Call me crazy, but I am currently training to run a marathon in September. Marathons are long (42.2km) and not something you can wing on the day. You have to train. Hard. For me, that means six days a week I have to get up early, put on my running shoes and – you guessed it – run. 

But there’s something unusual I’ve noticed in terms of my mindset and approach to this gruelling training schedule, and that is: I’m sticking to it. Sure, I have on days and off days; days where the wind is blowing the trees sideways and the thought of running makes my stomach churn. But I find I’m able to get out there and do it anyway. 

How? It’s all part of the marathon training mentality – our in-built, survivalist state-of-mind designed to get us across the finish line alive. Here’s what I have discovered about it, which could easily be applied to other areas of life and work. 

Set the big goal: Make it challenging, but not too far-fetched. 

Set smaller goals: Each weekend I have to increment my longer training run by one kilometre. In the same way, aim to achieve just a little bit more towards your big goal each week. 

Make it visible: My daily running sessions are written clearly on my laptop calendar. That calendar is gospel; it cannot be argued with. Knowing what lies ahead also helps me visualise each day’s training in advance, so that when the day arrives, I’m ready. 

Plan ahead: On a recent run I got lost, my water ran out and, not surprisingly, I didn’t run so well. The moral? Ensure all foreseeable obstructions are cleared. 

Want more articles like this? Check out the work motivation section.

Relinquish control to “the force”: Don’t feel like training? That’s a shame, because you have to. “The force” is what I call that steely resolve that says “you must” when you’d really prefer to back out. Defer your decision making to that voice and you’ll find yourself on the treadmill or (insert your own equivalent here) even when you didn’t feel like it. What’s more, you’ll feel disproportionately good after you’ve done it. 

Create rituals: Positive rituals around tasks will give you a reason to enjoy it. For me, it’s having a relaxed breakfast and knowing scrambled eggs on toast is waiting for me after the run. 

Want it: Why are you doing this again? Know what’s driving you to reach your goal and remind yourself of it, often. Your desire is the most powerful motivational tool you have and will enable you to face your goals with a positive attitude. 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to run. 

Are you motivated in one area of life more than work? How can you apply that mentality to your business?

To read "The marathon training mentality - Part 2", click here

“ 'The force' is what I call that steely resolve that says 'you must' when you’d really prefer to back out.  ”
 
Jodie McLeod

Jodie McLeod is the editor of Flying Solo. She is also a freelance journalist, copywriter and editor.

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