By Dick Stark
The Marines got it right last Sunday. It was a perfect day for a Marathon, cool and sunny and the thirty thousand or so that came to run were raring to go. It had been ten years since my last Marine Corps Marathon and 20 since I completed my first. I was excited but apprehensive since I didn’t come close to following the training plan that was required to get me close to my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon next April.
As a result, I didn’t exactly achieve my best time (nor did I qualify for Boston), but I did finish despite “hitting the wall” and running out of gas at about mile 18. Also I managed to finish without injury which at my age is a big accomplishment and means I can live to race another one.
If you don’t believe that we’re a human race that’s obsessed with running, you haven’t experienced the mass humanity that is the Marine Corps Marathon. Despite the crowds, what keeps me running? I enjoy the competition and the workout plan leading up to the big race. Although I’m a slower runner now than 20 years ago, I can still compete within my age group and plan on running as long as I can. What can I take away from my latest race? Plenty.
- First, training and preparation matters. A successful marathon plan is 18 weeks. I tried to cram everything into about ten weeks. My long training run was only 18 miles instead of 20 and I had only one long training run instead of several. This “shortened” plan didn’t work as well as I hoped and made for a very painful final eight miles.
- Second, stick-to-it-ness. Long distance running is about dealing with challenges and adversity. It’s about razor-sharp focus on an intended outcome, teaching you how to handle pain without quitting and giving you the satisfaction of completing something that you thought wasn’t possible. Many prospects and customers make us feel like we’re running a marathon, whether we’re trying to close an order or dealing with a difficult situation.
- Finally, finding your own path. In running, consulting, or sales, you are ultimately responsible for a plan that fits your needs. Make sure that you set achievable goals that will be beneficial.
I’ll keep running as long as I can. Right now I’ve the Cherry Blossom 10 miler to look forward to next April. Like I told a new customer in their kick-off meeting this week, careful planning and preparation is required for a successful finish.