One of the many lessons I’ve learned since changing careers is that achievements don’t have to happen overnight.
I joined PR after more than a decade in the fast-paced world of journalism – where deadlines are close and results are needed yesterday. PR tends to be more gradual: you share a press release, post a tweet, talk to a stakeholder, write an article, meet a press deadline with some breaking news, gradually all of these things work together to build up the profile of X and help them to have an improved public relationship with whatever their target audience might be.
It took me time to get used to this, especially when a journalist would then call and want an answer to something before their afternoon deadline and I’d be thrown back into my urgent state of racing to meet the needs of their request. The more gentle nature of progress in PR balanced with the occasional races to deadline has been a very important lesson, in work and my own life.
A few years ago I set myself the task of losing weight, getting fitter and hopefully becoming a bit healthier. I’d moved to Tunbridge Wells for my job so I’d already started walking everywhere (if you know the town you’ll appreciate that mostly means walking up and down hills) and decided to take the next step by joining my local parkrun.
The start of the event was almost exactly a five-minute walk from my front door, so it was a relatively easy first step to exercise (if we overlook the shock of finding myself up and awake at 9am on a Saturday). I just had to find the energy to actually complete the 5km course.
Thirty-seven-ish minutes later I’d run and walked my way around the course, was a sweaty, horrible mess and could hardly breathe but I was over the moon that I’d achieved something that less than an hour previously had seemed impossible (which actually isn’t far off the panic followed by relief when I sent out my first press release).
That first parkrun was quite a slog, but I kept at it and week after week I gradually learned to run the whole thing. Then I started to get faster. Then – just as I was getting more confident – I stopped improving. So I tried a different tactic and lost a bit of weight and after a month or so my timings started to improve again and before I knew it I’d signed up to test myself in a 10km run.
Double the length was a bit of a shock to the system, but the sense of achievement at the end of it was incredible (once I’d managed to pick myself up off the floor and regained the ability to speak). This achievement also saw me in my own small way becoming a little more entrenched in the local running community. Okay, so I hadn’t joined a club or improved to the extent that I’d be competing in any races, but the next time I signed up for a 10k run I didn’t cross the start as a lone runner but as one of a group of friends, all of whom I’d met through gradually increasing my involvement in running activities.
This gradual build up of fitness means my weekly parkrun is now as much a social activity as it is a personal challenge, with others cheering me on and even running along with me as our relationships and my legs have grown stronger, so it was time to take on a new challenge.
At 21.1km the incredibly hilly Hendy Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon wasn’t anything I’d ever set out to take part in but that’s where my lesson in gradually building on achievements has brought me. I completed the 13+ miles in 2hrs, 10mins, 30secs, finishing ahead of some much more experienced runners, which is a bewilderingly fast time when I look back to three years ago.
Throw in around £2,000 of charity fundraising collected for the various runs I’ve taken part in (including in support of Hospice in the Weald and Macmillan Cancer Nurses) and I’m incredibly proud of my achievements.
It just goes to show what determination, patience and a good plan can achieve.
Finally, as you’re here, if you’d like to add to my fundraising and sponsor me for the half marathon in aid of Macmillan, you can do so here.
posted in: maxim/client news, public relations,