Don’t worry, you do not actually need to run to benefit from the lessons. Every day I still benefit from the lessons I have learned from running a marathon, both in my private life and in my business. And I like to share my lessons so you can benefit from them without running 42 kilometers and 195 meters.

These lessons apply to anything big that you want to do or achieve. Something that challenges you. A project at work, a career development issue or getting in shape for summer? You can do anything you set your mind to with these lessons.

Chunk it up

When I started running I did not know if I was able to run a marathon. What I did know was that running 500 meters was a big challenge, I gasped for breath and had to stop and walk. So I set smaller goals for myself that would lead to the big goal. This way it is clear and manageable. There is no fast lane to the finish line. Take things one step at a time and focus on the next step. This is especially helpful when your goal has no definite deadline.

Realistic goal setting

Nothing is less motivating than goals that can not be achieved. To run a marathon was never my goal at the beginning. I wanted to learn to run and to enjoy it. The progression I made and the joy I experienced was most important. With realistic goals, you keep your motivation and it is less likely you quit. Progress is motivation and motivation is fuel for the next step.


Every step is one step closer to your goal. Keep that in mind during the process. That final goal is not the end, it is all about the journey. Don’t forget to see what you have achieved already and celebrate the achievements along the way. For me were things like running 5 kilometers without stopping, running my first 10 kilometers, crossing that steep bridge, running faster than last time, achievements to celebrate.

Embrace obstacles

No handbook tells you exactly what to do when and how it will be like for you. What you do know is that it is will be hard at times. You will be challenged. I have never heard someone saying that running a marathon is easy. Sometimes you want to quit because you are frustrated. Things are not going the way you planned. Acknowledge your frustration, but do not stay in the drama for too long. What is there that needs to be done? What is the next step that helps you to achieve your goal?

It is not failing when you learn from what you did and why you did it. It is all about how you rise after falling what makes you stronger. Try again and get back on track with the new knowledge about the situation and about yourself. It is a chance to grow. It never goes exactly the way you planned. It pushes you out of your comfort zone which is scary at times, but most rewarding afterwards.

A plan

You cannot control everything. Obstacles, mental breakdowns, frustrations, exhaustion, it is all part of the process. It helps to stay on track when you have a plan. Something to hold onto when tough times arise. You will need to adjust the plan along the way. That does not mean that you are not on the right track to achieve your goal.


Who is talking to me? Is it my saboteur? Or do I really need to sleep for another hour and give my body the rest it needs? What will help me to achieve my goal? Sometimes you need to slow down, sometimes you need to push yourself. Ask yourself: ‘What is helping me?’ You always have a choice. Be honest with yourself about what choices you have. This is where you make the difference. Reflect, you are responsible for your choices and your actions.


In my opinion is training for a marathon the hardest part, the race is the outcome of all your hard work. Hours and hours of training and overcoming many moments where you could have easily give up.

In those hours of training, I found myself visualizing. Truly believe that I could do it. During training, I visualized that I could keep running even when my legs ached and my head started to give up. Already 15 kilometers away from home and still 10 to go. That would be a long walk home… Quitting was not an option in my visualization. I saw myself run home and so I did.

You will have setbacks, that is guaranteed. Some are obvious, some are less obvious. But if you see yourself cross that finish line one day or another, you will get back on track and will achieve your goal. Expect setback and accept setback, what matters is the next step, the next step towards your goal.

Mental strength

You are stronger than you think. There are millions of excuses not to go running or to quit halfway because you are tired. There are times when you wonder if you are able to do it. Once in a while, you’ll wonder why you do what you do. Just remember, you never know how close you are from achieving your goal when you quit. You develop a strong mind when you commit to achieving your goal.


Alone you are strong, together you are stronger. Create a support team around you that helps you to achieve your goal. It is not weak to ask for help, it is wise. It helps you in tough moments. You do not have to figure everything out by yourself. Work smarter, not harder. There are people who have done this before. Use their knowledge. And last but not least: the journey is more fun when you can share the experience.

When I have a difficult time at work or in my personal life. When I am struggling to see what there is to see or to learn, I think of my lessons learned from the marathon. You might have a situation where you have experienced the same process. Apply these lessons, think of your own example in difficult times and remember the feeling of the result. Step by step you achieve your goals. You can do anything you put your mind to!

Please share your examples in the comments below. I like to know how you handle difficult projects/ situations.