7 Ways Endurance Sport Can Help You Survive — and thrive — in the ‘non’ 9–5
Being an entrepreneurial, self-employed self starter and being an endurance athlete go hand-in-hand.
I’m a member of two highly charged, energetic tribes: endurance sport and the entrepreneurial self-employed gang who make up the gig economy.
I’m a jack of all trades, and a master of them, too. Content, communications and a passion for all things endurance are at my core, but I can call myself a writer; a content marketeer/strategist; a social media expert; a PR; a project manager; and a content, fitness and running expert. I’ve been a personal trainer, an event organiser and, I’ve owned a hotel.
I’m also an endurance athlete: a weekend warrior, a marathoner, a triathlete, an open water swimmer, parkrunner, an adventurer (check out #MyRunningDecade).
Here’s an insight into how my two worlds collide, overlap and work together!
1. PLANNING & GOAL SETTING
Whether it’s a race, or work, I remind myself to always, keep my eye on the goal. I love to write schedules and plan for races. I apply my marathon training strategy to work and plan a periodised schedule, thinking about the macrocycle (a long time up to five years, for example my one year plan for the Ironman), the mesocycle (the period/block of training required for an event, e.g. 16 weeks for a marathon), and a micro cycle (a week to 10 days) to all my projects and work plans. A race has a clear finish line and so do my projects, features, and PR assignments.
2. THE IMPORTANCE OF R&R
Whether I’m training for a marathon or working on a start up, I throw myself into it: energy, and enthusiasm is required to put in the long hours. I love what I do and I’ve got stamina, but sometimes I’m like a ‘duracell’ bunny — and I burn out. Time off, relaxing, resting don’t come naturally to me. I tend to collapse in a heap, but a strategic approach is far better. I’ve learnt that overtraining and overworking syndrome are common amongst both tribes. At the peak of marathon training it can seem that 60 miles per week can be done forever, and that I’m invincible — and when I’m working 12 hours a day, I feel the same. But I’ve learnt from bitter experience that rest needs to be planned, taken and thoroughly enjoyed.
3. THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING CONSISTENT
Consistency is the key to success in both business and in training. When it’s working, doing the same thing week in week out and building slowly and patiently is all that’s required — and it can be dull if you’re driven by change and challenges. It’s far more exciting to brainstorm ideas, or set enter outrageous races, but by consistently applying myself to the task in hand I know I can get results.
4. BE OPEN AGILE, AND WILLING TO CHANGE
This next point may seem to contradict the last. Flexible working has allowed me to make training part of my life, but I have to always be adaptable and agile which works in both racing and in life. If something goes wrong in a race, I have to adapt to keep going and get to the finish line, quickly re-setting my goals. If work goes wrong, or a pitch fails, I do the same. Sometimes, I need to re-boot the entire eco-system, work, home, life, other times the running schedule simply needs a tweak as work takes priority, or I find myself with some extra time to grab for training. Life is a series of peaks and troughs and work, running, swimming and cycling will always be there. But sometimes, I need to back off, re-think my training or re-brand my business.
5. IT HELPS TO BE THICK-SKINNED–AND RESILIENT
I’ve learnt to be resilient and bounce back, and not to take anything personally. So if a brand ends a contract or someone overtakes in a race, well, that’s life. I’ve also know not to panic when work is thin on the ground, or an idea or pitch is rejected. And if I run slow times for weeks in a row (as I did recently in parkrun), I know it can change if I keep focussed, and consistently train, or put the hours in.
6. YOU’LL SOMETIMES GO SIDEWAYS
The only way is up? Not always, running, work and life cannot always be linear. The purple patch is energising, when your business is growing, your times are getting faster, or your racing further, continuously pushing your boundaries, and reaching further. But at other times you’re going sideways — you stay in the same spot for years. It’s not about the glass ceiling at work — there isn’t one, you just work, and that PB you were proud of five years ago, just stays the same. But then one day, one race, one contract can change that. And you don’t know when that might be, so don’t give up!
7. THE IMPORTANCE OF SUPPORT
I’ve recently moved to a new area and once I got my house in order, priorities were to get my support network in place. I’m working in a co-working space. It’s so inspiring to be around start ups, people who are as passionate and enthusiastic about what they’re doing as I am. We swap ideas, we network, we share contacts and skills. I’ve also signed up to a series of networking events, and I may even start a group myself (In the past I set up a fitness writing group and a running club and got so much from both). The next thing I did quickly after moving was get myself into the local running and triathlon club. I’m training for an Ironman andI need all the support and motivation I can get. Training in a group means I work harder in intervals, and I can pick up tips and advice. I’ve also found a masseur/sports therapist for injury time — and for that all important R&R, hot yoga.
You can follow my progress to the Ironman on my blog: https://endurancewomen.com/