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The Bickley Blog: A Marathon not a Sprint.

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On Saturday, the Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge became the first person to run a marathon in under two hours. He covered the distance of 26.2 miles (or 26.2187575 to be precise) in one hour 59 minutes 40 seconds in Vienna, Austria.


No one really knows why the distance is set as 26 miles, 385 yards, (42.1954 kms). We know when it was adopted: 1921, by the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF), not long after it had been used as the distance at the 1908 London Olympics. Legend has it that Queen Alexandra requested that the race start on the lawn of Windsor Castle so the royal children could watch from their nursery, and finish in front of the royal box at the Olympic stadium—a distance that happened to be 26.2 miles.


Kipchoge’s super-human effort will not be recognised as the official marathon world record because it was not in open competition and he used a team of rotating pacemakers.


But that shouldn’t detract from his achievement.


Consistent with a global trend in health and wellbeing – a market that is growing at 4.8% per annum and will be worth $66billion by 2022 according to The Global Wellness Institute -  recreational marathon running has seen a 49.43% surge in popularity between 2008 – 2018 with the highest growth in India, (229.86%), Portugal (177.76%) and Ireland (130.05%) Source: The State of Running, RunRepeat June 2019.


At an amateur level, women are still underrepresented – the world average proportion of women running in marathons is 31.36%, although their participation is catching up with the men: between 2008 – 2018 the increase of women running marathons was up 56.83%, compared to 46.91% for their male counterparts, (Source: The State of Running, RunRepeat June 2019).


We often hear that our careers should be a marathon and not a sprint, and sometimes from people we might not expect to hear it from: in August the chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, David Solomon, advised his latest batch of summer interns this in a Q&A session.


And there are plenty of ways to stretch the metaphor: we should avoid burn-out, we should manage our time, we should keep a steady pace, etc. etc..

Eliud Kipchoge’s average time per 100m was 17.02 seconds. For 26.2 miles! To put that in context, the world record for sprinting the 100m is 9.58 seconds; now the average man jogs at a speed of 8.3 mph, so it would take him almost ten seconds longer (27 seconds) to run just one length of 100m, while the average woman runs at 6.5 mph, covering 100m in 34 seconds. The fittest among us can sprint 100m at a speed of 15.9 mph – which equates to a comparatively sedatory 13.5 seconds.

So even if our careers are a marathon and not a sprint, when we are competing with the elite in our field, it still might feel like a lung-busting gallop rather than a stroll in the park.

But it doesn’t need to be a mad dash.

In an interview with CNBC in August last year, Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, gave three great tips for building a successful career:  

  • Have a clear understanding of what it is you ultimately want to accomplish “If you don’t know exactly what that is, take the time to understand and optimize for two things — your skills and your passion and not one at the exclusion of the other.”
  • Surround yourself with great people. “It’s the people you work for, the people you work with and the people that work for you. Make sure that you’re not compromising on that front.”
  • Always be learning. “The days where you could learn a trade, regardless of where you went to school and be set up for the rest of your career, I think those days are fast coming to an end,”

And you can break your marathon, or career, down into sections. Eliud Kipchoge ran the 26.2 miles in a series of 6 mile (9.6km) laps – approximately five segments.

According to research by the insurer LV=, a UK worker will change employer every five years on average. Among millennials, in a survey conducted by Deloitte in May last year, only 28 percent of respondents were looking to stay in current job their beyond five years, with 43 percent believing they would leave their current job within two years.

What David Solomon also said in his Q&A was that “you’ve got to find something that you’re passionate or interested in  - but you don’t have to find that on day one”

If you are fortunate enough to land the dream job on day one out of school and end up staying contentedly put for you whole career, then kudos to you.

But for those of us who might find that we need to explore the options before settling on ‘the one’, so long as we give it our all in each of our ‘6 mile laps’, then that won’t be seen as job hopping, jumpy or flighty.

Changing jobs can reap many rewards, and not just financial ones. It can help build your confidence, teach you new skills, take you out of your comfort zone, help grow your network of contacts and help build your personal brand.

Talk to us at Cooper Golding about how we can help you on that journey.