Archive for October, 2012

When We Help People Achieve Their Goals and Dreams, We Experience Rewards Far Greater Than Money.

October 25, 2012

Over the winter, I started training several clients to run races of various distances. Their accomplishments are inspiring and I was proud and honored to be part of their journey. And now I want to share their journey with you.

Heidi was a runner in her youth, but got away from it after college. Today, she’s a talented executive, wife and mother. We’ve known each other for years as business associates through my public relations company. One day she called and said, “I want to get back into running and improve my fitness. I need your help!” One of the things that struck me about Heidi was her reason for wanting to be more fit. She wanted to be a good role model to her 3 year old daughter.

Over a period of months, we worked on improving Heidi’s eating habits. She works long hours and travels quite a bit for work. My job was to make eating healthier easier for her, whether at home or on the road. I also wanted her to focus on her nutrition because it’s critical in fueling her workouts.

Summer came and she wanted to run a 5k. She emailed me the link to the race she was considering. I emailed her back that I thought it looked like a fun race and I would run it with her. She was shocked. She called me and said, “Trainers don’t run races with their clients.” I replied, “This trainer does.”

We ran the race together and had a great time. But the best part of the race was seeing the look on her face as we crossed the finish line. She felt a sense of accomplishment and pride. And being there to share it with her was amazing.

Keri and I have known each other through our passion for yoga. Keri is an outstanding yoga instructor. I would take her classes on Fridays to get loosened up and stretched out before my long runs on Saturday during marathon and ultra marathon training season. After class, she and I would talk about my running, my racing and how much she missed running. It broke my heart to see the look in her eyes when she said that.

Keri was training with a running group for her first marathon back in 2006. She got injured early in the training process and never made it to the starting line. Since then, she told me she was never able to run more than three or four miles without being in significant discomfort or pain. Knowing how fit she is and that she’s a fellow fitness professional, I was almost certain I knew what she was doing wrong and what would get her back to running longer distances.

After class one day, she was talking about the beautiful weather and how she used to love running in nice weather. I told her that I wasn’t sure that running longer distances had to be part of her past. I thought, with the right, safe training, it could once again be part of her present and future. I invited her to run with me and see if I could get her past this wall of pain she kept hitting. I told her there were three rules she had to follow: 1. She couldn’t wear a watch. 2. She couldn’t look at my GPS watch. 3. She had to tell me immediately if she felt any pain. She agreed.

The following week, we went for a run together. I could tell she was excited and hopeful. So was I. We talked throughout the run and the time and miles flew by. Every so often, I would ask her if she was feeling okay and if she was having any pain. She replied she was fine. The last time I asked, she told me she was feeling a little tightness, but no pain. I said that’s to be expected and asked her if she thought she could run a few more minutes. She said she could and we did. After a few minutes, I told her it was time for a one mile walking cool down. She looked at me and asked, “So, did we run three miles?” I replied, “No, we ran six miles.” The look of elation and accomplishment on her face was priceless. She couldn’t believe she ran six miles with no pain. I told her that what I suspected was the problem was indeed the issue. She was running way too fast and her body and her old injury were revolting. I told her that training at a more moderate pace would allow her to enjoy the sport she loved and help her be pain and injury free.

She decided to train with me and we did our long runs together every week. As the weeks progressed, she mentioned how much she would like to run a half marathon one day. I told her if that was the goal, we’d train for it and make it happen. We continued to run a little longer each week and maintain a moderate pace. She continued to get more confident that she could run longer mileage and one week I told her it was time to sign up for a half marathon. I had one picked out for months, and I knew she was ready. We signed up to run it together. I could see her excitement building after that.

On one of her long runs, she shared a story with me. She was trying to explain to her three boys how far she was going to run in the race. So, she drove them around on some errands to try to help them visualize how far 13.1 miles is. She didn’t have a lot of errands that day, and only drove about half that distance, but her boys were in awe of how long it took to drive and how far it was.

Race day came and I knew Keri was ready. We treated the race like a training run. We paced evenly and embraced the joy of running together and talking as we ran. The next thing she knew, we were a mile from the finish and she was about to see a dream she thought was impossible, come true. The best part was her husband and three boys were waiting at the finish line. We crossed the finish together with smiles on our faces and joy in our hearts. Words cannot begin to describe how I felt seeing her achieve this milestone. Her husband and children were so proud of her. They admired her medal and she just beamed. Helping Keri on her journey was incredible. But being beside her as she achieved a dream and met her goal meant more to me than words can say.

Rob was my first client after I got certified as a personal fitness trainer. We’d known each other professionally, through my PR firm, for a couple of years. And our love of running strengthened our professional relationship. When we’d run into each other at Chamber or other business events, we never talked about business. We talked about running.

When Rob wanted to take his running to the next level, he hired me to help him. He had been running 5ks and wanted to run a 10k. I trained him to do that and he had a great race in the spring. After that race, he told me he wanted to run a half marathon. He chose the one he wanted to run and I designed a training program to make sure he was ready. During this time, his wife, Terri, decided she wanted to move up from 5ks to a 10k and I designed her training program too. When I told Rob that I would run the half marathon with him, he thought that was great. We talked and emailed regularly during the training process. We talked about his goal and while we both agreed it should be to have fun and finish, he said he’d like to run the half marathon in two hours and ten minutes. I knew my goal was to pace him. Rob is a fast runner. I saw his training run splits. I also know that racers can get caught up in the starting line excitement and go out too fast. This is not a good strategy. The goal is to go out slow and run what’s known as a negative split…a faster second half than first half of the race. My job was to make sure that happened. It did.

On race day, we started at a moderate pace and every time Rob picked up the pace, I’d jokingly say, “Easy Rocky! We have 10 more miles!” At mile 10, Rob said, “If I’m still feeling this good at mile 11, I’m going to give it all I have for the last two miles.” I agreed that was a good strategy. He kicked it into high gear and finished in just over two hours and seven minutes. We were both thrilled. That was an outstanding finishing time! As we made our way out of the finishers shoot, we went to find his wife who ran the 10k that day. She was smiling as she admired her medal. She had a great race too. It was a fantastic day and everyone performed the way they had hoped they would. Being there to see it, made my day complete.

So, where do these runners go from here? Heidi is going to run faster 5ks and a 10k in the future. Keri is going to run more half marathons and possibly a full marathon. Rob is going to run two marathons next year and Terri is considering running a marathon or half marathon and improving her 10k times in her next races.

Being a personal fitness trainer, sports nutrition specialist and distance running conditioning specialist is so rewarding because I’m helping people achieve their goals and dreams every day. But to be there at the culmination of their training journey and to run beside them is an experience that fills my heart and soul with joy.

So what does this story have to do with business?
When we help others achieve their goals and dreams, we not only help them grow as individuals and professionals; we also help create a stronger, more competent workforce. And that benefits all of us. In addition to that, when we mentor and nurture others, we receive rewards far greater than a raise or promotion. The reward of personal satisfaction in knowing you played a small role in another person’s success is priceless.

So the next time you look around your office, see who you can help professionally. Take the initiative to mentor them and help them get to the next level in their professional career. Train them like an athlete to help them map out their strategy of achieving their goals. And stay the course with them until they cross the finish line. I promise you will both feel a huge sense of accomplishment, similar to getting a finisher’s medal at the end of an endurance race.

I have always said that I’m very fortunate to love what I do and to wake up every morning excited to go to work. I know I’m living the dream and serving my purpose on this earth to help people get more fit and achieve goals they never thought were possible. And that’s one of life’s greatest rewards.

I encourage you to seek out your purpose and help others achieve their purpose too. You have my word it will be an incredible journey.