A couple of weeks ago, I completed a mountain marathon in Kongsberg, Norway. Now that the euphoria (and aching!) of completing this race starts fading, my reflective mood has kicked in.

Besides enjoying nature and keeping fit, my last race really got me thinking about the similarities between long distance running and being the CTO of a tech start-up company.

Here are five lessons I have learned.

Set goals that push yourself and involve others

At the beginning of the year I decide which races to enter over the next 12 months. I pick races that takes me to places I have not been before and don’t interfere with my kids (I’ve got three) activities.
Having a plan in place, I communicate this to my friends and family. Sharing this adds another layer of commitment to succeed in the races.

Defining goals and discussing them openly with my team keeps everyone engaged and makes sure we know what impact it has on the business. It is always great to see how each member keeps pushing for more challenging goals. This is true for running in the mountains as well as creating better technology for our clients.

Have a plan and measure progress

Running 50 miles requires preparation. You need to be physical and mental ready for such a challenge. Each race requires a detailed and holistic plan: training, nutrition, recovery, as well as balancing this with family and work commitments. Being a nerd, I keep a log of my training and and every aspect of preparation is broken down in specific tasks. I always make sure that my plans don’t interfere with family time which means I either get up early or go to bed late.

The same can be said in my business. Each goal is broken down into tasks which are monitored by our project management tools. Using an agile approach, we have bi-weekly sprints and weekly scrums to stay on track. It is crucial that the entire team know exactly what needs to be done and how we are performing according to our plan.

Be prepared for the unexpected

Unexpected things happen. A small injury or a cold can quickly mess up your training plans. Also, unexpected events at work or looking after kids when they are not well requires me to revisit my plans.
In situations like this, I pragmatically reassess and adjust my trainings schedule accordingly. Unless some major events have kept me off training, I have always managed to get back on track again.

In my role as CTO, I am constantly exposed to unexpected events. A team member getting sick, unscheduled client requests or sudden performance issues are all things that do happen. A well functioning team can cope with such events as long as clear processes and procedures are in place.

You can’t do it on your own

Yes, I have to run on my own but it’s impossible without the support of others. My kids, running partners and friends all play an important role when it comes to motivating me and keeping me going.

In business I have learned and experienced the same. Nobody can build a successful business entirely on their own. There is very little I can achieve without my team. Every member counts.

Celebrate your achievements

The feeling of euphoria after completing a race that I have prepared for is fantastic. All the hard work, early mornings, pain and decisions along the way finally pays off. To share the experience and emotions with other runners after a race gives me a great sense of belonging and togetherness.

We too often forget to celebrate achievements, whether they are small or large. Coming together as a team to celebrate a milestone after a period of hard work generates the same feeling of pride and togetherness as I get after my races.

I am ready for my next experience – Berlin Marathon!