Being Bad at Running Races Made Me Good at Running Businesses

I’m training for a 10K race in November. I’m worried it’s going to be too cold to run and my sinuses are going to explode. I’m also concerned my ankles will give out around the 3 mile point. I starting running back in the spring, and slowly (very slowly) but surely I’m getting better at it. I ran track in high school, and it was quite impressive- impressive in the sense that I was terrible, but insisted on doing it for 4 years. I have more “Thanks for Participating- Keep Trying!” awards than anyone else in the world.

I’ve come to understand that sometimes you reap rewards later on in life, in strange and seemingly pointless ways you never expected and those experiences suddenly make sense. For instance, I’m good at not being lazy. Because when an exhaustive task comes upon my plate and I’m tempted to put it off, I think back to what my high school track coach used to tell us before we set off into downtown Morristown, New Jersey on our distance runs: “Remember when you’re out there and tempted to take a short cut, for every corner you’re cutting there’s a girl out there who isn’t.”

My friend Dave is a marathon runner, and quite honestly, I think he’s insane. I don’t understand the mechanics or physics of how a human body can run 26 miles and not die trying. I went running the other night and decided to challenge myself with a few extra blocks at the end of my run. I was at the point of cool down when I said to myself, “I don’t think so – you’re going to tackle that hill!” And I did, and I didn’t pass out from an asthma attack, as I had anticipated. That was victory number one. The second victory came when I cleared the hill and thought, “Well…that wasn’t so bad,” and realized I was still running. So I kept running for a few more blocks, and suddenly it felt easy.

I’ve heard from runners that once you get over the pain of the first couple miles, it’s almost as though your body goes into auto-pilot and you’re able to establish a stride and keep going. That’s kind of what happened, and I thought, “Maybe I’ll be able to get through this 10K after all,” and right then I felt this wave of relief come over me, like a sense of hope. But how can you anticipate a solution like that if you’ve never experienced it directly? It’s okay to heed other people’s advice, to subscribe to their empty encouragement that “you’ll be fine – you always are!” Yet, often times we still struggle to accept such logic because we simply can’t place ourselves in the scenario and make it relative to our own situation.

Is it a trust issue? Or is it simply human nature…

A little of both. We have to trust in our own ability to both achieve, and to overcome. There is a first time for everything we experience in life that ultimately sets the stage for subsequent events and provides a basis for comparison. But there will always be that time where you wonder, “Can I do this? I’ve never done it before.” That’s where it’s important to call upon your confidence, your strengths, and look to past examples of when you’ve achieved or overcome something, and say “well I did it then- why not now?”

I went through that thought process constantly when I left my full time job to start my business, and like any entrepreneur, I still have those moments. I’m simply more strategic at working through them these days, as I’ve learned more about myself and my capabilities. Like anyone else, I’ve faced numerous personal and professional challenges in the past, and I’m confident that I’ll work as hard as I absolutely need to in the same fashion until I find a viable solution to the challenge at hand. It’s not about the specifics of the problem so much as it’s about the general skill of developing and upholding your self-confidence. How do I know? Because I still have a roof over my head, I love what I do, and my fiance hasn’t gotten frustrated and walked out on me. Victories three AND four.

Fear. It kills careers, dreams, relationships and people. It cripples success. And it never dies. It will always be there so long as we’re human, but a little practice in self-appreciation and awareness can help keep it in check. Do you whole-heartedly want to leave your job and change careers? Think of another time where your best strengths and skills brought you success in a wave of self-doubt. Want to start a business but afraid of failing and going broke? When else have you been faced with a tough decision and you materialized something great from a leap of faith? It’s funny how we teach ourselves to learn from and not repeat mistakes, yet we don’t allow ourselves to learn from and repeat our successes.

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2 Comments on "Being Bad at Running Races Made Me Good at Running Businesses"

12 years 9 months ago

Thanks for this! The leap of faith is the hardest part. And trust me, if you can run a 10k, you can train for a marathon. It’s almost all mental.

12 years 9 months ago

Thanks Kristen! Yup, having that faith can be tough, but it has the ability to really move us forward! And that’s comforting on the 10K…who knows, maybe a marathon is in my future! Ha.