Marathoning – lessons learned!

I started running marathons in 1996.  I had been running for many years.  I had recently moved to New York from San Diego.  I missed my running buddies and my motivation was beginning to lag.  I needed a new goal to keep me in shape.

Over the next ten years I trained for and completed 20 marathons.  I learned many lessons during the training that I’ve applied to my work life.

Lesson 1:  I can do anything.  Marathoning has made me fearless.  When I have a plan, stick to the plan and take it step by step, I can accomplish what I set out to do.  I have no doubt in my abilities.  In business my focus is on finding a way to solve a challenge – it never occurs to me that I can’t do something.

Lesson 2:  Plan ahead.  I used the same training schedule to prepare for all 20 marathons.  I was also working full time.  Each Sunday afternoon I would plot out the week to ensure I got my miles in.  I still use this same technique to plan my week.  I start each week stress free, knowing what I plan to accomplish on any given day.  As a result I get much more done.

Lesson 3:  Hard work.  If I’m committed to accomplishing something, I’m willing to do the work to get it done.  It is work and there is no getting around it.  Quick fixes rarely occur.

Lesson 4:  Patience.  Marathon training is a matter of building, one step at a time.  There’s no short cut to putting in the miles.  Each week I feel stronger and rely on my experience from the week before.  It takes time with a payoff at the end.

Lesson 5:  Take care of myself.  Getting enough rest and eating right goes a long way to improving my attitude.  Attitude determines how well, or not so well, I’ll do each and every minute of the day.  Feeling good physically is the basis of a good attitude.  It’s difficult to concentrate and find great opportunities if I’m tired and worn out.

Lesson 6:  Taking a day off.  Integral to marathon training is incorporating a zero day (when I don’t run).  It is just as important in business – when I completely disengage from business, let my mind wander and have fun, I come up with my best ideas.  The day after a zero day, from running or working, I feel stronger and more motivated than ever.

Lesson 7:  Training journal.  Keeping a training log which recorded details of my runs -date, time, how long, weather, how I felt – taught me to record my results as they occur.  I used to focus on what I needed to get done and forgot what I accomplished.  Keeping track of my accomplishments serves as a reminder and motivator that I continue to do great things.

Lesson 8:  Dress the part.  Whether I was training or racing, it was always important to wear the right clothes and shoes.  Long training runs could be a disaster if I was over or under dressed or if my shoes weren’t right (ill fitting or worn out).  This is the same in business, when I dress right and wear something I feel really good in, it raises my confidence.

Sub-tip:  I learned it is just as important in business or running a marathon, wear     something you’ve tested out.  I don’t want to find out my shoes are uncomfortable     half way through a presentation or a race.

Lesson 9:  Celebrate!  When I completed my first marathon, I burst into tears and cheers crossing the finish line.  When I was hired as a CEO, I danced a happy dance in my kitchen.  Accomplishments are always worth celebrating along the way.  It’s always OK to say “Yay ME”!

What lessons have you applied to your work?  Leave a comment below.

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