I have always been a runner, but took it much more seriously this past year. In addition to competing with St. Edward’s NCAA II Women’s Cross Country, I also prepped for and raced in my first half marathon! Throughout this intensive training, I was also building a startup – EllieGrid. With graduation approaching, I’ve been reflecting on personal successes and struggles over the past year, and couldn’t help but notice similarities between long distance running and starting a company. I believe running is helpful to entrepreneurs in the following ways:
1. Mental Health
All entrepreneurs will tell you that starting a company can take a toll on your mental health. I blame the long hours that stretch into weekends, caffeine-induced stress, the emotional whiplash from the high highs and low lows, and poor diets consisting of pizza and Coke. Running helped me to cope with this stress in so many ways. My favorite thing about running is its simplicity. Focusing on something so simple helps me maintain my mental sanity (or what is left of it, any way). All it takes is putting one foot in front of the other, over and over again. No deadlines, no budgets, no fighting the Austin traffic.
Don’t just take my word for it… check out this article from Endurance Mag!
2. Pushing Through Pain
Startup life will be rough on more than just your mental health. It will put stress on your family, your bank account, your social life… You name it! Success is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Stumbles are inevitable. Unless you summon the strength to push through the pain, you’ll never make it to the finish line. In the wise words of Katy Perry, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. Approach your challenges the same way you’d approach training. Practice, and it will get easier.
In both running and entrepreneurship, you have to set goals before you begin. In order to reach your goals, you must have very specific plans written down with key action steps for each goal. When you have a training schedule outlined for the week ahead of time, you are more likely to hit your milestones. Time management is a huge part of this. One must be disciplined and focused enough to overcome distractions.
To achieve your goals, you have to depend on yourself. This can be challenging because it requires you to be your own boss. Nothing beats the feeling of proving to yourself that you had it in you all along. Entrepreneurship is an independent sport. Even if you have co-founders, the only person who is going to make you work hard is you. When your hard work pays off, it improves your self-esteem.
5. The Importance of Recovery
After a long hard practice, runners are encouraged to head to the training room to recover. This in no way means you are weak. Rather, recovery time allows you to take care of your body and train even harder. Without this, you will be more prone to injuries and burning out. The same is true for entrepreneurs. We all need recovery days after working hard for so long.