As previous readers of this blog will know I am a keen runner and I’m currently training for a marathon in April.
For part of my training, I use a Saturday or Sunday each week to steadily increase my distance. At the moment I am running between 15 and 17 miles at a time and plan to increase this to about 22 miles before the actual race.
These training runs take about two hours to complete and can be a real mental and physical battle as I work through the distance. For me the challenge seems to come and go in phases….
– The first few miles start out with a mixture of enthusiasm, trepidation for the distance ahead and a desire to get into a rhythm for the run. The danger here is to set a good pace but one that I know won’t burn me out during the miles to come.
– From about miles five to eight there is a feeling of tiredness and a realisation that I’m not even at the half way stage yet. During this period it can be really difficult to keep motivated and more than once I have thought about taking the shortcut back home.
– Miles eight to ten are a good mental boost as I realise I have reached the halfway point, particularly if I am doing a route that means I need to turn back to home this can be a real incentive to keep going.
– After this mid-run boost I usually find myself in a zone where I cruise through a few miles without really even noticing. The temptation at this point is to go too quickly but with so many miles still to run it’s important to think about keeping something in reserve for the last few miles.
– At around mile 13, seemingly out of nowhere I usually start to hurt – a lot! Tiredness in my legs and frustration that I still have a distance to go builds up. At this point there is nothing left to do but ‘grin and bear it’. I’m usually three of four miles from home so there isn’t much choice.
– Finally, as I get within a couple of miles of home, I usually get another wind. Perhaps it’s the familiarity of the surroundings or the knowledge that I’m nearly done but I usually find some extra energy to pick up the pace and run a little taller!
I find there are a number of parallels between my running experiences and the types of challenges in my working life.
Very often I am pursuing long term goals and my levels of confidence, motivation and energy will go up and down through the project. The key is to focus on the ultimate destination whilst breaking the project down into milestones.
The other challenge is to ensure a consistent pace of delivery. It’s tempting at the beginning to race off but what happens when things get tough in the middle? Having discipline and persistence is the only way to stay the distance and lead me back to my door.