How distance running helped me refocus my business strategies

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photo provided by Ryan Knapp | Flickr Creative Commons

 

At the start of a new year, I typically pledge to focus on accomplishing something of note during the next 12 months. I do this because setting a goal pushes you toward something.

To begin 2017, I had several goals. One of them was to use distance running to lose 40 pounds. And since that didn’t seem like enough, I set some actual running goals as well. The first was to break 19 minutes, 30 seconds in a 5K by May. The second was to complete a half-marathon in less than 1 hour, 45 minutes by the end of the year.

There were legitimate reasons for both goals. The half-marathon was because it would be a new personal record, which in running lingo is known as a PR, which in my professional life is what we shorten my job of public relations to. The 5K time was to get me back to a speed I had in my early 30s when I was a serious runner.”

So on New Year’s Day, I laced up my sneakers and headed out to the Greenville Health System Swamp Rabbit Trail to see how far I could go. I had no real distance in my head but wanted to do at least five miles. I didn’t time myself but just mentally kept pushing to go farther. I ended up running eight miles that day, which was more than I had done in quite some time.

So, what next? Well, I did it again the next day. I ended up running every day that week. For the first time in a very long time, I realized how much I enjoyed running again.

I decided to add a mile to my long run each week just to see what could happen, and a funny thing did happen. I soon began to increase the distance of my daily runs as well. A 5-mile Wednesday increased to six, seven, and then eight miles. My long weekend runs got longer and longer as I discovered parts of Greenville I had long forgotten.

In February, I decided to run the Greenville Health System Half-Marathon. My time was 1 hour, 42 minutes — almost three minutes ahead of my goal. In May, I broke my 5K goal by nine seconds. I lost 40-plus pounds along the way. By mid-year, my New Year’s goals were already completed.

It left me wondering what to do next. Pat myself on the back for accomplishing my goals or set some new ones? I decided to go for some new ones but realized I had learned some things along the way that apply to business:

Goals matter. If you are not setting up goals for your business to accomplish new things, you are not going to get better. You need to push yourself, because no one else will.

Be accountable. For running, it was as simple as writing down my goals in a notebook and then checking it every day to remember that I had something to accomplish. This is sort of like having a business to-do list, but one that makes sure you are following your goals. Basically, measure every day to see if you are moving toward your goals.

The right outlook is key. I started doing well in my distance runs because I “knew” I could do them. Don’t ask me how, but in my head, I know I can run long distances. Really fast? That is a challenge. I recently began doing track workouts and noticed that the people I ran past at 400 yards were beating me easily in 200-yard runs. I asked one of them how he did it. He just shrugged and said, “I just know I can run them fast.” That was an eye opener. I started looking at my business decisions. When my company failed, was it because I had the wrong outlook? Many times, it was. I’ve learned to change my mindset.

Anyway, there is more, but I have to go run now.

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