by Graham Shalvoy
Renowned ultra-marathon coach David Roach writes that the key to running success is “building a really huge aerobic wall through consistent running.” He adds that “the best way to build fitness… is to focus on putting as many daily bricks (runs) as possible, even if they are really small.” He goes on to say that “to be any good at running, you have to train frequently and consistently to improve running economy and aerobic development, not necessarily hard and long which increases injury risk.”As you read this, I want you to envision your work goals and how you approach achieving them. Are you someone who pushes hard for short bursts throughout the year and hopes that effort will be enough to reach them? Or, are you someone who puts in consistent effort daily and uses planning to effectively attack a plan that will step-by-step take you down the road to success? In my career, I have seen both work, but why does consistency tend to overpower short, hard bursts of activity?
If you wake up each day with a consistent plan to tackle your daily goals, which go into your monthly and quarterly goals, you will get used to the effort and it will become a pattern. Similarly, if you commit to running six days a week, you may have to run early in the morning, middle of day, or late in the evening (or a combination in my case!) to make a pattern. However, if you do it each week, it gets easier to achieve because the pattern becomes a habit. If you have a goal each day of setting one new meeting with a prospect, it also becomes a habit. Some days will be harder than others. You may have to wake up at 4:45 AM (good morning!) to get the run in or make 90 calls to get one prospect to say yes, but if it’s a habit, it’s just what you do.
I find that if I take Friday afternoon to plan my next week (work, running, kid activities, time with Corinne) and then at the end of every day, make sure my week is still on track, I am more likely to avoid surprises like when a meeting and a run conflict. If I find that I have a client morning coffee, a lunch meeting, and an evening kid activity, I have to wake up early to get my run in. Wednesday’s can be crazy with meetings, so occasionally I have to tweak my running schedule and do the workout Thursday so I can run shorter on Wednesday. I have found all is possible if you plan it carefully enough.
Training and Working with Purpose
David Roche has every one of his athletes run downhill with “purpose.” By that, he means that you are to push your body to run quickly downhill because gravity makes breathing in the cardio-zone easier, even when running fast. I try to go beyond this and run every run with purpose. I am not out there to look at the scenery (but, I still do!). I am taking time away from work and family to become a better runner. So, I focus, even on my easy days, to be present in the run and to maximize each aspect. Foot placement, cadence, breathing, nutrition, hydration, etc. I do this in work as well. I don’t want to be in the office just to be in the office. I want to maximize my time there. My team and I are competing against every other staffing firm in town. I want to be focused when my competition is not. Calling my customers, when they are not. Pushing the envelope of speed and quality when they are focusing on either or.Making consistency a habit, planning for it, then working and training with purpose are not easy tasks. It’s easy to say that you are going to do it at the year-end planning meeting or at the beginning of running season. Implementing takes discipline and determination and being successful in business or in running requires it. Many people will try, but not everyone gets to the big dance that is success.
Graham Shalvoy is a leader for Edgelink, a technology focused recruiting and staffing firm. He is also a competitive trail runner and coach, logging 60-70 miles per week. His wife, Corinne is also a competitive trail runner and coach and is a Director of Talent for Cologix, a data center company. Together they have two, rowdy boys and Corinne and Graham hold on for dear life juggling it all.