(Cover photo by Clique Images on Unsplash)
Now that it’s marathon season, I thought I would share a few lessons I continue to learn from regular running and keeping fit in general, and how these relate to my entrepreneurship journey.
A certain ultra marathoner - those guys that treat marathons like gobbling down a snack - told me once that I would need to learn to run a lot slower in order to be able to take on longer distances. This can be surprisingly hard: you have 20-30 minutes to get a run in, and you want to get as much mileage as possible so you try push for as long a distance as possible. Perhaps better planning would have carved out 1-2 hrs for a nice long run. The oft quoted maxim on running fast holds true: before you run fast(er), you must run slow. This has lots of parallels in the business world: one needs to build up endurance and strength over time, both physically and mentally. While setting up a business, one needs to learn from others, from mistakes, build resilience and persistence. This takes time. There’s a reason why at the end of a race you’d (hopefully) be panting and all sweaty after the effort.
Discipline and your Team
A matter of learning new things, pushing oneself, even if one doesn’t feel like it: waking up to get that run in, pushing up that last hill. Unless you are an elite runner, the race is really against yourself. It usually helps greatly to have a supporting team though that can help you through some goals, keeping you accountable:
- Can you better my 10/21/42k PB this time?
- Can you do that half marathon in well under 2hrs with all those (as a certain wakili puts it) undulating hills. (Ndakaini Half Marathon is something)
- And if you are really crazy and decide to sign up for the Comrades Marathon - can you finish Comrades? (89 km!!)
Insufficient rest means an injury sooner or later. Injuries are not fun - I found this out the hard way last year. Over the years, I’ve learnt to pace myself at work, especially as I’m one of those people who needs enough sleep to be productive. It is important to get enough sleep, exercise, as well as spend time with loved ones. A lack of rest means crankiness, susceptibility to illness and impaired judgement. This affects one's decision making ability, and is counterproductive long term.
I process things and doing most of my deep thinking when in motion: when driving and even better, on a long run with no distractions (I don’t run with a phone). Blocking out time on the work calendar for deep thinking and figuring out stuff may seem unnecessary and a waste of time, especially for a GTD (get things done) person, but I’ve found these periods of reflection very helpful thanks to some friendly advice some years ago.
All the best at the Nairobi Marathon this Sunday, if you are participating this time round!