I am a runner. But that has not always been a true statement, in fact I used to hate running. When I was a kid I used to swim but when I ended up in physio for knee problems the doctor told me I should not run until I was 21. “Woo hoo!”, I thought. I have an excuse to avoid doing something I can’t stand! In fact, I carried that excuse through into my 40s when it abruptly ended. You see my husband had running a marathon on his bucket list and while I stuck to my guns for a couple more years, watching him go from barely being able to run 3 miles to completing his first full marathon quite frankly inspired me. Perhaps running wasn’t as horrible as I originally thought?
I began slowly but as I was able to increase my distance I found the experience became more and more pleasurable. Once I was able to control my breathing and reach a loose, comfortable state the endorphin release was downright addictive. I don’t have running a full marathon on my bucket list but I do run half marathons and the experience is a total high. While I can’t say that running outdoors during 90+ degree Miami summers is the best thing ever, I still do it because I know that as soon as the weather turns a little cooler, I’ll feel as though I can take on the world!
But running does more than make me feel good and keep me in shape, I have found that over the years it has made me a better business leader. So here are three ways running helps me to run my business;
1. It expands my knowledge: In the past I ran with my favorite play list, but being a Type A personality, I felt a bit guilty about all of that “wasted” time and it impacted how frequently I felt like putting my sneakers on. And then I discovered Audible.com. Well not that I didn’t always know it existed but it became a part of my daily life. I now voraciously consume an average of two business books per week while running or driving to client meetings. So no more guilt and in fact I can’t wait to go and run so that I can listen to the next chapter and think about how I can apply the wisdom of world renowned experts to my clients’ business problems. It also gives me a constant source of insights to share with my team. Even if you don’t run, I highly recommend turning your otherwise unproductive commute time into learning time.
2. It forces me to carve out focused thinking time: Some days as I am grappling with a particularly challenging project, I run listening to absolutely nothing but my own thoughts. I find that both the lack of usual office interruptions combined with allowing the busy part of my brain to be distracted by keeping my breathing steady, I am able to come up with some of my best ideas. I understand why Steve Jobs used to hold one-on-one meetings while taking a brisk walk. Breathing fresh air and getting out of the office seems to help the creative thought process.
3. It keeps me “in the zone” longer: We all have ups and downs in our energy level during the day, which impacts the quality of our decision making. I find that running is a great way to burn off whatever frustrations I might be dealing with as well as give me a nice mental boost that helps my decision making. When I return from a run I feel both relaxed and strong. I find that I’m more productive and less likely to react to situations.
Think you can’t carve time out of your day for your favorite exercise? Try combining it with business. Consider it an opportunity for learning, focused reflection on a problem, and a productivity boost that will actually allow you to get more done during your day.