As cyclist Lance Armstrong, “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it it lasts forever.
The goal of running a successful business can be just as daunting as a marathon. There are no shortcuts, just hard work and a lot of determination.
Mrs Kenyatta is 50. Successful entrepreneurs and business owners also come in all shapes and sizes: aged between 9 and 109, male, female, rich, poor, people with multiple doctorates and people who left school at 13, and from every ethnic background you can think of.
What they have in common is the drive to make things happen. The first thing Mrs Kenyatta did in Iten was interval training.
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At its most basic, it involves running at a fast pace, close to maximum exertion, for a short distance, then recovering for a short while, then repeating a number of times, aiming for the same or better pace.
The main aim of interval training is to improve cardiovascular fitness. This is the body’s capacity to transport and use oxygen during exercise — which is important for running 42.2km.
Without interval training, runners can end up running at the same comfortable pace and they don’t improve. They become “one-pace plodders.”
What’s the business lesson?
Try new things
If you want to improve, sometimes you need to get out of your comfort zone.
To improve and grow your business, you need to try new things. This doesn’t mean embracing innovation or change for the sake of it. It means adding something challenging into the mix.
If your business isn’t growing as fast as you’d like, try something different. You might feel uncomfortable, but if you keep doing the same old things year in and year out, you risk stagnating or, worse still, failure.
Marathons are about endurance. It’s about competing in an extremely physically and mentally challenging event. It’s about finding a way to push through and cross the finish line.
In the same way, we need to make our businesses work even when we’re faced with less than ideal conditions. The only way to compete is to be in the race.
Just like in the London Marathon, there will always be competitors. Some will be better than us.
Some won’t make it. Strong competitors give us something to aspire to. Some will sneak up and overtake us. Someone has to come last, but you hang on and keep running.
We might not have the budget to market our business the way we’d like. We might be feeling a bit under the weather the day we have to make that important presentation. We will have our ups and downs. Regardless, we need to find a way to push ahead.
Canute Waswa is the managing director of Outdoors Africa