I started running when I turned 30 (some 24 years ago!). At the beginning, I was a regular “3 miles a couple of times a week” sort of runner. I’d run in an occasional 5K and really was only doing it to continue to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes – eating and drinking – without a growing midsection, as my metabolism was beginning to slow.

Then, just before my 49th birthday, I trained for and ran in a 10K. It was the first time my training ever called for more than 5 miles (10K is 6.2 miles). I was hooked! I soon was training for and running in half marathons (13.1 miles). After logging 10 half marathons, I was convinced by a friend to “go for a full marathon!” I really didn’t think I could run a 26.2 mile race – but today I’ve completed 3 and am beginning training for my 4th!

Training for a marathon helped me be more productive at work as well. It might sound crazy to say picking up a hobby that involves sweating profusely, causes chafing in really weird places, requires eating a substance called “Gu”, and takes on average 5 to 8 hours per week helped me be more productive at work, but it’s true. Here are three things I’ve learned while logging those painful miles that have helped me at work:

  1. Plan your work and work your plan. – one of the keys to successful marathon training is coming up with a training program. You have to run varied distances during the week, mix in core training and other cross training activities to avoid injury from over use, and you have to plan on several hours for “the long run” on the weekend. The weekend long run is the toughest – because over a series of weeks leading up to race day you run longer and longer distances. Before race day, you’ll log at least one or more “training runs” of 20 miles or more. You really have to plan your weekend when it includes a 20 mile run! When should I go to bed? When should I wake up? How is this guacamole dip going to sit on my stomach at mile 17? The same holds true for work. I make a plan for the week, and I work my plan. What activities will I undertake this week? How many of each? Calls? Meetings? Production for clients? I manage my calendar for the week by managing every day and every hour. If I need to work on a project, I protect that time on my calendar by making a meeting for myself. If I plan my week, including any projects that are going to take long periods of time, I’m more likely to reach the finish line on all of my projects!
  2. You can’t cram for a marathon. – one thing is certain about marathon training. It takes time…over time. You have to put in the hours running the miles in the 12, 15, or 18 weeks BEFORE the race. You can’t “cram” for a marathon. The same holds true for work. You must give the appropriate time for each project you are responsible for delivering. If you try to cram at the last minute, your work product will suffer. Spreading your effort out over the maximum amount of time before the deliverable is due will always yield a much better final result.
  3. Trust your training. – this is an adage that marathoners live by. When you hit the wall at mile 20, 21, or 22… you have to trust that your training plan was a good one and that you put in the effort all along the way to make it to the finish line. The same holds true at work. When you have a plan, you work your plan, and you’ve done all the necessary steps along the way to achieve your goal. You have to trust in the outcome. Trust the process. Success may not happen in the exact way you imagined or hoped, but the end result will be what you earned and deserved.

Having a plan, preparing over time, and trusting the process – 3 things I learned training for marathons that have served me well in business too. Now, the sun is shining, the morning air is still crisp, let’s lace up our shoes and go for a run!

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