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The Unlikely Marathoner Posted on October 24, 2018 in Hot Keynote Topics

Excerpt from 'The Unlikely Marathoner' By Donna Campisi

Chapter 7 – Mental Roadblocks 

When thinking of our big goal, whether it’s what we’ve wanted for a long time or something new we’ve been dreaming of, sometimes it’s easy to make excuses as to why we can’t achieve it. This is what I call a mental roadblock. But how about instead we find a solution as to how we can achieve your big goal?

As a benefit, you’ll clear your mind of negative thoughts. When we can interpret this as a growth in ourselves, instead of fear of change or challenges that come our way, then this can turn them into opportunities. It’s scary but it’s exciting, and you may inspire others to achieve their dreams too.

Do you look at a mental roadblock as a challenge or a threat? I like to look at it as a challenge. Challenge is a more exciting word. But if you don’t get past these mental blocks, you’re just going to be stuck – and that may be where you are right now. Perhaps that’s why you’re reading this book. I really want to help you with this, so you don’t fall into a hole and focus on what you can’t do, but instead find out how you can and why you want to do it.

Challenges are difficult, yes. That’s why it’s called a challenge. Not everybody achieves them. People fall into the pattern of staying in their mental block.

Your goal is an amazing challenge that you are going to achieve. We will cover more of this in the next chapter.

I think a good piece of advice is to turn your struggle or roadblock into a success story. Your first baby step creates an impact for the mindset of the rest of your journey.

Alice: ‘This is impossible!’

Mad Hatter: ‘Only if you believe it is.’ – Lewis Carroll

For example, a 5.3 km run changed everything for me, and that was just my first baby step. Your first small goal creates a positive impact on your mind.

#training #lesson
January 2013 – My first running event

It was 5.45 am when my alarm woke me. After a disturbed sleep, I wasn’t nervous. I had a low BG in the middle of night, but felt good with a BG reading of 8.7 when waking in the morning. I gave myself a little less insulin, with a wholesome breakfast to prepare for my very first ever fun run challenge.

I knew this wasn’t a marathon, just 5.3 km, so I had what I would normally eat any other day; even though Chris was trying to get me off the muesli to eat fewer carbs, I wasn’t sure of that yet. I tested my BG again after breakfast and it was 9.5; I was cool with that – diabetes can be challenging at times.

I was excited about this new challenge and feeling okay. A friend took me for the long drive to the event, grabbing my BG machine again before getting out of the car: 5.9, perfect! I had my sultanas with me as advised by Chris. This was a test for me, and a huge step in my eyes … my very first running event!

Start – go! Running along the road (and remembering to keep to the left as Shaun said), I stuck to my pace after the excitement of a rushed crowd was over. I slowed to a walk sooner than I would’ve liked, thinking, Listen to your body, don’t overdo it at the beginning. Talking to myself in my mind was a common occurrence since beginning this new running challenge, often hearing Shaun’s voice butt in as well.

At the halfway mark, I struggled at this stage to keep momentum and with a sore left shin, probably from overcompensating with my stronger side, I saw a man on the sideline ahead … was he waving to me? I looked around to see if anyone was responding to this tall man with a camera in hand pointing my way. I realised it was Chris as I got closer – oh crap, I thought, he’s filming me while I’m struggling, but it was a buzz to see him!

I didn’t think he would travel so far, as he didn’t live close, to cheer me with his words of encouragement: ‘Keep going, ruuun!’ His enthusiasm picked me up as I refocused and ran off. I was so grateful for him being there that day, as this was a big challenge for me.

Meeting people along the way was also encouraging. I chatted with two kids at one stage who were curious about my leg brace; I explained my past in brief and how this was my first ever running event, and in return listened to their stories of the running events they’d already completed and others they were planning to achieve. They were fun and truly inspiring. What I love about children is their honesty, curiosity and enthusiasm.

Crossing the finish line was a huge moment for me; hearing my name mentioned before crossing the line was cool too. Receiving my first ever medal was awesome and getting the event show bag was great. I felt like an excited kid at a carnival.

Seeing my friend was a relief as I ran toward her with a huge smile, waving my medal with pride and relief. I was happy to see her familiar face among the crowd, with her camera in hand of course, excited and asking me questions while filming. She gave me a huge hug that I was truly grateful for. I then found Chris, and a couple of other supporters with him too. This is something I will never forget.

This always brings a huge smile to my face when telling this story. It was a huge achievement for me – and yes, I had a fixed smile on my face, ready for my next challenge.

A happy day: 5.3 km at 45.32 minutes. I of course wore my first ever medal for the rest of the day, even at a friend’s Australia Day barbecue.

This 5.3 km run was the first major step out of my ‘baby steps’ to my goal, which I now preach about both at speaking events and to people who say, ‘A marathon is huge!’ or those who ask, ‘How did you do it?’

This run was very significant in increasing my strength, both mentally and physically. Self-belief is very important when reaching for any goal; this is no different to any other goal that you may have, and it doesn’t need to be running. This is my message that I wanted to share and spread: ‘Believe you can …’

After that was my next baby step: my goal was a 10 km run. After the 5.3 km run that I just completed, I said, ‘I can do that, I just have to double what I just did today!’

What I enjoyed about this run was the fact that people who ran beside me or even past me were encouraging each other, and that is something I really love to see.

I prefer to train alone, so to be in an environment surrounded by thousands of runners who were of varied ages and abilities, male and female, all in it for different reasons, was an awesome feeling. But aside from completing the distance, gaining confidence in my ability to keep going was my result in this particular run.

The response I had from people who followed me on my Facebook page was awesome. I was truly grateful to those who followed and cheered me on, including my family and friends … who may or may not have believed in me initially.

My friend kept people posted on my Facebook page and sent photos. So, when travelling home from the run I was flabbergasted to see an endless amount of messages on my phone and on my Facebook page.

Then there was a reaction from a less encouraging friend: ‘You know Donna, even if you just do the 10 km run everyone will be impressed. If you don’t make the full marathon, don’t worry about it.’

Although this friend may have thought of this comment as encouraging, this thought never entered my mind. Maybe this was his concern, or his own fear, when I announced my next step of completing a 10 km run. That night I decided that I wouldn’t hang out with that friend ‘as much’ throughout my training and surrounded myself with positive people. This was very important to me at that stage and this made me think of Brian.

I knew that was what he wanted from people around him: to be positive and not get him down with negative talk. This I could do for him – if I had no other power to control his situation, I knew I could be a positive energy around him, for him.

‘Surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel, energies are contagious.’ – Unknown

I was grateful for my followers on my Facebook page. These were people who only knew me for a month on Facebook, but they inspired me every day. This was a blessing that helped me to keep on track. Although I continued thanking them, I wondered if they realised how important their response to my marathon goal was to me. They were awesome!

I look at this first 5.3 km running challenge as something almost bigger than the actual marathon, funnily enough, because I shifted so much in my mindset to complete this first step goal, which took away the mental roadblock that I may initially have had.

But you may think, ‘I’m not a success story.’ You will be though, especially in the eyes of others who may want to achieve the same goal. That’s when you become a success story; that’s when you become an example to people of how it can be achieved. It’s exciting!

Remember: whenever you say ‘I can’t’ in your head, instead ask yourself, ‘How can I? Why am I doing this?’ This will clear your roadblocks, I’m certain.

Another important way to get over the roadblocks is to keep in mind how you want to achieve the goal and what the big picture will look like: the feelings, the smells or even tastes that will go with it. Get clear on the vision to the end, even through the tough times.

I remember doing this when I was training, with my vision of entering the MCG. I held that close to me: that thought, that vision. I’d close my eyes, seeing it happen, seeing the people who were there, the feelings and the sounds of people cheering – and of me feeling proud. That’s what was always in my mind, as well as the reasons why I was doing it.

This really kept me going and it got rid of those roadblocks in my mind.

You might think, ‘It’s hard to visualise. It seems like a dream, not a reality that can happen.’ Sure, but I advise you to picture it like you’re watching a movie on TV and you’re the main actor. That would be exciting, right? And you’re the hero in the movie.

Turning your struggle into a success story can be imagining that, for instance, you’re being interviewed in a newspaper or on TV and the reporter asks you, ‘Tell us how you were able to turn your struggles into an amazing, successful outcome in reaching your big goal.’ (This could be fun to play around with … try it!)

But don’t just play around; do it for real and ask yourself how someone who’s already been successful in doing something like your goal would have gotten past the mental roadblock. You be the reporter, so to speak.

‘Your story is amazing Donna,’ or, ‘You have an amazing success story.’ I come across this all the time when meeting people. I always refer to my why, like I did in the previous chapters, and then think of how: ‘How do I get around this roadblock, this obstacle that may get in the way? How will I feel once I reach my goal?’

I know many people, me being one of them, who say it’s hard to walk out the door, or get out of bed, or go to the gym, etc. some days, but the feeling afterwards is a great feeling and worth it in the end.

More than likely you will come across these moments when you have a mental roadblock and find it hard. The questions you need to ask yourself at this point are:

  • Why am I doing this goal?
  • How do I get around this roadblock?
  • Who will be there when I reach my big goal?
  • What will this moment look like through my eyes?
  • Where will I be?
  • How will I feel?
  • How will this change me for the better?

But be prepared for roadblocks. You may not have control of over some things.

Unfortunately, my next baby step goal for the 10 km challenge was delayed by injuries that I needed to rest from and get treatment for; of course, this was frustrating, but something I needed to be patient with.

You may come across this yourself in your own goal journey, but please don’t give up … it’s okay to reset a date. Sometimes things happen in life that we really have no control over.

If you would like to know more about Donna’s keynote presentations contact us for more information, click here.



Donna Campisi is an adventurer at heart. After creating her own campaign ‘Run Donna Run’ to inspire and encourage people that ‘there’s no such thing as can’t…’ she is now an inspiring speaker, author, crazy adventurer, marathoner, and a highly skilled Adventure & Performance Coach - inspiring many with her group adventure challenges and one-on-one coaching, and ‘go do it’ attitude, those who work with her are achieving their big goals too! Read more

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