Competitive runners who also work corporate jobs face obstacles that full-time runners don't. Some are pretty obvious -- time limitations mean that you don't sleep enough, or miss a workout due to last minute travel, or don't have time to foam-roll and stretch.
But there's another obstacle that's less immediately obvious, but still quite significant. The mentality that's encouraged in the modern corporate workplace is not the optimal mindset for competitive running.
Yeah, sounds a little overthought, doesn't it.
But that's exactly the point. The corporate world encourages overthinking and overanalysis -- qualities that interfere with the mental focus that works best for competitive endurance sports.
For example, we all have bad races. And many times, the best thing to do after a bad race or workout is to move on. You can give it a bit of consideration to see if there were obvious causes, but don't obsess on it for days. Just put it out of your mind and move forward. Sometimes we just have bad days.
Not so in the corporate world. Major incidents and failures call for root cause analysis - often a lengthy identification of all potential causes for the event, followed by extensive evaluation of each. And determination of the culprit. Saying "we don't know what happened...it was just a bad day...let's move on" can result in moving on to a new company.
Similarly, projects in the corporate world have road maps. Figure out what you want to accomplish, map out the steps for getting there, and set checkpoints to assess where you stand. And missing checkpoints or deadlines or steps on the road map is not good, come year-end evaluation/bonus time.
In running, we have training plans, which are similar to road maps. But with a key difference. Sometimes it's better to miss the checkpoint or the deadline. Or to skip a step. At your goal race, it's not how well you executed the training plan, but how well you ran the race, that matters. But mental habits formed in one context are hard to shed in the other.
And the corporate world also relies on benchmarking. For example, in the information security context, groups will compare their security practices to their peers in the same industry, with a focus towards ensuring that they meet the industry standard. But constantly comparing how you're training or racing relative to others, and revising accordingly, is a sure path to running disaster long term. Desi Davila could be considered the industry standard in training for a marathon, but that doesn't mean I should train like her.
In a way, this is good. The fact that the modern corporate mindset is counter productive to running means that running also provides an opportunity to take a vacation from working life, even if only for 30 minutes during a tempo. Shut off from the grind and live in the moment.
But being able to shift from corporate mentality to running mindset is also a skill, and one that's surprisingly hard to develop.