Learning from Marathon

My Half Marathon Experience: What I learned

Most amateur runners, like me, take-up running to be healthy, but by the time one gets into the regular routine of running better health becomes just one of the benefits. Pure pleasure and passion far exceed smaller milestones like health, weight loss etc. I can speak from my experience that running and preparing for major running events has a profound impact on both the personal and professional self.

As we get closer to another running season with major events like the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon (ADHM) and the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (SCMM) scheduled in the next few weeks, I was reflecting on my maiden sub-2-hour half marathon last year. It took 6 months of dedicated practice, regular cross-fit (BCY) exercises and complete diet control to not only attain my goal but also surpass my own expectation. I improved my timing by 23 minutes, completing the half marathon in 1 hour 49 minutes – my personal best.

Besides achieving my goal, I learned a lot from the experience. Here are some of the interesting lessons that I learned:

Unlike some of my co-runners, I didn’t just focus on running; I included cross-functional exercises and proper diet as part of my training regime. Working on multiple aspects helped me reduce my weight and added variation into my routine, making the whole process an effortless exercise.

Lesson 1 – Working hard is not good enough – Doing the same thing over and over again doesn’t help. Working diligently is expected, it’s important to keep on innovating and coming-up with new ideas.
On the race day, my target was not to look at completing 21 KM in less than 2 hours but instead to focus on clocking every KM in less than 5 minutes. That strategy really worked.

Lesson 2 – Ambitious goals can be intimidating and demoralizing just as they can be inspiring and motivating. But the secret to making ambitious achievable is breaking them into small steps.

Lesson 3 – There is a saying that competing with yourself makes you better and competing with others makes you bitter. Running is a competition against yourself. It’s a battle against your own mind and body. It’s a test of your will power. I apply the same logic at the workplace as I continue to strive for excellence.

Lesson 4 – Running lends to a never-give-up attitude. When I was at 17 KM, I nearly chose to stop running and walk to the finish line because of the stabbing pain in my right knee. But I didn’t.

Lesson 5 – Likewise, camaraderie among runners is legendary. While everyone is working to better their own performance, you run in groups and train as teams providing some great practical team work lessons.
Well that was last year…another running event is slated this month and there are newer goals. But a runner’s journey isn’t always smooth. I am nursing an injury (ball of the foot/ metatarsal) and working on every possible way to recover as soon as possible. Every runner has to come face-to-face with running injuries and make a choice to sink into depression by accepting the fate or fight back by working on rehabilitation and recovery. Most runners who have recovered from running injury come out to be much more mature and stronger from the experience.

Lesson 6 – We all face tough situations in personal and business life that make us feel vulnerable and lost. Focusing on remedial steps can help you get out of those situations rather than wallow in self-pity, which pushes you deeper into the downward spiral.
Running is just not a vocational activity or sporting hobby, it has a much greater impact on shaping both your personal and professional identity.

(Writer is Director – Business Planning & Strategy at Oracle)

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