I felt the finish line approach me, as if it were sprinting toward me instead of me toward it. This was it, a goal I had been striving to for years, a sub-90-minute half marathon.
I never imagined myself as an athlete. I am predominantly uncoordinated and never played serious sports, but I started running in 2010 with the hopes of finishing the Austin Marathon. My legs dragged to that 2011 finish line with a time just short of 5 hours. This past January, my right foot hit the timing mat to record a 1:26:12 at the 3M Half Marathon. I couldn’t help but grin at the accomplishment. It was my reward for hours of training and dedication.
I believe anything you go for with passion, persistence and purpose you will reach in your life. I turned those same qualities that gave me success on asphalt to my career in marketing. Out of college, I landed a dream job in digital marketing. Two years later, I have moved through two promotions, taking on new roles as a manager, mentor and leader.
My professional endeavors and athletic adventures are intertwined. As often as I use a tempo run to de-stress, I listen to business audiobooks on my bike rides. I am often asked how I find the time and maintain balance. I am no physicist, but I know time is relative; it is relative to what matters in your life. I have discovered in my quarter century of existence that balance has nothing to do with equilibrium but rather a state of being. That state of being is a mindset that has pushed me from what to do to how it can be done.
Time is of the Essence
Everyone has the same amount of time: 24 hours. There is plenty of time, but the question is what will you do with that time? In order to propel your career forward while training as an athlete, you have to prioritize your day and your workouts. There are 168 hours a week. After sleeping, eating and a 40-hour work week, you have about 60 hours left. What you do with those hours is crucial. You could watch all five seasons of Breaking Bad or you could go on a three-hour training ride, 10-mile run and take an online class.
Your Action Item:
You make time for the things that are important. Break your week down into hours and allocate those hours to the things you want to accomplish in training and your career.
Quality Over Quantity
The Pareto principle, better known as the 80-20 rule, states 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes. Interval training and hill sprints make you a stronger, faster athlete in less time. Training 20 hours per week can drain your life force and has diminishing returns that negatively impact your progress. Similarly, career growth comes from focusing your effort on the best return over time and money.
Your Action Item:
Cut the fat, focus your goals on what will have the highest, fastest impact on your training and career. Ask yourself if what you are doing is moving you closer to your goal or further away.
Your body was made to move, and not just before and after your 9-to-5 job. Finding a way to live in movement outside of your training schedule will build the always-on athlete inside of you. At the same time, long rides and complex workouts can take hours. Combine socializing with training. Your 15-mile runs fly by when you have a team to push your pace and keep you company.
Your Action Item:
Live in movement. For example, take walking meetings, stretch out your legs on breaks, and always take the stairs. Invite your athletically inclined co-workers to training sessions. Knowing more about your co-workers and what they do will naturally create stronger relationships at the office.
Growing as an athlete and professional are not in discordance, if anything they are synergistic. To have it all, you need to value your time, focus your goals and do it among friends.