7 Business Lessons from Running My First Marathon

On Sunday, I ran my very first marathon
 while visiting my sister in Florida for Thanksgiving. I started running three years ago and after running four half marathons, I decided it was time to tackle a full one.

In case you’re wondering, yes, I’m still unbelievably sore and hobbling around like an 80-year-old woman. But, as much as it hurts and as challenging as it was, I’m very glad I did it.

Although the race was a big accomplishment for me, it also taught me a lot about running, business and life in general.

To save you from running 26.2 miles, I’ll share with you what I learned:

1. Have a plan.

Training for a marathon takes a lot of planning and preparation. For most people, it’s not something you can get up one day and just do. I started training for this race back in May and we set a schedule of how much to run each week to get to where we wanted to be.

Business success requires planning too. As you’re looking ahead to 2013, take some time to put a marketing plan in place to help you accomplish your goals. You’ll be much more likely to achieve success if you do.

2. Get support where you need it.

For me, training with a group was an essential part of my success. Not only did it help keep me accountable, but also it made training far more fun. Also, because my training partner ran the race with me, I had the support and encouragement I needed right by my side.

In business, it’s also important to have people who can help encourage you along the way. Maybe that means joining a mastermind group, finding a fellow business owner to be your mentor or getting together with other business owners to encourage each other.

Surrounding yourself with people who can help you perform better is always a good idea.

3. Get the right gear for the job.

For runners, the right shoe can make all the difference in how you perform. Although I know this, I realized a bit too late that my running shoes were shot. Changing them out a couple of weeks before the race isn’t advisable, so I stuck with them. That was the right call, but the better move would have been to get new shoes a month before the race. I wouldn’t be nearly as sore today if I had done that.

In business, you need the proper gear and resources too. Maybe that means getting the right tools or services that will help you be more effective and efficient. Or, perhaps it’s investing in training for you or your team or hiring the help you need to get the job done.

Whatever it is, don’t skimp on the resources that will help you run your business better. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself limping along later.

4. Focus on yourself, not the competition.

Admittedly, I’m not the fastest runner. Even though I know this, during the race, I found myself getting discouraged seeing faster folks pass me by.

Then, I remembered my mantra for running and business — you’ve got to run your own race.

Think about your business — it’s really easy to get caught up in the success of those around you. Maybe your competitors are winning more awards, getting more clients or developing a bigger following on social networks.

Although you should be aware of the competition, you shouldn’t dwell on it. You’ve got to focus on what works best for you and your business.

5. Recognize that it will be hard, but press on anyway.

Running a marathon is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. When I struggled during the race, I thought I about what it would feel like to cross the finish line. I listened to the inspiring stories of those around me and I found encouragement from my friend.

When business gets tough, it’s tempting to throw in the towel. But, you should keep going. Think about what it will feel like to reach your goals. Find inspiration wherever you can and don’t forget to get help if you need it.

6. Remember to enjoy the journey.

Space Coast Marathon SunriseJill, my friend and running partner, has such a great outlook on races. Instead of getting stressed out about finishing in a certain time, she focuses on enjoying the course and the people around her.

During the race, she stopped to take pictures of the gorgeous sunrise, the pelicans on the water and the Spanish moss on our tree-lined course. She helped me remember that the journey is just as important as the destination.

With business, it’s far too easy to get caught up in achieving goals. We have our eyes set squarely on the finish line or next achievement. Although that’s important, we need to take time to enjoy the work, our surroundings and the people around us that will help us get there.

7. Celebrate your success!

There is no greater feeling that crossing that finish line after spending hours on the course!

And, I love how everyone who crosses the finish line gets celebrated. You get a cool medal, commemorative pictures and free food (yay for pancakes!!!!). No, I didn’t win the race, but it felt pretty darn good to be celebrated for my accomplishment.

When is the last time you celebrated the success of your business?

Have you taken the time pat yourself on the back when you’ve gotten a big win? Have you celebrated your employees for their hard work?

You should.

It’s a big morale booster for your team and helps you recognize the hard work that went into achieving success. Taking the time to celebrate shows people that their work is valued and will make your team eager to step up to the plate for the next challenge.

If you are a runner, what would you add to the list? What business lessons have you learned from personal accomplishments?


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Laura Click

Laura Click is brand strategist, speaker, podcaster and the founder of Blue Kite. Learn more about Laura and her work at Blue Kite.

13 replies on “7 Business Lessons from Running My First Marathon”

But you DID win the race, Laura: the one YOU were running. I’m proud of you for your amazing accomplishment, and for sharing the insights you learned along the journey to your finish line. Congratulations.

What an incredible posting!!! I’m famous now, whoo hoo!!! 🙂 Training with you was so much fun, and despite the hobbling/recovery time – you will forever be a marathoner, a HUGE accomplishment. Great post summing up the whole process (and of course great pictures!) I enjoyed sharing the journey with you! You are such a good friend – Congrats again!!!!!

Great job on the marathon– and all the hard work that goes into your training and preparation! And a wonderful job tying the race back to business via your post– a natural fit it seems.

Here’s the 2 takeaways that hit home for me:

1) Focus on yourself, not the competition. I don’t know why, but 2012 has been a year of contradictions for me. We’ve had a terrifically successful year, and yet I’ve been as competitive as ever. I even read a self-help book (which I NEVER do) which taught precisely that: focus on YOURSELF, not the competition, yet I consistently found myself doing the opposite. Why? Why have I wanted to observe and crush them? Why have I been so obsessive about it?

2) Celebrate your success. My father always taught us that people– no matter what– like to be recognized. I’ve always found that principle to be true. Recognition is key– especially of your employees and salespeople. So, if you have a successful year, make sure you celebrate (ie recognize) those who brought you there, together. Very important point!

Thanks, Steve! Really appreciate your kind words.

I don’t think we should give up on being competitive. Far from it. I think it’s good to know what your competitors are doing. But, we shouldn’t dwell on it. I see a lot of folks get so caught up in what everyone around them is doing that they start running around in circles to keep up or try and mirror those around them. We have to be aware, but not focused on the competition. Subtle difference, but I think it’s important.

And yes, celebrating success – and people – is SO important. I think this gets neglected a lot. Those that do this are true leaders.

Hi Laura,

First of all, Congrats! That is some accomplishment.

I’ve ran in one marathon and it was way more difficult than I thought … 13.1 seems so easy now, don’t you think? 😉 You certainly do need a plan and you need to build up many months in advance.

Anyway, great comparison here, especially 5. Recognize that it will be hard, but press on anyway. It would have been so easy to stop in the middle of the race right? But then you would have to live with that. Slow and steady, forge ahead and get ‘er done.

Thanks so much, Craig (and fellow marathoner)!

You’re right – it’s crazy to think that a half will be such a cinch now. I’m planning to do one in the spring and I’m excited for a race to feel easy!

And yes, so tempting to have quit. I wouldn’t have, but there were times I just really wanted it to be over. You gotta just keep on keepin’ on! OR, as you said, “get ‘er done!”

This is fantastic! Congratulations! Ill add one: Train on hills and run a bit harder. When things get tough, you ‘ll be prepared and it will give you the advantage because most of the others will be slowing down.
Easy for me to say; I live in the mountains! 🙂

Good advice! Actually, Nashville is pretty darn hilly so we train on hills ALL. THE. TIME. It made the very flat course in Florida a piece of cake. I’ve never run on such a flat course!

So, have you run a marathon? Sounds like you have!

No, no marathon, but I’ve run some distance trail runs – a half, and a 16 in Alaska with lots of climbing. When I went for a run in NYC with my sister one day, who is typically faster than I, I lost her on the Brooklyn Bridge. On the little uphill. LOL!!! She couldn’t keep up. I always remembered that…. of course.

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