Running a Business is a Marathon, Not a Sprint!

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One of my greatest achievements in life is running the London Marathon not once but twice – two years running.

1. Seek and use professional advice as much as possible. Don’t try and suss it all out by yourself

I had watched the Marathon on TV for 23 years and every year I said that I must do this at least once in my life. When I made the decision after the 2003 Marathon, I effectively gave myself just under 12 months before the next marathon. Now, having not done this before, I did not know what I needed to do and needed to seek professional advice. So the first thing I did was to speak with people who had run the marathon before and a number advised me to subscribe to Runners World, which I did. Now I could have ignored this advice or taken the word of a trusted advisor who knew better than me.

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2. Make sure you have loads of business in the pipeline as it won’t all come off

Now when I made the decision, I had just started going to weight watchers with a friend who also made the decision to run with me. There were 10 people who said to me that they would run the marathon with me and only 3 followed through.

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3. Have a plan of action

At the time of making the decision, I was running 3 miles once a week , and I did not need to be a brain of Britain to know that if I carried on doing that, there was no way that I would complete a marathon in 12 months time. Runners World gave me a running plan.

The running plan told me that I needed to run 18 to 20 miles about 4 to 6 weeks before the marathon, a half marathon about 12 weeks before, 10 miles about 16 weeks before the marathon. It also said that if I was running 3 miles once a week, how I could get to 6 miles (10k) and enter for my first actual race. Could I get from 3 miles once a week to running a 10k in 8 weeks – yes I could but only by stepping up the training.

Know where you want to be and by when and then work backwards to the points you need to reach by when, and go back to where you currently are and then work forward, so you know what you need to do and where you need to be by when.

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4. Work with someone who can help keep you on track – a coach or mentor or someone you trust and respect

Runners World also told me what I needed to eat, how to exercise, so it was not just a case of upping the training. I also knew I needed to lose weight and eat properly, so attending weightwatchers every Monday kept me on track and the other attendees provided the incentive to keep to the programme.

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5. Make a commitment and follow through with it – no excuses

I also had a responsibility to my 2 friends and we each had a responsibility to each other and also the charity we had committed to run for, so it did not matter what the weather was like or whether we fancied going for a run or not. This was not the issue. If we didn’t go, we were letting the charity, sponsors and each other down. So we needed to eat right, lose weight, train right, train enough, be committed to each other.

We gave ourselves enough time to complete the plan of action, we were committed to each other, we did whatever it took. We ran when it was raining, when it was cold, when it was snowing. It would have been so easy at times not to go for a run, eat something we should not eat, drink something we should not drink.

IF YOU HAVE DISCIPLINE IN YOUR LIFE, YOU WILL SUCCEED. If you don’t, you wont.

Do whatever it takes

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6. Whoever is on your team, work as a team. You are stronger as a unit than you are on your own

My team was Weightwatchers, my two friends, runners world, the charity and the sponsors.

There are so many connections between sport and business and this is my connection. When I looked back on what I needed to do to be able to run the marathon, I realised it was no different to what we all need to do to succeed in business:

1. Use professional advice
2. Make sure you put loads of business in the pipeline
3. Have a plan of action
4. Set goals
5. Work with a coach or professional advisor
6. Make commitments and follow through with them
7. Do whatever it takes
8. Work as a team

There are always going to be other tips but these are the ones that I would link running to business and it goes to show how close the link is to business and sport.

If you have any other further additions from your own experiences, please let me know…


Article by Richard Knight


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