What Running A Marathon Taught Me About Running A Startup

Recently, at the time of writing, I ran the Berlin marathon. It was the second marathon I’d run in the space of one year, and I ran it 45 minutes quicker than the first time around.

On reflection, I learnt… or rather I was reminded of a few lessons about running my startup from training for this second marathon. And I’d like to share them with you…

Winners Start With The End In Mind

It may be cliched, though it’s absolutely true. If you want to achieve anything in business, or life for that matter, getting a clear picture in your mind of what the end result looks like is of paramount importance.

Otherwise, how do you know what you’re aiming for… and what success looks like when you get there?

For me, with Berlin, my “end in mind” was to run the marathon in under 4 hours.

Now, I wanted to do that in my first marathon but, as we’ll see later, starting with the end in mind is only the beginning.

Why, Why, Why?

Figuring out where you want to go is important. Knowing why you want to get there is vital.


Because if your “why” isn’t big and clear enough, you may find it really tough to keep going when “stuff” happens and gets in the way. It’s rare for any kind of journey to be completely plain sailing, so a clear vision of why you want a particular end result helps enormously to keep on keeping on.

For the Berlin marathon, my “end in mind” was important to me simply because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I’ve started and not finished too many things in my life. This wasn’t going to be “another of Pete’s failures”.

Build A Plan

Once you know what success looks like, and you know why you want it, you get to ask yourself the question… “How am I going to get there?” And don’t be afraid to get, and pay for, outside help, particularly from people who’ve done what you want to achieve.

Because I’d already tried, and failed, to run a marathon in under 4 hours, I knew I should probably do something different in my training for Berlin. I turned to a running coach who had developed a six month training programme with the specific aim of running a sub-4hr marathon.

Get Discipline

So far, it’s easy! Once you’ve figured out what you want, why you want it and found or built a plan that you’re confident will get you there… that’s when the “rubber hits the road” (sorry about the cliches!).

If you don’t execute your plan, you won’t get your end result. Simple as.

And execution requires discipline. Trust me, I’d much rather stay in bed at 5am on a rainy morning than hit the road for a 5 mile training run… but this is where you get to test how big your “why” really is, and how important it is to get to your “end in mind”. If it’s big and important, you’ll do what you said you were going to do. If it’s not, you won’t. Simples!

Relax, Enjoy, Have Fun!

If you’ve followed the previous steps, you can relax and enjoy yourself because you’ve done everything possible to get what you want.

At the start of my training for Berlin, running at the pace required to run a sub-4hr marathon, just over 9min miles, was at the limit of my ability.

When it came to actually running the marathon, I comfortably ran 8min 26sec miles to cross the finish line in 3hr 41min. And during the race I danced past most of the live bands and high-fived a lot of spectators! You CAN have fun on the journey, and still get what you want!

Written by Pete Dickson

Pete Dickson is a husband, father, marathon and ultra-marathon runner, writer and entrepreneur. His business, Conquer The Chaos, helps selected startup founders who want to simultaneously spend more time with their families and make more money. To find out if your business qualifies, and if he can help, simply send an email to canyouhelp@conquerthechaos.co.uk.

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