How Running a Marathon Can Help You Run Your Business
To mark the countdown to this year's PEI Marathon (of which MRSB is always a firm supporter), runner and business owner Chris Matters tells us how putting his running shoes on has helped him as an entrepreneur.
Running out of excuses as to why you haven’t been exercising? Believe me, as the owner of a busy consultancy I understand each and every limitation and barrier that stands between you and the treadmill, the Pilates mat or the bike. But also believe me when I say that once you manage to break down your reasons not to put on the gear and break a sweat, you’ll find more and more reasons why you should have been doing so all along.
One similarity between exercise of any kind and managing a business is simply that they are both hard. No one starts up a business, immediately gains a loyal client base, keeps doing the same thing for 20 years and winds up a millionaire (Ok, Mark Zuckerberg might prove us wrong). By the same token, you don’t put on your first pair of running shoes or yoga pants, experience no muscle soreness and lose ten pounds in the first week. Both being an entrepreneur and being fit require patience, persistence and long-term goal setting. If you find yourself highly structured at work but less-than-motivated during your off hours, starting up a fitness routine might be just the thing to structure your downtime and add some lift to your day.
It’s no secret that regular exercise battles stress - and usually wins. Being a business owner often involves more sleepless nights, intense interactions and generally higher stakes than other types of work, and balancing all of this with family and other obligations keeps the stress ball right on rolling. I’m not suggesting you make things even harder on yourself by forcing a fitness regime into an already-packed schedule. Rather, start with a small goal like running a short leg as part of your corporate relay team or complete a six week aerobics class. Chances are that, just as in business, the act of starting something – anything – will spur you toward further action.
Feel like you don’t have the extra funds right now to join the gym? Unlike many other types of exercise running is cheap, accessible and can be mastered by almost anyone. Someone who weighs 132 pounds burns an average of 300 calories for every 30 minutes of running at a speed of 10 minutes per mile. Once you’re running regularly, your body loses fat and builds up lean muscle tissue. And have you heard of the ‘runner’s high’? It’s a feeling of elation and positive energy that often comes during or after your run. This is because running releases endorphins, which boost your mood and reduce pain sensations.
Before I began running in 2005 I was 60 pounds over my ideal weight and travelling enough that regular exercise sometimes seemed like a pipe dream. But I kept at it, signing up for the Deltaware 5k run and the PEI Marathon in 2006. Within two years I had significantly increased my time and lost 62 pounds. And if you think I must have some secret formula or was somehow more prepared for the sport than the average Joe, think again! It was simply my motivation to keep going and the support of my family that kept me reaching for my goals.
Running, not just marathons but as a weekly activity, really has helped me achieve success as the owner of Llink. My days feel more focused and functional as I make time either in the morning or at lunchtime to run. It clears away any negativity and gives me energy to deal with new challenges day-to-day. I now look forward to trekking to new parts of the globe for business, partly because I wonder what the running conditions will be like and try to map out interesting routes. And to top it off, I look and feel better at 41 than I did when I was 30.
When it comes down to it, no one can tell you to get fit, and no one can motivate you to keep at it unless you motivate yourself. But for me, the benefits are loud and clear, and I look forward to setting (and hopefully breaking) another personal record during this year’s MRSB Marathon. Good luck!