On Learning and Running Marathons

marathon-640_mediumLong distance running, my oldest and dearest recreational activity, has thought me how to focus and be determined to overcome drawbacks and fatigue. The same willpower that got me through marathons or out there running when it was raining cats and dogs works now for my strength in other disciplines and areas of life.

During a long run or a marathon, the body and mind experience numerous sensations. The run starts typically easily because you’ve trained for it for months by running hundreds of kilometers. At the marathon, the difficulties usually begin after the halfway point. Your body starts showing signs of extreme exhaustion after the 30-kilometer mark: legs are painful and cramp, you feel nauseous and just want this all to end soon. You swear to yourself that you will never put yourself in this pain again, yet you’ll find yourself signing up for a new effort a week later. Your mind has to work on overcoming these unpleasant feelings you are experiencing; Your brain needs to focus on your goal – the finish line!

Becoming proficient requires discipline and perseverance. You have to be determined to continue your training despite disappointments or delays in achieving success. This isn’t easy if you are a naturally impatient type or if you let small – or significant – setbacks discourage you. You can, however, learn to be more persistent.

Firstly, set a goal. Then consider the steps you need to take in reaching it. Break down your grand task into smaller chunks and start working on them one by one. Focus on what you want to learn and drop all unnecessary from your schedule. When you face an obstacle, think how to overcome it. Don’t quit even if it feels exasperating; keep on trying!

marathondeparis 2I’ve been self-observing my progress over a year now in my two new hobbies, drawing and tennis, as well as aiming towards a new career. I notice that I progress gradually, but slowly and am content with the small accomplishments that motivate me to go on. Got that forehand shot quite right – so it is time to boost the backhand!

I’ve practiced tennis twice a week, drawing less regularly, and am still far from fully understanding, without mentioning putting in practice, all different types of tennis shots or drawing techniques. I’ve improved my play a great deal but also understood that getting even better will require more hours of regular training. The same applies to the drawing – more strokes on paper will necessarily lead to advancement in arts, but achieving results takes longer when the exercise schedule is irregular.

I intend to improve my drawing and tennis skills. I have set myself short-term and long-term goals. Sooner, I need to get that serve right; Later, I want to participate in a tennis tournament. The road to the long-term goal is windy and passes by many stops and I need to, hence, stay focused and determined. Here the lessons learned through the long distance running become handy. At the moment of despair, I’ll set my mind to my long-term goal. I will not stress out if something does not stick immediately but try again, and again, until one short-term goal has been achieved; then I’ll move on.

 

Out of the Box Thinking

colorful-640_medium“Creativity is more important than knowledge.” I’ve loosely quoted Albert Einstein to my children. “Does it mean that we don’t need to go to school but we can just build lego or play computer games instead?” Why not, if somehow through that play, the basic concepts and rules of math, sciences, and living in a society would be transferred to you. School, in general, provides a wide variety of information: we learn the basics of math, sciences, languages, history and geography. We practice our social skills by being a part of a community; We learn discipline and to respect the rules. An excellent school also provides nurturing for the curious minds and makes them want more.

Knowledge can thus be acquired by learning from books and from people, but when the imagination steps in the new inventions are born. Creativity is our inner quality that can be fed and knowledge provides nourishment for the innovation. Without knowledge, there is not much to innovate on. Hence, learning is a key and creativity will define the door it will open.