Running 100 miles / 162 km non-stop is not for the faint of heart. But undertaking such an impossible challenge can uncover scary, uncomfortable – and profitable – truths about our lives and businesses. Not tempted to slip into your running gear? Fear not. I ran 100 miles so you don’t have to.
In February, I ran a 26-hour gauntlet of lakes, forests and trails to finish the Tarawera Ultramarathon.
Running the equivalent of four back-to-back marathons all day and all night can change a person. The experience reveals harsh, controversial and compelling truths about our lives, businesses and relationships.
Now, I can reveal these secrets to you. Be warned: What you’re about to see cannot be unseen.
1. You’re never ready for what happens next
I am not a runner. Four years ago I was overweight, unhealthy, depressed and drunk. One day I decided to quit self-destruction and see what I was capable of.
Sure, I’ve run a few marathons and slow ultramarathons since those dark days, but never anything close to 100 miles.
In fact, prior to this race, I’d only run 50 miles once in my life…and that was three years ago.
But when you set your sights on a goal, you cannot wait until you feel ‘ready’. Because if you do, you will be waiting for an eternity.
Go. Now. Take the first step.
2. Don’t get drunk on data
Thanks to the wonders of technology I could track my speed, heart rate, oxygen, cadence, altitude … and a whole lot of stuff I didn’t even understand.
It’s easy to get drunk on data, but choose creation over consumption.
I stumbled along the first few miles, eyes glued to smartwatch, worrying about my race going ‘wrong’.
But only when I looked up and decided to create the adventure I wanted to experience, did a smile appear on my face.
3. Confidence is a con
I desperately wanted to feel confident about running 100 miles.
But what would happen if we knew confidence would never arrive? Would we stop the pursuit of our goals? Or would we say, “confidence be damned” and take action anyway?
The confidence I was seeking arrived not at the start line, but at the finish.
Stop waiting, start deciding.
4. Everyone needs a little ‘crazy’ in their life
I’ve lost count of the number of people who called me ‘crazy’ to even attempt running 100 miles.
For a people-pleaser who likes to be liked, that was a bitter pill for me to swallow. But one person’s ‘crazy’ is someone else’s ‘everyday’. I don’t care whether it’s ultramarathons, golf, nordic walking, hardcore knitting, extreme reading or whatever else floats your boat … find your thing and throw yourself into it with a passion that makes non-believers shake their heads in disbelief. Life’s too short to live someone else’s dream.
5. Be a warrior, not a worrier
The worried mind sees a challenge and imagines all the things that could go wrong. The warrior mind only sees an opportunity of victory.
If I only thought of fear, dread and all the things that might go wrong, I would have packed my bags and gone home during those terrifying, dark, hours running alone through Rotorua forest all night.
When you are afraid: take decisive action. Then the fear won’t matter. Keep taking action, and the fear will not exist.
6. You don’t need another expert
After running 100 kilometres, my feet were falling apart, my stomach churning and my mind in pieces. And I was just over halfway through the race.
At that point I can categorically say: I knew I didn’t need another performance coach, I didn’t need another self-development book to read, I didn’t need another mindset podcast.
All I needed was all I had: My self-belief, and the knowledge I could back myself to deliver.
You already have everything inside you, you just need to unlock it.
7. Time cannot be beaten
Tick, tick went the clock. I was falling behind schedule, and at risk of missing my cut-off time window.
No matter what hacks, shortcuts and quick fixes we try … one day, time will run out.
The finish line is inevitable for us all, whether we like it or not. The good news is that we have control: We get to choose whether we arrive on our hands and knees, or whether to turn up in style.
8. Become a master of completion
I used to be a big ‘ideas’ guy. I loved to start things: businesses, relationships, projects, adventures.
But I wasn’t so good at finishing them. Completing things means overcoming challenges, obstacles and issues, which isn’t very fun.
When you become a ‘completer’, you prove to yourself that you can exceed your expectations.
9. Create your own future
The best way to predict the future is to create it.
In the final few miles, I imploded. My thoughts turned to failure. How embarrassing! How many people would I let down? How stupid would I look? I was terrified by an outcome that hadn’t even happened yet.
When we think of the future, the fear creeps in. But it never has to happen. We always have a choice whether to
continue on our present path.
10. Remember who will be there at the finish line
I crossed the finish line, fell to my knees and saw my family cheering.
When it mattered – when I really needed support – no-one else was there for me. Not the business partner who had promised me a life of riches; not the performance coach who ‘really wanted me to succeed’; not the boss who ‘had all my best interests at heart’; not the elusive customer who ‘was definitely going to buy soon’.
It is often those who support us the most who get the least of our time and attention in return.
One day, you will reach the finish line.
Who will be by your side?
Give those people the version of YOU that they truly deserve.