We all have images in our heads of being a champion at something. For years I wanted to be a “runner.” I had these beautiful pictures in my head of what that would look like; tan skin, flowing hair, running like a gazelle through the mountains, or the crowd cheering wildly for me as I sprinted across the finish line to victory. The problem is I am not a gazelle, and when I run, it looks more like that chubby neighborhood kid chasing down the ice cream truck, frantic and unsuccessful. Oh, and did I mention I also hate running?
Despite this strong dislike towards running, I started running casually as a commitment to a friend. Since I am one of those people who like to jump in and overcommit right away, I proceeded to sign up for a half marathon. Whoops! I immediately regretted this impulsive decision as I began to Google half marathon training programs. I had thoughts like, “Who has time for this? How can I run and still have time to work? What if I am not fast enough? How could my legs possibly carry me that far? Can I get a refund? I hate running! ” However, I still held on to that crazy mental image of me running across a finish line and I just couldn’t shake it. I didn’t know it then, but I had been bitten by the running bug before I even took a step!
That’s how I came to write this blog on how training for half marathons has made me a better marketing professional. Here’s what I learned:
1) Goal Setting Big and Small
The best way to get somewhere is to always know where you want to end up. Having a clear, definable goal with a deadline helps to keep you on track and stay focused when the path gets muddy. Sign up for that race, schedule that client meeting!
It also helps to set lots of small goals that add up to a larger accomplishment. When training or executing a marketing plan, I don’t look at the total number of tasks there are to complete in a project. Instead, I focus on the run- or tasks at hand- for that day and how they fit into my weekly schedule. By focusing on these smaller more immediate tasks I am able to accomplish more without feeling overwhelmed. Achieving lots of small goals consistently over time always add up to a big win.
Where are you going?
2) Pick a Plan (and stick to it)
Once you have a goal, you need to put a plan in place so you can be successful. Get a plan that maps out your routes every day so you get in the necessary miles and are ready on race day. Similarly, I love to write up a good marketing plan for a new project. It helps get me motivated about the project ahead and sets up clear expectations for my team and myself.
What does your map look like?
3) Find your “people”
One of the ways to help keep you on a path to success is to have a support community in running and in business. Find a mentor or go to coffee with a professional peer and bounce ideas off of each other. There are always people who have gone before us, so use their experience to give you an advantage.
Who are your people?
4) It’s Ok To Rest
Know when to take a break or walk! Believe it or not, your gut can tell you a lot more than just if you’re hungry. Listen to your gut-if you need to step away from your desk or take a break, do it! When we are exhausted and frustrated we are more prone to getting injured or making mistakes. We do our best work when we feel energized and inspired.
How do you refuel?
5) Visualize crossing the finish line
I never lost the image of racing across the finish line and crowds cheering me on. When training got tough or monotonous, I clung to that image. Why? Because the goal was crystal clear to me. I knew what achieving that goal looked liked, sounded like and felt like. What does achieving that goal look like to you? Can you visualize it? Is it the perfect pitch to a new client? Launching a new brand with great success?
Sometimes in the day to day of marketing we forget to visualize the finish line, we forget that we need support and the plan can go off track. When I run I have lots of time to think. I often reflect on the unexpected parallels between running and being a successful marketer. Training for a half marathon became one of the biggest opportunities for growth both, personally and professionally. I realized that I already had many of the necessary tools. I just needed to put them into action, literally one step at a time.
Lindsey Corcoran, Account Manager at Jet Marketing
During her free time, Lindsey enjoys long runs in the beautiful Colorado outdoors, followed by a good nap.