Walking To Success. Training for a Half-Marathon Builds Impulse Control
You've probably heard about the marshmallow experiment. Children are told they can get a second marshmallow if they can wait a while before eating the first. Some of the four-year-old kids held out and doubled their treat. Others ate the first, sacrificing the second. These children were followed for thirty years. It turned out that the one's who waited, those with higher impulse control, also averaged higher SAT scores and lower Body Mass Index numbers. Multiple studies have confirmed a correlation between impulse control and positive life outcomes.
The good news is that impulse control can be improved at any age. It doesn't matter that you succumbed to the sweet aroma of doughnuta in the company lounge every Friday up to now. At any moment, you can choose to take the first step toward life-long discipline. The key is finding something you value more than the doughnut.
I'm certain each of us can remember a time when someone made us so upset, we considered giving them a scathing, bone-chilling cursing, if not something downright physical. Impulse control is that momentary flash of weighing whether letting loose is worth it. Is having an altercation with someone I don't know more important that arriving at my destination on time. Impulse thwarted.
Half-marathons are great for developing impulse control. Is snuggling up to your favorite screen worth struggling through your next race because you didn't train? Probably not. On race day, there's more impulse control training. Around mile 2, an impulse will whisper that turning around will save hours of walking for no reason other than that I said I would. I keep walking, anyway. Around mile five comes the impulse to slow down and finish whenever I finish. And I'll choose to keep my pace.
At mile ten, neophytes question whether they have it in them to go the distance. And they'll cross the finish line. I know because I've witnessed hundreds of neophytes make the same choice.
What completing half-marathons does is teach us that an impulse is just a fleeting thought traveling at light speed on an electric wave. The more you complete, the more familiar you become with ephemeral nature of an impulse. It's just one of many flashing ideas bouncing around our brain. You learn to place the joy of crossing the finish line above the impulse to stop, slow down or doubt your ability to go the distance.
Impulse thwarted. Persistence rewarded. Medal in hand.
See you on the path.