For my sins, I’ve completed the London Marathon twice now. Once in 2005 and again in 2011.
But I’m not a runner in the slightest – it feels like such unnatural physical exertion and progress is never quick enough for my liking.
I am, however, pretty darn determined to better myself and also incredibly motivated by helping others. Therefore, accepting charity places both times made a lot of sense.
I recognised several key areas to success during both periods of my life, and here I explain how they now help me run my business.
Attempting to complete 26.2 miles when you can’t even run for 26.2 seconds is a scary thought. However, I needed to carefully assess my capabilities, make strategic projections and establish a realistic expectation of what could be achieved within a finite amount of time to make my goal possible.
My own ambitions surrounding my business are evolving but my determination is unwavering, even when I recognise the need to change tack to keep the goal realistic.
In the words of the wise: make a plan, write that s*** down, and stick to it every single day.
I was never going to be at the front with the elite runners of my age group. I knew this, so I had nothing to gain from being in competition with others. So instead, I set personal goals and reviewed my progress regularly. I soon went from running for just 30 seconds to running for two hours and felt on top of the world with my achievements.
At work, I analyse my strengths and areas for development, refusing to feel stagnant with my personal development and allowing myself the opportunity to grow. All the while remaining in competition only with myself. I take comfort in the fact I am empowering myself to make changes and develop strengths I didn’t even know I had the capability of possessing.
The Value of Time
If you ever compare the time commitment associated with a marathon training plan to work commitments and a social life, you’ll perhaps consider adding a 25th hour to your day.
I wasn’t willing to compromise on my weekend social life when training for the marathons so I decided to factor in longer runs during the working week. I ran the nine miles (or more depending on the route) instead of commuting in by tube. Thereby leaving the precious weekends to spend with friends and family.
At work, if I’m too busy people pleasing then that’s taking me a step further away from achieving my own goals. I’ve recently read The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving A F*ck by Sarah Knight. I highly recommend it to anyone who’s ready be more (diplomatically) selfish with their time and to stop saying yes to things they really don’t want to do.
Visualising Goals and Success
As Napoleon Hill said “what the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve”.
Crossing that finishing line was, in part, down to the fact I took the time to imagine running mile 26 towards St James’s Palace and the overwhelming emotion while crossing the finish line.
When I launched my business, I absolutely had to believe I would make it a success, and still take time to visualise my goals now. Without this visualisation, I honestly don’t believe I would have achieved as much in such a short period of time.
Good Mental Health and Wellbeing
The second time I trained for the marathon I already knew I’d complete it whether I ran, walked or crawled. Finishing alone was no longer the challenge, so instead I switched my goal to a specific time.
Yet at just mile four on the day of the marathon, the mental chatter crept in: I couldn’t do it; I wasn’t going to do it; I was going to be a failure. Unsurprisingly, the prophecy came true. To this day it still doesn’t feel like an achievement because of the mental battle that day.
So what did I learn?
Self-doubt is completely natural and can be useful to keep those egos in check, but now I learn to recognise it for what it is: fear. And I very quickly quash that negativity and move on.
Never Be Too Proud to Ask for Help
Even though I was committed to increase my strength and endurance by following a sensible training plan, I sustained a shoulder injury during a run and knew I needed a physio to get well again and protect my goal.
In work and in life, I am not too proud to ask for guidance or advice to ensure I’m on the right path.
Pay It Forward
A huge motivational factor for me during both marathons was the fact I was running to raise awareness for charities close to my heart. Showing up for every single training run throughout the midst of winter, proudly wearing my charity training vest and posting updates on social media was all part of my commitment to raise my chosen charity’s awareness and gain sponsorship.
I gain great personal satisfaction from helping others and making a difference. Just a 30 minute phone call a week on behalf of The Silver Line makes a huge difference to the lady I befriend and the fact it also boots my own mental wellbeing is a bonus.
I wasn’t successful in the ballot for the 2018 London Marathon, but there’s always 2019….!