I had the idea at the end of last year, and I wrote an article about it back in January of this year…. This weekend the idea becomes reality. I am running all 48 miles of the 4 Bournemouth marathon festival races back-to-back.
Here is what I wrote on my personal Facebook page yesterday morning:
“Having spent the last 9 days teaching an intensive class, am getting myself updated and in order this morning at my home office… All my race numbers have now arrived for this weekend’s Bournemouth Marathon Festival. Sunday morning’s 39.3 miles with some mad dashing around in the middle (getting from the half marathon finish line to the marathon start line) will be the furthest I have run to date despite some Ultramarathon action this Summer. Plus, I’ll have raced the 5km and the 10km the day before, and I am not going to be just making up the numbers for those. Having planned this at the end of last year and despite a great year of marathon racing so far, reality has just bitten me.”
Next year I have a 69 mile ultra scheduled after the Spring marathon season and I aim to step up to a one hundred miler in a year’s time. Many people have been asking me about why I continue to run as much as I do (which is nowhere near as much as elite runners or my heroes who I stalk on Strava and follow on Social media), and my motivations have included raising money for charity, getting PBs, wanting to test out my own psychological applications and a variety of other reasons. One other main reason though, is that running helps create success. This is not just a universal sweeping statement, I appreciate that there are exceptions to everything. However, there are some very specific reasons that running is likely to advance success in life.
Some of the reasons I give for runners being successful apply to financial gain, however, my own definition of success is not measured purely by the size of my bank account. For me, there is much more life success that goes beyond material wealth. Being able to enjoy a balanced, healthy, enjoyable and fulfilling life is how success is defined here. In those terms, let me give you 9 reasons why being a runner is likely to make you more successful:
1. Runners Effectively Set Goals:
There has been a large amount of study and research conducted on setting goals and the evidence suggests that those who effectively set goals tend to achieve more. (For those wishing to read about details of studies specifically, do have a read of this article I wrote here a while back: Goal setting for runners)
Runners set a variety of goals. A typical marathon training schedule tends to have a performance related goal at the end, such as a desired finish time. Then it gets broken down into aims and goals for each month of training, often a week will have a theme and there are goals for each individual run whether it is an intervals session, a hills session, a recovery session, or a long run, for example.
“People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.” – Earl Nightingale
Having goals directs attention and ensures we know what we need to do with each training session, keeping us focused. Having goals mobilises effort. Having goals enhances persistence.
There is a great deal of research to support the use of goal-setting. When set correctly with realism and in relation to our own performance they aid our performance wonderfully. To learn more about how to set goals effectively according to the evidence, read this article I wrote: The principles of goal setting for runners.
Nothing significant in any aspect of life is usually achieved without well formed goals. When we have no goals, we may be living without a sense of purpose and lead to a lack of motivation in life. When you are a runner, you become goal-focused and it enriches life at all levels.
2. Runners Plan:
Goals are good, but they need to be planned. Runners plan their training schedules, schedule their runs, find time for what needs to be done. This is one of the keys for being productive in any area of life.
There are no short-cuts to success with running. It needs to be planned effectively if we are to achieve our goals. Having set goals, then planned diligently…..
3. Runners Take Action:
“Action is eloquence.” – William Shakespeare
This sounds obvious. You cannot run a marathon without training. You cannot improve your 5km time without training. When training, you do not get better by only ever running comfortably. Running is absolutely a sport whereby you get out what you put in. Your ability is a measure of the time and effort you have invested. The stark reality is that when you become a runner, you have to run. You become someone who takes regular action towards your desired outcomes.
This is true in running and forms part of a mindset that spreads into all aspects of life. Taking the first steps and getting into action. Flowing action eliminates fear, it builds momentum, and creates an enjoyable journey. For that journey to be successful, it requires patience to take persistent action according to the plan that delivers our goals. Patience teaches endurance, resilience and humility in life too.
So runners set goals, plan diligently and take action. All of these are threaded with a variety of other strengths and skills that create success.
4. Runners Measure Progress:
There is an expression in business, sport and self-improvement – you can’t manage what you don’t measure.
Runners know this and as a result, they measure everything that can be measured when it comes to running performance. We measure the distance we run, the pace and speed we run, we measure our heart rate, our cadence, our mile splits, and we examine our averages and totals as we reflect upon it all. It shows us how we are progressing. Technology has made runners able to measure so much.
One thing measuring progress does is to motivate us as we see our improvements as a reward for our efforts, and shows us when we need to push on harder to make greater gains. All well set goals will be measurable. Measuring progress, measuring outcomes, measuring ourselves helps us be more aware in all areas of life whether this is in our personal lives, professional lives or with sports.
I like to think of this in terms of Goodhart’s law – “Once you measure something it changes.”
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison.
Running becomes a habit, and then it becomes an inherent part of life. Any training schedule for a race or event requires persistence and self-discipline. As I already wrote, runners take action. To take action requires self-discipline and often that is needed in the face of some adversity.
“Successful people do what they need to do whether they feel like it or not.” – Eric Thomas.
There are days when we may feel tired, or we may prefer to be having a lie-in, but we go out and run and feel better for it. We sacrifice late nights out for early mornings running sometimes. We have to be consistent with effort even if our enthusiasm wanes from time to time, and if the mojo flags, just like running through a tough period in a race, we ride it out and still work hard.
Being persistent, tenacious and having self-discipline helps anyone to thrive in life.
6. Runners Overcome Challenges.
As I alluded to in the previous point, runners face adversity from time to time. As well as coping with illness and the very wide variety of injuries that runners can get – all of which prevent us from running at all, or training to our best, there are also periods of mental and physical fatigue that challenge us. In real-life terms, there can be the wind, rain, cold, heat to overcome and deal with. Our minds can sometimes try to convince us we cannot go on, or that we are unable to go faster, yet we overcome that as a central part of having a runner’s mindset.
I have written recently about relishing life’s problems instead of being daunted by them and runners do just that. They traverse the challenges, they work through them and they arrive at the other side all the better for it.
7. Runners Have Self-Belief:
“All battles are first won or lost in the mind.” – Joan of Arc
When runners believe in themselves, they run better. No-one can run a marathon without self-belief. Have you seen the many tens of thousands of people that compete in big city marathons? That is a mass of self-belief right there.
In life, when we believe in ourselves, we perform better. This is called ‘self-efficacy’ and is very evidence based. For more information on this, you can read this article I wrote: Self-efficacy for runners.
8. Runners Know Success and Failure Differently to Non-Runners:
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan
Failure is inevitable in life. No-one succeeds at everything all of the time. Runners perceive a DNF (did not finish) in an ultra marathon as an opportunity to come back next time stronger. Failure is a set-back to grow from, runners know that. It is temporary.
“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” – Bill Gates
How anyone attributes success or failure effects their life, their level of satisfaction, their happiness and future performances. Most runners recognise that some set-backs are necessary to develop and that learning from those leads to success later on.
If you’d like to learn how you attribute success and failure, read this article I wrote: Using self-hypnosis to know how you attribute success and failure.
9. Runners Understand The Value Of Community:
The running community is very supportive. There are massive online forums and websites where runners share advice, support and encourage each other. Despite being a solo sport most of the time, the entire running community forms a team at times. Runners smile and say hello to each other when running, they talk during races, they share experiences, compare notes, dispense advice and share freely. They benefit from being part of a larger system and a community that is incredibly helpful and useful.
Success requires a very particular mindset. That mindset is often created and established through healthy habit. Runners inherently exercise more than just their legs when they are training and competing. They are building the component parts of a mindset that is important for success in life in general. Running builds character, enhances a success mindset and does so much more besides. I want to share a favourite quote of mine with you;
“Whatever we learn to do, we learn by actually doing it; men come to be builders, for instance, by building, and harp players by playing the harp. In the same way, by doing just acts we come to be just: By doing self-controlled acts, we come to be self-controlled; and by doing brave acts, we become brave.” – Aristotle
Likewise, if we run, we become a runner. If we adopt the runner’s mindset, we become successful.
If you are a runner, I hope you recognise these qualities in yourself. If you are not a runner, then come join us and get running.