2 min read

Run your own race

You may see those around you sprinting ahead in the short term. But work’s a long race.
Run your own race
Photo by lucas Favre / Unsplash

Sustain issue #57 (Get Sustain in your inbox next Thursday)

Several weeks ago I ran my second half marathon and my first since 2017.

When I did my last long training run two weeks before the race, I went at the pace I expected to run. I knew the pace was sustainable for me especially considering the route contained a few hilly stretches.

I felt prepared and ready to go heading into my race day.

As the starting gun went off and I took off down the street, I was immediately in a situation I had not practiced and somehow failed to think about as I was preparing. Since I trained alone, I wasn’t used to others running around me. Running solo allowed me to feel good whatever my pace was.

But as I started down the street, I was in a huge pack of hundreds of other racers. And I immediately got caught up in the speed those around me were running.

About three miles into my race, I looked down at my watch and realized I was going at a pace about 45 seconds/mile faster than I had practiced. And not only that, true to form around here it was raining.

Typically I plan my practice days around when it’s not going to rain since I don’t like running in those conditions (silly me).

I felt tired and wondered how I was going to pump out ten more miles. I was running at a faster pace than I anticipated as my sustainable mark, I was wearing a rain jacket which is not quite as breathable as what I usually run in, and I was dealing with a mix of sweat and precipitation in my eyes.

I was trying to flourish in difficult conditions which is never a recipe for success.

I allowed my pace to be influenced by those around me. I wasn’t running my own race.

Around that same three-mile mark, I had a decision to make: Keep going as I was and risk not finishing or to run my own race. I decided to drop into my own pace, even though that meant other racers passing me and dealing with the feelings that brought on.

I ended up finishing within just a few seconds of my first half marathon. I didn’t accomplish my goal of finishing in under two hours but I feel accomplished given the wetter and hillier conditions.

Just like running at a pace that’s sustainable for you over the long journey of a race, we also must work at a pace that allows us to do the same. Work is not a 100-meter dash. It’s a long marathon we must pace ourselves for.

You may see co-workers doing the 100-meter dash. And they might pull ahead in the short term. But work is a distance running event, not a short-track event.

Every long-distance running coach will give their athletes the same advice: Run your own race. We should work that way too.


Ready to downsize your relationship with work and quit burnout?

Hi, I'm Grant Gurewitz. I'm on a mission to eliminate burnout at work. I've been in tech for 10 years (ex-Zillow, current: Qualtrics) and suffered deep burnout and came back from it even though I never found a playbook for doing so. So, I'm writing it myself.

✉️ Want my top tips? I share my full step-by-step playbook in How I Quit Burnout, my premium newsletter. Get the next one delivered straight to your inbox >

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