unlock potential 1200pxMy face was bright red, I was sweating from every single part of me… but I was smiling and ecstatically happy. My husband was by my side. There was of course, some fairly tight and revealing clothing being worn…

… but you would expect that as I was at the finish line of The Marston 5k running race. (Why, what were you thinking?)

A few weeks ago I did something that I never thought I would do. I ran 5k in a proper running race. Not a ‘race for life’, but one with proper runners, in proper running gear. With running chips and everything…

At school I was never the first to be picked for a team. As my personal trainer told me about a month ago, you are not a ‘natural athlete’. Thanks! But, it is true, if I made it onto the school hockey team it was normally because someone else couldn’t make it. I learnt several valuable lessons as I crossed the finish line, which will help you cross your own finish line and make it to partner.

1. I had a personally motivating goal – which wasn’t about achieving a certain time

I’ve never been particularly sporty. Always kept myself pretty fit, but never the sort of fitness of levels of achievement which would make a local sporting club want to attract me to their membership. Unfortunately at the age of 24 I discovered that I suffered from hypermobile joints, which made me very susceptible to injury. 15 years and 2 pregnancies later, my joints were darn fragile. At this point, even though I had never really done much running, I decided it was sensible if I hung up my running shoes and declared myself a ‘non-runner’.

I’m not sure how I started the running back up. Perhaps it was because I was fed up of just doing walking and weights with my personal trainer? Whatever the reason, I am always up for a challenge. You could say it is part of my DNA. Seeing whether I could run again AND stay relatively injury free was a pretty motivating goal for me.

The goal initially started at running 5k in under 30 mins. Then when I had hit this goal, it became running a half marathon with my husband. Running the Marston 5k was part of the milestone for the half marathon. My goal wasn’t about doing it within a certain time, it was about getting around and enjoying it with my running buddy and husband.

What you can learn from this: 

    • You will get further and faster in your career if you enjoy what you are doing
    • It is easier to enjoy the journey if you have your own support team with you
    • Put a motivating career goal in your diary to help you get to your own goal

2. I’d done the hard work to fall back on during the race

On January 1st 2014, I started up the free NHS couch to 5k programme. I completed this programme along side my running buddy Melanie-Jane. For 9 weeks we both ran 3 times a week through wind, rain, sleet and hail. Oh yes, running in the dark and being pistol-whipped with small balls of ice is no fun. It was this discipline and focus through the dark winter months which built us a strong platform for our fitness, which meant that we knew whatever the weather, or what the course threw at us, we would get round.

What you can learn from this:

  • Getting to partner is a marathon not a sprint, so build a firm foundation for your career progression
  • Keep plugging away at your career plan, even when everyone else is doing other things.

3. Your support team is vital to your success

On the day, I ran with my husband and friend Melanie-Jane. Whilst my husband and I were fitter and stronger than Melanie-Jane, we ran at her speed. Several times, Melanie-Jane gave us the pass to speed up and run our own race. But, where was the fun in that? Plus, I wasn’t letting Melanie-Jane off the hook! We were running the race together and finishing together. I’ve run with Melanie-Jane so many times, I know when she is going too fast. This meant I was able to coax her to the line without having to stop once.

What you can learn from this:

  • Have a coach coaxing and mentoring you through to partner, it will get you through the tough parts
  • Build a support team around you to keep you going

4. Slow and steady is better than having several false starts

A time of 33mins and 39 seconds for 5k is never going to win any awards for speed. Even though it was a very humid evening… however, we came ahead of a few runners who had set off too fast and had to keep stopping to catch their breath. We kept a fairly even pace all the way around, and didn’t stop once.

What you can learn from this:

  • pace yourself on your journey to partner. It is better to get a slow, but consistent career progression than having multiple set backs along the way because you have set yourself an impossible task. Use our free guide to career action planning to help you plan how you will make it through to partner.

5. Be prepared to re-think your goals

I wrote the majority of this post at the end of June. You may be surprised to know that since then I have only run once.  I had been running with an injury and stopped running to give my body time to heal. Unfortunately that injury turned out to be 2 bulging disks. Pretty much a ‘stop doing all forms of exercise until it has healed’ diagnostic. One MRI scan later and far too many painful physio sessions to recall, I have still not got back to running. I may never get back to running…

So, what does this mean for you and your career:

  • Set backs will happen in your career. It is how you handle these set backs which will determine whether you make it through to partner
  • If you don’t have a firm foundation to go for partner, then you will probably get derailed along the way