Have you ever wanted to put “Distance Runner” on a job application as either an extracurricular interest or even in the Employment category? When I was laid off a handful of years back after the economy tanked big time, and found myself up against an endless number of other applicants, I often felt compelled to add the “Distance Runner” descriptor to my resume, but always held back thinking it might seem desperate and padding.
For those of us who ARE distance runners, it probably goes without saying as to why we would add this descriptor on an application. We know the value of being a runner and the qualities one must have to be a successful athlete, which translates well to most any employment consideration. To us, running defines our character and we hope it says something to others as well.
Recently, I had the fortune of being able to actually pull the “I’m a Runner” card and add it to my resume when applying for a unique position with a progressive company. Putting “Competitive Distance Runner” as my primary descriptor I hoped would convey the quality of my character and the values and worth ethic I would be able to bring to the job. *Dear potential employer, if you are reading this, I am not posting this as a subversive Suck-Up. I’ve just been thinking about this a lot lately and feel compelled to share with others.*
After really thinking through what exactly it means to be a “competitive distance runner”, I realized we develop the skills to achieve our goals that carry over into everything else we do in life. Now, does the chicken or the egg come first..I don’t know. Are we good runners because of our nature/nuture upbringings or has running honed the qualities that help us succeed in both running and life? I’ll leave that up for further discussion.
Suffice to say though, if you want to hire someone with both appropriate skills, but also appropriate character, you would be doing your business a favor by hiring a runner. Someone needs to start a marketing campaign for this! Regardless, the following are reasons we make great employees.
We are detail-oriented – Runners meticulously log daily/weekly/monthly mileage, mile splits, workout quality, miles left on our shoes, race PRs, heart rate readings, etc., etc. We obsess over the little things, always keeping track of our progress and trying to find the smallest edge to achieve our goals.
We know how to persevere – Running takes time and dedication with many ups and downs along the way to our goals. Some days we are superhuman while other days we feel like overweight turtles. We suffer poor race performances, battle injuries and bad weather, fight through fatigue, and basically deal with and push through whatever comes our way. The little stresses in life are laughable compared to what we deal with through our training cycles.
We work hard – I’ve worked at coffee shops, non-profits, bike shops, restaurants, construction sites, etc., and NEVER have any of them posed physical or mental challenges greater than what I experience while training. Runners must push physically and mentally when they feel they simply can’t any longer, and often find the ability to do so. The ways this carries over into the work world are limitless and immeasurable.
We are goal-oriented – I don’t know any runner who wants to vaguely “get better”. Oh no, we all have very specific goals that are defined by exact times at exact races. We talk about what pace we need to train at to acheive our goals and constantly work towards that end. We don’t just slog through running, hoping something good comes out of it, but know we have something to acheive and constantly aim for that success. Give us an expected end result and we’ll find a way to make it happen.
We don’t cut corners – You can’t cheat your way to a PR in running. There is no more honest sport than distance running, because the clock never lies. 2 hours and 25 minutes is 2 hours and 25 minutes. There are no “gimmies” or “do overs”. 1 mile is 1 mile and there is no arguing it. We may constantly consider the best way to achieve our goals, but we don’t cut our long runs short thinking we can still run our goal pace on race day. No, we run the full mileage every time, even if that means running in circles around our car in the parking lot just to get the full 2 and a half hour run in.
We are passionate – You can’t run your body into the ground doing 100 mile weeks time and time again without a passion for doing it. You can’t get up at 5 am 5 days a week to run 10 miles without an incredible drive for doing so. You can’t deplete yourself to absolute exhaustion without having an incredibly convincing reason for doing so. We have an understanding of purpose and passion that carries us through some of the toughest physical challenges we can endure.
We are reliable – We must run every day, no matter what. It becomes a part of our routines as does breathing becomes part of our survival. We know what it is to start a task on time and then finish it on time in order to move on to the next project. We know how long it takes to prepare for, carry out, and recover from a 10 mile run in order to then go to work, cook dinner, play with the kids, make it to a meeting on time, etc. Running takes organization and you can’t just go out when you feel like it without a care for other responsibilities or not worry about how it will affect your run the next day. We “run like clocks”.
We understand progression – Runners are eternally discontented. Yes, we may set goals and then even acheive them, but once we do, we are already looking forward to the NEXT goal. A 2:25 marathon leads to a 2:20 marathon leads to an Olympic Trials qualifier marathon, leads to… We always seek a higher plateau and see no reason to believe otherwise.
We are dreamers – Our goals are often attainable and practical, but that doesn’t mean we don’t always consider the “what if”. What IF I’m actually faster than I think. What IF I have a breakthrough? What IF I can win this race? What IF I do make the Trials? What IF…. We dream because it helps us run better, but also because we have tapped into an unrealized potential that brings accomplishments we once thought absurd.
For all these reasons and more, running has created and/or fine-tuned our character, to make us the best individuals we can be in so many aspects of our lives, the work world included. Granted, if you asked any competitive runner what their ideal job would be, the answer is probably, “Get paid to run”, but with such a narrow window of opportunity to make that a reality, the rest of the work world benefits from our inclusion. Employers, next time you need more help on the job, hire a runner.