How to run faster in your forties!
No I’m not Sinead Diver (Irish-born Australian long-distance runner), but I’ve always enjoyed running. Last summer, after 14 years, I decided to run my 2nd Dublin marathon. Knowing I wanted to be better than last time, I set the big goal and voiced my new mantra …run, rest, repeat. Hoping the training and preparation would get me to the finish line. What I also learned was the same approach – goals, support and recovery can also lead to success in my professional life.
There is a joke about any runners in our extended family – “What’s she running from?” I prefer to think of this as “What is she running to?”
Back in 2005, love had brought me to the dark country lanes of Co Clare from the bright lights of Dublin, and with a lot of time on my hands, I needed some focus, so why not run a marathon!
Fast forward 14 years, 3 children, and a well-earned career break, I had some time on my hands, and (in a moment of madness) signed up for the Dublin marathon, joining over 20,000 people, and set my plan in motion!
With the marathon, you have the big goal – the date and the distance. But to achieve that I was going to need mini-goals to get there. What I also learned was the behind the scenes was the preparation needed – eating, sleeping, stretching, route planning as well as scheduling time for the training.
Back in 2005, pre social media, I had an A4 print out with my 16 week running plan, which I ticked off as I went. This time round, Facebook was my friend with weekly updates from KBC Dublin Marathon - distance and when, helped build experience and track progress. Now I had my big goal, the marathon, my target time and weekly goals to track progress.
In our work lives, especially as women, whether it’s a promotion, going back to college, or starting your own business, we often don’t talk enough about our professional goals. In fact, how often do you pause to set stretch goals and schedule time to ensure you achieve them? Visualising that six month or year goal, knowing what the end might look like and the small steps needed all help make success possible. Research shows that when you share goals with other people you are more likely to actually achieve them. Sharing those aspirations with our friends/family/colleagues/managers/ mentors and understanding the impact on daily lives help make the goal a reality. Why not start by writing down one goal, identify one short term action which will help you and do it.
When I shared my marathon goal with friends and family, the support I got was fantastic, the words of encouragement, the wave on the road, and just the support to say “you’ll do it” helps keep you moving. The first question was always “Have you ran one before?” Fourteen years is a lifetime, and I often joked about what I would tell my younger self. But unlike my younger self who believed I could do it all myself, this time round as the miles got longer, the road got quieter, I realised I needed support on the road. So I joined a local running club, Clare Crusaders. What an amazing group of people. All of a sudden there were people who had done this before, ready to give advice, support and encouragement. An added bonus was that some of the planning was taken care off – the route, the warm-up, the water supplies, the chat and company all got you round.
The big day came and as a family we made a weekend of it. Fourteen years ago, the friends were around the course – the placards, the sweets when the road got hard, but what I realised now was that rather than just being happy to see people, I actually needed the friendly faces along the way. The ones known to me, and the strangers giving words of encouragement helped keep me moving. At one point, turning into Castleknock gate, we were greeted by what seemed like a wall of supporters, the noise was unreal – like a warm hug when you needed it, these acts of kindness helped make the journey shorter.
From friends, family, running club, and Dublin marathon supporters, everyone gave positive support reaching the end goal. Likewise at certain points in career, you need to identify your own supporters, ask for help or advice when needed. They will rarely say no. What will surprise you is they are always there whether you see them or not but you have to choose to take the support
Fourteen years ago in preparation for Dublin, I trained as per the plan, got up to Dublin, ran the marathon, celebrated finishing it, and then came home, ready for work the next day! Unfortunately age catches up with us! It takes time for the body to repair and rest. This time it took 2 months to get back on the road. It impacted in ways I didn’t even realise. That rest time was so lovely and now I am back running again.
After running a marathon, you listen to the physical body, but what happens in a work environment? How often will you take time to recover mentally from a crazy work project? Letting your mind calm, and return to normality. Sometimes you don’t even realise you need to. How do you ensure you look after colleagues and employees with support along the way as well as recovery? Helping to ensure downtime is built into their project loading for their long term wellness.
What would I tell my 20 year old self?
In the end I met my under-4hr goal, in fact I ran 22 mins faster than my 29 year old self, 90 seconds for every year. Only I could achieve that by owning the goal. To my younger self I would say “name it, plan it, share it and use your supporters”. What I didn’t know 14 years ago was that the most memorable parts of my second Dublin marathon would be meeting family along the way and crossing the finish line with my daughter. Priceless!
Diane Hassett is founder of Lift One Works, helps aspiring entrepreneurs unravel the fuzziness of an idea into a business reality. For more information contact Diane@liftoneworks.com or catch up on social. https://www.liftoneworks.com/contact-us