Yes, it is official. I am putting it out into the universe. I have signed up and am now training for the New York City Marathon on November 5th. No, I have never done anything like this before. Yes, I’m scared and uncertain. However, one thing I am certain of is that by taking on challenges, I become more open and willing to face new ones.

Now that my book about grit, The Grit Guide for Teens: A Workbook to Help You Build Perseverance, Self-Control and a Growth Mindset, is complete my new goal is to complete a marathon. Not a sprint or even a 10K, but a marathon (you know, the 26-mile kind). Why? Because I am fascinated by how to tackle hard, long-term goals. Here is what I’ve learned thus far…

  1. Passion- You need passion. Not the kind of short-term passion often associated with romance, but rather a deep and long lasting desire and commitment to reach your goal. A “want to,” not a “have to.” What do I mean by this? I view my training as an opportunity to grow stronger. While I’m training, I remind myself of my “why”- why I am doing this and how accomplished I will feel when I complete it. When I connect to my goal in this positive way, I am able to stay the course and bounce back from the setbacks I know are part of the journey.
  2. Practice – Having the want and the why is a good start, but it doesn’t get the job done. I need to practice—and practice and practice. When I first told my husband about my decision, he wasn’t so excited. He had heard many war stories from people who had run marathons. So I told him this is a “one and done.” Little did I know that even though I plan on running only one marathon, my practice would involve many mini marathons (runs of 12 and 16 miles) and several not so mini marathons (20 miles)! Through practice, I have gotten stronger, faster and, just as important, learned what pants to wear (compression pants, capris, or shorts), what water carry device I hate the least (vest or belt with one bottle or two) and which socks are most comfortable (cushy, compression, long, or short). My goal is that through practice, I will form habits that will help me on marathon day.
  3. People- I could not prepare for this marathon without my people. First off, my training partner Helene has provided support and accountability. She has made my training sessions a “want to” by being there every step of the way. For the long sessions, we train together, but even for the ones I complete by myself, I always send her my time. When I want to slow down, I ask myself, “Is this the pace you want to show Helene? Keep moving!” Knowing that I have someone watching me keeps me on my toes. In addition, friends who have already completed marathons have shared words of wisdom, from what is the best running underwear (they make running underwear?) to making sure I look cute in the picture at the end. They’ve also reminded me that it is normal to be wiped out and cranky after a long training session and have encouraged me when I’ve felt like quitting.
  4. Purpose – Last spring, after I completed a half marathon, my daughter looked at me and asked, “Why did you just run 13 miles? Was someone chasing you? Did you do it for a cause?” I decided then that the next time I did something like this, I would do it to raise money for a cause I care deeply about. I am proud to say that I am running the NYC Marathon to support the Hudson Valley Chapter of the Tourette Association. As a psychologist, I have patients who are diagnosed with Tourette and/or the conditions that accompany it, such as ADHD, Anxiety, or OCD. Overcoming these conditions can feel like a marathon, but when my patients are dedicated (have passion), feel ready to make a behavioral commitment (practice), have support (people), and a sense of purpose, they are successful.

Remember, when you have a positive mindset, committed behavior, social support, and a higher purpose you can achieve true greatness. Wishing you much success in any challenging, long-term goal you take on!

If you would like to support me and the Hudson Valley Chapter of the Tourette Association, you can send a check made out to TSA-NYHV Chapter and mail it to TSA-NYHV Chapter, PO Box 517, Ardsley, NY 10502 or go online to The Hudson Valley Chapter of the Tourette Association serves hundreds of families in Westchester, Putnam, Orange and Rockland counties. The chapter provides support, information and referrals to newly diagnosed families. The Teen Youth Ambassadors and Education Specialists have trained hundreds of students and teachers about how to support kids with Tourette in the classroom, and kids and their families have expressed how the chapter’s support has been life-changing for them.

Thank you for supporting such a wonderful cause—and me!