“It’s a marathon, not a sprint”

Company Culture, Events, Opinions Posted Oct 19, 2018 by Kayla Krause

People often use the phrase, “Life is a marathon, not a sprint.” In theory, it makes sense in terms of time – a marathon takes longer, and a sprint is very short – meaning when applied to life, great things take time so don’t rush it. However, having run a marathon now, I can see how that analogy means so much more than just time.

Deciding to run 26.2 miles is by far the easiest part of a marathon. Just like in life or in your career, it’s easy to start a project or commit to finishing something on a deadline. However, there’s a lot that happens in between the start and the finished product. Similarly, running a marathon puts you through a wave of emotions—from signing up for the race to crossing the finish line months later.

The first step is creating a plan. Being the Type A person that I am, this was a fun part of my marathon adventure. I did my research, asked friends, colleagues and experienced marathon runners, and pulled together a training plan that lasted from June 4 until October 7 of this year. Then I bought a few things…ok a lot of things, to prepare me for those 30-minute runs and all the way up to the three-hour runs. In comparison to a work project, you research, take notes and invest time to finding out every piece of information you can to prepare you for the presentation you’re making or the document you’re writing, etc.

The next step is to start training. I’m not going to lie, seeing the miles increase and the time investment it demanded each week was certainly intimidating and mentally throws you for a loop. However, taking it day-by-day is one of the best pieces of advice I can give or rather that I received while training. Try not to get ahead of yourself because you’re going to need that mental toughness later. You learn a lot about yourself and what works for your body and what doesn’t. For instance, I learned I had to do more weight training to build up my leg muscles because I started to get “runner’s knee” whenever I’d run north of seven miles.

During my training, a lot of things can “pop up,” so to speak. Some people get injured, so you miss a few important runs, or you don’t feel like you really crushed that long distance run of the week because you were a little under the weather. For me, I had a lot of plans that got in the way – weddings, family trips, etc. – all for good reason obviously, but I just had to juggle a few runs or miss one here and there. In the PR world, we may have a project deadline to meet but things change along the way because a client has a scheduling conflict or news story broke that requires immediate attention, and the list goes on. It just goes to show you that everything may not go according to plan, so you just have to roll with it.

The final step comes quick – running the marathon. The weeks leading up to the race, when you begin to “taper” your runs and prepare for the big one, it’s at this time that you start to reflect on your training and pick out the areas where you think you could’ve done more, run faster or had a better pace. There’s a lot of thoughts running through your head and I can say that personally, I started to question myself, “can I really do this?” It’s the same situation right before that work presentation you’re going to make, right? You go through your list – did I do all the right research, am I prepared enough? Did I leave anything out or should I mention this instead? This is when you need that mental toughness I talked about earlier, also known as, confidence.

That confidence should carry over into your race, too. As soon as the gun goes off signaling the start of your race, your adrenaline is pumping and you’re excited to finally do this. I started off smiling, waving to the crowds cheering me and my fellow marathoners on as we ran by – I was like this for the first 14 miles…and then that happy-go-lucky feeling started to fade. Going through a roller coaster of emotions and thoughts, you can’t get into your own head. I found that listening to podcasts helped me tremendously as I’d start to lose track of time and the distance I had left to run.

Another huge contributing factor to my runner’s confidence was my support team – friends, family, and my fabulous CHEN PR colleagues, were all a huge part of what kept pushing me to keep on running. As I mentioned, the training prepares you physically, but it’s the mental strength that is what truly helps you finish a marathon. Knowing I had such an awesome group supporting me over the last four months, and literally by my side at the race, was the silver lining to completing the marathon.

Overall, a marathon is no easy feat – it’s time-consuming, requires a lot of planning, is physically exhausting, and mentally draining. But the rewards you reap throughout training and discovering new strengths and weaknesses about yourself are immeasurable. It wasn’t just the goal of finishing a marathon but learning to embrace the challenging aspects of the journey to get there. Personally, pushing myself through those tough training points has translated into my everyday life with work, my relationships, and life in general.

Running a marathon has been on my bucket list since I started one. Nonetheless, it was the first item on my bucket list, yet it took me 11 years to accomplish it. But again, it’s a marathon, not a sprint…am I right?