In 2014 I completed a life long goal of taking part and completing the London Marathon. I am not a natural athlete, and actually don’t like running(!) but having watched the marathon every year I just KNEW it was something I would love to do. For me, the marathon represents the endurance of the human spirit, the dedication of training in the cold winter months that no one sees and the ability to control your mindset on what is possible.
The opportunity came in 2014 when I was hugely inspired by a dear friend Sunny Bains who was taking part in the marathon for Anthony Nolan, an organisation that helped him and his family when they were looking for a bone marrow donor for their son Gaurav. I got a little caught up in his passion, the amazing work Anthony Nolan do and found myself signing up too!
I found the whole experience life altering and life enhancing. It taught me some valuable lessons that apply to all areas of life and business.
Lesson 1: Break a HUGE goal down & take action! Very few of us can wake up and decide to run 26.2 miles without a training plan, even the professional athletes have to train! 26.2 miles is a long distance and for someone like me who is not built for running it can feel overwhelming. I signed up for the Marathon in December 2013 and knew I had my work cut out. The only way to do this was to break down this humungous goal of completing the marathon without killing myself or causing serious injury( this was legit my goal…I really wasn’t bothered about the time it took as long as I got a medal!). I created a training plan with weekly goals, i.e. week one was just about getting a decent pair of trainers and starting to run – the distance didn’t matter, the time didn’t matter it was purely about getting out there – running, walking, jogging and sometimes even crawling! Having made the commitment, I knew I had to do something EVERY DAY towards my goal, whether it was training, reading running blogs, eating the right food, getting a trainer. Every single day I had to take action that took me closer to where I needed to be. And this applies to ANYTHING you want to achieve in life. Break it down and take action every day.
Lesson 2: Surround yourself with cheerleaders & recognise there will be haters. Find your tribe! Your people that support you, uplift you and will have your back. I am incredibly fortunate to have a supportive husband, family and friends who got behind me. On the good days when training was going well and I felt confident, their support was just the icing on the cake, but on the tough days when I was doubting myself and the anxiety and fear of failing felt overwhelming, their belief in me picked me up and kept me focussed. If you don’t naturally have positive cheerleaders in your life, find them. Good people are everywhere. Seek out like minded people who you connect with, social media has made this so easy to do! I also think its important to recognise that when you are doing something outside of ‘the norm’, outside of your and others comfort zones that it can lead others to exhibit a negative attitude towards you. Sometimes this comes from a place of love and fear for you -I know my mum thought I was nuts and couldn’t understand why I would want to complete a marathon and the impact it would have on my body. Sometimes it comes from a place of their own insecurity and issues that are then projected on you. I could sense that disengagement, eye rolls and lack of interest and whilst it hurt at that time, I could see what was driving that behaviour. When people are making positive changes in their lives it shows others what they are not doing and that can lead to a negative attitude towards you. I also had someone who was close to me, who is far more athletic than me sign up for the marathon to ‘show me up’…but as the running Gods would have it I managed to complete before them! I chose to focus on the positives, only share updates with those that really supported me and block out the negative. Above all I remembered that my daughter Daya, although only 2.5 at the time was watching me and I wanted to be a role model for her!
Lesson 3: Your mind controls your body not the other way round! As Guru Nanak Dev Ji, our first Sikh Guru said ‘Maan Jeetai, Jag Jeetai’, ‘By conquering your mind, you conquer the world’. What your capabilities are start and end with what you tell yourself you are capable of. YOUR mind is telling your body what to, your mind is telling you what you can and can’t do….and who controls your mind? YOU DO. Feed your mind the positive stories of what is possible. I read lots of blogs and inspirational stories of others who had completed the marathon: the oldest woman, the most overweight person, people who had overcome terminal illness, all who had completed the marathon and told myself ‘if they can do it why not me?!’. As human beings we are all destined for greatness, to push ourselves beyond the boundaries we have created for ourselves and pursue goals that seem impossible.
You don’t need to be an athlete to complete the marathon, you just need to have the passion, commitment and ability to train for it. Trust me when I say, if I can do it, you can do it!