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Why running a marathon is like running a business

You might have seen in my posts recently that I’ve been training for a big event!

On Sunday 10th October I ran the Manchester Marathon with my dad.

It was my first marathon and my dad’s 5th and it was the most amazing day. I found it tough and tiring, but there was such a brilliant atmosphere and it’s a day I’ll never stop feeling proud of. I’m so glad I was able to do it with my dad and I’m sure that it won’t be our last.

As we were walking to breakfast the next day dad asked what I was going to write for my blog this week. He encouraged me to write down all the things I remembered from the event before I forget them and and we had a chat about the lessons the marathon can teach you in running, life and business.

I think there are a lot of similarities between running a marathon and running a business but there's no denying they are challenging, if they were both easy, everyone would do it.

Here are a few of the lessons I learnt along the way.

Fall forward even if you don’t feel ready

Although Manchester is one of the flattest marathons, there were lots of times when we walked to get up a hill. But when it was flat and time to run again, I couldn’t physically make my legs move. I knew I wanted to, but I didn’t feel ready yet. Dad said just fall forward and trust that your legs would start running, so we did. We looked silly leaning down but sometimes you just have to move forward and trust that you will be okay as long as you keep moving.

Running a business means there have been plenty of times where I want to stay in my comfort zone and don’t feel ready to push and start running again. But the best thing you can do is trust yourself, try and just keep moving forward.

Stay consistent

Consistency is important in my business, and it’s important for my running too. You can be consistently slow, but it still means you’re putting one foot in front of the other and heading in the right direction. Consistency can look like showing up everyday, putting on your running shoes each morning, planning a weekly schedule for training and work or just setting yourself a target each day and ticking it off. Consistency has helped me to grow my audience on social media and increase the distance I run each week.

Don’t underestimate the impact of being consistent, no matter how small the progress is.

Set checkpoints to celebrate

I read an article the week before the race that said 13 miles isn’t halfway, 20 miles is. We kept that in mind the whole way round and instead of celebrating the distance, we celebrated reaching different milestones instead. Every 5km we had a gel, 17 miles meant we had single figures left, 20 miles was just a 10km, 23 miles was a Parkrun, and each mark was its own celebration.

When I started my podcast I marked off every listen on a chart until I reached 100. You might think 100 listens is tiny, but at the time it was huge. 100 people hearing my podcast! Amazing! Make your own checkpoints and celebrate them along the way.

Invite your cheerleaders

When I first signed up for the marathon, I signed up on my own. Dad decided to join me a few months later and I’m so glad that he did. I think it would have been a struggle running on my own and I really admire those who do it. Although there are people all around you, it really does feel like it’s just you and your legs getting through the miles.

Knowing that we had friends and family in the crowds was a huge motivation. Thinking ‘we’ll see Lisa, Alice and Joe in 3 miles’ or ‘I know my brother and Tom are coming up after this hill’ was the push we needed and gave us a point to check off along the way.

Running a business can be lonely and hard, but having cheerleaders and supporters makes it so much easier to keep going. Keep people around you that you can speak to, vent to, share ideas with and know that they will always have your back.

Put your name out there

A few days before the run my friend said - make sure you have your name on your top! I quickly ordered some iron on transfers and she was right. It made such a difference having the crowds shouting your name especially in those final miles when they had already finished, with a beer in hand shouting ‘GO ON HANNAH!!

I don’t think I need to explain how important it is that your audience knows you, your name and your business, so put it out there! Don’t be afraid to get known in your industry for what you do. We want our audience to think of us first whenever they need the help that we offer.

Avoid the ‘what now’

This week I’ve been suffering from post marathon blues. Combined with a horrible cold, sore legs and you have a recipe for staying on the sofa watching the latest series of You on Netflix. Having a big goal for months and then achieving it can leave you feeling unsure of what to do with your focus now. Plenty of the articles I’ve read tell you to get up and book your next race which I'm sure helps lots of people, but don't feel like you have to rush into it.

Remember to celebrate your achievement and don’t let it feel like you need to move straight onto the next thing to avoid the ‘what now’ feeling. I’ve done this plenty of times in my business too, after a big launch or reaching an income goal. Take some time to look back at how far you’ve come and feel proud of your achievement.

Invest in professional help

On mile two of the run someone came up next to me and shouted ‘Go Crohn’s!’ I was wearing my Crohn’s and Colitis UK top before you ask! I have Crohn’s disease and two of my main goals for the marathon were to not get injured during training, and not have a Crohn’s flare up. I might know my body, but I didn’t know how to properly follow a training plan so I looked for a PT that had experience and could help. Not only did I not get injured, I haven’t had a flare up either (touch wood!) and I think that’s partly due to taking my time and looking after myself.

You can definitely run a marathon with a training plan from the internet but I know that getting some professional help was really good for me. It works the same for my business too, sometimes you need to look for someone who can help you get to the next level and is an expert in what you're trying to do.

Do the thing you say you’re going to do

My favourite lesson of all is to do the thing you say you’re going to do. One of the reasons I chose Manchester is because when you’ve booked your place, it's confirmed. That’s it, you’re running a marathon. Once you’ve said you’re doing it, do it.

So many businesses look at others and say ‘I’m going to do that’ and then never do. Whether it’s posts, podcasts or starting courses. Don’t disappoint yourself and don’t disappoint your audience. Do the thing you say you’re going to do and feel proud when you achieve it!

I hope these have been helpful, which one resonates with you the most?

Running the marathon has been a huge goal ticked off and it is a day I'll never forget. If you’re thinking about signing up for the Manchester Marathon let me know! We’d love to cheer you on.

If you're looking for support with your digital marketing and social media, find out more about my services here.

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