I just finished the 39.3 Challenge here in Kansas City. What is that, you ask? Well, it’s three half-marathons held over 10 weeks. It’s hard . . . and it hurts. If you read my blogs, you know that running is not a passion of mine, but more of a “necessary evil.” Without challenges like this one, I would not make the time to commit to a training program. I like goals and checklists, and these provide both for me.
I was a sprinter in my “glory days.” I ran track in a time of zero data and apathetic coaches, so I could not tell you my times or jump distances. Data is so abundant now. My daughter knows where she is ranked in the state and what her competition is doing, so she knows what she needs to do to be successful. My only claim to fame is winning the “old lady 100-yard dash” at the Sunflower State Games last year. (High-five . . . I still “got it.”). Those ladies who are running half-marathons in under two hours? I would take any of them in a sprint race any day. They KILL me in the distance races, though.
My running partner is amazing at pacing. She can maintain the same pace for the entire race. On the other hand, I run like I drive. I start really fast until about half a mile. Then I realize that I’m not going at a safe pace. (Or in other words, I could die soon.) As we were running last weekend, I realized that my running partner and I bobble back and forth when we compete in a race. I start out fast and I’m way ahead. Then her “slow and steady” approach helps her to pass me. I’ve realized that this is like most relationships, especially work relationships.
Sometimes, your work friends will get promoted before you. Sometimes, they become your boss. Sometimes, you have an amazing year and are “killing” it. I can assure you that once you hit your late 30s or early 40s, you and your friends will be at a similar place in your careers. The best advice I can give you if your friend and/or colleague is ahead of you is this: “Blowing out someone else’s flame doesn’t make yours shine brighter.”
As with running a race, if someone is beating you, you just have to make some adjustments. What can we learn from the running coach that I listen to when I run?
#1—Keep your eyes on the horizon.
It was raining during the final race, and I was having some GI issues. A wardrobe malfunction was definitely top of mind. As I was running, I realized that I was looking down and thinking of every reason why things were horrible. That does not help your situation. Instead, get out of your head and look to the horizon. Running coaches will tell you to focus on something in the distance and just get to that point. If you are spending too much time looking down or inward, then you’re not focusing on the end goal: finishing the race. Keep your eyes on the horizon and keep clipping off each little goal along the way.
#2—Give yourself more power to go faster. (In running, it’s all about increasing your knee drive.)
During the second race in the Challenge, I had to make a bathroom stop. Meanwhile, my running partner kept going. When I exited after waiting in line, I was three pace groups behind where I left. I had to “drop the hammer” and catch up. I passed three pace groups to catch my partner. The running adjustments I made were higher knee drive and more arm power. In business, information is power. What can you do to increase your knowledge and power? Take a class? Get a certification? Network more and learn from others? If you are lagging behind, then give yourself more power.
One thing running coaches teach you is leg turnover. (This is the dreaded “speed work” at the track.) If you can increase your leg turnover, you can move faster. Are you hitting your deadlines? OR are you procrastinating? Bosses typically love employees who meet deadlines and budgets. If you are coming in “just on time” or late, then it might be time to do some “speed work.”
#4—Take a break and catch your breath.
This means a couple of things. Yes, you should definitely take vacations, but it also means to relax and enjoy the place in life where you are. The final race in the Challenge, “Running with the Cows,” had some unique scenery. During one of my walk breaks, I looked around and truly enjoyed the green grass and dilapidated barns that were uniquely beautiful. If I was solely focused on my time or winning, I would not have enjoyed and celebrated the moments in which I found myself. Maybe your promotion or internal move is delayed for some reason. Take a breath and enjoy your current situation, job challenges, and colleagues. It will happen eventually.
God’s timing is always perfect. Sometimes, if things aren’t happening for you when YOU want them to or as quickly as you would like, you just have to be patient. If you put in the work, at some point you will realize that everything fell into place when it was supposed to happen. Oh, and by the way . . .
Somehow, despite our bobbling back and forth, my running partner and I crossed the finish line at the same time.