Lessons from the London Marathon

As a running coach, last Sunday’s marathon was a big deal for me.  I was coaching 3 athletes directly who were running, several in my training group from my voluntary coaching role and a large number of running friends I have accumulated over a number of years in the sport were running too.

As is often the case, the athletes I coach all finished, and finished well with slightly mixed results.  One achieved a PB (Personal Best) and a goal of a women’s championship time (sub 3.14) which had been on her wish list for a while. Another achieved a big PB but fell just short of his sub 4 hour target. And a third was short of a PB by several minutes despite running an excellent men’s championship time of 2.43.  We knew this was a possible outcome as his build up had been far from perfect.

It got me thinking about what lessons we can learn from the London marathon and how these lessons can be transferable to business and life in general:

Success means different things to different people.  In this case the fastest time by some margin could be seen as the least successful performance.

You have to put the work in to get the results you want.  You can’t just get up on the morning and decide to run. All of these athletes have worked hard in training.

You have to be prepared to flex and adapt.  Training (and life) rarely goes completely smoothly without a hitch. 

Communication is key.  Providing good feedback on progress in training or in life can give important information to those around you who care about you and your success.

Be prepared to adjust your goal if necessary.  If there has been an issue and you know the target could be a stretch too far, be prepared to adjust or accept the potential consequences of not doing so.

Sometimes you need to take a risk.  There may have been an issue with training (or in life) but it is possible that you may still achieve your target.

Celebrate success.  Whatever that looks like.  Even if you have not quite achieved your target you are certainly a lot further forward than if you had never tried.  And in this case, to run a marathon at all is a tremendous achievement.

Take time to recover.  In running and in life you can’t keep going relentlessly. At some point you need to take a step back to recover and re-charge your batteries both physically and mentally.

Evaluate performance, what went well as well as the things you could improve on.  Too often we just spend time focussing on what went wrong.  It is equally, in fact more important, to focus on what went well, so you can do more of that in the future.

Set a new goal and apply what you have learned.  There is often a mental ‘low’ after a key event has taken place.  It is important to set a new goal to keep you heading in the right, or a new, direction.

What’s your next goal?  Hopefully these lessons will help. Get in touch if you would like to discuss this.

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