Sarah Benson

How a Marathon Mindset Sets You Up For Success

By Sarah Benson

An ultramarathon is a challenge like no other.

Beyond the obvious social, health, and psychological benefits that running provides, it can also teach you important lessons that can apply to other areas of your life - especially your career.

Now, I know there are so many cheesy, overused metaphors that are used to draw parallels between marathon running and life, but I've waited most of my career to take advantage of an opportunity like this, so I am going to use it!

Back in late summer 2022, the idea of running a half marathon, let alone a 52km/32mile event a year later, felt as distant as the finish line itself. But watching my body adapt and achieve the fitness needed for such an event has been truly remarkable.

But running my first ultramarathon wasn't just about crossing the finish line; it was the pinnacle of months of training, discipline, and perseverance. Learning these skills reshaped my entire mindset and taught me a lot about how to cope with day-to-day challenges in and out of the office.

Here's what I learnt along the way:

🎯 Small goals make big goals possible

Success, in both ultramarathons and the professional world, thrives on setting small, achievable goals every day. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the 32 miles ahead of you, break it down into small chunks that feel more manageable – mile by mile or hill by hill. These daily victories gradually add up and propel you towards much larger milestones.

The same goes for work and life. Setting small, attainable goals in the workplace sets you up for repeated success. When setting professional goals for myself, I find that I’m much more likely to reach them when I have small objectives to meet along the way. So dream big, but remember to celebrate the small wins along the way too. This leads me to my next point…

🏅 Every mile is an achievement

In an ultramarathon, each mile is a victory. Every step is a step towards success, no matter how big or small, fast or slow. Similarly, in our careers, every completed assignment, every problem solved, and every milestone reached should be acknowledged as a significant achievement. Take a moment to appreciate the progress you have made this far!

This journey also taught me the value of having humility. Continually reminding yourself to stay humble, even amidst incredible achievements, keeps you grounded and ready for the next challenge.

🔍 Mindset is key

Your mindset and attitude play a massive role in your success. Because when we are faced with a challenge, we can either let it break us or let it strengthen us. When training for my first ultramarathon, I was able to change my mind and do what I once thought impossible. This also helped me in my professional life. I learnt that real personal and career growth only comes when you venture beyond your comfort zone. With a go-getter attitude, the seemingly impossible becomes possible.

💪 Dealing with setbacks

True endurance means pushing through when the going gets tough and staying resilient in the face of adversity. Things won’t always go the way you planned, but having the ability to pivot is crucial in both running and in your career. If we expect everything to go according to plan, then we will inevitably always end up being disappointed.

🙌 Encourage one another

One of the most amazing aspects of running marathons is the supportive atmosphere around you. Not only the camaraderie from fellow runners but also your friends, family, and the strangers who cheer for you from the trails. It’s something that can lift the spirits of even the most fatigued runner.

The marathon spirit is a testament to the power of collaboration, proving that together, we achieve better results. This attitude should also carry over into the workplace. By celebrating each other's wins at work, or providing a helping hand, you can create a work environment where everyone thrives.

🌱 Personal Growth

Ultramarathons test both your physical and mental boundaries. However, the more I exposed myself to uncomfortable situations, the more resilient I grew. I learnt that sometimes it’s a good thing to embrace discomfort, as that's where growth happens. It’s important to encourage those around us too, including our team and colleagues, to help them discover their own potential for resilience and personal development.

Final thoughts

To summarise, the training and running of marathons can teach us all a lot about dedication, drive, and perseverance - qualities integral to success in the business world. Whether this blog motivates you to lace up your running shoes or adopt more positive habits, I hope it’ll make a lasting impact on both your personal and professional life.

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