Kate Merritt, Liberty Hive Co-Founder
In January 2023, I gave myself 16 weeks to run my first marathon. In less than 48 hours, I will nervously approach the start line for the 26.2 mile challenge.
Why am I sharing this?
Because I’ve learnt no amount of planning can truly prepare you for all the challenges along the way, whether it’s in your personal life, a career, a new business or even a marathon.
The key is how you respond when things knock you for six.
Close friend James Clarke, husband of Lottie; father of Martha, Ollie and Matilda, and Proprietary Partner at Knight Frank was entering the pinnacle of his career when out of the blue he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease at a young age of 41. James continues to be what all leaders aspire to be - a recognised expert in his field, an inspirational leader and a courageous fighter. Instead of withdrawing, he rallied his army of support crew and set about raising an astonishing £500,000+ for @myname5doddie and he has no intention of stopping until a cure for MND is found.
So when I lace up my trainers on Sunday, I will be reflecting on many things in the hours that follow but I thought I would share a few of the things that I have learnt in the last 16 weeks. For me, these go beyond just Sunday. These are life lessons that I can also apply to any career and running a new business:
There are no shortcuts but don’t sweat when things go wrong
The first and most obvious lesson from my marathon training program is simply: there are no shortcuts. To be successful on race day, you have to put in the miles during training. Do the work, listen to the advice, and race day will take care of itself. Like a new business, spend the time doing the groundwork really well, knowing that when things go wrong, that is okay. The key is to remain resilient, learn from the experience and keep going.
Be clear about the goal
By signing up to the Marathon, you have to truly commit to the cause. Visualising success is a huge part of the mental preparation, and it is exactly the same for a new business – have a distinct goal that will help to keep you focused. On Sunday, this is about finishing, having fun and raising money and awareness for MND.
Never say never : step out of your comfort zone
Plagued by lower back issues, my first reaction to running a marathon was that it would be impossible. But stepping back and taking calculated chances leads to incredible growth, both personally and professionally, unlocking opportunities I didn't think were possible. I certainly didn’t think I would get to this point but now I am here, I have never felt better both physically and mentally.
Get a great team around you
I love the saying it takes a village to raise a child. Well, to get the startline I have had to lean into coaching, physio and nutritional advice but most importantly, I couldn’t have done this without incredible mates around me. Together we have tackled the journey - we have laughed, cried and supported each other in a truly remarkable way. We were fortunate that for those tough long runs, we had each other. In business I see the same parallels - I couldn’t have created Liberty Hive on my own. Working with my fantastic Co Founder and listening to the wisdom of others is how you achieve your goals (and stay sane!)
Finally, know when to give yourself a break
Days off are vital to give your muscles a break and they are equally as important when running a business. Research shows that successful small business owners make sure they are taking breaks to give time for their batteries to recharge. Looking after yourself means you can be at the top of your game. As a mate said, rest days are as important as the training days and listening to this advice is why I am now ready to do this.
So with James’ wife @lottiesclarke at our side, the incredible Team Clarkie, will be running for James Clarke and all those other families that have been hit by MND. Read more about James on his Insta page at @jamesclarke_kf and see how you can help join the fight against MND by donating here: https://www.justgiving.com/page/team-clarkie
Also visit us on insta @Liberty Hive on Monday to find out how we all get on - I will try and limit the sweaty pics!
Kate Merritt is Co Founder of Liberty Hive