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3 ways training for a half-marathon is like building a business

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In business and in running it pays to

1. Make a plan. Then follow the plan (for the most part!).

I really would have had no idea how to structure my training to get me ready for the race if I didn’t have a plan.

I think the first thing is to make a plan that’s right for you. I found a few different plans online and chose one that felt do-able for me. By that, I mean it was 4 runs a week (which felt more manageable than some of the other plans that required commitments to running 5 or 6 days per week) and the length of the mid-week runs wasn’t too daunting either. The biggest hike in mileage each week was on the long, weekend run and I felt I could probably psych myself up once a week, but maybe not before every run.

In business I’m often reminded of the adage that most ships are off-course about 98% of the time but they still manage to arrive safely at their destination, through constant course-correction.

The early runs were tough (because I didn’t realise at first the plan I chose was for people already running 10ks, not the “couch to half-marathon” population that I’d Googled -oops). I didn’t manage to run all the way but I kept course correcting and at least covered the miles, even if it meant some walking. The final week of my plan didn’t go perfectly either. I was supposed to do my last long run 7 days out then taper in the last week. In actual fact, due to “life”, I went 5 days without running and then did the final long run 4 days before the event instead.

However I followed the plan closely enough the rest of the time that on race day I was well enough prepared to run the entire course in a not desperately shabby PB (of course!) of 2:25.

I have to stress how key the plan was. When I started I didn’t truly believe, in my heart of hearts, that the plan would move my fitness forward enough from run to run to get through the following week’s training or see me to running 13 miles at the end of it. But you know what? It did. So even if you can quite believe in your plan when you make it, just start following it and the truth will unfold before you.

2. Get support for the sticky bits.

I speak with a lot of business owners who haven’t moved forwards because one aspect of their business has tripped them up (often something techie has caused a barrier) and they have procrastinated over it for ages. When they finally decide to stop struggling through by themselves – essentially treading water – and actually reach out for support to someone not daunted by the issue, the relief is palpable. Especially when it’s able to be sorted in a short amount of time.

The long, weekend run was my sticking point and was the reason I’ve never seriously considered myself able to run any kind of distance. The first long run was 6 miles and I knew if I was going to make it round (mentally as much as physically) I needed some moral support. So I enlisted my friend who’s done races before to run with me, pacing me through it and keep my mindset in the right place.

3. Prioritise for consistency.

I didn’t want to do anything that would make my long runs harder than they needed to be. There were a couple of days mid-plan where I really, really didn’t want to go out for my runs. But I knew if I didn’t, I would suffer during the long run at the end of the week. The way I wanted to feel longer term helped me make the right decision in the shorter term. I knew I needed to stay consistent to cover enough miles in the time-frame I had.

I really believe that consistency is the key to achieving anything in life and business. Simple perhaps, but not always easy. Nonetheless, you’re likely only to be consistent if you prioritise what’s important to achieve your end goal.

I had to make sure each run was in the diary but it wasn’t enough to prioritise the actual run. I needed to prioritise the actions that would allow the runs to happen. For example, choosing to get enough sleep rather than staying up late to read a book or making sure that what and when I ate supported me to run when I’d planned, etc.

Bonus 4. Set unrealistic goals.

People don’t normally take up running, then do a half marathon 6 weeks later. The realistic thing to aim for would probably have been a 5k race especially as I wasn’t exactly in peak physical fitness. But I did it. It didn’t kill me and in retrospect, it wasn’t even that hard (compared.

If I  (as someone who never, ever thought they could get their head round running for two hours at a time, never mind their body) can run a half-marathon then I know you can achieve bigger goals in your business than you think.

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