By Steve Raw. Helping you on your leadership journey

30 leadership lessons from 30 years of running and athletics

(And 10 Top Tips to get you started)

Running - back in the day

Running – back in the day

During my first career in the Army there was an expectation that you would keep yourself fit.  After all, we were expected to do a number of tests annually which required running.  However, it was not until I went on holiday to Hawaii when I came across a number of runners who had just completed a marathon and they were all sporting their souvenir T Shirts that I thought “I want one of those!”  As soon as I got back to work I started doing some serious training for the 1982 Edinburgh Marathon.  I was off on a 30 year plus running adventure (and a third CV, but more of that at the end of this piece).

I am sure fellow runners would agree with me that running is a way of life and a lifestyle choice.  Your attitude to health, both physical and mental, changes.  For me, that was not all, it has helped me in both my careers where leadership has needed to be a strong thread throughout everything.

So what have I learned from my running and athletics experience?  Thirty years of putting on my running/track shoes deserves 30 leadership lessons (in no particular order, however, they all equally work for the world of leadership and management).

  1. Routine: You need a plan and then stick to it.
  2. Train (and work) with people who are better than you: They will make you train harder, work harder and you will progress much quicker – so surround yourself with talent.
  3. If you always run with and against people who are not as good as you, you will never move out of your comfort zone
  4. Hard Work will always beat Talent when Talent doesn’t Work hard: I never thought of myself as a talented runner but I am a hard worker.
  5. Prior Planning and Preparation before your race/project will Prevent a Poor Race
  6. Always get your game face on when turn up on the start line: You are there to do the business so take it seriously
  7. Relentless Focus in everything you do
  8. Focus on your own race – don’t be distracted by what other people are doing – run your own race. Don’t compare – compete
  9. It is not how fast you run, it is how quickly you recover from a race (good or bad) for the next challenge you face. This measures my mental and physical fitness
  10. Your image and presentation will put you in the right frame of mind to do well. “ Look the Part – Feel the Part”. “Look Good – Feel Good”. It’s a mind set.
  11. When you feel that you are about to hit the wall (if it is a marathon it is usually about 20 miles + into your race), make that big effort to get through it. It’s at that point you can do more and be more. Get that second wind for your tough project
  12. Discipline sets me free to do more. If you can’t manage yourself then you can’t lead others
  13. Challenge yourself with the goals you have and make them bigger. Do that and you will have more opportunites.
  14. Make sure you have a balance of quantity and quality in your work. In running if all you do is long slow distance training then that is how you will run in a race.  Expand your lungs and mind with quality speed work.  At some point in your day, stretch yourself with a challenging task.
  15. “Feel the Fear” and do it anyway
  16. Discipline: Pace yourself during your race don’t go off too fast.  You need something in the bank for the final stretch.
  17. We all fail at some point, so if your race didn’t go as well as expected, or you made mistakes, or you went off too fast (because you hadn’t seen these tips?) then as soon as you have finished, take a couple of hours (at the most) for some “pity” time, then move on to your next race or project.
  18. What I have found in my two careers of work and a career of sport, is that the more miles/time I put in then the more rewards I have. Invest in yourself today and every day.
  19. No matter how turbulent it is out there – get out and do it!
  20. Train Hard – Fight Easy.
  21. A key to success and achieving your goals is perseverance. Even when you are at your most uncomfortable with what you are doing, Persist… Persist.
  22. To be successful then start thinking you are successful already – it is a mind-set
  23. Before you start that tough challenge: Find a quiet place, close your eyes and visualise. Visualise that you are winning.
  24. Drink plenty of water! I have read that performance is improved by 30% so give your brain a shower and feel the benefits in your performance.
  25. It’s an age thing: The older I get the more stamina and experience I have.
  26. It’s an age thing: Stay hungry for success.  I am as hungry at 58 as I was at 18.  Keep the momentum.
  27. Play to your strengths. I didn’t do races under 1500m because I was not fast enough so why set myself up for failure? So I focused on 5K to 10 miles, however, that didn’t mean I didn’t do half marathons and marathons when it was needed.
  28. Routine: Again, have a set process that gets you prepared for your event. I have the same routine of breathing, warming up, visualisation that I use for races and which I used just before my driving test!  Also, doing this before stuff such as presentations works every time for me.
  29. I quickly realised with my running that there were three components: Breathing (it needs to be relaxed and have a rhythm) Mind-set – What was going on in my head so having lots of positive thoughts and Training – miles in the bank.  Works for work too.
  30. Finally, if it was easy everyone would be doing it!

 

Here are 10 Tips (from my experiences) to get started

  1. Whatever you want to achieve, often the most difficult part of your objective is taking the first step. Get your running shoes on and take the first step out of the door, the rest is easy I promise!
  2. Invest in some kit – running shoes are the most important.
  3. Find a like-minded person who wants to get fit too.
  4. If you can’t talk and run at the same time you are running too fast, slow down – walk if necessary
  5. Make sure you have a health check first – especially if you have not done this kind of thing before or for a while
  6. Keep safe. Run on the pavement, not the road, and wear reflective clothing
  7. To avoid injuries, run on the grass as, for some, pavement can be unforgiving on your ankles, knees, hips and back, or find trails to enjoy
  8. Buy some running magazines: These will become your coaches, and check out a beginners programme
  9. Buy some running magazines: They include lots of information on your diet – what’s good for you and what’s not
  10. Don’t do too much too soon. Your rest days are as important as your running days.

 

Something to take away:

Running tip: 30mins of moderated exercise reduces stress better than 30 mins of rest – University of Maryland & www.mensrunninguk.co.uk

 

My Running CV highlights include:

Team: National (Bronze) 10KM, Eastern Counties Silver medal Cross Country and representing Colchester Harriers at the National 12 Stage Relays twice, and once at the National 6 Stage Relays.

Military:  5000m (Berlin) champion, X Country Team Gold medals, Commando Log Regt Race Winners, Berlin Brigade Cross Country Champions (1980s) Eastern District Cross Country Champions (1990s).

6 x Marathons, 1 x Original Mountain Marathon and 1 x Long Triathlon (Koblenz – Germany)

Clubs:  LG Spandau (Berlin) Colchester Harriers, Colchester & Tendring AC

 

Do you have any tips you want to share? Please leave a comment below, I’d love to read them.

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2 Responses »

  1. I would add a couple of tips:
    -don’t rush after a run: give yourself time to relax, walk, think, meditate or do slow stretching exercises. Sometimes the best personal or work-related ideas come after a long jog.
    -don’t think about the distance or time while running. Try to think of something relaxing or just focus on something else. Focusing on distance can make you more stressed and actually slow you down!

    • Great advice Marija and thank you for taking the time to comment it is much appreciated. I am looking forward to a good run today and I will take on board your tips. Best Regards Steve

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steve.raw@dosh.org
@DoshLtd

Join me at 7am everyday for inspirational tweets about leadership