One simple phrase has changed my entire approach to running.
I was at a marathon expo over 10 years ago talking to a pacer. When we finished, I said “Good Luck,” and turned to leave. The pacer grabbed me, looked me in the eyes, and said “It’s Not Luck. It’s Training.”
This phrase is a mentality that acknowledges the role of luck in outcomes, but does not permit luck to be the dominant variable.
Tonight, I want to share a true story that happened to me many years ago, maybe eight years ago, and it has been a source of motivation to me throughout my running now. This isn’t motivation from an Olympian or anything like that. And so, but I think this was motivation to me as someone who’s just running in the masses, and is trying to balance everyday life with having some, some running goals and doing the best that I can. And so what it was, I was living up in Chicago at the time I was in business school. So this was in 2011, I believe was 2011. It was in my first year of business school. And this, I signed up for my my third marathon, and it was going to be a marathon at the in Urbana Champaign at the University of Illinois. And what was cool about this race was that it kind of its rural it runs, runs through bonus, your pain, which is in a very, it’s a more rural part of Illinois, compared to Chicago. And what’s cool about it is that at the time and finished up in the University of Illinois football stadium, big football school, in the Midwest, and it was just neat to be able to finish them the stadium. And so I wasn’t too far away in Chicago, sign up for the marathon. And you drive down to the marathon and going in the day before to pick up the race packet at the Expo. And I was at the time still very novice when it comes to marathon, like I mentioned is my third marathon. And so I remember going through the pack and going through the expo and pick up my number, get get my gear, get my pins, I was looking at all the different booths and the vendors and checking things out, check it out the supplements, check and whatever happens to be right. But then I saw the tables for the pace groups. And I didn’t know much about pacers at the time. And I was intrigued because there are people that were you know, 333 20 and I was trying to break 320 at that particular time. And so I went up to the pay the night that I think they’re like Nike pays well into the Pacers. And I said, Hey, can you explain to me a little bit more how this works? And he’s like, Yeah, sure. So at the race tomorrow, we’re going to have a couple people that are going to run that particular pace. You guys know how pacers work for the race. And if you guys want, you kind of just follow along, you can pin this number to the back of your shirt and allow me to do that. But you know, you can follow along and we’re going to get you to the finish line within that time. And I thought that was kind of neat. And that was really cool. And the guy I was talking to he was explained all this to me. He seemed like he knew what he was doing. He looked like a guy who could run fast. And he was giving me advice on the course and what it was like I was asking him questions and a great conversation. And I was like, hey, at the end of it, I want to walk away. And and so I turned to him and I said, Hey, good luck tomorrow. And I turned in a walkway didn’t think any of it. And as soon as I did this, he like grabbed my shoulder. The pacer was talking to him, he grabbed my shoulder, he turned me around. And he looked me in the eyes, and I still remember it. And he was grabbing me and he said, he said it’s not luck. It’s training. And I remember just being blown away. And I’m sure a lot of you are like, what, that’s nothing. But for me, whatever it was, he said something that just resonated with me and has stuck with me for now over 10 years, the idea that it’s not luck, it’s training. And what was even cooler about it is that on that day, I went off, and I ended up having a great race. And I exceeded the goal that I wanted to go do at that time in my in my running progression in the marathon. And what was even cooler is at one point in the race, I saw him and he was on the sidelines. Now this point is a spectator and so maybe he maybe he just ran like he was just pacing the half marathon group or whatever it was, but he I saw him late in the race in the marathon. And at this point, he was sitting on the sidelines as a spectator. And as I was running, I was having a hard point I saw him do their kind of clapping and like, you know, cheering people on. And I passed them and I was like, yeah, yeah. And it gave me that motivational service to get to the end. And I don’t know who this guy is. Maybe he was joking when he said the phrase whatever it was, but it’s a phrase that has stuck with me this idea of it’s not luck. It’s training. In what I have always internalized that to mean is that. Sure there are always going to be things you can’t control But there are a lot more things that are within your control that you can train for.
And if you train well, and you do the work, a lot of the element of luck goes away. You can train for weather, you can train for unfortunate situations, you can train for a given pace. And things may always happen. But if you take the mentality of it’s not luggage training, you can put a lot more the variables that determine your success in your way. And less chance you put out to feed. And if something does happen, you walk away at least knowing that you know what things happen. But I trained hard, and I did the work. And at the end of the day, if you have the mentality that is, hey, it’s not luck, you know, how my performance is going to be in a given weekend was determined over 13 weeks leading up to that race. And you have control over what you do during those 13 weeks to best prepare you for that situation. And if you take that mentality, the mentality of it’s not luck, it’s training. I think that could really help you as you approach different goals on and off the running roads.