In 17 days, I am going to run my first marathon.

About 3 weeks ago, I ran a 15.5 mile training run with a friend. When we finished, I felt awful. I went home whining to my husband and told him I didn’t see how I would ever finish the race. He didn’t like that, so I revised my refrain and began saying “I will finish this marathon but it will be very hard.”

I’ve plodded through my training since then, with a few modifications to my fueling and pacing.

When I ran the 15.5 miles, I took water at every stop, but I didn’t have any fuel at all. My stomach felt empty and I felt hungry. And, my friend and I ran at a faster-than-normal pace (for me) during the first 10 miles or so of the run. The last 3 stretched on interminably and I had little energy to continue.

So in recent training runs (18 miles two weeks ago and 22 last Saturday), I used fuel (I prefer GU Chomps) and I paid careful attention to my pace, running much more conservatively and slowly.

The result? I felt actually quite good after running 22 miles. I picked up the pace in the last mile. I found myself considering the possibility of more marathons after this first one. I finished strong with a sense of hope and strength in considering race day. I created a new refrain: “I am strong enough to run steadily and finish this race.”

If you’re not a runner and you’ve stayed with me this long, here is the reward:┬áIn building a business, fuel and pacing are critical.

If you go out too fast, you may deplete your energy and lose hope.

If you neglect opportunities to refuel, you will weaken.

Your pace will slow. The miles will be more difficult and you may despair at continuing.

If you want to build your business long term, you must learn to choose a sustainable pace. You must have a plan to re-energize and nurture yourself. If you don’t, you will not finish what you’ve begun.

Some questions to consider:

How do you refuel for the great work you want to do in the world?

How do you create a sustainable pace, one that will carry you through the long miles ahead?

How will you nurture yourself, daily?

Who reminds you that you are stronger than you think you are?

What is the refrain you are reciting about your ability to persevere? If you don’t like your refrain, how can you shift to a new one?