Several years ago, I trained for a marathon. I had never been a distance runner. I felt I was built for speed. But all my peers were running marathons. It was a badge of honor that you had the discipline to do the training and work the 80-hour work weeks. It was a great stress reliever, but I learned some very painful lessons.
I had two very good friends that had run the Chicago Marathon a year earlier. One was going to run the White Rock Marathon in Dallas with me that Fall. We printed our training routine from a magazine, pre-internet, and started our process. His wife took us ten miles out into the country and dropped us off. We ran back to my house and laid on the driveway making sweat angels. That is when he informed me that he was done training. He didn’t have the heart to run another marathon that soon. So, I was left to train on my own.
My first mistake was with my equipment. I wore one pair of shoes, with only the inserts that came with the shoes. My second mistake was running on concrete and asphalt trails exclusively. My third mistake was over training. I had started too early for the program I was on. I was ready too soon. I ran 22 miles, by myself on Sunday 8 weeks before the race. I have a high threshold to pain. That was a hinderance as well.
We held a company meeting in Hawaii 6 weeks before the race and I went out for a training run with a coworker and friend. He asked me why I was dragging my leg when I was running. I was shocked. I had not realized it. When I returned home, I went to my doctor. He took X-rays and determined I had 4 stress fractures in my right leg. He told me I was done running. I had trained for 3 months, running up to 50 miles a week, and it was over.
I didn’t believe him. I thought I could take a few weeks off and still run the race. I took a few days off, then tried to run 4 miles. I made it 2 miles, then had to limp home. Now that I was aware of the pain, it became excruciating. When I got to the house and told my wife, I broke down in tears. All the training, all the sacrifices, and I was done. I felt betrayed by my own body. I felt like I had let my family and friends down. It was just too much pain, physically and emotionally.
In 2009, at the start of the Great Recession, I felt the same pain as my business lost 95% of our income when I had three contracts cancel in the third week of January. They valued our work but couldn’t keep us on retainer when they were having to lay off staff throughout their companies. I understood. It was still painful. I had gotten comfortable working with my three clients. They made up a salary for me, and any additional work I earned was my bonus. All the work I had done and all the sacrifices I had made and in one week, it was gone. I had not prospected as I should have.
I swore I would never make that mistake again. But last year, I did it again. I had started another company with a partner and was preparing to blend NineRuns with the other company. I was preparing to become the CEO of the joint company. I stopped prospecting for NineRuns. When the new company didn’t materialize, I had to start over. I had to prospect heavily. It has paid off. I’ve learned from the experience and I will make the same statement on prospecting. I will never quit prospecting for my company. The experience of almost losing my company in 2009 must not have stuck. We are in great shape now, but it can slip away if we aren’t aware and prospecting for new clients.
I learned a lesson. There is an old saying that a man who chases two rabbits catches neither. I learned that lesson again. Have you had that experience? Have you taken your eye off your business and quit prospecting?
Chasing rabbits reminded me to finish the story on my marathon pursuit. I healed, but never ran a marathon. I’m impressed by those that can do it. I am just not built for it. I loved the Zen of running. I loved the endorphin rush during and after. I moved to shorter races. I ran 5 half marathons and several 10k and 5k races. I learned to rotate shoes, buy inserts, and run on softer surfaces. I learned to enjoy the effort and not push the limits of my body…after I tore my meniscus in both knees… I now ride a bike! And I prospect daily!