This November I will be running the New York City Marathon, my third race at this distance but first in this location. While the race itself will be great (I live right on the course and have been able to cheer on my friends who have done it the last few years), the real value of the experience will come from the training.

Training for the marathon will make a better employee. Here are five reasons why:

  1. Benefits of Regular Exercise: The benefits of regular exercise are well documented. In the short term, my brain will produce regular bursts of dopamine. This improves my mood and makes me someone you look forward to meeting with on Monday morning. Longer-term, regular exercise keeps me fit and boosts my confidence. As someone who is the first person many people meet at our organization, confidence in myself translates into confidence in our work.
  2. Avoiding Unhealthy Office Snacks: Cakes for birthdays, cookies for meetings, doughnuts for Fridays. It’s easy to understand why colleagues want to brighten your day with sweets, but it’s hard to say no without seeming like a fuddy-duddy. Marathon training is a convenient go-to reason for avoiding this stuff without making it tpersonal.
  3. Cascading Positive Effects: When I am training for a marathon, decisions have consequences. If I don’t get enough sleep, eat healthfully, or take care of my body, I’m going to feel it when I run. This cascade of positive effects benefits my work because the better I feel physically, the better job I will do as an employee.
  4. Positive Social Influence: We are social creatures, so even if I don’t speak to anyone about the race that I am training for, they are bound to notice the decisions I am making. If we go out, I don’t stay out late. If get lunch, I get the salad. I drink more water. I move around during the day. These tiny decisions can nudge folks around me to make healthier decisions too.
  5. Strengthening my Mental Fortitude: Training for a marathon is hard no matter who you are. I have to show up and do the work whether I am tired, it is raining, or I don’t feel like it. Steven Pressfield writes about the difference between an amateur and a professional in The War of Art. Amateurs show up when they feel like it. Professionals show up every day, no matter what. Training for a marathon trains you to show up every day, which translates directly to my work.

Is there something I forgot to mention? Leave a comment!

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