Starting a Business is Like Running a Marathon

I wrote this one night when I was bleary from lack of sleep, a hard run on my legs and a long run staring me down.  I miss blogging about running and wanted to fill you in on the other marathon I’ve been prepping for and executing.  Enjoy!

When I started running, and then racing, the marathon became that holy grail of goals to chase.  The thing not many did and few went back to.  After finally getting through my first marathon, I found that, on the other side, there are a whole group of wonderful people that chase even bigger dreams and goals than I could have imagined when I toed the line of my very first 5K in 2006 (in track pants and a long sleeved cotton T shirt.  In Pittsburgh.  In September.).

Since leaping over the wall and joining the marathoning ranks I’ve become accustomed to looking at all the things I do in my life that are worthwhile — relationships, health, work — the way I look at running a marathon.  So, when I co-launched a PR firm in which I am part owner a couple of weeks ago, it did not surprise me in the least that my running friends said something to the effect of “well, you’ve run a few marathons, so this is probably a lot like — if not easier — than that.”  And I had to smile.  Because they, of course, are right.

Like marathoning, the first thing you have to do is a have a plan.  You don’t just show up on in the market place one day with a teeny open for business sign and few business cards.  Just like in marathon training, you have to pick the best plan for you, one that is rigid enough to get you across the start and finish lines but flexible enough to course correct when things don’t go exactly how you planned.  As we worked through the business plan it felt so much like the plan I just put together for Marine Corps — steady build, grind it out, finish strong.

Next, you rally good people around you.  This was the easy step — my business partner is a long time friend, former boss and just all around general fantastic human being.  We also had the help of friends, family, former and current colleagues to propel us through the prep and to the start.  This type of community is something I have only ever experienced before with runners.  People who get you to your very core and are there the whole way with nothing but their best intentions for you.  The people I run with regularly were some of the first to know that we were launching and they were also some of the first to celebrate with us and will continue to be supportive.  Marathon running brought those people — and so many other mind blowingly wonderful humans — to my life giving me the basis by which to judge all other communities, safety nets and support systems.

Finally, you gut. it. out.  There’s always a point in training (usually around week 12) and during the race (mile 20 — sorry in advance for the sobbing phone call MB!) that the it — whatever it is — gets hard.  The hill, the mile, the repeat, the recovery,  Injury, doubt, terror set in and you think to yourself “I’m a perfectly sane human being with good things around me.  I don’t need to run a marathon.  Or start a business.  I’ll just go sit down at my desk and eat ice cream and make more widgets”  Then something happens, you put your head down, you hear your mantra, you see your coach or you get that tweet that snaps everything back into clear focus.  I’ve had to remind myself countless times that fortune favors the bold.  Run the mile you’re in.  You can do this.  And what happens?  I do it, I’ve done it and I know I can do it again.

Is running a marathon for everyone?  No.  Neither is starting a business as it turns out.  But I know for myself and for the handful of the rest of us that there are exciting frontiers, big personal bests and hugely fulfilling triumphs that are on the other side of the starting line.  Go get the right people, the right plan and see where you need to gut it out.  You might surprise yourself.

Do you find that you feel like can do anything because you’re a runner?

One thought on “Starting a Business is Like Running a Marathon

  1. says:

    Good to hear a little of how your life is evolving. Being a marathon runner developes the most valuable characteristic – self discipline. the willingness to fail and learn from it and then get up and start again, takes all the discipline one can muster. So happy to see you so featured for your accomplishments. Love, Aunt D.

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