As a long distance athlete, I often get asked: “why on earth do you spend so much time on your running?” My response is often a mere giggle or a one-liner: “it’s a hobby!” The reality though is this: running yields success. Whilst not all runners will succeed, there are clear distinct reasons why runners are likely to be successful.
Having run over 30 marathons, 15 ultra-marathons and 4 Comrades Marathons – I can say with certainty that running yields success. I’ve run with CEOS, Executives, Managers, Supervisors and Entrepreneurs. But success is not entirely limited to financial or professional success. Because running gives you so much time to chat to fellow runners, I’ve had conversations with many athletes who occupy ‘low-key jobs’ in society. As such, chatting to runners such as security guards has often shown me that running gives them life success and contentment that goes far beyond the boundaries of finances and a profession.
To that extent, my definition of success is living a fulfilling and balanced life.
In this post, I want to share 11 reasons why runners are likely to successful.
1. They understand the importance of goal-setting
Goal setting is vital. In 1979, Harvard MBA program graduate students were asked “have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?” The result: only 3% had written goals and plans. 13% had goals but they weren’t in writing. 84% had no goals at all.
Ten years later, the same group was interviewed again and the result was absolutely mind-blowing. The 13% of the class who had goals, but did not write them down was earning twice the amount of the 84% who had no goals. The 3% who had written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97% of the class combined!
Nothing significant can be achieved in the absence of setting clear and powerful goals. Runners set goals all the time. Speed training is driven by goals. Hills training is driven by goals. Long runs are based on goals. Races are driven by goals. In fact, missing some of these goals can be heart-breaking (more of this later in the post).
2. They measure progress
Runners are obsessed with gadgets. Why? Because these gadgets measure almost everything: speed, heart rate, distance, averages, etc. All this data is important and gets analysed by runners to measure progress.
3. They value time
Time is of the essence to runners. Races start promptly. Chasing a race because you were late is just not cool. At an event like the Comrades Marathon, ONE second can shatter your dreams. Ask anyone who finishes the race in 12 hours and 1 second.
Earlier, I mentioned the heart-break of missing goals. Because Comrades has numerous cut-off points, imagine the heart-ache of getting cut-off because you are few seconds late. To runners, one second is the difference between a medal and non-acknowledgement. One second is the difference between tears of joy and tears of heart-ache.
Below is a picture of runners who were cut off at the 2015 Comrades Marathon. It shows how a few seconds or minutes lead to heart-ache.
The picture says a thousands words.
4. They are highly disciplined
Training for a long distance event – marathons and longer – requires self-discipline.
It takes months of consistency, sacrifice and effort, all of which hinge on this one vital characteristic called self-discipline.
5. They know how to overcome obstacles
During training, runners will go through periods of injuries, illness and fatigue – physically and mentally.
In extreme events like the Comrades Marathon, runners experience grueling obstacles. From the crazy distances to tough weather conditions, runners have to endure challenges that bring out the best in them.
6. They are patient
Runners value process. In a world of short-cuts and manipulation, runners understand that the best way to get success is through patience. Patience builds life endurance in you. Patience teaches you humility. In all of these teachings, runners learn that the longest route to success is taking short-cuts.
As a result, patience is non-negotiable!
7. They know that competing with others is not the most important thing
Competing is great. It improves you and makes you a better person. However, you have to view competition with the right perspective. Whilst competing with others is awesome, competing against yourself is the ideal. That way, you don’t become jealous. You don’t get devastated by other people’s success because you know that your turn to succeed will come around. And when it does, it doesn’t necessarily have to come in the same measure as others.
8. They build networks
Be it training or race events, runners meet hundreds of people. Because of the nature of long distance running, you are able to spend hours on the road, interacting with others. Through this interaction, relationships are built. Through relationship building, intricate networks are built – all of which are necessary ingredients to success.
9. They budget
Runners have numerous events in any given year. Some of those events are out of town and attract travelling and accommodation costs. As a result, they are forced to budget in advance to avoid the increased costs of last minute bookings. Budgeting is essential to life success.
10. They understand the power of leverage
The picture below says a mouthful:
To runners, they understand the power of team work. As such, they often jump into a crowd of runners that has a “pace-setter”, what we commonly call “buses” in South Africa. If it isn’t crowds, they run in batches of two to four runners. Why? Because they know that there is power in leveraging.
When you run in a team, you are able to encourage one another and share the load and strain. You are also able to glean and learn from the strongest. Ultimately, in a team, you are able to go far. Success is about going far, not sprinting.
11. They view failure differently
Failure becomes temporary if you have the right perspective. EVERYONE fails in life. The difference between those who succeed and fail is that those who succeed view failure as temporary.
As you can see from the Facebook post below: runners learn from failure. They view failure as a necessary transition towards success. A transition that enables them to pick themselves up, give it another shot and persevere.
Success is not an automatic process. It requires a certain type of mindset. It also requires a particular lifestyle that is built of productive habits.
Running is an awesome sporting discipline that builds characteristic in you that can’t be manipulated. No wonder Oprah Winfrey and Sean Combs aka Puff Daddy both ran marathons in 1994 and 2003 respectively.