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Business lessons from running marathons – (Part 1)

I took up to running only a few years back. When I started, even running 100 mtrs was a tall ask and it made me wonder if I could ever, in my life, run long distances. Thanks to a lot of my acquaintances who have been running for longer, I got sufficiently charged to run more frequently. It wasn’t long before I participated in my 1st 10k run and fared quite well. This boosted my spirit to participate not only in a couple of half marathons, but also a difficult 25k hill marathon track! And all this, without any proper training from any of the accomplished coaches that some of my friends were training with. Training ‘tips’ were offered by self-proclaimed trainers and friends who never hesitated to offer unsolicited advice. Not bad till here. The journey from less than 100 mtrs to a 25k hill run was achieved in less than 2 yrs. This led to over estimating my self-ability of running longer distances, faster and wanted to do it sooner. And I started dreaming of not only running a full marathon but also one ultra-marathon, at least once in my lifetime. This is where it all started falling apart. Not realizing that running a 100 mtr sprint and running a full marathon was a different ball game altogether, I chose to ignore the role that training, and guidance would play in achieving my dream. I kept doing what, I thought, had helped me till now and that I didn’t need to hire any coach/trainer to help me meet my goals. Over the next 6 months, the unsolicited advises and friendly tips proved very expensive. I ended up with a severely-injured knee, impairing me for a long time now. I am refrained from running and am told that I may take a couple of years to recover.

As I sit back and ponder on what mistakes I may have made that led me to this state, improper advice and the lack of realization that a longer race demanded skill sets, different from what I possessed, topped the list.

Just because I was good in short distance sprints didn’t mean I would excel in long distance running as well, not at least with my current strengths.

This experience helped recoup some old learnings, which very well could be applied for running a mid-sized business.

Just like in any marathon, several runners (micro/mid-market companies) start running with the thought of reaching their destination, the finish line (being a large cap company). However, very few manage to complete. Some of them drop out of the race and some end up with fatal injuries as well. Likewise, only a handful of micro/mid- market companies finally end up successful (as a mid/large market cap company), with several of them disappearing or failing miserably en-route.

Then, what is it that some of the runners possess that make them successful?

The most important is the inner desire and will of the runner to reach his destination.

Whether he does a podium finish at the race or finishes later is secondary. Crossing the finish line, hopefully injury-free, assumes a lot of importance. If the desire is found to be lacking, it is highly unlikely that the runner would put in the serious and consistent efforts that’s needed to complete the race. Likewise, promoters need to first have a vision and will to grow their business (ethically). In the absence of the inner desire, they stand a strong chance to lose sight of the goal, minimizing their chances of success.

Proper guidance and training helps the runner in being able to achieve his/her goal.

The right running coach not only has the ability to push you when you need to be pushed but also is aware of when to hold you back. He studies your areas of strengths & areas of improvements and devices a training program accordingly. Likewise, an experienced advisor will have sufficient knowledge of the company’s/industry’s strengths/areas of improvement and will help formulate a business plan accordingly. Advice, on steps that promoters should avoid taking, to prevent reputational damage (aka injury-free run) assumes paramount importance.

A detailed, realistic plan is drawn out by the coach, in which he specifies how much distance has to be clocked by the runner on week days as well as week-ends. This helps him in planning his run and preparing his strategy. Likewise, promoters need to set their goal and have a clear road map on how they hope to reach their destination.

While a proper running gear minimizes the efforts and assists the runner to run smoothly, a proper diet (what to eat and when) helps the runner stay lean, healthy and energetic, improving his endurance in the run. Likewise, promoters need to equip the business with necessary tools to execute their business plan; infrastructure, team etc. This, along with focus on keeping the organization lean (in terms of manpower as well as leverage) will help the company stay healthy and traverse economic cycles smoothly.

 Study the track and prepare for adversities

A marathoner studies the race track very closely and practices several times over on similar conditions to train his body and mind. This way he prepares himself better for the race day. Likewise, promoters need to study the business environment and be prepared to face the uncertainties/challenges that the environment may throw up.

 Discipline, consistency and right mind set is the key

Without the runner being disciplined and consistent in his efforts, all of the above steps will prove to be ineffective. Beyond a certain distance, the human body feels like giving up totally. At this stage, its mind over matter. Runners desirous of finishing a marathon train themselves to have the right mind set and attitude. Likewise, unless promoters follow discipline in conducting their business and continuously strive to maintain/improve the competitive edge of his business model, all/any of the above factors could prove to be futile. Promoters face challenges at every single stage of their business which, at some point, tend to give immense stress and self-doubt.  Building up the right mind set will help promoters face all such challenges better.

In conclusion –

Prepare yourself for a marathon (mid cap) or an ultra-marathon (large cap) journey, not a 100 mtr (micro-cap) dash. Seek the help of a trainer (advisor), in areas where you don’t have the right competence. More importantly, know which trainer could genuinely help you in achieving your goals. While there’s no harm in wanting to run a 100 mtr dash, with or without a trainer, (completely an individual’s prerogative) running a marathon or ultra-marathon is significantly more rewarding despite the challenges.

Feel free to add learnings from your experience, if any. Happy running.

Cheers!!! Sudhir

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7 thoughts on “Business lessons from running marathons – (Part 1)

    1. Thanks Coach for not only replying, but also mentoring me and for taking utmost care to design my training programs. Undoubtedly, you are the best.

  1. As I read into this awesomely articulated brief comparison of health and wealth both simultaneously put together for a clear understanding, I feel privileged to have known you. I would rather say that now I know you. I am quite fortunate to have been made aware by the mindful theory about both the relevant topics shared by you.
    Awaiting your next part..
    Thanks for sharing sudhir

    1. Hey Mayur, Thats very kind of you. Many thanks for reading and giving your feedback. Im happy if this post has helped you any which ways.

      Appreciate it buddy.

      Cheers!!! Sudhir

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