(And some sensible life advice from this amazing Melaleuca Athlete)
Today we’re honored to wish a happy birthday to Melaleuca Athlete and world champion runner Bernard Lagat. (Bernard, we know you’re 41, but you seriously look like a kid just out of high school!)
Aptly referred to as “Evergreen,” Bernard seems to have discovered a veritable fountain of speed that shows no sign of drying up anytime soon. He was recently named the USA Track & Field Masters Athlete of the Year, the latest honor in his distinguished career.
Bernard is one of the world’s most medaled and respected distance runners. Just take a look at some of his amazing accomplishments:
2-TIME OLYMPIC MEDALIST
|2015 RUNNING RECORDS
|2015 Masters Indoor mile
|3x World Indoor 3000m gold medalist
|2015 Masters Indoor 3000m
|2x World Outdoor 5000m silver medalist
|2015 Masters Indoor 2-mile
|2014 World Indoor 3000m runner-up
|2015 American Open 10K
|2009 World Outdoor 1500m bronze medalist
|2015 Masters world 10K
|2007 World Outdoor 1500m gold medalist
|2015 Outdoor 40+ 1500m
|2007 World Outdoor 5000m gold medalist
|2015 Outdoor 40+ 5000m
|2002 World Cup 1500m champion
|2001 World Outdoor 1500m silver medalist
|OTHER NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENTS
|7x USATF Outdoor 5000m champion
|8-time winner of the Wanamaker Mile at New York’s Millrose Games
|3x USATF Indoor 3000m champion
|Owner of 3 American Records
|2x USATF Outdoor 1500m champion
|First American to win both the 3000m and the 5000m at the Continental Cup in 2010
|2012 Olympic Trials 5000m runner-up
|2010 Visa Humanitarian of the Year
|2011 USATF Outdoor 1500m runner-up
Staying on track for success: Sound advice from Bernard
Don’t let all these running accolades fool you: Bernard is more than just a world-class athlete. He’s a terrific husband, father, and all-around great guy. He’s also someone who knows a thing or two about goal setting, motivation, and overcoming obstacles.
As evidenced by his myriad running awards, Bernard is no stranger to the challenges of fitness. Yet his words of wisdom are applicable no matter what type of success you’re trying to achieve. You’ll find his advice both valuable and surprisingly doable.
- Setting goals
“Anybody from elementary school to old age can achieve anything they want by setting goals,” Bernard says. The key is to start with an attainable and realistic goal. Pick something you can reasonably do and then work toward it.
A good goal will also be specific. For Bernard, that meant running the mile in a specific time: under 3:55. This was an ambitious goal, but also a goal Bernard believed he could achieve, and one he did achieve the beginning of his 2015 season.
One of the keys to Bernard’s success is that he focuses on one goal at a time. He doesn’t look down the road to future events or goals. He focuses on the goal that is right ahead of him.
“A lot of people are busy,” Bernard says, “but if you’re committed, then you’ll make time to do what you need to attain your goals. I make my training my priority. You’ll always have something that comes up or tries to take your time, but you have to prioritize your goal. Maybe there’s a birthday party or something else that’s kind of far away, and I want to go, but I say, ‘No, I want to reach this goal, so I’m going to prioritize my training.’”
- Staying motivated
Maybe you think professional athletes wake up every morning excited to work out. But you’d be wrong. “Motivation is a problem even in the professional circuit,” Bernard explains. “It happens to the most talented people. Right when they are about to succeed they lose their motivation and quit.”
So how can you stay motivated? Find your “why”—or reason for making a change—and remember that “why” when times get tough. For Bernard, one “why” is his family.
“Training is boring and it can sometimes be painful,” Bernard says. “You just have to imagine your success and that can give you motivation to keep going. I always think of my son and my daughter. I want to make sure they always see me working hard every time.”
It isn’t easy for Bernard to leave his family to go compete and train. But he knows that ultimately the sacrifice is worth it, both for him and for what he can teach his kids. “I want them to see that hard work actually leads to success,” Bernard says. “I want them to know that if you work hard and keep focused on your goals, you can achieve them.”
- Dealing with discouragement
Bernard’s pay is directly tied to his performance on the track, so he understands the frustration people can sometimes feel when they do everything they can and still fall short. But his advice is simple: just be patient and stay consistent.
“We always say your success is just a foot ahead of you,” Bernard says. “You’re about to obtain that goal, just keep working. Your weight or your time will come down. Remember the end result and what will make you happy.”