Vail Daily column: Running a marathon is like running a chamber of commerce
I was fortunate to have competed in, and completed, my first marathon earlier this month with a finishing time of 4:29. Running a marathon is quite the experience — from making the decision to run 26.2 miles for no good reason to finding the right training plan to actually training regardless of the weather to the race day experience.
It struck me somewhere around week 12 of a 16-week training program that the process of running a marathon is remarkably similar to running a nonprofit organization such as a chamber of commerce — in my case, Vail Valley Partnership.
Here are 26.2 ways that running a marathon is like running a chamber of commerce:
1. At the start line, the path ahead is unknown, and there is no certainty you’ll reach the finish line.
2. Life is better when you compete less and when you encourage more.
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3. It is hard, and takes (a lot of) perseverance to get things done.
4. You are held accountable for your actions.
5. You need to be a tiny bit mentally unstable to subject yourself to the process on a daily basis.
6. You need to care about the cause if you hope to do it well.
7. Hard work pays off. Weekends, nights, mornings, you’re working at it all the time — but you don’t seem to mind because of No. 6.
8. Chamber executives and marathon runners have a tendency to be really hard on themselves, and it’s important to realize that things don’t always go according to plan.
9. You can accomplish more than you imagine when you prepare yourself mentally and physically.
10. Setting reasonable goals along the way helps you achieve seemingly impossible long-term goals.
11. Envisioning the finish line helps you recognize the smaller accomplishments along the way.
12. It is important to keep your head up in order to see what’s coming around the bend.
13. You recognize early on that if it doesn’t kill you, then it will make you stronger.
14. It is important to ignore the people who are negative just to be negative. These people add no value and their negativity only reflects poorly upon them.
15. It can be an emotional roller coaster, with good days when everything goes well and not so good days when you’re seemingly the brunt of everyone’s problems.
16. It’s not always easy, fun and enjoyable, but it’s always worthwhile. And it’s certainly fun and enjoyable most of the time.
17. The reward isn’t so great without the struggle that goes into it.
18. It is not about “winning”; rather, it’s about the process of making things better.
19. It is better to be a participant than a spectator.
20. It is better when you are surrounded by people who love and support you. Support and encouragement (from family, board members, community members) makes things better.
21. The better prepared you are, the more likely you are to succeed.
22. Sometimes you hit the proverbial wall, and you just need to power through it.
23. Both disciplines require patience, tenacity, self-belief and an above-average capacity for optimism.
24. Running a marathon and running a chamber are both emotionally positive experiences.
25. It is an experience that is hard to put into words, and you’ll sometimes ask yourself “why am I choosing to do this?”
26. Having a strong sense of perseverance and vision, as well as being a little crazy, doesn’t hurt.
26.2. The sense of accomplishment and satisfaction from a job well done makes all the blood, sweat and tears worthwhile.
Thank you to all those who offer their support for Vail Valley Partnership within the community; we’re working to provide the tools, resources, advocacy and information to help your business to succeed. And thank you to all those (too many to name, but you know who you are) who offered support, guidance and advice throughout the process of training for a marathon. It’s one last thing that running a chamber and running a marathon have in common — the great people you get to work with along the way.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.