According to a recent survey by Mintel, one of every five Indians (aged between 18 and 64) suffers from fatigue, high blood pressure, and diabetes - an alarming situation, which is a result of long working hours, chasing deadlines and trying to keep pace with peers. This disquieting scenario has persuaded many organizations to encourage their employees to take up physical activities at work through constructive engagements. Running a marathon is not about rhythmic pace or the latest running gear, it is about the integration of various purposes to attain a singular goal of touching the finish line, of giving your best on the track and being stronger than you think. These are some of the qualities companies are progressively looking for, in their new employees, as well as trying to nurture and inculcate a fitness and wellness culture through effective employee engagement programs.
Running a marathon calls for single-minded commitment, it is an inherently extreme endeavor and requires hard work and dedication. Runners hold qualities which make them potential business drivers, hence improving the runners’ dedication towards their workplace, which in turn can have a positive impact on the overall success of a business.
Although marathons are organized across the country throughout the year, November marks the onset of the marathon season. The enthusiasm to pursue running as a hobby is increasingly finding traction amongst working professionals. As many as 34000 runners participated in last year’s Airtel Delhi Half Marathon, where employee contingents representing large corporations like Coca-Cola, Airtel, Optum, among other MNCs. ran across categories, making it one of the biggest running extravaganzas in the country.
The numbers are not solely indicative of a trend but are also representative of a constant endeavor to achieve higher standards of excellence.
Marathon running often becomes a common denominator amongst runners. From exchanging notes in office to sharing daily running progress figures, each activity contributes to the culture of community running.
When it comes to learning from running, the most valuable lessons are best taught in the field rather than in a boardroom meeting:
Wellness is wise
Hard work always pays off - both on and off the field. Taking shortcuts may give temporary results but hard work always stays and nurtures talent naturally. In terms of running, improvement comes with consistent and disciplined training. Likewise, on investing adequate energy in improving a craft, it will speak for itself. Standing workstations are known to enhance the employees’ health quotient, as they help burn extra calories while working. Many companies are waking up to this concept, which is already quite popular in some countries. It is also a known fact that runners experience a natural high, running releases endorphins in the body that make you feel naturally high and alert. It's normal for runners to have a lot of positive thoughts due to the increased endorphins in the brain. Sedentary lifestyles, long sitting hours, and lack of exercise can make employees lethargic. Therefore, it’s important to inculcate the habit of regular exercise. Companies can provide boot camps for employees to boost physical activities, community running, family day out and more to infuse energy and activity amongst employees.
Time is money
Marathon running excellence is all about timing and a disciplined approach towards achieving targets. An avid runner will always strive hard to improve his/her running performance, just like a dedicated employee who respects timelines and works hard towards achieving success through timely delivery.High stress and disorganized lifestyle directly affect heart health. Marathon running could be a great start to keep a check on early signs of heart troubles. Companies can further support this by providing regular check-up opportunities to employees within office premises. It is probably most difficult for smokers to pursue running as a sport. Hence, HR managers should introduce programs that extend support to employees attempting to give up smoking.
Running may be an individual sport; however, runners perform best when they work out in teams, practice in community runs or go for group challenges. While ‘team building’ has become one of the tools to encourage the team and individual growth within corporations and business, marathons are not what springs to mind when visualising the team activities but they are now being recognised as excellent lessons in endurance, strategy, team support and a manageable way to push out of comfort zones into new self-respect and belief in ability - adding up to new team strength. Similarly, team spirit is fundamental to the success of any business.
Ditch the comfort zone
Discomfort is a sign of growth and all runners experience physical and mental pressure when they embark on their marathon journey. They experience physical pain, psychological mistrust, and the urge to give up.
Mental ability is best judged when one does not give up and this applies to the competitive world of our working culture as well. Such employees also often find themselves making it to the high potential talent category and they show willingness and constant urge to give their best at work as well as on the field.
Healthy bodies are made in the kitchen
Creating a cafeteria with healthy food options is one of the basic requirements for a health-conscious organization. Giving up aerated drinks and adopting healthy alternatives, introducing a runner-friendly menu and nutrition-rich foods from everyday ingredients etc., are a few steps that can allow runners to keep a check on their diet while at work.
There is a close relationship between the ethics practiced at work and the characteristics exhibited on the running track. Most often, marathon runners come across as winners as they manage to keep a work-life balance, always have a balanced state of mind, and make time to listen to their bodies.
Psychologically, Marathon running has a huge impact on how the thought process starts churning. It helps build a task-oriented approach in life and gives a rigger to complete goals in given time, hence improving efficiency at work by being driven by the task at hand and no other factors like time or money. Another prominent personality trait in runners is their ability to be diligent and organized. Marathon runners demonstrate a strong tendency to be high in conscientiousness. Marathon running is intense and daunting. It signals extraordinary levels of self-sacrifice, dedication, time management, and more Hence, a true Marathoner will always have these qualities.
The goal for a marathon runner is to make it across the finish line, a feat that is a reward for all the dedication and months of hard work leading up to the race. This strife for perfection and wanting to excel while achieving the end goal is a great characteristic of the workplace as well. The understanding of teamwork and the spirit to embrace responsibility is greater in people who regularly run in marathons. They highlight enhanced cooperation and support while undertaking challenging tasks, qualities that make them outstanding and valuable employees.