The Edinburgh Marathon Festival took place at the weekend there and Facebook reminded me a few days ago that it’s 8 years since I ran all 4 races there. I’ve learned a lot from running over the years but I learned 3 valuable lessons from running 4 races in 2 days back in 2014.

Those 3 lessons have stuck with me, helped me a lot and have become a huge part of how I coach my clients to help them achieve their goals.

Before I tell you about them, I want to give you some background to the story. The Edinburgh Marathon Festival comprises of 4 races – 5km, 10km, Half Marathon and Marathon (and some kids races). I decided to do them as part of a bigger fundraising challenge for Macmillan Cancer Support in memory of my Dad, who passed away in 2013. I’m known locally for running marathons every year and so to raise a significant amount of money, I needed to do something bigger, that would get me out of my comfort zone. This was the perfect target.

The 5k and the 10k took place on the Saturday and the challenge really happens on the Sunday. The Half Marathon starts at 8am and finishes in Musselburgh, which meant that I needed a friend to pick me up on his motorbike and take me back to the city in time to start the marathon!

Here are the 3 lessons I learned from running 4 races in 2 days that have helped me, helped my clients and could help you too.

  1. It’s not IF but HOW
  2. Focus on the process, NOT the outcome
  3. Have courage and go for it

It’s not IF but HOW

Our biggest challenge when going after a goal is convincing ourselves that we can do it. That it’s possible for us. We usually start from where we are and hope that we’ll get there. I had to take a different approach to this, I needed to work out how I was going to do it.

After speaking to some people who’d done this challenge before me, the thing that stuck was that I would need to race the Half Marathon. I would need to run close to 1hr 30mins, which would be a PB for me, in order to get back to the start in time for the marathon. It was now less about conserving energy for the marathon and going for it in the Half.

The marathon became the easiest I’ve ever done because all I had to do was get to the finish. It no longer mattered how long it took. Sounds crazy eh?

You can apply this to your goals too.

I want you to imagine that you’ve just achieved your goals. Think about what you’re now able to do that you couldn’t do before. More importantly, how are you feeling about yourself and how does that compare to normal?

When you think about your goals this way, I imagine they’ve become a lot clearer than they were before? They may also feel a lot more achievable too. 

Think of the story you want to be able to tell everyone of what you did and how you did it. When you know the story you want to tell, and it is your story, all you need to do is think about the steps you need to take to make it happen.

3 lessons I learned from running 4 races in 2 days | Steve Bonthrone

Anything IS possible if you can dream it and believe in it

Focus on the process, NOT the outcome

When you know what your goal looks like and feels like, you need to focus on the journey to get you there. 

The biggest mistake we all make is we focus too much on the outcome. The weight on the scales, the image of what we want to look like, the times we want in our runs. When we focus on the outcome, we lose sight of the changes we’re making along the way. Taking this approach, we stand a greater chance of losing everything we’ve gained shortly after achieving the goal.

The aim is NOT to achieve the goal but to become the version of yourself who achieves the goals you want. This is different. This is about focusing on the journey, learning and practicing to become better. When you do this, you’re more likely to achieve your goal and go onto achieving even more beyond it.

For this challenge, my target wasn’t about running 4 races but to be able to run 13.1 miles as hard as I could, then go run another 26.2. In training, I would run on consecutive days, run hard one day then try a longer run the next day. This would get me used to running on tired legs which is basically what I’d have to do.

Most goals are about how you prepare for them mentally as much as physically. Once you get your head around what you actually need to do, you realise it’s as much about how well you eat, sleep and look after your body as much as how hard you push it.

Have courage and go for it

I like to think of goals as an opportunity to go after the things you’ve always dreamed of. Go after the things that excite you and scare you in equal measures as you’re not sure if they’re possible for you. It was this approach that lead me to become a Personal Trainer in the first place!

The hardest bit of my challenge was hitting the submit button on the website when I signed up to do the races. There was a moment of “oh crap, what have I done” but then the excitement of what lay ahead kicked in. 

Our biggest fear is often failure but failure provides a wonderful opportunity to learn.

This is the beauty of knowing the story you want to tell everyone and focusing on the process. When you know exactly where you’re going, shaping the path to get there is full of learning.

It’s unlikely you’re going to achieve your goal on your first attempt so it’s good to embrace failure. When something doesn’t go according to plan, you’ll have a good idea of what you can do next time to get a better outcome. When you practice that, it will usually work or you will know how to make it even better still.

Having the courage to go through this will give you the confidence and belief you need to achieve your goal, the way you imagined.

When you do this, everything becomes possible.

What do you dream of being able to do that you can’t do right now?

When you feel ready to go for it and discover what you’re truly capable of, click here and let’s have a chat.