Marathon Impossible?

Have you ever tried or wanted to try something that seemed almost impossible to you? One of the biggest things you have to overcome right from the start is your negative thinking. “Oh, that’s impossible,” your negative thoughts tell you. And if you are lucky enough to convince yourself to even get started, then you have set yourself up for a battle for the long haul on this “seemingly impossible” feat. This was my experience when I first started thinking about doing a complete marathon this year.

From the get-go, the distance to run was mind-numbing to me, but to make things worse, this was something I had tried twice before—and failed—once due to a herniated disc, and another time due to a broken ankle. I had decided that I would try it this time, and if I got injured again, I would never try again.

I Had a Fear

My biggest fear from the start was not about whether or not I could complete the 26.2 miles, but whether I would injure myself after weeks or months of training, and not be able to even TRY to complete the 26.2 miles.

I was doing ok in the beginning, reminding myself that my two previous injuries were due to poor training methods—or rather, lack thereof. But then, my mileage started to get into the upper teens, and the doubt started to pour in again. I had never ran beyond 14 miles, so by the time I got to 17, 18 and 19 miles, my nerves were getting the best of me every time I had a little twinge in my foot or my leg, or wherever (because trust me, if you run that many miles and you will experience twinges).

Enter the Five Powerful Words.

Wendy asked on a LinkedIn group if there was anyone who would like to review her book before it got published. I had read many of Wendy’s articles on her website, and so, I jumped at the chance. In her book, Wendy tells us about the five powerful words. These words are, “I like the idea that . . . “ There  are some things we want to do or have thought about doing, but we cannot even begin to think positively about it because we don’t even believe that it is possible. Wendy tells us, essentially, to back up for a minute. If you can’t even believe it, then you need to start where you are. For instance, if a person wants to pay off their house in ten years, but it seems impossible to them, in order to stop thinking negatively about it and start thinking positively about it, you back up to what you can believe to be true—i.e. that “I like the idea that I can pay off my house in ten years.”


This made sense to me, so I started using the five powerful words. In Chapter 8, Staying Calm in an Uncertain World, Wendy writes about worry. And to be honest, I was worried. I was worried that I would break my foot, or maybe I’d be able to finish the marathon, but end up injured afterwards.  Chapter 8 helped me to get specific with my worries. Wendy provided several examples of worries and how they could be counteracted with examples of a new thought to replace the old . . .  each beginning with the five powerful words.

Apply the Five Powerful Words to Your Worries

When I read this, a light went off. I had been using the five powerful words to tell myself that I liked the idea that I would complete the marathon, but I had never gotten specific about it. These examples showed me that we can take these five words and apply them to anything we want, not just that we are able to do something, but that we can choose HOW the outcome is played out.

Three Good Things Happened

I am not saying that I didn’t get injured because I told myself that I liked the idea that I would run the marathon and be injury free.  What I am saying is that by using these words, these three things happened for me:

  1. I was able to escape the stress and anxiety that my worries about injury were causing me. Running a marathon was a goal of mine. I was excited to be doing it and proud of myself for getting as far as I had gotten. And I was already having fun with it, but that fun I was having was not in its fullness because there was still a large part of me that was worried!!
  2. I also believe that when we are worried about something, that we are more likely to bring that thing upon us, and so by letting go of that worry through those five powerful words, I believe I reduced my likelihood that I would get injured.
  3. Winifred Gallagher wrote in Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life that “temperamentally anxious people can have a hard time staying motivated, period, because their intense focus on their worries distracts them from their goals.” I totally believe this to be true, and experienced it in my transition from worrying about injury and anything else that could possibly happen to keep me from finishing the marathon to stopping my worries with the five powerful words. Once I stopped my worries about injury, I was able to focus more on my run, and enjoy it!

Bethany Jo Lee is a health and fitness enthusiast, in training for her Personal Trainers Certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She believes that health and fitness are foundational for personal development, and writes on these topics at You can also find her on Twitter @bethanyjolee.

What happens when YOUR thoughts or worries get in the way of your goals? What do you do? Post your comment below!


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15 Responses to The Mind and The Marathon: A Success Story

  1. Bethany Lee says:

    Thanks for letting me guest post on your site, Wendy! And thanks for those 5 powerful words!

  2. Cindy says:

    I am blessed to call Bethany my friend. She is a gifted writer but more importantly she is a loving, caring, compassionate woman. I believe it is those qualities that make her writing so important. We all need a Bethany in our lives and now since I have read this post a Wendy.

    Thank you both for your compassion and caring. The world needs more like you.

    • Wendy says:

      Aww…thank you (blush).
      Bethany and I both have a boatload of compassion, support, tools, and techniques to help others. I know I can speak for Bethany when I say that our mission is to let as many people as possible know that they can be successful.
      Bethany has taken her life by the horns and her energy to improve herself is amazing! I hope you sign up for her newsletter and get a little of that energy in your email every week.

    • Bethany Lee says:

      Cindy, you are just too much! To have you say that is such a compliment, because you are so much those things!

  3. Susan Cooper says:

    I very much enjoyed Bethany’s guest post. She is such an inspiration to me and to the many she touches in her own special way. She couldn’t be more spot on with her thoughts and about your book. Love the post, :-)

    • Bethany Lee says:

      Thank you Susan. I’m glad you liked the post! I hope you can use the five powerful words for some big challenge coming up in your life. If you didn’t read the book yet, you should, because there is so much more “meaty” stuff in there to go with those words.

  4. Geek Girl says:

    Thank you so much for this post! Bethany you are an inspiration as always. I love those 4 words and how they can change the whole perspective. :)

    • Bethany Lee says:

      Thanks Cheryl! Except its FIVE powerful words . . . :-) Can’t forget any one of them because it’s together that they make the difference. :-) I think you should use this for your next challenge and let us know how it works out.

  5. Dan Meyers says:

    I like the idea of using, “I like the idea of”! It’s a great way to start because it’s hard to disagree with. If I say I’m going to run a marathon, it’s easy to shoot down with all of the “realities”. However, if I say, “I like the idea of running a marathon”, who can argue with that?! Great post Bethany

  6. Trish says:

    As always, an inspirational post Bethany. When I want to change my perspective on something (away from resistance (how I categorize worry) to acceptance), I start with “what if” and see how my body responses. If my body relaxes, then I know it is something I know I can buy into as feasible. If not, I try another “what if”. But I am going to start trying “I like the idea of..”

    Thank you ladies.


    • Bethany Lee says:

      Oh, Trish, I think this “what if” idea is very interesting–it sounds like a good way to see if something is a “good fit.” On the other hand, I wonder if your body tenses because maybe one of those “what if” scenarios scare you, but doesn’t necessarily mean NOT to do something. Make sense? I wonder if Wendy would respond to this too.

    • Wendy says:

      Hi Trish,

      Your “What if question is great. You are using a powerful question on yourself that can give you lots of great information. Don’t give it up!
      When you use “what if?” and your body doesn’t relax you are uncovering good information about yourself. Perhaps a fear, perhaps an old belief that is getting in the way of what you want…
      Either way, any feeling that you have does have to be permanent. You can change your feelings if the old ones don’t work.
      “I like the idea that” will help you if you want to achieve a goal and you have an old limiting belief that is in the way…

  7. Jennifer says:

    Sounds like a life changing book! I’m so proud of you and your accomplishments, Bethany! Your posts lead me to believe that I can push for more! :)

  8. Bindhurani says:

    Wow! Those are powerful 5 words. Thanks for sharing your experience through this article.Love it. I guess, you are applying the same idea to your next project.

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