The Secrets To Sustainable Change

On Sunday, Oct 14th I completed my 11th marathon. This is a journey that I started five years ago when I decided to run my first marathon to raise money for Cancer Charity to support several friends who were going through chemotherapy.

At that time I had never run more than six miles, and even that was over 30 years before.

At 52 I hadn’t done any meaningful sport or training for years, yes there was the occasional game of squash, but fatness not fitness was probably closer to the truth.

When I announced I was going to attempt the marathon many people, including family and close friends, were dubious and suggested that maybe I should start with a 5 or 10 k run. My boss at the time, who was the same age as me, warned that it would end in tears.

Now I am not going to lie, my physical condition was not the best, I wasn’t a runner and I too would have told you that running a marathon was beyond me – in fact one of my ambitions was to never ever run a marathon, and I thought that anybody that did was crazy.

But I had decided to change all that. I had the right motivation, I had a purpose, I was on a mission and I was determined to succeed.

The training started with just a short 15-minute run, and these built up slowly over the training plan.

What amazed me most was how quickly the improvements came, even though it was a slow and easy start, within Marathon seven weeks of beginning my training, I was able to complete my first ever half marathon.

Big changes can come quickly when we make the decision change and later 6 months I completed my first marathon.

The challenge with big changes though is that it can be easy to fall back to where we were. Many people who run a marathon, run just one and then they are done. They have achieved the goal, but they haven’t really made a sustainable change.

Now to be clear I am not being critical here, it’s an amazing goal that has been achieved, it should be celebrated loudly and people should be proud of their success.

However, achieving success is not the same as making sustainable change. 

It’s definitely part of it, but for change to be sustainable, the results need to be maintained or repeated, it’s not a one-time thing.

After my first Marathon, I decided that I didn’t want to be a one and done, so I decided to sign up for one more. I liked the health benefits I was feeling, I liked the increased energy, being able to help people, inspire people and also the race day camaraderie.

After that I signed up again and by the start of this year I had run 10 marathons.

So when I announced I was going to run the York Marathon back in March, there was no one who questioned that, or who said aim lower, just do a 5 or 10k. 

Why?  Simple, because I had made that sustainable change from non-runner, through first-time marathon runner, to marathon runner.

Now I’m not a fast runner, but I am consistent and persistent.

That’s how we make changes. First it starts with small improvements, which build into bigger improvements, which then become our new standard, our new normal.

On Sunday I completed the York Marathon, the conditions were poor, it rained from start to finish as you can see in my photo above.  I had trained well and I managed to complete the race in 4hrs 58 seconds, which was my second fastest marathon, a time which pleased me greatly.

What pleases me more though is not the success of this race, or any of the previous races, but the sustainable change that has been made.

The secrets to sustainable change are simple they are persistenc and consistency.

These are talent multipliers that can be used to create great results, which are repeatable, predictable and sustainable. 

This year I ran on behalf of the Stroke Association and if you would like to donate please click on the link here and every $ helps.