What Running Taught Me About Entrepreneurship


If you know me personally or have followed my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I’m just about the farthest thing from a workout queen. I want to be healthy and exercise, but I really hate it, so I don’t do it as often as I should. I’m also anemic, which is a fabulous excuse for why I have no endurance (or at least it used to be). Basically, until very recently, if I ran 1 mile I was proud of myself and called it a tough a workout.

My boyfriend, however, has run multiple marathons. A few weeks ago he convinced me to go running with him and, to my utter shock, everything changed.

We started out on our run and not 30 seconds into he said to me, “Well, there’s your problem. You’re doing it wrong.”

“Wait, what? How can someone run wrong?” I thought. Well, it turns out you can run wrong pretty easily. Apparently I was starting out too quickly if I wanted to run for any distance. By slowing down my pace just slightly, I jumped from running 1 mile to running 5 or 6 miles in the blink of an eye and I was able to do consistently. What a game changer!

So what does this have to do with entrepreneurship? Well, there were a few¬†lessons I learned from this running epiphany and they’re all very applicable to entrepreneurship.

Firstly, you don’t know what you don’t know. Had I known I was running wrong, of course I would have fixed it way before now. Since I’d always run alone, however, I had no idea what the proper pace was, nor did it ever occur to me that a person could be doing this very basic exercise incorrectly. I didn’t know I didn’t know how to run and it was holding me back, big time. The same is true in entrepreneurship. When you begin building your new startup or small business there are tons of things that need to be accomplished and tons more that need to be avoided. Some are pretty obvious to everyone, but others would never occur to you unless you’d been there before and knew what to ask about. Recognize that you don’t know what you don’t know and seek out information, mentors, and guidance at every turn.

Secondly, it’s all mental. I’m not a “stop and smell the roses” kind of person so, for me, running is incredibly boring. It’s basically something I don’t want to do without any distractions, so I just jog along thinking about how I don’t want to be jogging. Running with my boyfriend, however, I had something to focus on other than the fact that I hate running. The distraction combined with the new pace made each mile go by much faster and once I had run 5 miles once, I knew there was no reason I couldn’t do it again. The next time I ran, even though my boyfriend wasn’t there, I knew I could do it so I did…and I ran 6 miles and was happy about it. It was just a simple mindset change and all of a sudden I was excited about the running instead of hating every second of it. Now, don’t get me wrong – overall I still hate running – but I don’t torture myself every second of it now and that means I can accomplish more. The same applies to entrepreneurship: you get to choose how you approach the hurdles that will inevitable be placed in front of you and you can either act as if each one is the kryptonite that will kill your business or you can look at it as another speed bump that is annoying and briefly slows you down but doesn’t halt your forward progress. It’s up to you which you choose.

Thirdly,¬†support is good for you. I apologize in advance for the mushiness but, my boyfriend believed I could run 5 miles so I believed I could run 5 miles and then, magically, I ran 5+ miles. This connects directly with my point above that everything is mental. Entrepreneurship is tough and you have to be able to emotionally cope with the stress and push through setbacks to achieve success. That’s way easier to do when you have the support of those around you.

Finally, you need the right tools. As I mentioned, I had never run more than a mile or so prior to this adventure with my boyfriend so the shoes I wore didn’t matter much. The second I started running 5+ miles, however, I could feel the beating on my ankles, knees, and feet because I didn’t have the proper shock-absorption or ankle support in my shoes. You can’t succeed in the long term without the right tools to get you there. In running, that’s the shoes. In entrepreneurship that might be a CRM system, a lightning fast computer, or an experienced accountant. Whatever tools are really necessary for the growth of your business shouldn’t be skimped on.

That’s all for this week. If you liked this video or found it helpful, please let me know by liking it on Facebook and YouTube and sharing it with your network. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter to get all of the latest tips, info, and tools for building your business delivered right to your inbox, for free, every week.

4 Replies to “What Running Taught Me About Entrepreneurship”

  1. Very good metaphor. I can relate to this and concur completely with your observations. I now use visualisation before my runs, and scope out the route in my head beforehand – it works! I wish I had done the same, with some business ventures in the past. I can think of many details from successful running activity, that have strong parrallels in business. A great thought provoking discussion topic for a sunny Thursday morning!

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