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Marathon Training Sucks

James La Barrie after completing the 2014 Chicago marathon. Congratulations James!
James La Barrie after completing the 2014 Chicago marathon. Congratulations James!
Written by James La Barrie

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Originally printed in issue #60 (December 2014) of Blue Skies Magazine.
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How many people do you know who have run a 5K? How many do you know who have run a marathon? Unless you’re an athletic freak, your social circle is probably filled with more 5K runners than marathoners. Why? Preparation. If you want to run a marathon successfully, you’ve got to properly prepare for it and that means training. Lots and lots of training.

At the beginning of 2014, I decided to attempt the madness that is running 26.2 miles in one stretch. My training schedule required four runs per week for 18 consecutive weeks. In week one, I was required to do three 3-mile runs and one 6-mile run at the end of the week. This spelled major trouble, having come out of the 2013 holiday season “beefier” (read: fatter) than I’d been in years and lacking the ability to run 1 mile without stopping.

At the end of March, I began training for the training because I was not fit enough to accomplish the demands of week one! Once I began training, it was clear that completing a marathon would be more challenging than I had ever imagined. In fact, it would be the most difficult undertaking of my life, but I was committed to see it through.

So why am I talking about running a marathon in a skydiving magazine? Because managing a DZ is lot like training for a marathon—it’s expensive, exhausting, stressful, and it requires a lot of planning and preparation to be successful. And just like a runner’s finishing time depends on the quality of his or her training, the success or failure of each season at your DZ depends on how well you prepare during the offseason.

As we close out this calendar year, everyone is faced with this question: How do we make 2015 better than 2014? My answer: Start preparing now.

If your offseason planning consists of creating an event schedule and ensuring you have enough staff, I hate to break it to you, but you’re training for a 5K, not a marathon. Properly preparing for the upcoming season requires a thorough evaluation of every aspect of your organization.

As you evaluate the successes and failures of this year, take time to reflect not only on the financial health of your DZ, but also on the emotional health of your DZ. Are you burnt out and exhausted? Is the staff the same way? Why? What needs to be changed in 2015 to create a healthier culture at your DZ ?

So where do we begin in planning for 2015? Here’s your training schedule:

  1. Get away from your DZ. You’re tired; you need rest and the benefit of clarity. That actually means not checking email for at least a week!
  2. Identify what you want for your operation. Write down the emotional and financial outcomes you desire a year from now.
  3. Identify the specific areas that separate you from your desired outcomes.
  4. Publish what is important to you; create core values and share them with your team. This is your compass for the rough patches and how you will respond to them.
  5. Use the offseason to make personnel changes, marketing changes and structure for a better, more balanced operation and you.

I’m proud to say that on October 12, I completed the Chicago Marathon. As I crossed the finish line, I felt emotional, not because I completed 26.2 miles, but because I had committed to the process of arriving prepared. Looking back now, I can clearly see where I made mistakes and how I would approach the training differently if I were to make another attempt. It’s a learning curve, but the more time you dedicate to preparing and to applying what you’ve learned from one year to the next, the better the result will be.

Congratulations to everyone on having made it through the 2014 season. Rest up and be ready for the race of your life in 2015!

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