Extreme athlete and performance coach, Marcus Smith, has just run 30 marathons in 30 days, in Dubai. For many of us the initial reaction to the phenomenal feat of running 26.2 miles a day for one month would probably be: ‘Dude, why?’ For Marcus, it was all down to his unique motivational take upon a national health and fitness campaign called the Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC).
‘I pitched the idea of running 30 marathons in 30 days to the DFC … they thought I’d lost the plot! The challenge is aimed at sedentary people to get them off the sofa,’ says Smith, who is also the founder of InnerFight. The challenge aimed to get one million Dubai residents to commit to 30 minutes of exercise every day for 30 days. ‘I told the organizers that when people saw me doing something as extreme as a marathon every day they’d be a lot more likely to say: “Hell, if he can do that then I can at least do 30 minutes at the gym”.
Smith convinced the sponsors and punished himself through 30 marathons in a row in a bid to get others up and running. It worked – the Dubai Fitness Challenge exceeded its target with 1,053,102 people eventually taking part. But Smith insists that it’s all in a day’s work for a motivational coach whose goal is to arm people with the mental resilience to take on such challenges in their pursuit of personal progress. Here’s how you can arm yourself…
1. Treat Life Like A Marathon ‘Running a marathon is hard, but then for many of us so is losing weight, or dealing with relationships, or major work projects. I advise people to treat life’s challenges in similar ways. When the tough bits kick in – say you’ve still got another 20K to go but you’re totally busted – you need to remove all the distractions. You only have one thing to focus on at that moment, the basics; put one foot in front of another and get through that 20K.’
‘In business and relationships you often need to go back to the basics – getting the simple stuff right. The small steps of a project or the simple elements of a relationship, like communicating your thoughts, come first. Crack them and the more incredible things, the big campaign or the marathon finish will come into sight.’
2. Be More Self-aware ‘This especially applies to motivational strategies around fitness and exercise. It’s something I say a lot to clients: “Are you here because you want to be here?” I ask them this before we do anything. “Are these goals you’re targeting yours, or are you here because society says so? Or because the TV says you need to get to the gym?”’
‘To motivate yourself to train, you need to fully understand that getting fit and being healthy will make your life better. That has to be integral to your reasoning, too. Get a picture in your mind of where this fitness journey is going to take you. What do you realistically expect to get from it? Asking yourself tough questions from the outset helps to define achievable goals and avoid your motivation being sabotaged by false hopes. Be honest with yourself.’
For a habit change to be truly effective all the science shows that you need to devote 60 to 90 days to
3. Prepare For Sacrifice ‘This is a follow-on from the previous point: do you understand what it will take to achieve that goal? Have you thought about the training commitment and the eat requirements – are you aware of the sacrifice required?’
‘For a habit change to be truly effective all the science shows that you need to devote 60 to 90 days to it before that habit will become just that. For the longer-term, lifetime gains I ask the people I work with to prepare to devote that amount of time at least to the diet or fitness routine they’re embarking upon.’
4. Make Tomorrow Beat Today ‘Last year I was hit by a truck whilst out cycling. Among other injuries I suffered a busted scapula, multiple rib fractures and a crushed lung. But in recovery I learned a lesson in motivation. I’d start each morning by thinking: “What’s the one thing I can do today that would make it better than yesterday?”’
‘That prompted the daily micro progressions which helped me get back on my feet. When I could, I went to the gym and gradually, day after day, I lifted a dumbbell higher and for longer. It was mind-numbing. I’d also do 10-seconds off, 20-seconds on, intervals, for hours on end. But each day was a step further and when the physio checked on me I had made progress – I apply that logic every day still.’
5. Simplify Your Choices ‘The world is full of distractions with a constant deluge of information and the pressure upon us to share in that. We’re constantly looking for validation through social media. That multitude of distraction and wealth of decision choices can dilute and diminish the motivation need to focus and attain your goals.’
‘My own example of this came during the 30-marathon challenge. I ensured that I had only one choice, to get up each day for 30 days and run a marathon. That’s how I got through it. I didn’t think about how many I’d done or had left to do – just on what I needed to do each day. You have to create this state of being absolutely in the present. That was life for me for 30 days, but that focus and the elimination of distractions was essential to achieve it.’
6. Improve All Areas ‘When it comes to motivation for a fitness routine and habit change, don’t limit it solely to gym time. Make it part of your everyday life – this will strengthen your determination and motivation. If you spend an hour working out, say for 4-5 times a week, that’s till less than 3% of your entire week. Change the other 97% when you’re not in the gym too. Look to improve your sleep quality, better your diet, enjoy your family time and build incidental exercise into everything you do.’
7. Master Technology ‘Smartphones have their place in storing your training tech, taking before and after pictures and sharing the story of your improvement with friends and supporters – all of which are beneficial to your motivation. Technology has transformed the way we live and I am a massive fan of it.’
‘But there’s a downside to it when we apply that ‘one click and it’s here mindset’ to our health. Constantly looking for the quick fix to the 10kg of fat you gained at Xmas – or the best program to get us ready for a 10km race in three weeks because we don’t want to work hard for 3 months – is deluded. Whilst technology can speed many things up in your life, you need a patient mindset when it comes to your physical performance. Know that your progress will take time and that the journey, and the lessons learned on it, are as important to your long-term success as reaching the short-term destination.’
WHAT NEXT? Check out the free video resources that Marcus Smith has posted to his YouTube channel to help you achieve your 2019 goals.
Visit Marcus Smith’s website for more information
Comments are for information only and should not replace medical care or recommendations. Please check with your Doctor before embarking on exercise or nutrition regimes for the first time.