Digging deep Written by Simon Court

14th February 2017

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On April 23rd I am running a full marathon for the first time, in my home city of London. I’m in training. Nothing very original about this – there will be tens of thousands of us lining up at the start line at 10am. Of course I have my own story and sense of purpose behind running, and you can read my story  if you are interested, but I want to focus on what preparing for the race is teaching me about business and life.

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This week I will be running 13 endurance miles at the weekend, doing a gruelling one hour hill training session (running up and down a steep hill as fast as I can) a one hour ‘tempo run’ at the fastest pace I can manage and a gym conditioning session. Every week adds 10 minutes (about a mile) to my endurance run. Put aside for a minute the demands of running a business and having a family, the training demands self-discipline, determination and resilience. I am in my 50s so there is a more risk of injury (running takes its toll on the muscles and joints!) and all of these activities have to be sandwiched by dynamic stretching, cold and hot water and occasionally physio. It’s a lot of time and effort mixed in with the pain and strain. I won’t bore you with the dietary stuff, but it’s another demand. The training is about 6 months, for London that means during the worst weather months of the year.

So what have I learned?

  1. The goal must feel truly worthwhile. This really matters for me, the personal test, the charity I am running for, the memory of my Dad. And the goal is wonderfully clear. Run. 26.2 miles. 4 hours is the stretch goal.
  2. The plan has to be sharp and clear. It’s a grid. I know what I must do every week. It’s progressive. Every box must be ticked. Or I won’t be ready. No excuses.
  3. You need an expert guide. I’ve never done this before. Jimmy has. Listen to Jimmy. Partner with him. And do the work he recommends.
  4. You need to be ready to dig deep in the face of difficulties. So far, so good. But be ready to adapt, I will hit a problem at some point. And take care of my health or my training plan will be knocked off course.
  5. Obsession keeps you on track. Treat all of this as non-discretionary or I will make compromises. The course has no short-cuts so the training doesn’t either. I think about this every day. I’m trying not to bore everyone, but it’s hard!

18 years ago I set up Value Partnership and anyone who has created their own business, taken on their first employees, won and served clients and managed money will know the labour of love this requires. It’s a true test of your character because you face so many setbacks along the way. Training for the marathon is a test of mental and physical strength. It’s a lesson in life and business.

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