Leadership Lessons from Ultramarathon Training

Over the past few years, I’ve ventured into the world of long-distance ultramarathon running. It’s become more than just something I enjoy; it’s taught me valuable lessons about discipline, adaptability, and the power of persistence – lessons that extend far beyond the trails.

This year I was gearing up for a 62 mile race in VT that I have been eyeing for years. I was all in—like, borderline obsessed committed. I’m talking 135 training runs, 160 hours of running, 60,000 feet of elevation gain—you get the picture. I even did a 40-mile training run solo!

Days before the race, it got canceled because of flooding in VT. I was gutted. Felt like I’d wasted all that time and effort. But then my 11-year-old daughter looked at me and said, “Dad, it’s not a waste! Now you can run further than you ever could before. And you enjoy running, right?”

Boom. Lightbulb moment!

Her observation made me take a step back – she was right. It wasn’t a waste at all! I began to see a connection to leadership. Here is what I learned:

➡️ Discipline & Planning = Resilience: A well-thought out and executed plan toughens you up, equipping you to handle any curveball. The time invested is never wasted and makes you ready for whatever life—or the boardroom—throws at you. As leaders, we need to have a plan A, B, C, and sometimes you can get pretty deep into the alphabet. And btw, if you ever need a spreadsheet to plan how to fuel yourself for a 62-mile run, I’m your guy! 😄

➡️  Be Agile, Adapt: Running in varied conditions with unexpected challenges mirrors leadership. Rain, heat, getting lost – hurdles that don’t derail you but instead make you stronger. Good leaders need to adapt to changing conditions…including getting a bit lost! Don’t be afraid to try new approaches, and be open to taking ideas and inspiration wherever you can find it.

➡️  Mastery? It’s a (ultra)Marathon, Not a Sprint: Whether it’s becoming an ultra-runner or an amazing leader, patience and baby steps are your friends. A few miles evolve into 10, then 26, until the once-crazy 62 miles become achievable. Good leadership doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a day by day, sometimes slow process of building up your skills. The key is to practice and learn from what works, and what doesn’t.

I contemplated a bunch of different ways to “replace” the race. I chose to run in one of my favorite spots, with my race day unicorn hat, and no watch. And it was awesome!

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Even the best leaders in the world struggle at times with the weight of the responsibilities of being a leader. You know this too! It’s hard work to balance it all and know what approach is the best one to meet your objectives while being a supportive leader for your team. But the best leaders don’t do it alone – they seek help from experts who can guide them to become the leader they want to be. Now, you can do the same by booking a free consult with me where I’ll help you get on the path to becoming a stronger leader.

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