An internationally recognised expert in physiology, sports and exercise performance, professor Greg Whyte has coached celebrities to achieve extraordinary challenges for Comic Relief and Sport Relief.
What do the comedians David Walliams’ Channel swim, Eddie Izzard’s 43 marathons in 51 days and John Bishop’s epic Paris-London triathlon have in common? They were all coached in their remarkable feats of endurance by Liverpool John Moores University’s professor of Applied Sport and Exercise Science, Greg Whyte. A European and world championship medallist at modern pentathlon, Greg Whyte has forged a global reputation for his work in performance improvement.
1. There is a British trait to underestimate our abilities
We are a great nation of explorers, from the poles to Everest, and the Victorians were world leaders in exploration and the ability to push themselves. But we have migrated to a position where we expect others to do it, not ourselves. We sit back and watch others without thinking about what we are doing ourselves – that’s why we love to give money to people doing something incredible for charity.
2. People really should set themselves an audacious goal
Nothing good comes easy, and if a challenge is worth achieving it will require a commitment to work hard. The amount of work required for success is not dictated by how big the challenge is. It has much more to do with the journey required to achieve success. With meticulous planning, preparation and delivery, anything is possible.
3. At the start of a challenge you need to establish whether it’s important to you
You can’t measure it, because it’s variable and individual, but the cornerstone of belief, commitment and motivation is the importance of the challenge to you. Success will be very difficult to deliver without importance.
4. There will be things that happen that mean you have to adapt your end goal, but that should be the last thing you adapt
Change everything else before that. So if you have a goal of running a four-hour marathon, but things get in the way of your training, do not change this as your long-term goal, rather treat your next marathon as a medium-term goal. Keep what set you off in the first place as your long-term goal.
5. I will never be as fast as I used to be, but I am doing the Marathon des Sables
I’m bypassing my decline in physical performance by taking on a new challenge, and that’s incredibly motivating, including acquiring new skills. You can create new challenges for yourself. You never stop progressing until you have uncovered every stone.
Achieve the Impossible by Professor Greg Whyte has just been published by Penguin Random House, £12.99 and can be bought at amazon.co.uk.