In 1998, I ran my first marathon, the London Marathon, and it changed my life. Crossing the finish line helped me discover I could do more than I thought and felt a sense of accomplishment I’d never felt before. It inspired me to quit my job as a Pizza Chef and retrain to become a Personal Trainer so I could help people do what they never thought they could and feel the same way.

I thought if I can do it, anyone can.

Marathon running has taught me a lot. They’ve helped shape me as a person and also how I coach people.

Today, I want to share the top 3 lessons that have defined the way I coach:

  • Anything IS possible
  • Start with the finish in mind
  • It’s a journey, not a destination

Anything IS possible

You are capable of way more than you think. Trust me!

I entered the marathon the previous year while I was signed off work after my back had gone into spasm. I happened to read an article about entries being open, saw it as the perfect goal. Something that would require me to get out of my comfort zone to train for.

It never occurred to me that I couldn’t do it. I saw it as the perfect target to get fit and not let back pain rule my life.

“Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change” – Tony Robbins

I want you to dream big, step outside your comfort zone and go after the things you’ve always wanted to do. Use the fear or uncertainty of achieving a massive goal to motivate you rather than hold you back.

I know that you may not want to run a marathon or have a massive goal to start with. What difference would you like to feel in the next 4 weeks? I often start working towards that as I know that as soon as you start to feel a difference, much bigger goals start to emerge and that’s where the fun begins :)

Start with the finish in mind

This is a really powerful one and usually changes everything.

When you cross the start line of a marathon, you know you will get to the finish. Grit, determination and the coveted medal will ensure you get there.

The common approach most people take is to start at the bottom and work their way up in the hope that they’ll achieve their goal.

I take a different approach. I start at the finish and work back the way to create the steps to get there.

With running clients who are training for a marathon, I get them to imagine running towards the finish line and crossing the line. How do you want the run to the finish to be? How do you want to feel as you cross the line? I’ll get them to practice it in a session then use it to think about in their pacing.

With Personal Training clients, I’ll get you to imagine you’ve just achieved your goal. What are the things you’re now doing that you couldn’t do previously? What are the clothes you’re wearing, the places you’re going, who you’re with etc and most importantly, how are you now feeling?

Once you know that, we work back the way to create the steps to get there. When you have total clarity on the emotions and meaning behind your goal, motivation will feel easy as you know exactly what you’re working towards. Making the changes to get there will also feel a lot easier as you’ll know what will help move you forwards and what will get in your way.

Can you imagine, things you’ve previously found difficult to give up now feel less desirable as you know they won’t lead you to where you want to be? 

It’s a journey, not a destination

This is the biggest one. In marathon running, once you have your place confirmed, you tend to forget about the actual race as it’s usually a long way in the distance. You focus instead on the training you need to do to get there.

It’s the same with your own goal.

Once we’ve created that vision of you achieving your goal, we focus instead on the steps you need to get there. It’s about the little things you need to do each day with movement, diet sleep etc and simply focus on becoming better each day. When you do that, these little steps become habits and it’s these habits you practice that lead you to your goal.

“I dare you to train for a marathon and it not change your life” – Susan Sidoriak

It’s not about the training runs or the workouts or the changes you make to your diet or lifestyle. They all help but it’s also about the person you become along the way.

Sooner or later, you’ll find yourself saying no to things like nights out or your favourite takeaway as they no longer appeal to you in the way they once did.

It’s about the confidence you build from making these changes, feeling a difference in your energy levels, the clothes you wear, even the differences your friends, family and colleagues notice in you that’s starting to rub off on, and inspire, them.

The other important thing is that you keep reviewing and setting new goals. We’ve all achieved a goal at some point, stopped and lost everything we gained. I stopped running after my first marathon and when I decided to do one again the following year, I had lost all the fitness and had to start all over again.

I want you to keep progressing. Keep raising the bar, keep challenging yourself and discover what more you can do that you never thought you could.

When you do, you too will come to discover that anything IS possible.