. It really wasn’t about race day. It was about my commitment leading up to race day. The significance lies in the preparation leading up to the race, representing a personal commitment to myself. I feel like we need this reminder in business – success is gradual. Give yourself time, and put in the reps. Nothing happens overnight.

Surround yourself with cheerleaders.
There is incredible power in the encouragement offered by strangers along the race course. There is nothing like it, and I’m not even sure that those sideline cheers know how much of a difference they make.  Aside from race day, from the beginning, I made the wise decision to hire a coach, Sarah, who provided me with confidence, strategic guidance, a training plan, and invaluable accountability. I owe much of my progress to her support. 

My main source of support is my husband. Vince is an experienced ultra-athlete, having done 5 ultras (50km x 3, 50 miles and 100kms) in the past 18 months. He ran alongside me during this half-marathon, acting as a personal photographer, giving me words of encouragement, and being my unwavering support system. His presence was invaluable, and I am immensely grateful for his support. Thank you, Vinny, for being an exceptional wing-man.

As I reflect on this half marathon experience, I am reminded that achievements (in business and in life) are not solely measured by a single event but are the result of commitment, perseverance, and a strong support network.

Running this half-marathon has provided me with valuable life lessons applicable to both personal and professional endeavours. This race has given me confidence to continue my training, and continue my racing. I am almost ready to call myself a runner. 🙂

Donita Fowler

Coach + Creator
Manage your emotions and you can navigate challenges with a balanced perspective.