In mid-April, I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to run my first Ragnar race. What’s a Ragnar you ask? It’s a 200-ish mile race run by you and 11 of your closest friends…or strangers who become your closest friends by the end of the two days you spend traversing the course in two vans! Seriously!
I am typically a solo runner. I enjoy getting out there, putting in my earbuds and losing myself in my thoughts and cadence. I was nervous about joining the Ragnar team. I knew only 2 runners in my van and 2 runners in the other van…none of them well enough to be totally comfortable sharing my stanky butt in the close quarters of a van for two days! On top it that, as an introvert, when/how would I find alone time to recharge?
The race delivered! This was a fantastic experience !
As I look back on our time together, I am reminded of the following lessons in leadership:
You can’t do it alone. Well, you can, but it will be lonely and painful!
Running with a team is a great experience! The same is true in leadership. You can try to lead alone but just like running alone, it won’t be near as much fun, it will hurt more than it needs to, and you’ll miss out on feeling part of something bigger than yourself!
“When you need me, call me! I’ll be there!”
My third leg of the race started long before sunrise. I had run in the dark before and was not too worried about it. However, this leg was 8.9 miles of hard terrain completely alone. I saw maybe 3 runners pass me the whole time I was out there. During the second mile, I was on a small one lane road with tall trees on either side and not a single light (street, house or car) in site. I was scared! I called my husband to have him talk to me for a while. That lasted for a mile. Our son needed his attention back home. A few miles later, I texted my van-mates to share how far along I was and how $%*&%# scary it was out there. A few miles more and there is my van! My team came to cheer me along! I was so grateful to see them! They helped pick up my spirits and my pace!
Leadership is similar in it’s dark scary moments. I learned I can not only count on family but also my teammates to get me through! All I have to do is call (or text), and they will be there!
Sharing is caring!
Each exchange where we traded runners was filled with the excitement of welcoming the current runner in and cheering the next runner out! These races take true team work. As a runner, it is your job to stay focused on your current leg, run or walk it to the best of your ability and then hand over the reins to the teammate up in the rotation.
It’s easy when leading to think you have maintain ownership over the whole project. However, do so robs others of their opportunity to contribute to the group. Any age, any skill level, any speed (sprinter or walker) can help carry the over all load with excellence!
I am a very stinky person when I run. I was worried about sharing this part of me with my van-mates. Not long into our first set of legs was I reminded that we all stink, but we all have our own weird little habits that get us through! I learned a few new strategies to apply to my own running routine.
No leader is perfect. We are all works in progress. When we open ourselves up to those close to us (literally in this case), we learn we are not alone in our areas of growth as well as new and effective strategies we might not have ever considered on our own.
The beauty is in the scenery!
One of the best parts of running through the foothills of Texas was the views! Our legs would be screaming out in pain, begging us to stop or slow down but just one moment to observe the surroundings could give you all the energy needed to move forward.
Sometimes, leaders can get caught up in narrow focus of the road ahead and forget to look around. To take in the view. To smell the roses. These brief pauses in focus allow us to remember how small we (and our worries) are, how beautiful our surroundings can be, and all the things we are grateful for (like being able to run out there).
I carried a few worries into the race that were dispelled quickly as we began our run together. The team of The Road Goes On Forever will forever have a special place in my heart! I am grateful for their spirit, sense of humor, support, and friendship!
When we travel the road of leadership with a team, 200-ish miles doesn’t seem so daunting! Together, we can do great things!