I completed my first full marathon at the age of 61.
Granted, I was probably the last person to cross the finish line, but finish I did. Little did I know how grueling the process would be. Many times during the race I wondered what compelled me to think I could do this at my age, and yet, how great it felt once I achieved my goal.
Not a Lifelong Aspiration
Up to that point, I was not a runner, nor did I aspire to be one. With the amount of time it took me to cross the finish line, there are plenty of people who would say, “You’re still not a runner. That’s a snail’s pace.”
I didn’t participate in the 2015 Eugene Marathon for anyone’s approval. I did it for me. I needed something to push my limits. The marathon accomplished this and more.
As a side note, the point here is this; no matter what you do, you’ll have critics. Finish first, there are critics. Finish last, there are critics. Finish anywhere in between, there are critics.
If I ran based on the approval from critics, I would have given up long ago. But I didn’t give up. I crossed the finish line.
The first thing I said to the friends who stuck around to cheer me across the finish line is, “I’ll never do that again.”
Within a couple of days, I changed my mind. After some soul searching and analysis of what I could do better, I realized I had not given my all to my training. Right there and then, I decided to do another full marathon for my 62nd birthday. This time, I would train differently. This time, I would eat healthier. This time I would commit to doing something every single day.
Crossing the finish line for my second full, I barely skirted by in the legal finish time of 7 hours. An hour and a half improvement from the previous year. Yet, it still wasn’t good enough.
I decided to do another race for my 63rd birthday. This time, it be would a half marathon. I also joined a running group organized by Run Hub, a premier running store in Eugene, Oregon.
I was even more committed to my fitness goals this time around. Without fail, I showed up for the twice weekly group runs, followed the schedule the coach created for me, ate better than the year before, did a bit of cross training and completed my scheduled runs despite the weather.
Some days it was below freezing. Other days it was raining. Moving into the warmer weather of the training season, there were days I ran extra early to avoid overheating.
Another Year of Improvement
Despite the obvious improvement, when I got honest with myself, I realized I could do better.
My running coach had recommended cross training, but I so enjoyed my morning runs, I know I sacrificed time with weight training and bicycling to run. Sure, I did some cross training, but not as much as I could have.
The Soul-Searching Continues
After another soul-searching evaluation, I realized if I really want to excel in my next half marathon to celebrate my 64th birthday, doggone it, I have to make even more changes.
So… I hired a weight trainer. Being somewhat extreme in the way I do things, I knew I needed someone who would not baby me, pussy foot around, nor tell me something that wasn’t true.
“I will be doing a half marathon in May. But, my bigger goal is a sprint triathlon,” I told Kristian. “I know I need improvement in my overall strength. Is this achievable at my age?”
“Without a doubt. I’m training a 58 year old woman right now who has similar goals. She’s rocking it,” he said with complete congruence as he pulled her before and after image up on his phone.
“The thing to keep in mind is you are older. What would take someone in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s to achieve an outcome, will take you longer, but it can be done. It’s up to you how successful you will be. I will teach you what to do, but only you can make it happen.”
“I want you to push me,” I said, not realizing Kristian has a reputation for pushing people beyond where they thought they could go.
He’s trained champion body builders. He’s guided average body type middle aged men and women to extraordinary results. And best of all, he loves what he does.
Improvements Show Up
In the short time I’ve trained with him, I’ve noticed definite improvements in my overall health, energy, vitality and focus. Granted, his normal workout is likely NOT what most people would be willing to do. But if I want results, I go for the gusto.
Just this morning I noticed a change that kind of blew my mind… just a bit. I’m attending a conference in Dallas for a week. I packed a huge suitcase of clothes, boots, books, hair products, supplements, protein powder… the usual. My largest bag is often within ounces of the 50-pound cutoff.
Lifting my bag into the trunk of my car, I thought, “This feels lighter than usual. Maybe I packed less than I thought.” When I checked my bag at the airport, I was delighted to see 49 pounds on the scale.
Comparing Apples to Oranges … Maybe
Boarding the plane, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities to marketing a book and training for a marathon.
The similarities are incredible. Training for a marathon, with the intention of crossing the finish line with pride, requires focus in various areas including eating, breathing, cross training, nutrition, sleep, supplementation, water consumption, and commitment to the long term.
Marketing a book, with the intention being to sell lots of books, requires several areas of focus.
Identifying your reader, knowing where they hang out (social media platforms, conferences, associations, etc.) preparation of marketing material, outreach for interviews, speaking engagements, book signings, building a community of raving fans on social media such as Facebook groups, and creating a balance with how you manage your time, energy and focus.
In addition, you must manage your state of mind when a bad review comes in as well as when someone you thought would be eager to buy your book doesn’t.
When I compare how I marketed my first book to how I marketed my last, it’s night and day. With my first book, I got similar results as I got with my first marathon. I did it, but it was somewhat laughable.
Many of my friends have said, “But you did it.”
Yes, I did, but there’s plenty of room for improvement. Fast forward to my last book and race. I put tons of effort into what I did. The results showed it.
It Doesn’t Stop with Your Last Success
Yet, I’m not willing to stop there. With my next book, a memoir, I am going even deeper into the marketing than ever before. I’ve hired experts to work with me on various aspects of my marketing.
Like my marathon training, the next book is requiring more of an investment of time, money and energy.
Many people would love to have the type of results I had with my last book, Power UP for Profits. After all, on the front end it did great. On the back-end, fantastic.
The back-end included filling a 3-day event, enrolling clients into private consulting and coaching, selling online courses to do with book marketing and more. But again, that’s not good enough.
I’m not willing to let my last success be my best success. I want to push the limits to see what I’m capable of. I want to go the distance with my next half marathon (and get my best time yet without injury) as much as I want to go the distance with my memoir.
Does this mean I must make sacrifices? Yes! Anyone who pretends otherwise is fooling themselves.
With running, there’s the sacrifice of that extra hour of sleeping in, playing on social media, eating foods that are not in my best interest and settling for the status quo. There’s more, but you get the idea.
With marketing my book, there’s the sacrifice of financial investment, time to learn new strategies, time to build the momentum and staying the course, regardless of whether I feel like it…or not.
Mind you, no one is twisting my arm to do either of these activities. No one is saying, “You have to do this.” No one but me.
Do you Settle for Average… or Require More?
I decided long ago to not settle for average. That’s not what I want my life to represent. I want to know I gave it my all. I want to push my limits. I want to exceed all my own expectations.
As an author, what are you willing to do to gain visibility for your books? Are you willing to grow into an amazing marketer of your content? Are you willing to learn what you need to be the best you can be? Are you willing to keep going when all outside evidence indicates nothing is happening? Are you willing to hire the right people to help you get to your result faster? Are you willing to go the distance?
Only you know what the truth is. And as we’ve all heard, “Actions speak louder than words.”
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