How NYC Marathon Training Inspired Me As An Entrepreneur

Five things I took from my marathon training that can easily be applied to any area in your business.

My marathon journey started in 2011 after I read Jack Canfield’s book, The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. Canfield’s first principle is: you must take 100 percent responsibility for your life. While it sounds easy in theory, in execution it is difficult. We make excuses instead of taking ownership of things we can control.

In his book, Canfield also writes about the importance of keeping your commitments. For me, my lack of exercise was the biggest area I had made excuses about, but also had absolute control over. I wanted to commit to something out of my comfort zone. And to me, there was nothing scarier than running the NYC marathon.

Over the past three years, I have run over 1,000 miles and three marathons all because I stopped making excuses and kept a commitment. Below are five things I took from my training that can easily be applied to any area in your business.


  1. Keep Your Commitment

    You can’t let difficult business challenges prevent you from following through with a plan. In fact, you must use the hardship as a driving force to see the commitment through. It does not make the process any easier, but it does give clarity to your end goal. For instance, while training for my first marathon, I had knee injuries that nearly stopped me in my tracks. During training for my second, I needed emergency surgery on an unrelated matter and it took four weeks to recover. This year has fortunately been filled with good news (including the birth of our third child), but the sleepless nights have not helped support a stellar training program. In addition to the the injuries and family responsibilities, my role as owner of a 30-person online continuing education business would fill my entire day and then some if I let it. I made it through these hard times because of the commitment I made and my strong belief not to break it. Sometimes success can be that simple.

  2. Create a Clear Goal and Plan

    Many entrepreneurs grow their businesses by using their gut and intuition. When you hit adversity, not having a business plan isn’t the smartest choice. A great thing about running a marathon is the clear goal of 26.2 miles — and a proven training schedule. Since I didn’t have to put any additional thought into the goal or plan, I was able to focus all my energy on being mentally tough enough to keep up with the 30+ mile weeks and any life challenges that got in the way. It made me realize the stronger my convictions are in my business goals and plan to get there, the more mentally tough I will become.

  3. Cultivate the Right Mindset

    As business owners, we focus on outside challenges such as raising money, managing a team, or acquiring new customers. While all of these issues are important and need to be addressed, they do not hold a candle to the internal challenges that we face on a daily basis: stress, self doubt, negativity, loss of focus, blaming others, fear of failure, etc. If you have the right mindset and a positive attitude, no outside force can stop you in your journey to success. For example, when I was training for the marathon, I turned to inspirational speeches and videos that I could listen to while I ran. Without these videos playing in a loop, it would have been hard for me to get through some of the tougher moments. You should apply the same type of inspirational experience sharing to business. It allows you to take the 10,000 foot-view and work on your business instead of in it.

  4. Run Through the Wall

    In business, we come up against walls all the time. They key is to have the right partner or mentor to help see you through it. While training, I was told that after mile 20 the same thing happens in the marathon. It happened at mile 23 of my first marathon; I hit a wall. My feet were burning and my legs had shooting pains. All the signals in my body were telling me to stop running. But I was lucky enough to have a more experienced running partner who kept pushing me the additional 30 minutes. He motivated me and kept my focus on the finish line instead of the pain. In business, we all can benefit from other people’s expertise to get through the pain and hit our big goals.

  5. Experience New Things

    Too often in life we get caught up in a daily routine. Luckily, as entrepreneurs, it is in our DNA to shake things up and learn new things. During marathon training, I ran through almost every NYC neighborhood and found that I could develop a deep focus for hours on end. Because of my experience, today I read new books that inspire me, meet new people and have taken part in over a dozen races. I have transformed my mentality from someone who never ran further than 4 miles to a marathon runner. Now, the sky is the limit. The question is, what will you do to shake things up in your life and business?


This article has been edited and condensed.

David Schnurman is a passionate entrepreneur whose primary focus is creating a collaborative environment where individuals can actively learn and share their knowledge. He is the founder of two e-learning companies, Lawline.com, and TrueNYC.com, an online website that features video interviews and advice from entrepreneurs. Connect with @DavidSchnurman on Twitter.


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