Maybe running a marathon isn’t at the top of your “to do” list. Maybe it isn’t even on your list. Maybe fitness is something that you don’t have the time for—but it’s something you know would benefit you.
How much does being fit benefit your career?
Right now I am in the process of training for my 18th marathon. Yes, number 18. I’m training for the Steamtown Marathon in Pennsylvania this coming October. I am a career-oriented person that puts fitness at the top of my “to do” list. It wasn’t always that way. I never considered fitness as important in my teenage years. I was way too busy. While I was in college, I did a really smart thing—I got married to another college student. Go figure. I gave up living at home and getting fed to depending on our two part-time jobs while carrying a full college course load and traveling frequently with the debate and forensics team. I cared deeply about getting good grades and winning trophies on the speech circuit. I also cared deeply about eating, so I needed to work. Top all this off with a tumultuous marriage to a man that was verbally abusive, and—you guessed it.
I was a mess—a total mess.
I suffered from constant anxiety attacks, insomnia, frequent bladder and sinus infections, and constant self-doubt. Despite all of this, I was young—I looked good and interviewed well. I got an offer from, what was then called, Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co. (now KPMG). Yes! I was on my way. NOT.
The pressure of the long hours and disruptive home life look its toll. It took a nervous breakdown and a couple of months off of work to finally slow down and re-think my life. I took lots of advice from my phycologist, like practicing self-hypnosis to control my anxiety and learn how to relax. He also said, “Dolores, you need to start exercising. It’s a great way to relieve stress and detox the body.”
I dumped the abusive husband, changed jobs, and decided to get fit. I started running in my early twenties and I’ve never looked back. Running changed my life on many different levels. The health benefits were tremendous. Just do a simple google search and check out my previous blog post (6th article down). I started running with a group and became friends with healthy, upbeat people. I started to eat in a way that supported my running. I LOVED running in road races, both 5K and 10K races. And talk about looking good—I got lean and mean.
Then I ran my first marathon when I was 29 years old. Why? It’s the ultimate goal of any long-distance runner. Being able to complete a 26.2 mile course seemed like an impossible goal when I made the brave decision to do it and signed up for a marathon training clinic. The clinic supported us through a six-month marathon training plan. Yep, six months. Not for pansies. The trainers told us over and over throughout the training. If you follow the plan and complete the training—you will finish the marathon. Period. “Your body will be in shape, but more importantly, your mind will believe you can do it.”
Running a marathon is more of a mind game.
That’s the key. That’s why running a marathon is so key to career success. Anyone who trains for and completes a marathon is someone who has proven to the world that they can stick to a plan, preserve, and follow-through—all key elements in a successful career. As an Executive Recruiter, if I see marathon running listed under Extra-curricular Activities on a resume, I not only see a healthy, fit person in my mind, I also know this person has certain good habits that any employer wants.
Standing on the starting line of that first marathon (The Wichita Marathon in 1983) was one of the most intimidating things I have ever done. The training was exhausting. I didn’t think I would make it, but I just kept training. Finally, it was over and there I stood on the starting line of the marathon—shaking in fear. What if I couldn’t do it? What if it hurt too much? I kept thinking, “Remember, my body is trained. Don’t think about it. Just do it. I can do this. I can do this.”
Getting started is the hardest part.
The gun went off and I began the marathon—self-doubt and all. Once I got going the fear started to dissipate and the perseverance and determination kicked in. I just kept going and going and going—until I crossed over the finish line and collapsed. Ah, the sweet taste of victory. Despite the painful cramps and exhaustion, the euphoria swelled over me. It was like nothing I had ever felt before.
Would I have been able to run a successful recruiting business with my then husband for 15 years without my marathon habit? No. My running kept me sane. Having challenging running goals gave me something positive to look forward to. It made me mentally (and physically) strong. I’m still relying on my marathon habit to fully experience life. Every time I train for one, I vow to never do it again, but then I experience the high of the finish and the satisfaction of the goal completed. Okay, maybe I’ll run just one more. . .
Put fitness on your “To do” List.
Make it a priority. You will live longer and be healthier. Exercise three days a week–30 minutes a day. That will work wonders. If you run, I recommend running one marathon. I know several people who have run just one. No one has ever been sorry they did it. If you don’t run, then I urge you to find a challenging physical goal and train for it. Maybe it’s competing in ball room dancing, climbing Mount Whitney, or completing a Bikram Yoga 30 day challenge. Do something that gets you excited and motivated. The good habits you learn will carry over to your career success.
Let’s break barriers together!
Dolores, The Running Recruiter
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