On September 24, 2006, marathon runners from around the country will descend on Boulder to participate in the Boulder Backroads Marathon grueling 26.2 mile course testing strength, endurance and will power. Scott Armstrong, president of the Boulder Coaching Academy and a veteran marathon runner, offers Boulder Backroads Marathon participants seven steps to achieve their personal best. After 12 years and 12 marathons, Armstrong was finally able to achieve his dream of qualifying for the Boston Marathon, but only with the help of these seven simple steps. Here are Armstrong’s secrets:

1. Set Your Goals in Writing
Create goals for both for the long-term and the short-term, and put them in writing. Studies have shown that when you write down a goal the chances of achieving it are a thousand times greater. Your goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and must have a time limit.

2. Visualize Your Success

Make a daily habit of visualizing yourself accomplishing your written goals. When training for my twelfth marathon, I visualized a sub 3:10 qualify time required to run in the Boston Marathon. I saw each mile marker along the 26.2 mile course fell within the time I needed. I pictured myself at the end of that race celebrating with my wife and calling my coach to tell him the good news that I qualified for Boston.

3. Be Persistent

It took me more than a decade to achieve my dream of running in the world’s greatest marathon. It is said that Thomas Edison tried 10,000 different combinations before he was able to find the right one and successfully create a light bulb. How bad do you want it?

4. Do Something Unusual That Will Give You Uncompromising Faith in Yourself

Challenging your established belief patterns by stepping outside of your comfort zone will help develop confidence and faith in yourself. For me, walking over a twenty foot bed of hot coals gave me the mindset that I could accomplish anything.

5. Exhibit Discipline

Discipline is a key component required to achieve your goals. When working toward your dream think of discipline as giving you the ability to flick the little doubting man off your shoulder. Holding the vision of yourself achieving your goal in the forefront of your mind will help you stay disciplined. Do not let self-doubt destroy your dream. Flick that doubting man or woman off your shoulder.

6. Utilize a mentor or coach

The ability to seek out and learn from others, specifically those who have already accomplished similar goals and dreams, is an invaluable resource. I found a former Olympic marathon runner to help support and inspire me. Through the advice of an experienced coach after 12 marathons and 12 failed attempts to qualify for Boston, I changed my strategy for the Boston Marathon and finally achieved my goal.

7. Have gratitude

Every morning make a habit of spending five or ten minutes reflecting on the many things you are truly grateful for in life. Maybe it’s a spouse, kids, friends, football season or running your personal best in the Boulder Backroads Marathon.

Scott Armstrong is the president of Boulder Coaching Academy and author of “Boston Marathon Or Bust: How to Achieve Your Dreams.” Boulder Coaching Academy donates 25% of all proceeds from the sale of the book to the Special Olympics. For additional info, visit: http://bouldercoachingacademy.com.