Transitioning into a new job always comes with growing pains. When I started at a new company, I struggled with connecting with my coworkers and establishing myself as a good employee. Having been laid off from my previous job, I was a little skittish and nervous. I wanted to show my boss that I was a worthy hire.

At the time I was hired, I was training for a marathon. I’d signed up a few months before and it was going to be my first ever marathon. Here are a few ways training for my marathon helped me transition into my new job and be a better employee at work.

It gave me focus

When you’re feeling stressed out at your new job, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by negative thoughts and get stuck in looped thinking. My marathon became a bit of an obsession for me, but it was a good distraction when I was feeling frustrated.

I sometimes trained at the gym at my job, which gave me a good chance to recharge. I was able to focus more on whatever tasks I had for the day. Plus, it gave me something to look forward to throughout the day.

I became a lot more organized

I’m a big fan of the recommended SMART goals system. I wrote down my goal of finishing the marathon. I didn’t care about a particular time and I was largely unfamiliar with the term “PR” or “taper” or a lot of other running slang. I just wanted to finish the race. Writing my goal helped me break it down into more achievable weekly goals. For example, two months before the marathon I need to be able to run 13 miles. The mileage increased with each week until I ran 19 miles and finally felt I was ready.

This translated into my job. I organized my tasks and learned how to focus on them until they were finished. My boss loved it. I was proactive about finding more tasks to do and found more effective ways to help other departments of the company.

I learned to deal with challenges

I’d heard about the infamous “runner’s wall.” I’d heard horror stories of acquaintances and friends who blew out their knee or dropped out because they couldn’t run anymore. My biggest fear was not finishing the marathon. As I started doing longer runs, I realized that I was far more capable than I first thought, and that each mile was individual. On the day I ran the race, it was all about reaching the next mile instead of the overall distance.

This helped me compartmentalize issues at work. Some days were tougher than others. I had to learn how to deal with issues as they came up and recognize that some things were out of my control, but I could still do my best. I also learned how to accept whatever task was given to me and get to work. Some tasks would take longer than others, so I’d have to break them down.

I learned to rely on the people around me

When I ran my first marathon, I ended up running with a pace group with the finishing time of about five hours. We all told stories of how we got into running, why we were running a marathon, if it was our first or fifth, and so on. Our pacer shouted out trivia and helped us learn how to conserve energy for the upcoming miles.

I found similar results at work. My boss was also very energetic and enjoyed rallying the team about upcoming projects. When I was struggling with certain tasks, I’d reach out to coworkers to help me through a problem. I’d bond with my coworkers while simultaneously resolving the issue.

I gained the confidence to try hard things

A marathon isn’t the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s definitely in my top ten. I’ve tried other difficult physical activities, like doing a triathlon or hiking to mountain summits. I’ve gone winter camping and gotten into rock climbing.

It’s the same for my professional life. I’ve asserted myself at work and have been able to find and create opportunities for myself. I’ve taken the initiative to create a side gig that allows me to explore my love for writing. I recognize that I won’t be very good at something when I start, but that’s okay. I’m still learning and growing.

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