From Burnout to Marathon: How Running Changed My Career and Life

Darren Cox
CORA News & Updates
January 9, 2023
From Burnout to Marathon: How Running Changed My Career and Life

I started my marathon journey when I turned the dreaded 40. I wanted to do something special for such a milestone that would set the foundation for the next 40+ years. Looking at my two small girls and realizing that I would be retired when they hit their mid-20s, the best gift I wanted to offer them was not having to worry about their dad’s health or well-being.

Little did I know that it wouldn’t just benefit my health but also elevate my career and pretty much every other aspect of my life. As a business development and sales professional with more than 20 years of experience, I can confidently say that training for and running a marathon has had a profound impact on my career.

Before I began my marathon journey, I was constantly on the go; juggling multiple projects and responsibilities and struggling to find a healthy work-life balance. I was stressed, burnt out, lacking focus and direction, and making mistakes and not planning correctly. I gave my manager, Raymond, a few sleepless nights, that is for sure.

I have ran very little in my life, a few half marathons here and there, and to be honest I hated them.

I was inspired by a few friends of mine - Luc, Drew, and Rick - who were doing what I thought were crazy miles on a weekly basis. Yeah, we all see David Goggins and Cameron Hannes on social media, but real-life people I know in my social circle were doing this, so why couldn’t I?

As I began to train for the marathon, I discovered the power of having a plan and sticking to it. I set a clear goal: to get into the Chicago Marathon in 2023. It was simple and straightforward. I created a structured training schedule that allowed me to gradually build my endurance and strength. I made lots of mistakes, of course, but kept at. I went out of my comfort zone of asking for advice, which in the past I never really did enough of, and I noticed this new habit started happening more and more in everything I did, including work.

Long runs became a time for me to escape the distractions of daily life and focus on my thoughts and ideas. It was during these runs that I was able to brainstorm, strategize, and plan for the future. They also taught me that if you want to go faster in your race, you need to go slower on your easy runs. It’s the same with work: take your time and build it right. A costly mistake can set you back from your goal.

Training for a marathon isn't just about putting in the miles. It's also about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. I can honestly say that there were many days when I didn't feel like lacing up my shoes and hitting the pavement. I knew that the only way to improve was to push through the pain and discomfort.

And while the training can be demanding and time-consuming, it's important to remember that it's not just about you. The support and understanding of your family and loved ones are crucial in helping you reach your goals, and it goes the same in work. The support and understanding of your goals with your colleague are also crucial. Everyone has their plans for 2023. Mine are outlined and defined with my manager and team now, and we seem to be all on the same page. Just like my running training plan for this year.

One of the things that I love most about marathon training is the sense of community it brings. Whether it's the camaraderie of running with a group or the encouragement of friends and family, there is a sense of support and belonging that can't be found elsewhere.

Take CORA and its group of companies with a collective staff of 10,000 individuals. I found some amazing people within the group who I had not had anything in common with prior to starting my training who were also in the endurance game.

Inspiration from people like Anne Stevenson at Jonas Construction, who just finished her first Ironman last year, or Jennifer Higgins at Computrition, who did her first half marathon recently, and experienced the sense of pride she had when she crossed the line and sent me her time, as well as Eric Lipsitt, who is the GL lead for Computrition and RewardsOps, telling me his latest time and goals, and even doing team events each year around outdoor activities. Not to mention I love learning what drives our new employees who are just starting their careers within the CORA group like Nathan, our intern, and Ami, a CORA associate. The list goes on and on.

When I finally crossed the finish line, the sense of accomplishment and pride that I felt was indescribable. I got in by 33 seconds 3:19:27. The runner’s high that followed was a bonus and something that I still carry with me to this day.

However, the journey doesn't end at the finish line. The recovery process is just as important as the training itself. Taking the time to properly rest and refuel is key to ensuring that you can continue to perform at your best - the same goes for work. Sometimes when we are so busy we don’t let our minds recover. Yet, that is where the building takes place. The mind is a muscle - let it recover and return stronger.

In conclusion, training for and running a marathon has been the greatest advancement in my career. It has taught me discipline, focus, and the power of hard work and determination. It has also helped me find a healthy work-life balance and has provided me with a sense of community and belonging. If you're considering embarking on a marathon journey, I highly recommend it. The commitment and dedication required will undoubtedly pay off in the end.

You don’t HAVE to run a marathon, start small, but look at those shoes we all have them in a closet somewhere, lace them up, go for a walk, get some fresh air. I bet the problem, that daunting task you are stressed over right now will be a little less daunting when you get back. Enjoy.