The New York City Marathon is the world’s largest marathon and draws runners from around the globe. In the crowd of more than 50,000 runners through the city’s five boroughs, were many Black women including speaker, author and Egami consulting CEO Teneshia Jackson Warner. In between running an agency and being an opening speaker for T.D. Jakes Soar book tour, she trained to run 26 miles. Here’s her strategy to get to the finish line of any dream.

#1 Dream, Decide then DO

I always wanted to run a marathon. But as a small business owner, speaker, author, wife, daughter, friend and more I didn’t see how training for a marathon could fit into my hectic schedule. Yet when I looked closer at my calendar I realized there were not many things in it that were personally just for me. After working out with a friend that had run the marathon, I decided this was the year I was going to run the 2017 New York City marathon, no matter how busy my life was. I was determined to accomplish. Making the decision was key. That meant committing to all that comes with it. Choosing to run was me making me a priority in 2017 over everything else.

#2 The Future is Created in the Present

After deciding to run the race, the next step was picking a training program. If I wanted to run the NYC Marathon in November, I had to start training months in advance. I had a choice of a 16-week or a 26-week plan. My husband studied both and suggested I choose the 26-Week Plan, because the bigger the goal, the bigger the work you need to put in to achieve it, and we both agreed that was my purpose. For the six months leading up to the race, every day that I trained I reminded myself that I was creating a successful race in November. Your actions today are creating the Dreams of tomorrow. Big future Dreams mean big work today and every day after!

#3 Know Your Why Every Dream Needs a WHY

When I started the journey, I knew it was bigger than just running. It was a spiritual experience. I went into prayer and asked God for the ‘Why’ behind this goal. After being on a journey to make my dreams a reality for more than a decade, I’ve gone through all seasons of accomplishment and difficulty and challenges that strengthened my faith muscle. I’ve had the chance to speak to thousands of dreamers around the nation and encourage them to say YES to “The Stretch.” My definition of The Stretch is one’s willingness to go the distance between their comfort zone and their dream. Your ‘Why’ will keep you running when your muscles ache and will wake you up before the sun comes up to put in the work to achieve your dream.

#4 Race at Your Pace

For the first few months of training, I ran alone. In September, I decided it was time to run with others. My first run in a group was one of my worst run days in my entire training. Why? Because I stopped running my pace and tried to copy the run pace and style of the group. I was out of my zone, out of my flow and did not finish my mile goal on this day. I needed to run my race, not someone else’s. As a dreamer, you must find your authentic race and pace that is right for you. It would be a shame to rob the world of your unique run that God has outlined for you because you are too busy running someone’s else race.

#5 Expect the Unexpected

As I trained, similar to daily life, the unexpected occurred. Around week eight of my training I was traveling for work and came down with a sinus infection. I was freaking out, because I needed to run, but my body said otherwise. I talked to my friend that ran a marathon before, and she told me my training plan actually built in “expectancy for the unexpected.” In other words, the plan expected the trainee would encounter unexpected challenges that would result in weeks of not being able to train. For your dreams, leave room for unexpected detours or unforeseen challenges. If you are working towards a goal and you are currently off track, just accept the bumps in the road as they come and breathe. God has a way of taking your life’s detour and mapping it into your life’s destiny race path.

#6 Test Your Strategy Prior to running the race, I mimicked the race in long runs

All of my marathon resources encouraged me to treat long runs pre-race as if they were the big race day. So, on several long runs, I tried to run the route of the race. After doing this, I knew it was key on race day to start the race slower and conserve energy, so that I could finish strong. Having a race day strategy can make the difference between completing or not. Dream with a plan to become a reality.

#7 Don’t Run the Race in Your Own Strength

The best advice I received from two different, dear friends was one day before race day. Both friends advised me that I should not attempt to run the race in my own strength, but to tap into God’s strength and power during the race. As I ran on race day, I prayed and prayed and prayed. Prior to this race, I had never run more than two miles outside a day in my life, and on this day, I was attempting to run 26.2 miles. Yes, I put in the work, but I knew where my strength ended God’s strength would kick in. You have access to a supernatural power.

#8 Squad Up

There is no way I could have run this race without the support of so many friends, family and coaches. Finding like-minded people to run with me was vital. I ran with three visionary ladies on the JoyWorks Team. Although we each had our personal goals and personal “Whys” for running the race, there was nothing like the power of collective determination. I knew as I ran that we were going to make sure each of us crossed that finished line. Find like-minded dreamers that believe and see your vision and surround yourself with them daily.

#9 Witness Every Step

There really are not many words to describe the feeling of running with 50,000 runners that have joined forces to achieve their goal. There was an energy of will power among the runners that was palpable. As I ran, I took it all in: the band, the cheers, the support. And much like life, there was nothing like seeing the smiling faces of friends and family along the way. At some of the hardest parts in the race, my family and friends yelled, “You Got This!” For me, race day was one of enjoyment, intense focus and will power all mixed together with some celebratory finish line dancing. Often times when we have Dreams that are big, we tend to focus mainly on the destination. Yet the magic happens when you realize you are creating the dream moment by moment. We can live the dream in the present moment of our day-to-day lives once you see the journey as equally as important as the destination.

#10 Your Dream Isn’t Just For You

As I trained and shared my story, I noticed people around me saying “I’m going to do it next year.” By the time we made it to my after party to celebrate the race, nearly 10 people were committed to running the 2018 NYC Marathon. When you run your race, you inspire others to run their race as well and show others what is possible.

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