By Alexa Hershy
If I’m being completely honest, I signed up for the London Marathon to look and feel good for summer. I know what you’re thinking… wanting to look hot for summer doesn’t quite scream “corporate blog post.” So if you’re not feeling inspired yet, it’s because I chose to bury the lede and start from the very beginning.
While my intentions may have started off shallow, I had no idea what an epic journey (both physically and mentally) the marathon would be and how it would become an experience I’ll truly cherish forever. I’ve learned and grown so much through training – and in ways I hadn’t anticipated.
I’ll preface this by saying I am a bang-average athlete. So when I was asked to write this blog, I felt a bit awkward. I immediately cringed at how preachy and cliché my takeaways might sound. And, while I’ll admit none of these learnings are anything new or revolutionary, I hope they serve as nice reminders and add some good vibes into your day.
With that, here’s what I learned while training for the London Marathon 2023:
Set lofty goals, commit, and don’t quit
On 12 September 2022 at 5:52 p.m., I ran one mile and thought I was going to die. As you might imagine, training was looking quite bleak during those early days. While I was a novice runner, I’ve always known that I am mentally tough as nails (I get it from my mama!). What’s wild about setting lofty goals and leaning into your mental strength is that you can do anything! Whether it’s marathon training or a tough work challenge – if you tell yourself that “I can’t” isn’t an option, you will succeed one way or another. There is big power in using a mantra to get you through challenging moments. I used, “I can, I will.” Find a mantra that works for you, write it down, say it out loud, and put it in a visible place (like your desk) to remind yourself of it daily!
Surround yourself with good people
I cannot stress this point enough! I feel so lucky to have gone through this experience with two close friends. For months, we trained in the cold, rain, and snow. Through injuries, cramps, and hangovers – you name it – we trotted through it. Each and every week, with the help of our running coach (who happens to be one of my first work colleagues), they motivated me to be better and to believe in myself. The takeaway? Who you spend time with matters. Find others who build you up and distance yourself from people and things that don’t inspire you.
It’s about the journey, not the destination
This learning is still very much top of mind for me. The week before the marathon brought long hours in the office and a very bad cold. Let’s just say, the marathon was less hot and more snot. All 26.2 miles felt rougher than I had hoped. I didn’t get the time I had trained so hard to achieve, and being unwell took away from enjoying the experience the way I had imagined. When people ask me about the marathon, I need to consciously remind myself that I’m not a pro athlete. My final time doesn’t actually matter. This shift in mindset has encouraged me to process the experience in a different way and really appreciate the journey. The same goes for one small mistake of not defining your career success. It may sound sappy, but there are always silver linings and lessons to learn. Life is about celebrating the little wins and, in my marathon journey, those happened every day of my training.
Find a bigger purpose
I was lucky to run the London Marathon for Diabetes UK, and it gave me a whole new perspective and brought new meaning to my marathon training. Since moving to London, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to work with our client Dexcom. If you’re not familiar, Dexcom is a pioneer and leader in real-time continuous glucose monitoring – technology that works to simplify diabetes management. As part of our PR programme, we stay close to the important work Diabetes UK does around research and prevention. It was beyond special to run for a cause that I’ve been so close to these past few years (and some of my clients ran it too!). Seeing other Diabetes UK runners on the marathon route is something I’ll never forget. It gave me so much energy and motivation, and really made me feel like I was part of something bigger.
It’s now been a little over a month since the marathon, and I still feel the runner’s high. A very genuine thank you to my Allison+Partners London team who encouraged me the whole way, so generously donated and put up with my run chat for months.
Maybe I didn’t inspire you to run a marathon (if I did, add me on Strava!), but I hope my takeaways give you even the littlest bit of courage to do something outside of your comfort zone. Trust me, if a running rookie like me can do a marathon, anything is possible!
As far as what’s next in my running journey – you can catch me at the Battersea Half on 29 July. If you know me, you know my motto is always the more the merrier. So if you’re feeling inspired, join me IRL or train with me from afar (or you can always just meet for celebration drinks after!).