For some, running a Marathon is a lifetime goal; a bucket list item. Having run it for 15 consecutive years, it was like the four seasons for me…returning each year without fail.
The thought of ever missing it would fill me with FOMO. The rhythm of my year, my friendships, my overall health and well-being…all were connected to the cycle of Marathon training. Prepping for it, training for it, running it, and recovering from it…rolled up into my annual plan.
This year, however, was different. NYC Marathon #16 was fast approaching. My training was ramping up and then… my father passed away… and the wind was knocked out of my sails.
As an executive director of the arts education non-profit, National Dance Institute, and a marathoner I rely on many of the same things to support me, including muscle memory, mental strength and resilience. But this time around, all my tools were dulled by the loss. I found it hard to draw from my reserve and I knew that this year would be different.
While my friends encouraged me to pass on the Marathon, I knew that’s not what I wanted to do. So I decided that rather than anguish over the lack of training, I would give myself a break…and instead I would walk when I needed to. I would walk the 26.2 miles to finish, if necessary.
Executive directors and CEOs need to lead by example. Selfcare is often at the tail end of our own work. We put in long hours, often don’t get enough sleep, and are available around the clock to support our teams. Like training for a Marathon we’re always thinking about the next goal…the stop sign up ahead, the green street light, the next water station. Each day we have new goals and new milestones to accomplish, yet selfcare is often secondary.
So, by walking the Marathon I knew that I was still committing to my goal, but I was making a course correction. I was taking the time I needed to do it in a way that supported my well-being. I knew that walking would be just fine and that I would complete Marathon #16.