What running a race taught me about running a business

Jess after crossing the finish line – personal photo

This weekend, I ran my first ever 10k race.

In fact, it was the first time I’d ever run 10 kilometres in my life.

I’ve been training for a few months, building up my ability to run further and further, but until the day came, I didn’t actually know if I’d be able to do it. Theoretically, I knew my body could do it, but I also knew that at some point, it would become a mental battle of wills between my body wanting to stop and my mind wanting to finish.

The start of the race was easy – despite the fact that it began with a 1k run up an enormous bridge.

The Bridge to Brisbane Start – photo from the Courier Mail

I was caught up in the excitement, the thousands upon thousands of people running alongside me. It made that initial climb effortless. But it also posed a challenge.

You see, I knew from my training that I had to start off my run at the right pace. If I started the run too fast, I would exhaust myself quickly and not be able to run the distance. So, I had to start slow. I had to run the race at my pace, and not anyone else’s.

It’s really, really hard to run slowly when thousands of people are running past you, seemingly flying along without any stress or strain. From the beginning to the end of the whole 10k, I had to constantly remind myself to not get caught up in their race.

I was only racing myself.

You see, I wasn’t in this race to beat anyone else. For most of us there that day, it was a ‘fun run’ – we were there to challenge ourselves and raise money for charity.

There were many thousands of people there who are – and always will be – faster, better runners than me.

My only goal was to run the whole way.I had to remind myself that I was only racing myself.

Near the 8k mark, it started to hurt. That’s when I stopped noticing everyone else and started focussing on me. On taking one step at a time. Reminding myself that I could do this – I would do this. That no-one could stop me except myself. That when I finally crossed that finish line, I would be able to say that I did it – that I ran the whole way. That I’d reached my goal.

And I did.

Some of you might already have realised what this race reminded me about running a business. Some of you might be wondering what the heck I’m on about, so let me make it clear.

You are not your competitors. They have their own race to run. What they do – or don’t do – isn’t what you need to be focussing on.

You’re only racing yourself.

Your goal should be to build the best business you can, in whatever time-frame works for you.

Sure, other businesses might seem like they’re reaching success quicker than you. But how do you know that for sure? Maybe they’ve tried and failed at many businesses before this one, and the lessons they’ve learnt in the past have enabled them to reach success more quickly this time. Don’t get caught up in their success. Don’t let it detract from YOUR success.

You’re only racing yourself.

Set your own goals. Reach them. Set more. Ignore everyone else.

And you’ll win.

7 thoughts on “What running a race taught me about running a business

  1. So true, but hard to remember in the thick of it. I have young kids right now and one of the hardest things is to adjust accordingly, remembering that they will indeed grow up one day and I will have more time…

  2. If I’m being honest, I have to say that I only partially agree with the point of this article. I definitely agree that we shouldn’t measure our own success against someone else’s, and we certainly shouldn’t beat ourselves up for not making the same progress as our competitors. But we shouldn’t close our eyes to what and how they are doing, either, because we can learn a lot by observing the successes and failures of others in the same business and industry. What are they doing well that we can emulate? What market niches are they focusing on? And what might they be ignoring that we can capitalize on? Compare yourself to your competitors in a way that allows you to learn something and improve your own business, and you will benefit!

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