Lessons from Running a Marathon

Marathon runners Zilvold Coaching & Training
9 min read

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In December 2022, my son asked me if I would like to run a Marathon with him. Since I am over 50, I laughed at him and said that I think such an endeavor is more for men in a midlife crisis. That probably says more about me than other men…

Of course, I was happy that my son invited me to run 42.19 km with him. It would be a great opportunity to create experiences.

Then, I met a colleague. She told me about her plan to run the Marathon of Rotterdam. She was so enthusiastic about this that she inspired me to sign up for the event.

On April 16th, I completed the marathon with my sons in about four and a half hours. My goal was to finish, so I was excited.

In this article, I share the lessons I learned from training for and running a Marathon.
No, I am not asking you to run a Marathon as well. I hope these lessons help you with any big project, adventure, or goal.

Find a coach

I just had twenty weeks to train for a Marathon, and I started in December 2022 with a 10K run. My body ached terribly after the run, and I needed to train smarter. So, I looked for a coach. I found an excellent app that prepared me for the race. It provided me with a plan and coaching through talks by Coach Bennett. He taught me how to run in the rain, in the dark, and not to run when there’s a thunderstorm. Coach Bennet instructed me on the correct way to run. He motivated me to go for longer runs and reflect on the runs by constantly asking me how I was doing.

With every big project or goal, I advise you to look for a coach, preferably someone who has already achieved what you aspire to do or be. A coach can help you take the right steps and GROW.

Be consistent

What helped me to run the Marathon was to be consistent in running. Some days I would have a long run. On other days, a tempo run, and I would have days to rest. You’re not able to run 42.19K untrained. Perhaps you are, but you’ll pay for it. Consistent training helped me reach the finish line and go further if needed. By being consistent, I learned to enjoy running.

Work on your goals every day. Sometimes you’ll do a lot and sometimes just very little. That is okay. Somebody once told me: “Get in line and stay in line.” That’s what I did, and that is what I do by writing blogs since 2014. Because one day, I want to write a book and become a better writer.

Enjoy the ride

Long runs can be dull because the landscape changes very slowly. Perhaps the work you must do to reach your goals is dull too. I have learned that the run can get boring if you’re too much in your head and thinking. The key is to come into the present and look around. I saw beautiful cloud formations, birds, flowers, and I got fresh air.

The run is not boring. Perhaps you’re just bored. Become conscious of your body, how you touch the ground, and the environment around you. Music always helps me to enjoy a ride!

Look for support

You don’t have to do it alone. As soon as you tell people about your big goal, plenty of people would love to help and support you. My friend Pieter gave me plenty of tips. On race day, I got more messages and calls from people than on my birthday!

Along the route, so many people were cheering and calling my name. The energy I got from the supporters helped me to reach the finish line.

What you do influences others

Running has made me stronger and more resilient. Both physically and mentally. I sleep better and am calmer. This influences others. When I see someone having a good time doing whatever they are, I want that too.


Coach Bennet had a running schedule for me, and I was eager to follow through. Sometimes, I could not run or run that long for a day. That caused stress for me. Since I had a plan, switching runs or days to rest was easy. It was simple, but it helped me to be relaxed. In the end, I missed only two training runs. Getting my breathing under control helped me to relax too!

Always recover

After long runs or tempo runs, I would have time to recover. I learned how to stretch and the importance of hydration and sleep. I also learned that you can recover by running slower after an intense training day.

If you have worked hard for your goal or project, please recover by reading something else, taking a (power)nap, doing sport, or doing something you enjoy. You can also do some light work the day after an intense day.

Invest in equipment

No, I am not here to get you to buy some brand of shoes. My old running shoes were fine; I planned to run the Marathon with them. One day, I tried a new pair of running shoes. They were twice the price I had paid for my old running shoes. My new shoes enabled me to fly above the earth! They propelled me forward as I ran.

I advise you to invest in equipment that helps you to work faster and smarter.

You don’t have competitors

I do not have competitors when I race. I have people around me who are athletes like me. When I cheer for other athletes, I see that they appreciate it, which makes me feel better, especially when I am having a rough time.

The Dutch athlete Sifan Hassan won the Marathon of London this year. It was her debut since she is a track sprinter. What inspired me was the story of giving cups of water to her fellow athletes during the race. What a team spirit!


My friend Caroline told me that I was the only one smiling after 30K. Smiling is a secret weapon. Try to smile when you are doing something difficult. For me, things are easier when I smile. Even when I have a difficult telephone call.

Research has shown that by smiling, your body produces ‘happy” hormones like dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. These signal to your body that you’re happy, and thus you feel happier. Smiling helps you to relieve stress and may help you live longer.

Midlife crisis?

A midlife crisis can take place between the ages of 40 and 60. Yikes! I am right in the middle of it. People with such a crisis can become uncertain about their choices in life and worry about mortality or question their identity.

Both men and women can have a midlife crisis. According to Sheldon Reed, they can become sad, restless, irritable, or change their ambitions abruptly. This can be by quitting their job or relationships or becoming reflective.

What can help is to discover a sense of peace in your life’s direction. For me, gratitude is key to overcoming sadness or regret. Also, focusing on my character strengths helps me to keep staying optimistic.
Of course, running helps me to let go, get a good night’s sleep, and feel strong (both mentally and physically).

Your WHY

Your identity is based on your experiences, values, and talents. You can discover these during a WHY session, where you’ll find your unique contribution and its positive effect on the world. A WHY statement helps me keep in flow, do those things which are harder to do (even running a Marathon), and keep me happy and enthusiastic.

Do you want to discover your WHY? I can help you to find yours. Contact me today for a FREE intake.

How do you prepare for big goals or projects in your life? What helps you to keep going? Let me know in the comment field below. The other readers of this article. and I are looking forward to reading from you!

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Have you seen an error in this article? Let me know! I am grateful!

-Sheldon Reed, Midlife Crisis: Signs, Causes, and Coping Tips

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