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The Route – Week 39

The Dry Run

“This is about doing something difficult and not stopping when it becomes not just difficult, but cold and difficult…or cold and wet and difficult…or cold and wet and dark and difficult.” – Suzy Hamilton (member of the 1992, 1996 and 2000 US Olympic teams)

Saturday was cold, and wet and windy.  There was debris all over the streets in my neighborhood – acorns and fallen sticks mostly.  Our cat was curled up in her spot by the front window.  No one was out.

I ran 20 miles.

I ran past the deserted middle school.  Then past the lonely elementary school, and the empty Little League fields.  I did four 5 mile loops around the neighborhood.  Just me.

I could have waited for Sunday when the weather was a bit less raw.  But running in bad weather builds character.  And confidence.  I wasn’t being a hero.  I would have loved to have slept in, and eaten a bagel in front of the fireplace.  But, that would have been easy.

I’m not known for taking the easy way out. Besides, it was my last long run before NYC. Everything else from here on out tapers to 26.2 on November 1.  Last year NYC was cold and windy. I haven’t had many training runs like that this season, so Saturday was an opportunity to test out my marathon outfit, my fitness, and my mental health.

I ran without company or headphones.  Just me, my breathing, and the road.  I tried to keep a good portion of the run at marathon pace or a little slower. Runners call it a “race simulation”.  You might call it a “dry run,” even though I was soaking wet when I finished.  Same thing.

In business, we don’t always get a “dry run.”  Business people don’t practice having an off year. We can’t practice what it will be like if sales are down for the quarter or even the year. We don’t run drills for when key personnel leave or a big customer decides to take its business elsewhere.  We can anticipate all of those things, maybe even plan for them, but we can’t experience them until they actually happen.  That’s where runners have the edge. We can simulate a race, try out our equipment, and discover that the new shoes that we bought have a nasty seam that doesn’t reveal itself until mile 15.  We can adjust before we race.

For businesses, there are no race simulations.  All businesses, even Long Island law firms, are running the real thing from the moment that we open our doors.  We don’t – can’t – pretend to hire an employee or lease an office or lose a client. We have to do those things in real time and adjust on the fly.  We gain experience and try to minimize our mistakes and try to adjust our planning so that we are better prepared the next time we face a decision or a problem.

Runners and entrepreneurs both rely on experience to sculpt their decisions. Runners have the edge here. We can simulate a race and practice before we face the real thing. Business people can’t.

Either way, as Vern Law said, experience is a tough teacher.  She gives the test first and the lesson later.

As it should be.