Recently, I wrote about why I run, how it helps my creativity, solve problems and how it has helped me deal with grief.

Running has also taught me many things over the years and came to the fore last Thursday when I completed a personal challenge of running 50 miles in one day, 2 days before my 50th birthday. 

Here are 5 lessons I learned from running 50 miles that can be applied in business and in general life.

  1. Focus on the journey, not the outcome
  2. It’s not IF, but HOW
  3. There’s no such thing as perfect conditions
  4. Celebrate every win
  5. Anything IS possible

Focus on the journey, not the outcome

When we set our goal, it can be easy to get excited and carried away about the prospect of achieving it that we forget about the journey required to get us there. To me, the magic happens during the journey and that’s where you discover things about yourself you didn’t know before or believe were possible for you.

The outcome is the icing on the cake, the celebration of a successful plan.

When I planned this challenge, I followed the same kind of process I use with clients when we’re chatting about their goals. I had a previous experience of running all 4 races at the Edinburgh Marathon Festival in 2014. This was one of the most memorable experiences of my life and I wanted to relive that memory and create a different one to sit alongside it.

When we become clear on what we want, it’s easier to work back the way to identify the steps we need to take to get us there. That’s not to say we should forget the outcome completely, we can use it to measure our progress to make sure we’re on track.

It’s not IF, but HOW

Marathon running has taught me that it’s not a case of IF I can complete it but HOW I want to do it. This was true of the 2014 challenge. The 4 races were 5km, 10km, Half Marathon and Marathon. The 5km and 10km took place on the Saturday and the Half Marathon and Marathon were on the Sunday. On the Sunday, I needed to race the Half Marathon and then get a friend to bring me back to the centre of Edinburgh on a motorbike in time to run the marathon.

The concept of racing the Half before running the marathon blew my mind but the marathon turned out to be the easiest I’ve ever run as all I had to do was get to the finish. It didn’t matter how long it took. This time, I signed up to do the 4 races virtually. When combined, the total distance comes to 48.6 miles and so I added in a 1.4 mile warm up. It became much easier knowing that I was running a series of shorter distances than 50 miles in one go.

When you think of your goals, it doesn’t have to be a case of whether you can achieve them or not, it can be simply a case of how you want to achieve them, how you want the journey to be. I go through this with my clients when we’re chatting about their goals. This makes the journey easier as they know exactly where they’re going, how they want to get there and they always feel like they’re moving closer towards achieving them.

There’s no such thing as perfect conditions

How often have you heard yourself say “I’ll start next week” or “I’ll wait til the weather’s better” when thinking about starting a fitness plan? We always want to do something when we feel we’re in the best shape but it never happens.

Perfect conditions don’t exist. They’re often based on perception rather than reality. It’s better to start where you are and adapt to the conditions that present themselves. That’s where you learn and often surprise yourself at how well you cope under more challenging conditions than you’d prefer to face.

I woke up on Thursday to find it had been snowing over night and there was frost on the ground. Sure, it would’ve been better on a dry day but these conditions added to the experience. The first bit wasn’t bad as I was able to run on the roads but the second part in the park, the paths were like an ice rink. I ran on the grass and tried to find the least worst bits of the path to run on but I discovered that the soles on my running shoes handled the icy bits on the path very well. 

Once I’d run the 10k, I knew what to expect so it was easy to repeat that route for the marathon.

Celebrate every win

When you focus more on the journey, you’ll receive more wins along the way. The wins come in all shapes and sizes and it’s important to celebrate each one. Whether it’s a pound lost, a client gained, a press up more than you were able to do last time, celebrate it. It are these wins that lead you towards your big goal.

On Thursday, each distance completed felt great and a step closer to reaching 50 miles. The early runs, I paused momentarily, took a photo and kept going. In the 10k, and each 10k leg of the marathon, I paused for a drink and to eat something. By the time I started the final leg, my body was weary but then I remembered that I’d already run over 40 miles and the last 5km of that loop felt easy as I knew I would soon be finished.

With clients, everything is designed and measured around what’s important to them. Being able to run further, do more of an exercise than they could before or simply being able to move without feeling pain are significant wins. Achieving these builds a huge amount of confidence, a desire to go and achieve more and can often result in them achieving their big goal far sooner than they had thought.

Anything IS possible

Completing my first marathon in 1998 changed my life. I had achieved something I had only previously dreamed of and it gave me the inspiration to train to become a Personal Trainer and help other people achieve things they had only previously dreamed of. 

The last mile of my challenge on Thursday felt like I was gliding. Gone was the fatigue and I was able to complete the 26.2 miles with a sprint. It felt like a sprint to me anyway. My first emotion when I stopped was to cry. Happens at the end of every marathon. Every. Single. Time. It’s such an incredible feeling when you achieve something amazing for you and it’s common to go through every emotion when you do it.

Sometimes we hold ourselves back and go after ‘safe’ goals. Ones that are relatively easy or certain for us to achieve. The greatest satisfaction comes when we go after the things that we’ve always wanted, that are truly meaningful to us. These aren’t ‘safe’ and ultimately require us to get out of our comfort zones to go and achieve them.

When I think of my greatest achievements as a trainer, I can pinpoint the ones who achieved something amazing for them. I could tell from the way they glowed and the size of their smile when they told me what they did and how it made them feel to achieve it. They also told me how the confidence from achieving their goals had benefited them in their daily lives and at work.

Getting fit and losing weight were what they told me what they wanted to achieve when we first started talking about their goals. They happened along the way once we started talking about, and going after, the things they really wanted to achieve.

Let’s talk about you

Over to you now, do you tend to set ‘safe’ goals or do you push yourself to see what you’re capable of? What have you always wanted to achieve but perhaps don’t believe is possible for you? I’d love to hear about them. 

If you have a goal that you would like help to go after, perhaps you’re not sure how to go about it, get in touch and let’s have a chat.

You can email me here or give me a call on 07834 243253 :-)