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continuous improvement

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There (and Maybe Not Get You Here Again)

On May 4th, I will be running my third marathon. My first was in October 2011 and second in May 2012. I had satisfied my marathon thirst and said that I would only run another one if Barb wanted to run her second. Last September, she became thirsty. 

#1: 4 h. 29 m. 46 s.

Running is a great sport. For those who have a competitive spirit, the goal is continuous improvement and the measure is to beat your personal best time. When you do, the feeling is tremendous. 

I ran my first marathon when I was writing the first draft of Change with Confidence. Running 26.2 miles. Twice the distance of my longest run seemed like an appropriate stretch goal. 

I created a detailed training plan and stuck to it. My big mistake was exceeding it, which gave me shin splints four weeks before the race. I could barely run for two and a half weeks.

The run was tough. My legs started cramping around 9 miles in and they seized at the 15 mile mark. I had experienced slight cramping in my longest training runs, but nothing like this. I got to the finish line but far later than I had planned.

#2: 4 h. 8 m. 26 s.

Two days after the race, I started planning my second marathon that was six months away. This time I was joined by my wife Barb and friend Tim. I learned from my mistake and kept to my training plan. At the starting line I was injury free and confident about my performance.  

I followed my race plan, running ’10 and 1′ intervals and not starting too quickly. To my surprise and horror, my legs started to spasm at the same distances. I relived the progressive decline of my legs, just like watching a movie for the second time – a scary one. 

The good news is that I finished the marathon and beat my first marathon time by over 21 minutes.

This time around, I have completely overhauled how I run and train. I have been:

  • Changing my stride by shortening my steps and lessening the impact on my feet and legs
  •  Running continuously versus ’10 and 1′ intervals – I lost too much time walking when my legs were strong
  • Limiting weekly training miles to 30 versus 45 – was I overtaxing them before? 
  • Running more preparation races prior to the marathon (7 versus 4)
  • Seeing a physiotherapist two weeks before the race to discuss prevention and management strategies and tactics
  • Managing what I eat, especially three days prior to the race – high carbohydrates, low fibre and protein

With 23 days to go, my practise races are a little slower than two years ago, but my form is better. This will be a good test of Marshal Goldsmith’s adage, “What got you here won’t get you there.” The “there” for me is a faster time and stronger legs throughout the race. Either of them will be an improvement and both will be tremendous.


The First Time is for Learning, the Second is for Success

“There’s nothing better than being embraced by your peers. People who know what it takes to do that, who said, ‘We think that you deserve to be nominated.’ I mean, it doesn’t get better than that’.” That’s what Oprah Winfrey said this week when she learned of her Screen Actors Guild supporting-actress nomination for The Butler.

I didn’t think such noble thoughts when I found out that my blog was nominated for a Canadian Weblog Award. I thought, ‘Wow, I got nominated!”

The Canadian Weblog Awards are judged by a volunteer jury that rates blogs according to: 

  • Usability and accessibility 
  • Functionality
  • Interactivity
  • Aesthetics
  • Originality
  • Intelligibility and clarity
  • Currency (is the content timely)
  • Transparency and authenticity
  • Attention to detail
  • Engagingness

Making Change was nominated in the Business & Career category  that had twenty-one  nominations. The competition was steep.

I didn’t make the top five shortlist. This didn’t discourage me; it ignited a challenge for next year. Throughout my Change with Confidence journey, I have learned that trying something for the first time is about learning how it works. Taking action on these learnings is how you succeed. 

Here is what I will do to prepare for next year’s competition:

  • Review the winning blogs – what can I learn from their layout, content and style?
  • Learn about the jurors – this a dedicated group of volunteers – are they bloggers?
  • Speak with the creator of the Weblog Awards, Elan Morgan – he is a fountain of knowledge on the awards and past winners
  • Investigate other blog awards – what does good look like?
  • Study statistics on my blog – what posts are most popular, who reads them, etc.?
  • Survey my readers – what do people like and what could be improved?

Until then, congratulations to the shortlisted and top-three winners of each Weblog category. I am look forward to reading their blogs.


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