This week, hundreds of thousands of runners, elite and amateur, pounded the streets of London in the 38th edition of what is regarded as one of the world’s best known and most popular marathons. With temperatures at the highest they have ever been for the event, many runners were forced to adjust their strategies and objectives – especially as far as completion times were concerned.
Watching athletes at the peak of their abilities put themselves to the test against other equally talented/trained individuals – whether it is the London Marathon, the Commonwealth Games or the Olympic Games, is captivating. Whatever the event, the result is not only entertaining but awe-inspiring – watching people who have been training for years, many whilst also working a full time job, to reach the top of their field. It’s no wonder that many of them breakdown in tears when they do finally complete the marathon or achieve that gold medal. All those hours of work and all that self-belief even in the darkest moments had turned out to be worth it in the end. How many of them got there without a single failure or set back? I can say with 100% certainty: NONE. How many of them went from zero to gold medal without any smaller achievements in between? Again I can say with 100% certainty: NONE.
We all have a gold medal that we are striving for; whether that be losing enough weight to be able to fit in that outfit, getting the new qualification that allows you to change to your desired career, holding our first fluent conversation in a new language or playing a complex piece on a newly learned instrument. A “gold medal” situation is different for each of us – what’s one person’s bronze would be another’s gold. Watching the Olympics can then leave some people feeling inspired and others (particularly those with physical/sports goals) feeling like they’ll never be good enough.
So how do we take the inspiration from sporting occasions such as the London Marathon and what lessons can we learn from these amazing athletes? Here’s a few thoughts to get you off the starting block
1. Don’t compare yourself to others
Not even identical twins are 100% identical in everything. They have slightly different tastes, strengths and weakenesses. Just because one person can acheive what you’re striving for faster or better shouldn’t deminish your acheivement nor motivation to do it. Nor should your achieving it faster or better give you persmission to slack off. In the race of life there’s only ever one runner: YOU.
2. Work for bronze before you go for silver and gold
Whilst all althletes are aiming for gold many of them get there in stages, bronze then silver then gold. In fact most of them have built up a bank of gradual wins at other smaller events in the lead up to the main event. Always have a huge, fantasmagorical, dream worthy goal in mind but also make sure you have the smaller goals in place to ensure that you can get there. In other words take your big goal and break it down into manageable smaller milestones. The exact same is true of training for a marathon.
3. Use set backs as motivation
Every athlete has failed at some point. Setbacks are inevitable in any journey. In fact a set back is a good sign that you’re on a path that is challenging enough to make a big difference to you life. If it’s easy it is likely you’re not stepping outside of your comfort zone and the results you’re likely to see are unlikely to be earth-shattering. Next time you fail take a step back and look for the lesson. What could you do better next time? Do you need a new approach? How will you stop yourself making the same mistake again? Using this approach you’ll quickly start to see failures as a good thing – they give you the opportunity to learn and move forward towards your goal even faster!
Ask any Olympic athlete or marathon finisher and they will tell you that mindset is a key factor in their success. If they don’t believe they can do it then they won’t. The same can be said for any goal you are working towards. If you don’t believe you can do it you will either not put in the effort to make it happen or will self sabotage. Most people spend their time telling themselves all the reasons why they can’t do something. Instead flip it around and focus on why you do it.
5. Invest in a coach
No athlete would achieve their medals without the hard work of a team around them. Their coach is an essential part of their win. Coaches of all types help you to set a plan, hold you accountable and give you the tools you need to take home the “gold” – whatever that may be for you. Just ask some of the worlds most successful people:
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