Directing A Marathon: Week 1 (oh, and a recipe…)

So, most of you have seen my many posts on Instagram about I’m now directing my city’s marathon – the first annual Youngstown Marathon. I’ve definitely been off the grid with blogging, features, etc. A few of you have sent me messages to tell me that you’d like to organize a local 5k or even a half marathon race, so I hope the following advice helps you decide of this might be for you.

You have to absolutely love race directing. When you decide to direct a race, especially a marathon, you have to love every second of it because you will be thinking about the race every second of every day. It’s the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about before I go to bed. It doesn’t keep me from a good night’s sleep, but it sure keeps my mind busy while I’m awake!

You will live, eat, sleep, and breathe your race. I’d say a good rule of thumb is figure out every detail you can and multiply it by 30% – because there are many more details you just haven’t uncovered yet. With race timing alone, I’ve discovered about five additional areas that need attention…

You cannot do it alone – there’s no way. Look, if anyone thinks she Superwoman, it’s me. Over the years and with my experience in managing large, virtual teams…I have finally learned how to delegate. However, race directing requires you to truly delegate and positvely abandon your volunteer leadership positions. And by “positively abandon,” I mean back off. Leave their work up to them, but continue to make it clear that you have an open-door policy any time someone needs help. Do not micro-manage your volunteer staff, because quite frankly, you aren’t paying them and you are not their boss.

If you’re new to high level leadership positions, I suggest the book Eat That Frog! to help you balance your time and inadvertantly learn to delegate tasks.

You seriously need to master the art of living in the present moment. There are times to look ahead and at the big picture. When you’re in the midst of course design, that is not the time. Your focus is designing the course. When you are making a volunteer org chart or a full-race budget, that is when you need to look at the big picture.

So much of your success will ride on your ability to stay focused on one task at a time and understand that you can’t control the future. Do you know how many times a day I look in the mirror and tell myself “it’s going to be ok…”? A lot, and it works. Because really, what choice do I have? I can think up all of the scenarios that will make this event terrible, or I can have confidence in myself and my abilities and just got for it.

If you struggle with confidence, I have yet another book for you: You Are A Badass. Not only does it help you envision the future while living in the present moment, but it also helps you build self-confidence. Your volunteers and runners will have about as much confidence in your race as you do. Be a leader and wear your race proudly.

When you are making your budget, there’s one area you absolutely cannot skimp on: Ways to make your team feel appreciated. I can say, with full confidence, that volunteers for this race will be treated the best in the region. Without them, there is no marathon. Treat them like what they are: the life blood of your event.

Oh! And you all asked me for that vegan tahini salad recipe 🙂 protein packed and SO GOOD!

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