Archives for posts with tag: running


I love to run.

When I started running marathons, I used to focus on one person I wanted to beat. I just ran them into the ground. Until I passed them and I had to find another competitor to beat.

That worked well for a few miles but around Mile 15, I lost my stride and focus. Putting all my effort into beating the competition, made me forget to focus on the little things: My posture, the stride, breathing, my mental state, my exhaustion level. All have to be fine-tuned while running or Mile 22 will became the torture mile.

That’s a very common mistake

Very common for brands, organizations and people. We focus so much on the competition that we lose sight of our mission, vision and performance.

It happened to Toyota when they were focused on beating GM.

We need to use competition to improve ourselves. The competition is there to help us be better, learn from them. What are they doing right in marketing and product development? How are they dealing with customer services challenges? What decisions are turning customers into ex-customers? Collect all of them and delight them with your product/service. Don’t be ruthless against your competition. But ruthless when it comes to your brand. Ruthlessly improving.

When I run now, I focus on myself and try to learn from other fellow runners at the same time. Once I learned enough, I’ll pass them.

I started running in my lat 20’s. I hated running in school. I preferred to play soccer, volleyball or tennis. Running seemed like a burden. Once I went to college, sports disappeared from my life. That was ok for a while but once the scale headed in the wrong direction, I had to do something about it.

Running seemed to be the easy solution. No gear necessary. No major preparation.

If you want to run and don’t want to hate it, then just get out there and run. Running can do amazing things for your body and for your soul – but you’ve got to keep doing it.  You’ve got to run through the sucky parts to get to the good stuff.  Just get out there and run.  And then run some more.  Keep racking up the miles and somewhere along the way you’ll come to love it.

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I’m not particularly good at running. I don’t have a great stride, I never developed a good technique. Just like Forrest Gump, one day I just started to run. Running was not in my blood. I played soccer for years, tennis, squash and loved to ride my bike. Running was always a necessary evil, not something I enjoyed. As your life gets busier, playing all these sports required too much preparation. Running is different. I can just grab my sneakers, leave the house and run away. No preparation. No equipment. Just run. So I did.

Running teaches you to focus on yourself. There are always other runners who are faster. And many who are slower. What counts is finding your own pace. The pace that challenges you and, at the same time, makes you come back for another run next day. In our competitive world, we tend to focus too much on others. Instead, we should focus more on our strengths, find our own pace, our own zone. That’s the place where we belong.

Running teaches you to challenge all the old rules and set lofty goals. For years, I ran around 4-5 miles daily. Decent pace, nothing extraordinary. I couldn’t fathom running 10 miles or even a marathon. One day, for no particular reason, I decided to run 15 miles. Same pace, three times the distance. And I succeeded. Three months later I was running my first marathon. We tend to believe in our own devil’s advocate, reminding us of our limitations constantly. The outside world doesn’t help because they love to put things in boxes, remind us not to get too big for our bridges and basically transfer their own limitations to us. Sure, it might have been better to gradually ease into 15 miles by adding 1 mile each week. Sometimes that doesn’t work. Sometimes you just have to go for it and try to achieve something unattainable.

Last but not least, running taught me be more in the moment. When you run a marathon, you dream of the finish line. You dream of the moment when you don’t have to run anymore, where the bathtub is waiting for you, a bed. But focusing on the finish line takes away from the moments: little kids handing you orange pieces, people cheering you on, helping somebody through a cramp, working through the pains and aches, the knowing smile of a fellow runner. Looking back, I don’t remember the finish line moment. But I do remember those little moments. And what is life besides a collection of those little, precious moments?