Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

The Key to Peforming Well

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Our level of performance has nothing to do with who we are and everything to do with how well we have prepared.

Becoming a Runner

I remember the first half-marathon I ran. I never imagined that it was something I could actually do. Some friends had talked me into it, and I was scared to death.

I was so scared that I found a training regimen guaranteed to get me ready and I stuck to the plan without missing a workout.

When the day came and the race started, my anxiety quickly dissipated as my body found a rhythm. The same rhythm I had developed through months of training.

The race passed much faster than I thought it might. My time was 9 minutes better than my goal. I was finishing ahead of people that looked like they would be better runners than me.

My fear had translated into the habit of work, and the work turned me into a better runner than I had ever been.

I was prepared. I was ready. I was a runner.

That was 9 years ago.

photo by Thomas Hawk (Creative Commons)

Relying on the Past

Last Saturday I ran my 6th half-marathon. This time was different.

It has been 3 years since I have put that much effort into running. Wanting to get back the habit, I committed to the race by signing up early and paying the registration fee in January.

Despite having skin in the game, I still didn’t commit fully to the training. I ran some, but not consistently enough. I wasn’t able to build. I was only trying to keep what I had already gained. And my poor effort wasn’t enough.

On race day I wasn’t ready and I knew it. My past accomplishments became irrelevant when it came time to run. I was nervous again, but this time it was due to a lack of preparation.

The Flop

I ran a great 9 mile race. For those of you who don’t know, half-marathongs are 13.1 miles. The last 4 were awful.

I had nothing left to give. My under-trained muscles were done. I found myself struggling to just keep going. Hundreds of people I had passed earlier in the race were now passing me.

There was this one man I remember in particular. He was basically speed walking. Even though I felt like I was running, I could not keep up with him. On most days, and certainly in the past, I was a better runner than him. But on that day he was better.

Talent versus Skill

We would like to think that how we perform is based on who we are. That our skill is related to talent. That awards and recognition is something we deserve based on our naturally ability. All we need to do is just show up. Just like running, this isn’t true.

There are some individuals who are naturally better at doing something than most. You know someone like this. It seems effortless to them, while you have to labor just to make any progress at all. These people drive you nuts. If you let it, your jealously will distract you from doing your work.

When race day comes, however, the only thing that matters is how well we are prepared. Our ability to perform is related to how hard we have been working in the weeks and months and years prior. A realization that comes too late on race day.

Whatever you want to be, it will require effort. Whether it’s a runner, a writer, a physician, an entrepreneur, a musician, an actor, a parent, a friend, or a spouse, you need to practice. You need to train. You have to fall in love with the work.

There are 3 different ways to respond to this truth. You can make excuses saying that you just aren’t talented enough. You can choose to do something that you are naturally good at and just coast by with little effort in pursuit of mediocrity.

Or you can work hard. Work regularly. And give life your best.

Whether it is a 13 mile race, or your life dream, the only way to succeed is to show up on a regular, if not daily, basis and do what is necessary.

Have you ever flopped from poor preparation? Have you benefitted from being well prepared?

Share your story in the comments.



About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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14 Replies

  1. As a fellow runner (on and off for years), I resonate with this.  Running is a metaphor for so many aspects of life, I have been through many seasons in running,  even overconfidence + undertraining.  Running is great because when you fail, you feel it… deeply.  You also know that you only have yourself to blame. 

  2. Good thoughts, Jeremy.  I ran my 2nd 1/2 marathon last month.  And you are right, it’s all about being prepared.  I never thought I would ever run one 1/2 marathon…let alone 2!   I used to hate running because I don’t excel at it.  NOW, I love to run…even though I still don’t  excel at it.  But, I do the best I can and prepare the best I can!

  3. Lorna Faith

    Thanks for sharing your story Jeremy:) Like you, I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum. It’s scary showing up to something you’re not prepared for…I’ve experienced that once when I sang for an event. The music seemed off, so since I sang out of tune(because I hadn’t taken enough time to practice;(  I guess the good thing about it was that it spurred me on to always take time to prepare…at least when I’m singing. Now I need to make sure I’m applying that to other areas…! Thanks for the great reminder to practice, to work hard and give life my best …needed to hear that today 🙂

  4. Boston! I’ll go check it out.

  5. Great point! sometimes these experiences are worthwhile because we of what we learn. The pain is really hard to forget.

    Were you worried about the next performance after that one?

  6. Good for you. Have you ever given thought to a full marathon?

  7. So true. but when you succeed by finishing the race, nothing feels better.

  8. Opps, I meant Buffalo when I typed Boston – my apologies. I may be a dreamer, but I’m not delusional….

  9. I can understand where you’re coming from. I’m currently preparing for my first 25K that happens this Saturday. I’ve done well in preparing and the nerves are up. I’m hoping the nerves melt away and things go smoothly. 

  10. Same here Eileen! A year ago I hated to run. Now it’s one of those things I look forward to. In fact, I’m just about to do my first 25K. Exciting yet scary!

  11. That’s awesome, Joe. There will always be nerves, but when you are prepared and you know, confidence will be there too. 

  12. I have just recently taken up running..but i have not been very consistent. Any day I skip running, it gets harder to get back to it. Not helped by rainy weather. I’ve been trying to recruit my husband to join me. i have found two to be better than But really, i know it all comes down to me. Just need to get committed 🙂 

  13. Keep at it. It is only rewarding if you do it on a regular basis.

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