Lessons from Baseball Career Prepared Me for This

Many people question whether playing sports are worth it. Of course, it is. The sporting life prepares people for life beyond the diamonds. I know the lessons from baseball career supported me in many life and business situations, along with helping with one of the things on my bucket list.

I have run and finished ten marathons and soon to be competing in my eleventh. I am patting myself on the back as I write. But seriously, I know my baseball career was mediocre at the major league level, at best. But I am convinced that my baseball career is the reason I can run that effing far, now.

Nothing is better preparation for what goes into running a marathon and other life goals than the challenges and trials of the sports’ journey. The many ups and downs and adversity in my baseball career helps me get to the finish line. Trekking the 26.2 miles of a marathon takes every bit of the lessons I learned on my big league journey.

Lessons from Baseball Career Set the Stage  

Lessons from Baseball career

Lessons from Baseball career

The early years of a baseball career and preparing for a marathon are all about the dream – to make the big leagues and to finish the race. I began dreaming at a young age of reaching the major leagues. After my playing days, I wondered what it would be like to run a marathon. The many years of dreaming serve as great motivation for training for such challenges. Dreams get in your heart and soul, which is the only way one has a chance of making them come true.

Next, it is about the detailed daily training. There is no substitute for putting one foot ahead of the other no matter what obstacles come before you. One learns that it is doing the little things that keep you on track towards your goals.

Finally, all the baseball practice developed the feeling of trust and optimism. No matter how much sacrifice, zero hit games and defensive errors, I believed that in the end, it would all be worthwhile. When running the marathon, doubt sets in around mile 15 when the body and mind begin to wither, but trusting in the work you put in gives one the hope needed to persevere. Self-doubt is natural, but the believer and athlete in you help keep you focused.

Following is what running a marathon is like for me and how my baseball career helps along the way.

Early Miles (1 – 5): Adrenaline Rush and Adjustments

To be among 40,000 runners, who are as excited as you are to begin, is a rush like MLB opening day. The first lesson is to make sure the excitement does not get the best of you. Your training has taught you that if you go out too fast, you will never finish. Another realization is that you start out believing you have to run 26.2 miles, but soon realize that you have to travel much further. Many people are in your way, and the path is not a straight line. Getting from A to B requires some unwanted maneuvering which adds to the trek.

Lessons from Baseball Career
The road to success is never direct, many things get in your way. You understand that it is a process with no shortcuts that will get you to your goal. In my baseball career, I learned to be prepared to veer right, left, around and sometimes through to achieve your goals. Success comes from making adjustments. In professional baseball, there is always another player vying for your job, and you understand that you are only as secure as your last game or two.

Late Early Miles (6 – 10): Exhilaration

The congestion is starting to thin out some, and you settle in at a comfortable pace. The body feels great, and the mind is saying, “This is the day; I will run my personal best, and the marathon distance is not as tough as it is made out to be.”

Lessons from Baseball Career 
Confidence and enthusiasm are necessary attributes, but only when grounded in reality. There is a long way to go; overconfidence and false hope are never good. The baseball career taught me never to get too high or too low. Sports are a humbling experience.

Middle miles (11 – 16): Reality Sets In

The adrenaline and exhilaration have worn off, and reality takes over. Been running for a couple of hours and there is still a couple to go. You begin to understand just how far a mile is. Every time I see a mile marker in the distance, I believe I have run at least two or three more miles. No, the sign shows it has been just one since the previous notice. You want to swear, but you do not have any extra energy to waste. The whole body begins to feel the pain, and it starts to affect the mind. You try to stay focused on just running one mile at a time without thinking of the 26.2 as a whole, which seems a daunting task.

Lessons from baseball career
The journey to the big leagues is physically long and mentally painful. You begin to wonder if you will ever make it. At the higher levels of sports, it is as much about the mind as it is about the body. Your deep down belief that things work out for the best keeps you going. Along the same line, the 162 game schedule is a weary psychological and bodily exercise. Getting through it requires a perseverance you are not sure is within you.

Late Middle miles – (17 – 22) Grinding

Your whole body screams. You cannot allow yourself to listen as the mind pleads with you, “It’s time to stop and walk for a while,” but deep down you know that it is not OK. Every ounce of the competitive spirit is necessary, now. The best part of being an athlete – the mind goes into the “not finishing is not an option mode.”

Lessons from Baseball Career 

It is all about moving up one level at a time and playing to improve, not to prove something. When things get tough – keep moving and do not walk, someone will pass you. “Settling,” at the most desperate times, makes finishing impossible and the end of the dream.

Finishing Miles (23 – 26.2) – Sprint to the Finish – Never Mind

The mind starts considering a finishing kick, but the body says, “No, not today.” My mind wanders to the winner. They have run 26.2 miles, showered, had lunch, watched a movie, and I am still on the course. That is amazing and a little embarrassing all in one. If you tell me they can steal a base like I could in the MLB, I quit.

Lessons from Baseball Career 
There is always someone better than you, but it is the journey that counts. It seems to come so easy for the stars, but I know they worked just as hard or harder than me. They deserve all the attention, but finishing is good, too. Reaching the end of a dream is about doing your best and celebrating the process that got you to this point.

Finish Line – Sweet Smell of Success

Relief is close; I can see the finish line. The mind and body are both shouting now, “Why did I ever think to do this?”

Lessons from Baseball career 

Much time and sacrifice went into reaching the dream. Was it all worth it? Of course, no matter the outcome. If I could do it all over, I would do some things differently, but it seemed like my best at the time. Regrets are for losers anyway.

Post-Race – The Moral of the Story

Immediately after the finish, I am thinking, “This is it, my last marathon. I will never do one again. “But, a few hours after, when some of the pain eases, I start to think it was all worth it. “The journey was fun; maybe I’ll do it again next year.”

Lessons from Baseball Career 
“Running the race with perseverance” is the goal. Getting back up is what makes an athlete. Life is short – Go for it, regrets are no fun.

Yes, my lessons from baseball career were well worth it!

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Jack Perconte has dedicated his post-major league baseball career to helping youth. He has taught baseball and softball for the past 27 years. His playing, coaching and parenting stories create better experiences for athletes and parents. Jack has written over a thousand articles on coaching baseball and youth sports. Jack is the author of “The Making of a Hitter” now $5 and “Raising an Athlete.” His third book “Creating a Season to Remember” is now available. Jack is a featured writer for Baseball the Magazine. You can also find Jack Perconte on YouTube with over 120 fun and innovative baseball instructional videos. 

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