My marathon journey began decades ago when I was on the track and field team in high school. I enjoyed the process, the challenge and the companionship that running brought. Over the next 20 years most things in my life changed. But there was one constant – my love of the sound of my feet hitting the pavement over and over and over again.
After years of casual runs, I decided to go for it. The Marathon. 26.2 miles.
The 6 months of arduous training and long distance running did so much more than just prepare me for a marathon. It gave me business lessons that have changed me and brought me success in running, in my career, and in life. Here are the lessons I learned.
Determine your goal and commit to it. Sign up for that race, put it on your calendar, and purchase some new running shoes. Make the decision to do it and make sure you stick with it.
In business as in marathon training, the first step is commit yourself. Commit yourself in a way that you can’t simply back out if you change your mind or if the road becomes difficult. Have friends or colleagues hold you accountable for the steps you’ll be taking to get yourself where you want to be.
You wouldn’t simply decide to run 10 miles when you’ve only ever run 3. You have to take small, measured increases in distance to improve your performance and reach new milestones.
If you want to move ahead in business you have to plan and track your successes. Write down your goals, schedule due dates for each, and ensure that each step of your plan builds on one other. Improve your business performance step by step towards your final accomplishment.
While many races are shorter distances and people can get through without too much training, the marathon is a killer. Go in unprepared, and you’ll never make it.
Be realistic about your business goals. Set goals you can achieve in a reasonable amount of time. Your accomplishments in business should set you up on a firm foundation of experience and expertise that brings you one step closer to your goals.
In running, it is simply called the Wall. It is the point of the marathon (usually around mile 18) where you’ve depleted your reserves and feel as though you’ve literally hit a wall and can’t take one more step. At this point, it’s your mental strength that pushes your body through until the next burst of adrenaline.
Realize you may hit a point when you want to give up, and plan for ways to overcome those feelings when you get there. Be ready for the Wall, and be ready to run through it.
Most importantly, enjoy the experience. Running can be exhausting, painful, and unglamorous. But if you can look past your discomfort and focus on the beauty all around you, you can find the strength to keep going one more mile.
Growing a business or reaching a new milestone can be equally frustrating and challenging. Find satisfaction in your small accomplishments, and be proud of the distance you’ve been able to come. Tomorrow is another day to shine.
Go for It
When you want something, go after it. Set your goal, plan your plan, hit the pavement, and don’t look back. On January 11 I finished 26.2 miles through the Walt Disney World Theme Park in under 5 ½ hours. Since then, I’ve successfully built two businesses and transitioned into a business consulting and freelance writing career that I love. And I’m still running marathons.
What accomplishment do you want to reach?