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We are all full of surprises and I am most surprised when I surprise myself. When was the last time you surprised yourself? For me it was only a few days ago.

Let’s rewind a few months. Like everyone else I entered the New Year with a few goals intended to improve my life. Among other things, I challenged myself to get back in shape and return to former levels of fitness, which had been completely neglected due to balancing a challenging job with a busy life as a Mum of two.

In Captureneed of a greater goal I signed up to do the Thames Path Challenge in September, a 100km walk from Putney to Henley to raise cash for Cancer Research UK.

Meanwhile a friend suggested I enter the Southampton 10km on 24 April. My immediate reaction was no way – why would I, I have never run more than a few km, I have never enjoyed running, I’m not very good at it and it hurts. If I hadn’t made it clear enough, I just don’t do running! So why start running now, in my 40th year!?

A question I am still asking myself, because for some unfathomable reason I felt compelled to do it, much to my surprise and most of the people I know!!

Surprised myself #1.
118024I dusted off my trainers and set out on my first run on 20 February (64 days to go). It was horrible! I very quickly realised I needed some running shoes and a training programme that would get me from couch to 10km in less than 9 weeks.

The running shoes were the easy bit. I headed to SweatShop in town, an hour and one hundred pounds later, job done… Tick!

Next the training program so I downloaded the app Couch to 10km. 13 weeks!! I just didn’t have long enough. I started at 4 weeks then skipped to week 6 then 8, but I just couldn’t find a rhythm that worked for me. So I went with my instincts and downloaded an interval training app, set a walk run pace that worked for me and concentrated on making the distance. Tick!

Now I had exactly 4 weeks to get beyond interval running to making the distance at a consistent running pace, stretching the run times and reducing / eliminating the walk time.

Hold on a minute… I am actually starting to enjoy this!!

Wow, surprised myself #2.

Fast forward to the 24 April at precisely 10.45 and I cross the start line on a route that takes us through the city, over the long steady climb of the Itchen Bridge (ouch) and through St Mary’s Stadium (home of the Saints) which was a pleasant surprise (not that I am a supporter but impressive nonetheless).

IMG_20160424_100232762_HDRIf you have done anything like this before you will appreciate the overwhelming energy delivered by the crowd, stewards and other runners, it is unbelievable the difference their support makes (the power of gummy bears is impressive as well, noted).

If I am completely honest, I knew I would do it. I’d make the distance even if I had to walk. But I ran the whole way and finished it in 1.07, my personal best AND I bloody loved it!

Surprised myself #3.

AND on my way home I signed up for my next one, the Hamble River Games 10km Run, taking place in June in the village where I live.

Surprised myself #4.

While I was running I was thinking about my current personal circumstances.

I have just opted for redundancy from my job as a result of a restructure. This is a great opportunity to get back to my former life as a marketing freelancer under Zest Marketing. I started to draw a few parallels between my current personal achievement and the world of marketing, in the guise of all the different hats you need to wear.

I thought I would share this with you in my first blog:

  1. The Chief Executive Hat: Start with purpose, why are you here, what are you trying to achieve, what difference you will make to your customers’ world. The big WHY! In marketing this underpins your strategy and everything you do. In my case the ultimate aim was to get fit for my personal well-being, my family and to raise money for a cause that is close to our hearts.
  2. The Director Hat: Make sure you have a marketing plan orientated around your purpose that is right for your business and your target audience, in a way that puts you ahead in your market place. One size does not fit all but there are proven strategies and tactics that could be applied, don’t be afraid to change, fine-tune or accelerate your plans if you aren’t progressing fast enough. In my case this was my training programme.
  3. The Manager Hat: Ask yourself whether you have the right tools for the job, and don’t underestimate the impact this will have on your success. In your case this could be resources, skills, tools and technologies. In my case it was the right running shoes (not forgetting nutrition and a healthy eating plan).
  4. The Do It Hat: Absolutely critical in bringing it all together and making it happen: a can do attitude. Without this you’ll get nowhere, it needs to be inherent throughout the organisation. The right people with the right attitude is everything, the rest you can acquire, develop, nurture. I would never have done this if I hadn’t believed in myself (although admittedly I didn’t in the beginning, but what a difference a change in attitude can make).
  5. The Supporters: In marketing this is your audience and for most businesses this means customers. You need to understand what makes them tick, how you make a difference to their world and engage with them in a way that puts them 100% behind you and your brand.

Finally, and in my opinion most importantly, you need to enjoy it! Hopefully this won’t be the one area where you surprise yourself!

IMG_20160424_102022349Where all this leads to is that there is great deal of planning and preparation involved in great marketing (and running a race). If you know what you want to achieve, believe you can achieve it with a plan to get there, the right tools to hand, the right people behind you and you work hard enough… then you are running in the right direction and have a chance of winning.

If you rush to the start line you could be lining yourself up for a poor result, an injury or a bed in the first aid tent!

I have thought of many other similarities since writing this, but this is long enough now, what about you, can you think of any?

Follow me to read my future marketing posts.

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