European marathon champion Daniele Meucci claimed the biggest win of his career in Zurich last year. The Italian runner, who also has European medals over 10,000m, shares his words of wisdom.

1. Always be humble

“Athletics has taught me to be humble and show humility. It needs to be remembered that although I may achieve great results, it is important never to forget this virtue.

“I understand through my training partners and running friends the sacrifices that they too have made to reach the top. An athlete is always vulnerable to defeat and should stay humble no matter the number of medals won or records set.”

Daniele Meucci ()

Meucci's best world championship result came in the 5000m in Daegu in 2011, where he placed 10th

2. Learn from your defeats

“Defeats are more useful in developing your career than victories. A victory satisfies, but can hide limitations and weaknesses, which need to be exposed in order to improve.

“From my own experience, I went into the 2013 World Championships with high expectations to perform well in the 10,000m. Yet the race hadn't gone as I expected. I quickly learned that athletics is not a simple or exact science. I reflected hard on that disappointment and put in measures to avoid it happening again.

“Out of that disappointment followed my success in winning the [marathon] gold medal at the [2014] European championships [in only his third race over the distance].”

Daniele Meucci ()

Over 10,000m, Meucci has won European silver (2012) and bronze (2010) medals. He finally won gold last year in the marathon.

3. Be ambitious

“Running has allowed me to search and discover limits that I would never have known. It has taught me to work hard, but it has especially taught me to not stand back in front of any obstacle.

“One major obstacle that I had to overcome was a change of mentality. I had won bronze in the 10,000m at the European championships but in 2011 I decided to step out of my comfort zone [Meucci has stepped up his road running schedule].

“I was no longer simply satisfied with being the best runner in Italy, so I started to embark on a new ambition – to accept initially that I would be a Mr Nobody with the long term goal to earn respect for my achievements not only in my country but beyond. I have not yet achieved that goal, but I feel I have become a far better and more mature athlete for it.”