7 Marathon-related Career Tips

7 Marathon-related Career Tips

 2 May 2019

7 ways running a marathon can help to enhance your career? 

Non-runners please look away now.

It’s that time of the year again, the beginning of the Marathon season, and what a delight it was watching the 2019 London Marathon on Sunday – the inspirational fundraising stories, the fantastic atmosphere and a great showcase for London. Not a dry eye was left in the house.

Without wanting to blow my own trumpet, I ran London last year (and LOVED it!) and also recently ran the Manchester Marathon and I now believe it when people say that running those infamous 26.2 miles can actually change you as a person. I feel I have a better understanding of myself now.

Each year the marathon season sees thousands of runners commit hours of time to training for this demanding sport. Though a great achievement, these events often come with the associated stigma of burn out, as some employers fear that the mental and physical challenge of training can affect your productivity levels at work.

Interestingly, research suggests the opposite; a staggering 85.7% of marathon runners believe training did not negatively impact their ability to do their job. In fact, nearly two-thirds said that training for a marathon actually improved your overall productivity at work.

Just like your career, training to run a marathon takes a huge amount of time, commitment and passion. These events can actually equip participants with a whole range of transferable skills that they can apply in the workplace, to help them advance in their career.

So how can running a marathon help to enhance your career?

  1. Working towards your goals

When you train for a marathon, ultimately there is one end goal; to make it across the finishing line, and hopefully with a certain amount of grace (though being as red as a beetroot and grimacing is totally acceptable if you’ve just run twenty-six point two miles!) It’s crossing the finishing line that rewards all the dedication and hard work you’ve put in in the months leading up to the race.

This dedication towards reaching your end goal is a great characteristic to take with you into the workplace. Set yourself a goal. Whether it’s to complete a project by a certain date or to get a promotion. Then, begin working steadily towards your objectives. I know it may sound cheesy but visualising what you want to achieve, and taking positive steps towards it will help you to progress in your career.

  1. Learning to deal with setbacks

We all hope the road to success is going to be a smooth one, but we also know that this doesn’t always happen! When training for a marathon everyone will experience both good days and bad days; a key skill is to learn how to deal with the bad days and reward yourself for the good. Over time you’ll begin to work out what you can do to reduce, or even avoid your bad days, so you can increase your productivity.

Sometimes in your career, you’ll face a similar situation. In any job, there will always be some days when you’ll achieve everything you set out to do, and others where things will get in the way and you may feel like your day hasn’t been as productive as you’d hoped.

It’s a very useful skill for your career if you can learn to identify these setbacks, find out what happened and work out how you can reduce these problems in the future. In time this should help you to make every day at work as productive as possible.

  1. Following a strict regime

Running a marathon requires lots of planning and a strict training regime. Knowing that the final aim is to make it over the finish line, those who are running can work backwards from this point to set out a series of steps they need to achieve to help them reach that goal.

Setting a series of realistic targets, for example, pushing yourself to run an extra mile each week, will give you something to focus on, and allow you to identify the steps you need to take at each stage to stay on track.

Gaining this level of focus and careful planning is great for boosting your career and keeping you on track! Being able to remain focused at work will help to increase your productivity and keep you more organised, you’ll also be set on progressing and taking the next step in your role.

If you’re one of the lucky ones that does have a solid career plan, you can set yourself realistic goals, using a step by step plan to securing your dream job. Think, “where do I want to be in 5 years? 10 years? Fifteen years?” – focus on what you want to achieve and what you’ll need to do to get there.

  1. Good for motivation

Exercise isn’t just important for your physical health, but for your mental health as well. Regular exercise during training can help to keep you feeling motivated and energised (with all those endorphins being released you’re bound to feel happier!)

Not only does exercise help you to feel more alert, but it pushes you to motivate yourself on days when you might not feel like you can give 100% (and let’s be honest, there will be days when the thought of running after work makes you want to cry!)

During training, runners may ‘hit the wall’, but they will learn to motivate themselves to push through and keep going. Applying this determination at work is crucial; sometimes you might feel like you can’t continue with a project or that your productivity levels are dropping.

Motivation learnt through training can help you to combat these obstacles! The overall result of regular exercise is going to be that you feel more productive and your general well-being and happiness increase – now who wouldn’t want that!

  1. Pushing yourself to the next level

If you continue to push yourself, even just the smallest bit, over time you’ll see incredible results. When you first begin training for a marathon it is highly unlikely you’ll be able to run twenty-six miles straight out the gate.

Each time you run you’ll push yourself further until you find that you’re running that extra mile or that little bit quicker. By expanding your comfort zone and tracking each small improvement, you’ll be able to see yourself getting better and moving closer towards your end goal.

You can take your career to the next level by taking on extra challenges and responsibilities or taking part in extra training. If you eventually want to be in a more senior position, you may have to take on roles that you don’t always feel confident with, and upskill so that you can keep progressing.

  1. Teach you to track results

Part of seeing how you’ve progressed is keeping track of your results, and recording times and distances is an important part of training for a marathon. Transferring this skill to the workplace can be useful for a number of reasons; first and foremost, it means you’ll be keeping track of your successes, but you’ll also be able to highlight areas you need to work on.

This can be especially useful when it comes to annual reviews or asking for additional training. It will also be a useful tool for showing your boss when you’ve been exceptionally productive or successful. If you ever decide to put yourself forward for a promotion, you’ll have recorded results to back up your application.

  1. Train with/work in a team

Though not for everyone, some runners may prefer to work and train as part of a team. Going through such an intense process and learning to motivate and push each other through the difficult times is a great skill to learn.

In most working environments you’ll have to work with other people or as part of a team. By applying your team spirit and motivation to your colleagues and group projects, you’ll help to make these projects more successful. Not only this, but you’ll contribute towards a friendly and productive working environment.

In conclusion, the saying ‘it’s a marathon, not a sprint’ could (quite literally) not be more appropriate here; developing your career takes time, planning and dedication in the same way a marathon does.


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