Running a 5.2 mile race

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In the spirit of getting more exercise, Kara and I signed up for a race that we could run while we were together during our Summer/Fall Retreat. Because I was planning a wedding up until two weeks before the race, I pretty much forgot about (ignored?) training, so there I was on race day having literally not run a single step since at least a year prior. Oh goodie.

I walked to the very back of the crowd and got myself ready for what was sure to be a painful experience.

5.2 miles of running later, I had a few new lessons learned that seemed somewhat apropos given the context of my life and the entrepreneurship I’m undertaking with Kara. Here they are for you:

Grit counts for a lot.
I had a connect with a woman in Fort Collins a while back, and although we talked about many things, the one key soundbyte I remember from her was her parting message to me: “The only thing standing between you and success is grit.” Before becoming an entrepreneur, I’d probably used that word once or twice in my whole life. Since, it’s become one of my mama-bear values, and I pretty much think about it every day. 5.2 miles of running when I haven’t trained at all isn’t impossible, and I’m not going to seriously injure myself, but it is going to hurt. Grit was the only thing standing between me and finishing the run, and grit is what I found within myself that day.

Go slow to go fast.
I’ve heard a lot of my runner friends plan for marathons or other crazy-long distances, and they always talked about pacing. As a non-runner, I basically just run at whatever pace I can sustain, without much thought to it. But this time, given the longer-than-nothing distance, I wanted to make sure I had reserves for the last mile or two when I knew I’d be feeling it. I started with a REALLY slow pace. What was interesting about the run, though, was that each mile I ran was faster than the previous one, and by the end of the run, not only was I not dying, I was practically flying down the road. When I think about the business that Kara and I have been building, there are moments when I get frustrated that we’re not moving more quickly. People always talk about being nimble and fast as a startup, and when I don’t feel us doing that, I think we’re making mistakes. But the lesson of the race was that sometimes you have to go slow to go fast. We’re taking our time to set things up right and feel things out when we can. In no time we’ll be cruising along at a speed that’s fast AND strong.

A little pain is part of the process.
At about mile 1.2, I started to feel a blister forming on the bottom of my foot. This is a classic experience for me. I have flat arches, and every shoe I’ve tried gives me blisters… unless I train for a while and build up a callus. But since I hadn’t trained, I got my compulsory blister. I was NOT happy that I started feeling it only a fifth the way into the run, but such was life. By the time I finished, I had a nice 1.5” bubble. I’ll stop there. Just know that it was gross. The lesson that I took away from it, though, was more about the predictability of it all. I knew I was going to get a blister. I knew it was going to hurt. I knew where it was going to be, and I knew that I was going to have to endure it to get to the end. I also knew that if I had trained for just a little bit, I wouldn’t have had this problem. It made me think of some of the tasks Kara and I give ourselves to manage and grow our business. Sometimes we have to do things that are a little painful. I’m not a huge fan of doing cold-calling to grow our sales pipeline, and I don’t love fiddling with the back end of our email server all the time, but they’re a part of the process. If I do them enough, I’ll get better and the tasks will get easier. If I don’t take the time to build up the calluses I need, they’ll always be painful when it comes time to do them.

I don’t know when I’ll run my next race, and whether I’ll have some new insights into the similarities of running and building a business, but at least I’ve got these to hang onto for now.

What lessons have you learned from running?

-- Stephanie Judd, cofounder, wolf & heron