I decided to train for and complete a marathon before I turned 40 a couple of years ago. Last year a friend and I trained up to 15 miles before he faced an injury, and our training came to a halt. As we moved through 2020, the years quickly turned to just 12 months to make it happen!

And so the training began with two friends who jumped into the joy and misery of Saturday morning long runs with me. Three miles became five and soon after 13. As we prepared to cross the half-marathon mileage, we decided to incorporate a hometown virtual race into our training plan.
As the weekend came to an end, I felt the urge to hobble over to the laptop and share a few lessons learned throughout the training process and during the half marathon (on the way to the full) race that parallels the realm of leadership and life closely:

Set a Target

While I had trained at a specific pace, several friends knew that I wanted to break two hours. Being as kind as they are, they all but forced me to commit to hitting that target. Although everything in me wanted to hedge my bets as it was cutting quite a few minutes off my previous times, I sheepishly said, “alright, I’ll do it.” Setting and committing to a target changed the strategy in a big way. It forced a lot of little decisions between miles 9 and 12 when everything starts to hurt and the mind is looking longingly at every park bench along the way.

What’s a personal or team target that would impact your strategy and increase your level of commitment and discipline to achieve it if you set it right now?

Nourish Yourself

Since eating while running is never comfortable or convenient, I often wait too long to take in the necessary nutrition to finish strong. Instead of eating a bar at mile 7 when it could have been metabolized and used as energy during the race, I waited until the last mile and a half. While it gave a pep in my step mentally and took my mind off of the pain for a minute or so, it wasn’t as efficient or effective from a nutritional standpoint. The same concept is also true for learning. Once we’re in the challenging leadership moment, it’s often too late to metabolize the podcast on hiring great people or having an effective crucial conversation.

What can you read or study today that will set you up to be a better leader in the next year or the next decade? (Quick Recommendation: Atomic Habits by James Clear and The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek are some goodies in this season!)

Surround Yourself with Better

There’s little more challenging, humbling, and effective than training with people who are better and stronger to pull you along on the journey. I ran the race with an Ironman finisher and friend who’s completed 50+ marathons. Their advice in training and on race day is invaluable.

Spending time with leaders who’ve seen the road that lies ahead is priceless. Whether it’s connecting with someone who’s on the other side of parenting teenagers or discussing a particularly challenging situation with a team member, outside perspective from strong and encouraging leaders is a gamechanger in the leadership miles to come.

Who is someone that spending time with would fill you up and challenge you in new and fresh ways to prepare for the season ahead?

Cheers to setting targets, learning, growing, and surrounding ourselves with people who make us better!!

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