The inaugural London marathon was in 1981 and 7,747 people were fortunate enough to take part in what has become a global, iconic event. Last year in 2015, there were 37,800 participants and they included hundreds of people in various weird and wacky fancy dress costumes, teams of people pushing large objects and the oldest runner was the grand old age of 90. And he was over a decade younger than the oldest ever runner, Fauja Singh who was 101 when he completed the full distance.
So it begs the questions….what does it take to run a marathon and more specifically what has changed in the last 30 years to make it so accessible to everyone?
Notwithstanding, we have clearly had advances in nutrition and physical training but I’m not convinced everyone is eating avocados’, drinking coconut water and tracking their heart rate zones with a smart watch.
First of all let’s cover off the basics. If you speak to any elite athlete, in any sport and there will be common themes they will talk about in the context of performance. Determination, effort, commitment and consistency to name a few – and these are great characteristics needed to achieve anything in life. However as a performance coach who has worked with a wide range of successful individuals from all walks of life I come across one element that is critical to this success. You have to 100% believe it is possible.
Let me give you an example.
Before the 6th May 1954, most of the planet thought that a sub 4 minute mile was nigh on impossible. Many athletes had come so close for such a long time it was genuinely believed to be out of reach of the human body. But one person had a different mindset and just after 6pm at a windy racetrack in Oxford, Roger Bannister recorded a 3m59.4s in front of 3000 spellbound spectators - and changed the world.
Within days this record had been broken again and again by other athletes. Why? Because now they knew it was possible and they believed they could do it. Before it was unreachable, intangible and a lingering element of doubt hung in the air. Now they had seen it with their own eyes and the impossible had become possible in the blink of an eye.
Too often in our own lives we hold on to self-limiting beliefs that weigh us down and before we know it we have accepted our fate. We make elaborate excuses that are linked to our environment, our background and our circumstance to reinforce this negative behavior.
Henry Ford famously said, “If you think you can, or you think you can’t you are probably right” and you can choose what to think, at any time, in any place and take responsibility for your future.
So learn from your past, embrace your present and look forward. Change your thinking, change your life.