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🏃 12 Business Lessons I Learned Finishing 12 Marathons

Success is a marathon, not a sprint

Onward Everyday

Good morning.

This week is a big week for this newsletter. Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of Onward Everyday! 🎂

There may be a special edition hitting your inbox to celebrate. 👀

Until then, let’s get into it.


In 2010, I was invited to run with a friend. He wanted to go for a 6-mile run.

I had run a few times in my life (outside of basketball), but I wasn't a runner.

He had been running and cycling on a mission to lose 90 lbs for a few months.

I needed a better lifestyle and had about 60 lbs to lose, so I said yes.

A few months later, he asked if I would be interested in running a marathon together.

It was a bucket list item for me, and assuming he meant in a year or two, I said, "Let's do it!"

I was wrong. He meant Grandma's Marathon in June. It was October, and we had A LOT of work to do. 😅

Note to self. Ask clarifying questions. 🙃

We finished Grandma's in under four hours in June and then finished the Twin Cities Marathon in October. 🥇🥇

By 2012, I was running a race each month and 1,000 miles (including a marathon or two) each year.

In 2022, I completed my 12 marathon.

I learned a lot in my journey to become a marathon runner.

It turns out, there are a few parallels to success in business.

Here are the 12 lessons running and finishing 12 marathons taught me about business:

1. Success Is Mental

If it's to be, it's up to me. Starting is hard, but the hardest part is to keep moving. It's all mental.

2. Consistency Creates Momentum

It is hard to consistently do the work required to hit your goals. But doing it consistently for a long enough time creates momentum, which speeds up your growth and makes everything easier.

3. Ultimately, You Are Your Only Competition

Yes, the field is full of strong competitors. You should know your competitors, their strengths and weaknesses, but then solely focus on executing your game plan. Achieving each new milestone keeps your progress moving forward. Keep getting better and never quit, and you will outlast your competition.

4. Start Slow And Steady, Finish Fast And Strong

Too many people begin a marathon too quickly. The excitement and adrenaline get the best of them, and they end up burning out. The last 8.2 miles are brutal for them. Don’t ask me how I know. It’s better to start slowly and incrementally increase speed. It’s called negative splits. While you want to take action and work toward your first sale quickly, you don’t want to rush into doing too much in your business until you are ready. Start slow and lead with revenue. As your revenue grows, you can strategically pick up the pace and innovate or add new product lines.

5. You Don’t Need Technology, And It’s A Game-Changer

When I first started running, I just needed to get out there and run. I didn’t need anything fancy to do that. As I progressed, it was clear that I didn’t have the right tools. I didn’t have the right shoes (for me) and I was using a Polar watch with a foot pod to track my time and mileage. The foot pod was wildly inaccurate. Not helpful. I made a small investment in the right shoes, clothing, and a Garmin 310XT. It changed everything for me. I was able to run longer, knowing my gear would hold up and the data to track my progress would be sound. The same goes for a business. Don’t invest in expensive technology with bells and whistles you won’t use. Start simple and incrementally invest in tools and your business evolves.

6. You May Run Alone, But No One Succeeds Alone

Running and solopreneurship may be one-person ventures, but it still takes a team to be successful. In running, it was my super supportive family and my running partner, Jordan. It was also friends who would unintentionally provide doses of accountability when asking me, “How’s your running going?” when I would see them at get-togethers. My business has a community around it too, helping it grow, thrive, and hold me accountable to achieve what I’ve decided I want to strive for.

7. You Cannot Improve What You Don’t Track

Tracking your progress is a massively important part of marathon running and owning a business. In my experience, too many entrepreneurs don’t know or even track their numbers. How do you know if you’re on track to hit your goals if you don’t know where you are? During my first four years of running, tracking my time was critical to knowing how I was doing and if I was improving. It also helped me fight through challenging times to beat my last run or race time. When I first started training, I could barely run one mile. A few years in, I was running 7 miles a day at a 7:15/mi pace. I would have never gotten through the hard times along the way if I didn’t know where I was and how I was doing.

8. Make A Plan And Execute The Plan

Running marathons and businesses each come with sizable risks. It’s not advised to just start them all willy-nilly. You need a solid plan. What will you eat the night before the race? Which hydration stations will you hit? Will you eat the GU at mile 18? Yes, you definitely will. The same goes for a business. What are your first-year projections? When will you break even if financing is required to start the business? What is your customer acquisition strategy? Who will you need on your team and when? Make a clear plan for your business and stick to it. Alter it when necessary, but have a plan for the new direction. Throwing spaghetti at the wall won’t help you finish your race.

9. Maintain Sufficient Fuel Reserves

I would burn over 4,000 calories running a marathon. Without the right meal and hydration planning, I would have crashed. Hard. The same goes for a business. A business requires sufficient cash flow to survive and continue to operate well. The more cash reserves a business has, in other words, the bigger the war chest, the more it can innovate to stay ahead of its competition, and the more likely it will thrive in large market shifts.

10. Finish What You Started

Said differently, there’s no going back once you start. Once you begin your journey and forge ahead, you will grow as a person. Like toothpaste in its tube, once it’s out, it’s not going back in. This personal growth will increase to the extent that your humility allows it to grow. Be open, and let it grow. You will either finish what you started or use the knowledge and skills you gained for your next venture. Either way, you’ll never go back to the person you once were.

11. Smell The Roses

Be present enough to celebrate your wins and enjoy the journey. I’m notoriously bad at celebrating my wins, or even being remotely proud of anything I do. This wasn’t the case when I was training for and running marathons. I made it a point to not listen to music while running so I could be present and literally feel the wind and smell the roses. There’s something magical about enjoying your environment, your progress, and your wins, however small.

12. Start Today

The sooner your start, the faster you get through the suck. And the beginning of anything really sucks. Your ego takes a massive hit anytime you are doing something for the first time. You have to be good with that. The sooner you start, the faster you’ll make mistakes, learn how to get through challenges and pick up some pro tips along the way.


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