Business Support: Why Running a Business is an Ultra-Marathon

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I regularly work with clients who have GREAT things happening in their business. Yet, sometimes, they have a really hard time seeing these amazing things that are occuring for them.


They’re in a position where they’re on one side of the mountain, their accomplishments are on the other, and a huge range of limiting beliefs and expectations stands between.

These limiting beliefs stuck smack in the middle of their brilliance are really hard to navigate!

The “Limit” You Believe in Your Business

I was recently working with one of my clients who I adore – we’ll call her Jane. She’s talented, experienced, and a true professional. She has a huge heart and a deep desire to make a real impact on the way people experience their day to day lives.  

One of her workshop offerings helps people connect with their joy by knowing what brings them joy and what takes it away. She was lined up to deliver that workshop the day following our call to a community group.

This is great news, I’m thinking. She’ll get support and prepare for her workshop in a supportive space!

But here’s the thing…  her joy wasn’t in the room with her at all when we started our session.  I’m not sure if it was even in the house! And since she and I hadn’t worked together in several months, I wasn’t sure what was driving her low energy.  

As it turns out, getting her business up and running has been challenging. In addition to family commitments and personal health challenges – she’s been feeling isolated and lost as to what to do in her business to make it profitable.

On top of that, she’s been feeling afraid to do the one thing she genuinely feels she needs to move the business forward. As she shared her story, I was starting to see the “joy kill” show its face.

Is Jane’s story is feeling just a bit too familiar right now? If so, you aren’t alone. Trust me on this!

Running a Business is Like Running an Ultra-Marathon

Following my first instinct, we started out by using a coaching tool to help her identify what she might be trying to control that isn’t actually within her control.

(I won’t claim credit for this tool – but I use it because it works! The tool is called the “Genius Move,” created by the personal development guru, Gay Hendricks. You can learn all about it in his new book, The Joy of Genius. )

Great insights emerged. Slowly, the grip of fear she had been feeling (the fear that she needs to be doing a certain thing, and needs it to be the right thing) started to fall away.

As a coach whose done her fair share of coaching, metaphors flood into my brain like a waterfall during a coaching session; I see a picture in my mind for almost everything my clients tell me.

So, the next thing I know, I’m seeing her business as a marathon.

At first, she sees that a part of her wanted it to be a sprint – to just give it her all for just a few short minutes – and then reach the finish line and the reward at the end. Easy Peasy.

Here’s the thing: running a business is far from a sprint. Anyone who’s had even a lemonade stand (or helped their kids set one up) can feel that!

Realizing it wasn’t a sprint, she went on to the next race, a marathon. We explored the commitment needed to prepare for and run an event like this.

The only problem is: that wasn’t close to the right comparison! She’s run two marathons that she didn’t train for.

She just jumped in with both feet first and started running – digging deep when she had to in order to make it across the finish line 4+ hours later. Again, far from what it takes to prepare for a business!

This was such a breakthrough, though. Even when she knew it would have been “better” to train and prepare for the marathon, she just started running, trading the time commitment necessary to train for more mental and physical suffering at the other side.

But here’s where it gets interesting.  

Suddenly, Jane had an epiphany. She’d been running her business like she ran her marathons, but the distance is too long and system shut down is imminent.

“It’s not like a marathon!” she exclaimed. “It’s like an Ultra Marathon!”

The minute she said it, I knew she was on to something. I’ve never run an Ultra Marathon myself, but I’ve read a couple books about Scott Jurek, so I have some sense of what one’s all about.

(An Ultra Marathon is anything longer than a traditional marathon, or 26 miles. That means it could be 26.5 miles or, literally, limitless.)

Jane embarked on the journey of running her business expecting it to be shorter and less energy-intensive than it’s been. And that expectation has been blocking all the joy of what she IS creating and all the wins she IS having along the way.

Now that she sees she really signed up for an ultra-marathon, she recognizes the training runs she’s completed, the milestones she’s reached, and the support and refueling that’s necessary from this point forward to stay on the course.  

And even better – Jane thoroughly en-JOY-ed her workshop the following day. A number of participants inquired about working with her as a result of the workshop experience. Yay for Jane!

During the exploration of what Jane was training for, I had an epiphany, too.

The Ultra Marathon You’re Running in Your Business

Don’t we all go into business thinking it will like a sprint?! We don’t realize the support and preparation we need along the way.

One day, we wake up and say, “I have a business now!” We dig deep for a few days or weeks, find some clients, and pray that we outrun the pain and suffering that we didn’t prepare for.

Eventually, though, it sneaks up on us.

To run a business, you need to train like you’re running an ultra marathon. It requires preparation, planning of the route, support along the way, and time to refuel and re-energize ourselves.

I’m not casting a shadow at any business, because in all honesty, I include myself here when I was first starting out.

What part of Jane’s epiphany rings true for you? And what would you change in your business if you pictured it as an Ultra Marathon instead of a Marathon or a Sprint?

I’d love to hear, so drop a comment here or connect with me via email!

And if you are looking for someone to support you along the course – I’m here to help.  You can set up a call with me here.

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Mindset coach, business strategist, and soul-filled success catalyst for women entrepreneurs on the rise.

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