Surrounding yourself with the best experts pays off in racing and in business

I recently participated in the Runner’s World Challenge to train for the Flying Pig marathon. I’ve trained for marathons before, but never quite like this. For this marathon, I was being helped by some of the best and most knowledgeable running experts in the nation. And it really paid off.

We’ve all heard the saying that the best business owners and CEOs surround themselves with the best people and that’s what makes them strong and successful. We’ve also heard that surrounding yourself with people and situations that challenge you will help you excel. It’s not any different in racing and my experience with the Runner’s World Challenge is a perfect example of that.

The Flying Pig 2010 was my fourth marathon and my second Flying Pig. In past marathons, I’ve gone out too fast in the first half, only to feel fatigued to a point where I slowed down significantly in the second half. The Challenge training program taught me a lot of things, but one of the most important ones was pacing. Through very strategic and focused workouts designed by the experts at Runner’s World, I was able to truly find my pace, better control it and learn to do a negative split in my training runs, no matter the distance. A negative split means you get faster as the workout progresses instead of slowing down as you fatigue. While this newly found feel for pacing was encouraging, I knew the real proof of what I learned would be on race day when adrenaline is surging and I’m surrounded by other runners who may be pacing faster than I could or should run.

The other aspect of the Challenge is that it truly challenges you. My personal challenges were to run the race with a negative split and to set a personal record (PR).

Race day comes. It’s lightning, thundering and rain is pouring down. Not exactly ideal conditions to set a personal record for yourself. But I was determined to try. I had trained hard, and I was up for the challenge.

The gun goes off, and it’s my time to implement my new training knowledge. I did. The end result was a finishing time 40 minutes faster than my previous Flying Pig finishing time last year and 20 minutes faster than my fastest marathon time on a different course. I met my second challenge too. I ran a second half that was five minutes faster than my first half and accomplished my goal of running a negative split.

So how does this story relate to business? When we surround ourselves with the best possible people we get stronger. When we challenge ourselves or strive to meet challenges others set for us, we grow in amazing ways and better ourselves and our performance. When we invest in ourselves and our businesses to learn from experts, we avoid making costly mistakes and save ourselves time and money. When we pace ourselves, as individuals and businesses we avoid “blowing up” and losing energy. And when we are energized, everyone around us feels it, including employees, vendors and clients.

So the next time you think you’re going to try to go full speed to the finish line in business, think again. Remember running a business is an endurance race, not a sprint. Pace yourself wisely and you’ll find that when you get to the finish line, you will arrive with energy, a new perspective and a sense of pride for a job well done.

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