Navigating your way through 26.2 miles is not unlike navigating your way through your career. It takes strategy, hard work, and determination to reach your ultimate goal. For most people in the business world, that would generally be retirement. For marathoners, it’s finding a comfortable place to sit at the end of the race. Running for that long not only burns a LOT of calories, it also gives you time to think. Along the way I have discovered a couple things I believe will help and you reach your goals on the pavement or in the boardroom.
Get In The Zone
The L.A. Marathon started at Dodger Stadium on the East side of the city and winded its way through many different neighborhoods en route to the finish at the Santa Monica Pier.
(For those of you closer to Irvine and the Tag Energy office, we have included a diagram to know JUST how far the marathon was. )
Spectators did not have to buy tickets. They lined the course wherever they pleased to witness the race. Some people were content watching everyone pass by; they sat quietly on their porch sipping coffee. Others cheered loudly, displaying encouraging signs, and even offering snacks to give runners a little extra boost. Unfortunately was also a small minority of people that thought it was necessary to preach through a megaphone at 7:00am about how doomed the country was. Bonus running tip: do NOT stop and listen to these people!
My music was turned up loud in my headphones for most of the race and I didn’t pay much attention to all the fanfare. Occasionally I would grab a cup of water or Gatorade from someone but other than that, I tuned it all out. I was in the zone. The only thing I was focused on was pushing forward and reaching that finish line. None of the people around me could run the race for me- I had to do it myself. If I found myself in a moment of pain or doubt, I knew I could look to the crowd for words of encouragement but ultimately; this was my race to run.
As you progress through your career, develop a filter. Let in the people or things that can help you get what you want and keep out what delays or distracts you from your goals. An easy question I always ask myself- “is what I am about to do get me closer to my goals?” If the answer is no, I usually won’t do it
(Interested in more fitness articles and motivation? Check out Tag Energy’s fitness page on Pinterest)
Follow A Pace Setter
During all my training runs leading up to the race, I always ran alone. I told myself it was easier that way because I didn’t want to go at anyone else’s pace. When the race started I had the same mentality. I was trying to ignore the thousands of other people around me. Everyone was going at different speeds. Some were going faster than me, some slower.
Around mile 5 an official pace setter caught up to me. There was a small group of runners that were all on his heels running at the same speed. He was holding a stick with several balloons and a sign attached. His sign had the finishing time I was aiming for. From that point on I knew as long as I stayed with him I would achieve my goal.
As soon as I started following him the race became so much easier for me. No longer did I have to track my total time, calculate splits, or second-guess if I could afford a quick water break. All I had to do was copy this guy and do exactly what he did. It was almost cheating. I thought to myself “why doesn’t everyone do this?”
Business is the same way. We aren’t in school anymore- we are allowed to cheat off our peers. If you know someone who is where you want to be or getting ahead at the pace you want, do exactly what they are doing and it is likely you will start to see similar results.
(See some things that Tag Energy is doing to get to where we want to be on our Instagram page!)
Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable
25,000 people started the race with the same goal in mind: finish. Most of them did. But it was the obstacles in between and the bumps in the road that revealed character along the way. I don’t think it is possible for anyone to run a perfect marathon. There is just too much that can happen mentally and physically over that distance. It wasn’t uncommon to see other runners stop to throw up, go to the bathroom, or rub Vaseline in weird places to prevent rashes. Knowing there is the possibility of something like this happening is important so that you can be prepared if and when it happens to you.
After I had completed the race, I joined some of the spectators who had been there all morning. One of them said to me “it is so much more inspiring to watch “regular” people finish. Everyone knows the elite runners will finish- it is easy for them. But to see people with blisters, injuries, or even physical handicaps complete their goal is just awesome!”
The beautiful thing about marathons is that most runners do not care what others think of them or what they look like. They will do whatever it takes to cross that finish line.
The most dangerous place to work is in your comfort zone. Although it may sound pleasant, allow me to warn you that growth will be slow and new opportunities will be limited. Find what it is you are good at and always push yourself to the next level- even if it feels uncomfortable to start with. Once comfort zones grow, they don’t typically shrink again.
Do It For Someone Else
My first training run was about 3 months before the marathon. I still hadn’t committed to the race at that point. On that first run I was evaluating what kind of shape I was in and tried to determine how much time and effort would be needed in order to finish if I were to take on this challenge. The hardest part of this decision was the decision itself. Once I made up my mind to run the race, it was easy to train. A big part of why this was easy was because more and more people slowly started to find out that I planned on running. What would I tell my friends and family if I decided to quit after they had already found out? It would be humiliating.
You might say “couldn’t you have just not told anyone- that way if you decided to pull out the only person that would know would be you?” Yes, I could have. However, by letting others in on my plans I became accountable to them too, not just myself. As the miles got tough towards the end of the race I imagined the entire office at Tag Energy asking me one by one how the race went and me telling them “I quit because it was hard and I was tired”. That was not something I could live with so I continued on, one foot in front of the other until that finisher’s medal was around my neck.
Mark Owen, With the finisher’s medal around his neck. Los Angeles Marathon and representing his Tag Energy t-shirt.
When you think about your career goals, think about what you will be able to do in your life if you accomplish all of them. Whether it is buying a dream house or providing a better life for your family, it helps to make those goals known- especially to those closest to you. Now ask yourself, “If I don’t achieve my goals, what won’t I be able to do in my life?”