30/07/2013 09:50 BST | Updated 29/09/2013 06:12 BST

Lessons I Learnt Running Across Europe: Part One


""What a great day of running! 25 miles out of the way. We only have 1,275 miles to go, less then 60 days to do it, cheerio!""

People often asked me how I stayed motivated during the run to Rome or how I managed to summon the willpower to run up and down stairs for 21 hours. The answer is quite simple, it is something that many people already know but rarely apply to their own lives. It is a powerful mental tool which I have used in the past and continue to use now with powerful effects. It is the power of "Taking every day as it comes". This classic idiom from the archives of history really resonated with me as we set up camp every evening after a busy day of running across Europe with our 30kg pram.

This was because the very thought of knowing that I still had one thousand miles to run after already running several marathons filled me with an overwhelming sense of dread. Towards the beginning of the trip I would go to bed feeling tired, hungry and frustrated because I believed that all my hard work for the day was in vain, what was 25 miles in comparison to 1,300?

I was getting so down about the whole thing that I dedicated a whole day to working out how I was going to overcome my problem. Then, after pushing the buggy over a nasty hill on the way to Switzerland, I came to the realisation that there was no point in me thinking about the end of the run itself. Instead of getting down at the end of every day I would celebrate the small things I achieved, like running a marathon or crossing a regional border. Every evening I would celebrate the victory by popping open the flask of orange juice, treating myself to an extra ration of sports bars and singing merry rhymes until the sun sets. Today was a success, tomorrow was a new day and with that day would come a new battle.

Step by step you go a very long way...

During the run to Rome, my day to day fantasies ( I had lots of time to myself!) rarely strayed to me running into the gates of Rome with the chariots of fire theme tune blasting into my ears. Instead I focused on overcoming the next few miles or I would imagine the smell of my next meal, or the feeling of lying down after a long day of running. These mini victories boosted my motivation, which gave me the fuel to forge onto the next day.

Short term goal, long term solutions.

In a broader sense many people suffer with the same problems as I did during the run. They have these grand goals set up for themselves but the moment they actually get down to tackling them they become so overwhelmed by the task that lays before them that they get down and give up on the whole thing all together. Don't get me wrong, long term goals are great, they act like a lighthouse steering our actions and behaviours. But without some form of short term goal we are bound to suffer a crisis of motivation at some point or another.

So take your time, realise that you are only a human being with a finite capacity to work without seeing the fruits of your labor. If you have set yourself a goal for the future and you don't have smaller goals dotted along your journey helping you top up your motivation along the way then create some, write them down and apply them into your own live.

Take every day as it comes.