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Running and Running a Business

In one day, running literally changed my life.

It was the first chilly, but sunny spring day in Chicago where there’s bound to be someone wearing shorts in 45 degrees. I had a double hitter of a day: a nasty argument with my boyfriend and a client who declared bankruptcy and would not pay a hefty outstanding invoice. I was so distraught that I decided I had to go out and clear my head.

I was so wound up that I started to run. I jogged from light pole to light pole deciding that this was a great way to burn off the tension of the day. Eventually, I stopped after a mile or so, finding flip flops to not be the perfect running shoes. Poor footwear aside, I felt better; the gentle sun and cool fresh air felt great and I was significantly less tense.

The next morning, I woke up just as irritated so I choose to repeat what worked the day before, once again feeling surprised at how relaxed and motivated I felt afterwards. By the end of the week, I signed myself up for a half marathon. 12 year later, I still marvel at how much running informs the rest of my life, particularly my work life:

  • Set and visualize goals. Like the light posts, having small but measurable daily goals not only keeps one motivated, but can lead to incredible progress over time.

  • There is freedom in routine. There’s only one day each week that I don’t run and that’s because my body needs to rest. Every other day, I’m out the door at 6:15 am.

  • Think ahead and be prepared. You really can run in almost any weather as long as you’re prepared. And when you’re always prepared there’s no need excuses.

  • Distance always provides perspective. Whether it’s a personal issue or a professional challenge, the best solution often appears when we step away from it.

  • You are your biggest accomplishment. I don’t need a chip or a Personal Best to feel the success of finishing a long race. The biggest thrill is competing against myself.

  • Don’t get complacent. The same running route each morning may be the same terrain but the conditions are rarely the same.

I find that some of the biggest challenges I face can often be solved with a run and a reminder of the tenants above. Running a business certainly requires the same discipline, awareness and a delicate balance of structure and flexibility and, of course, the willingness to always try something new. As I reflect on my 12 years as an avid runner, perhaps the biggest lesson in this experience may be to never say never.

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