I’ve been thinking about writing this blog for a while, but have struggled to make it sound genuine and not like a (very long) motivational poster. However, while running this morning in 40 mph headwinds; the cold rain against my face, I thought:
“There must be lesson in this, somewhere, somehow!”
When running, I typically use guided runs from Nike Run Club (other apps are available). Their Head Coach, Coach Bennett – a lovely Ted Lasso-like coach, moustache and all – makes it clear that lessons for getting better at running are lessons you can apply in your day-to-day life. He has a number of sayings, his favourite one being that “every run has a purpose”.
When I decided to take up running less than a year ago, it wasn’t because of some want to become a better version of myself. My wee daughter had been hospitalised for 2 weeks, and I just wanted to try to give something back and in a moment of madness signed up for the Edinburgh Half Marathon to fundraise for the Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity.
And then I began running. Training in icy conditions, with gale-force winds and rain, and during lovely, crisp mornings, filled with sunshine. It was fun, but it was mostly fulfilling as I saw myself get better, and better, and the original target of ‘just finishing’ went to ‘finishing in 2.5 hours’, then ‘2 hours’ – I ended up finishing the half marathon in 1 hour 58 minutes, while raising more than £1100 for the charity.
Happily, I’ve continued running, signed up to further races, and am still seeing my times get better. Every run makes me feel better and makes me feel like I’ve become better – remember, every run has a purpose.
So what’s the lesson? The most obvious one is perhaps that if you work hard for something, you can achieve it. However, this needs to be caveated as life can get in the way, injuries can happen, weather conditions can change and on race-day you might find yourself with a niggly ankle, wind in your face while stressing about work. None of these would be in your control, but you’re still there, on the starting line.
To me, the lesson is rather that it’s all in the small stuff. Getting better happens through consistency and knowing what you can control. Going too fast, too soon, can lead to injuries! Consistently showing up and giving the right effort, and understanding what is required, leads to you becoming a better runner.
So now, every day, I try to apply this to life. At work, I try to set up better habits and being consistent with them:
I avoid social media for the first few hours of the day (apart from LinkedIn – perhaps this needs to change!)
I try to speak to people in person or via Teams rather than emailing.
I create a to-do list with well-defined requirements which I commit to clearing to the best of my ability before the end of the day.
Similarly, I try to apply these to my home life:
I make sure I engage in at least one activity with the kids before starting the evening routine of dinner, bath, and bed.
There’s no screentime, for anyone, after nursery.
We sit and eat dinner together.
Once the kids are in bed, I commit to at least 15 minutes of learning Spanish before relaxing for the evening.
The lessons from running are lessons for life. Work hard, have fun, be consistent, be present and set yourself goals are all great objectives. And as every run has a purpose, every goal you want to achieve has a path, and along that path, every step and every hurdle has a purpose of its own.
And maybe this is the part that sounds like something from a motivational poster. But the questions you can ask yourself are:
What is the purpose of this run/this meeting/this task/this project?
How can I achieve that purpose?
How can I make sure that my habits, processes, and mentality help me achieve the purpose of my activities, be that at work, at home, or out on the track?