Running changed for me, the day I engaged a running coach. I thought I will get better, and I did, but I also learned to have a lot more fun while running.
Most of the lessons were counter-intuitive for me, but from the results I experienced, it worked. Paraphrasing coach Bennet from Nike Running, I realized “It was about running, but it was also not about running”.
Sometimes you have to slow down to speed up
Most people start running way too fast and too long. At the same time, most of us become data junkies where we chase paces, times, and distances. We push ourselves continuously believing that through all the effort the results will come. Yet what I learned was that I needed more easy runs, that sometimes I have to focus on slowing myself down because I will need that energy on another day for another run.
I think we often do the same with ourselves and our teams. We always push for more, for faster, for better. We would rather add 3 more responsibilities than take one away. We never consciously slow us, or our teams down to get stronger. Afraid that if we do, we will come across as weak or lazy. However, just like in running, consciously slowing down to breathe, increase awareness and refocus, helps to become stronger, faster, and endure longer.
Get uncomfortable – sometimes
Always doing the same run is not good for you. Once your body gets used to it, the value of what you are doing decreases. So, in running it means including a speed run or two into your weekly program to spice things up. It challenges and surprises you and requires different energy and focus. Your body learns to adjust and deal with getting uncomfortable.
In my experience, many teams are either in the comfort zone (same thing for years) or in the extreme, where they are continuously overworked and overwhelmed (pushing too hard). I believe it is our responsibility as leaders to create teams with a healthy balance between comfort zone and challenge. However, learning from long-distance Olympic athletes most of the runs, or work for that matter, should still be easy runs. Trusting that which was challenging last week will become this week’s easy.
In the end, I am my own best coach
Learning how to coach me in running, is probably one of the harder lessons for me. It is learning how to lead me well. It is about celebrating more, learning which questions to ask, and making sure I always answer honestly. It is the wisdom of knowing when I need help on motivation, technique, or purely just how to have fun. It is about being kind and supportive to myself so that I want to be coached by me. Because in leadership we first and foremost lead ourselves and the better you lead you, the better you lead others.