How Distance Running Can Improve Job Performance

You do not have to be a behavioral scientist to understand that distance running makes you a better employee, co-worker and person.

In the context of this posting, we will go with the assumption that “distance running” means any distance in excess of 3,000 meters (a 5K). Running these longer distances forces an individual to potentially undergo an overall mental and physical metamorphosis, and provides them with a number of intangible benefits which carry over well to the work environment.

Some of the many intangible benefits which can be reaped from distance running include increased mental clarity, focus and determination, as well as a high level of dedication, as the miles can get grueling and each run can become an increasingly mental activity. Distance running also tends to encourage people to adopt a goal-setting mentality; you may initially complain about an upcoming 12-mile weekend run, but you learn over time to break down that run into a series of 5Ks or even one-mile runs to make the distance more manageable. Dedication plays a large role as well, since you may “hit the wall” or “bonk” part way through your run, but you remind yourself that you set out to run a specific distance and that you have not achieved that distance yet, so you push yourself further and end up completing the distance that was your original goal.

These intangible benefits which can be reaped from distance running enable a person to do a number of things, and to do them well. First, you learn to break large projects down into their various components, turning a large project into a series of smaller projects, which you then achieve piece by piece, until the entire project has been accomplished. This gives you, your team, and/or your company a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Second, running – especially when done in the early morning hours – allows you to de-clutter your mind, which provides you with increased mental clarity in the office. This allows you to think deeply about the things which you have to get done in the short term, as well as how to achieve them; you develop a game plan, which gets you most of the way to accomplishing your goal. Third, the dedication aspect of distance running carries over to the work environment in a beneficial way such that when confronted with a difficult decision or situation, you will have the courage and mindset to choose a solution or approach which may not necessarily be the simplest, but will likely be the best and most effective. Fourth and lastly, you will have energy all day which you can tap into and use as mental fuel, so you will not need to make any mid-morning or mid-afternoon coffee runs, therefore increasing your work efficiency.

Distance running can make you a better employee, worker and person, both mentally and physically. Not only will you be able to run longer distances and therefore have great stories to tell your co-workers during your lunch break and at after-work social events, you will also reap many intangible but important benefits which can improve your job performance in the short and long term.

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