When I crossed the line on my first marathon in Athens in 2018, I was exhausted and jubilant, “Oh God, nine months of hard work and everything was worth it”, but I never thought that this would bring improvements to my skills at work. I also learned many things about my body and mind when running the marathon — things that I needed to improve for my next challenge, the Havana Marathon in November 2019.
That’s great, you’ll think, but how is all of this boosting your productivity at work? Let’s go with it. There are only so many hours in the day, so you have to be efficient. Preparing for a marathon while working full-time can be extremely challenging. I brought from my training plan to my work a best practice that increased my productivity notably as well as my sense of achievement.
Be committed, but flexible
Working toward your goals is a matter of perseverance and commitment, but you need to be able to adapt yourself to changes, state of mind and stuff that escapes your control.
You can’t control the weather, a sudden injury or an unexpected issue at home when you are training for a marathon. You need to be disciplined, yet flexible. I have become more open minded and I’m able to adapt my schedule to my life, so it isn’t a drama if I have to wake up at 6am to have a training session.
The next step is to prepare forthcoming events or tasks that are on the way. I like to plan in advance, but it is mandatory to be adaptable because unexpected things can happen.
Be more structured
You need to be as structured at work as in your training and, at some point, you’ll have to consider both at the same time if you want to succeed at both.
This time my training was much better, much more precise, concise and purposeful. 20 weeks of training, 5 days a week. 2 short runs, 1 long run, 1 speed run and 1 cross-training day.
To give everything the right amount of focus, you’ll need to look at your tasks. Do they need to be done daily, weekly, monthly? Which one is the most urgent? Can I accomplish this particular task on my own? Do I need help from my team or from a client?
Let the planning begin
In the same way I approach my training, each Monday I plan my week and each evening I plan my next day by reviewing my training plan and all my meetings at work. This all goes into a productivity tool so I know when I’m going to do what.
Can I attend all those meetings? Which ones are mandatory for me? Which ones are important? Which ones are accessories? Once I have my work calendar ready, I move my mind to the training plan schedule.
So now that I know where I stand, I’m ready to plan for next week: two gym sessions, two short runs (10km and 7.5km), one series day (8x800m) and one long run (29km).
Monday: Rest day because I will run 29km on Sunday
Tuesday: Gym + short run 10km after work
Wednesday: 8x800m after work
Friday: Short run 7.5km
Saturday: Rest day
Sunday: Long run 29km
This organization is allowing me to achieve my target at work because I’m more productive and that makes me happy. I really like the sense of achievement at work and, similarly, each time I finish a training session. This is multiplied by infinity when you cross the finish line of a marathon course.
Track > Analyze > Improve > Repeat
The best way of learning for me is with visual elements, so in the infographic below you will find the process I follow to improve my productivity at work and when training for a marathon.
I will start a training plan for my next marathon in a few weeks and I’ll be applying all the learnings I have gained from my first and second marathon. I’ll also discard those that aren’t working for me.
If my level of motivation decreases, I just go back to my original idea: running a marathon on each continent and that gives me a big shot of positive energy. My plan is to run the Medellín Marathon next September. I’ll let you know how it is going.