8K business lessons

From the pages of In Business magazine.

I have always been an active person, playing competitive sports throughout my time in school and, even now, participating in several leagues throughout the year.

However, like most people, my dedication to a workout routine can sometimes wane. I go through long periods of not skipping a workout, or times when work and life get so busy that my good workout habits are placed on the backburner. Before I know it, a month goes by since my last trip to the gym or a jog outside.

Even with a sporadic routine, participating in several 5K runs has been a joy. Not only are they a good weekend workout, they also are an opportunity to do something fun with friends and, in a lot of cases, donate to a good cause. This year, my in-laws will be making the trip down to Madison to do the Color Run with me and my husband, Matt. Since the last few months have been one of those “off-the-wagon” exercise cycles, getting back in the swing of things was a must, or I’d run the risk of getting passed up by my 62-year-old father-in-law!

The weekend after we signed up for the Color Run, the Crazylegs 8K, one of Madison’s largest races, was held. I have never done an 8K or run more than five consecutive miles, but what better way to get back into a fitness regimen than diving in with a new challenge? Since the race was only a week away, there was no time to train for this new milestone. I signed up online, and the next time the race crossed my mind was the morning of the event.

That morning, while driving downtown, the weather was cold and windy, and it was tempting to turn around and get back into bed. However, I had told a few of my friends to meet me at the finish line, and I’d never hear the end of it if they called me from the finish line while I relaxed on my couch instead of grabbing our first round of celebratory beers.

So even with the little voices in my head wondering what I had gotten myself into, I pushed forward. Before I knew it, I was at the starting line on the Capitol Square with thousands of other people. Even though the weather was terrible, there was a great energy in the crowd. After a few minutes in the queue, my heat was up, the horn sounded, and my first 8K was underway.



Throughout the race people were on the sidelines cheering, holding up signs, and giving high fives. Anytime a negative thought came across my mind or my legs started to get tired, all I had to do was look at them for inspiration. At one point, there was a section where some runners were going one way, while others had turned the corner and were heading in the opposite direction on the same road. As we passed each other, runners of all ages and skill levels exchanged smiles. After 45 minutes, I crossed the finish line in Camp Randall Stadium.

Not only did the race help me accomplish a new fitness goal, it also gave me time to think about things in my business and life. My takeaways are the importance of taking action, even if you won’t be the best right away, and the importance of “accountability partners” to keep you on track, even if it just means sharing goals and meeting later for that celebratory beer. The final lesson is the value of a positive support system, even if that system is comprised of people you have never met.

Your humble columnist may have been among the last to cross the finish line, but she beat everyone who didn’t have enough initiative to enter the race. This month, put yourself in the “race,” whatever it may be.

Fast Track Action Items for June:
■ Sign up for something that is out of your comfort zone, something you have never done before. The biggest hurdle is taking the first step.
■ Find and surround yourself with a group of supporters — people who have the same end goal and will push you and give you positive reinforcement.
■ Find “accountability partners” and announce your goals to them.

What new challenge will you be taking on this month? Let me know! Email me at Jenna@JennaAtkinsonConsulting.com.

Jenna Atkinson is the president of CONNECT Madison, a young professionals group offering development, community engagement, and relationship-building opportunities to local business leaders.

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