4 business lessons from running a marathon

A little more than two years ago, when I had just beaten my personal record in the Madrid Marathon, I wrote a post in which I explained some of the key factors which had allowed me to run a distance measuring more than one stretch around the planet.

From then on, and although 16 years have gone by since I started to run, I haven’t stopped learning. Each race is unique and therefore a chance to keep on learning and know yourself a little better. In this last two marathons, for example, I have learnt four major lessons which can be applied really easily to the professional environment:

Confidence in oneself is vital but it should not fall on attempting to underestimate your external conditions or overvalue your own abilities. Because of this, flexibility and adaptability are two fundamental ingredients when it comes to tackling unexpected challenges (from a small lesson when preparing for our race to a sudden change in the commercial strategy of our main competitor).

Planning and preparing are keys to success. There are no possible shortcuts: in order to achieve our objective and finish the race in the desired time we need a combination of perseverance, resilience and a lot of will power. And, like in the business world, it is really important to be impeccable in the execution and follow-up of measurements which make up our desired performance.

Having a planned strategy for the whole course is indispensible- we cannot just focus on the short term. It is important to always remember what the final objective is and to ration our energy levels for the whole of the race (or the whole of the tax year). This will help us to overcome the well-known “wall” effect which comes up half way through a race, or to deal with any half-year profits which aren’t particularly brilliant.

Honesty with oneself. Dreaming and thinking big are not big challenges but they can become dangerous if we do not act with the right criteria. Whenever I have managed to meet my sporting objectives there has been a strategy designed beforehand: starting with a look at my abilities when it comes to preparation and being honest with myself in terms of my potential to develop in the time remaining, I have come up with some aims which, although ambitious, were sensible, along with realistic training plans. I insist on honesty with myself because we cannot expect miracles to happen. If something happens, it will surely impact negatively on the expected performance: never the other way around.

And a final lesson on travel companions. Counting on the support of your family and friends when it comes to marathons and your colleagues in the professional world is, without a doubt, the greatest incentive to keep going until you reach your goal. Without them, it’s mission impossible. As an African proverb says “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go accompanied”. And I like to add “accompanied with the best people”.

Versión en español de este post