Marathons — The Ultimate in Human Performance Improvement

We went to San Francisco this past weekend, the wife and I, for the Nike Women’s Marathon.  A marathon, for the couch potatoes in the bunch, involves running 26.2 miles, conceivably because some guy did it back in ancient Roman times.  If he could do it in that flimsy Roman footwear, folks today reason, then so can we with our high-tech running shoes, shoulder, knee, and elbow wraps, energy drinks and energy bars, and throngs of cheering people stationed along the course.

Nike Womens Marathon Starting Line -- 20,000 Human Performers

Nike Women's Marathon Starting Line -- 20,000 Human Performers

My wife had registered for the half-marathon, which is a respectable 13.1 miles.  I had registered for the spectator’s shuttle, which was a respectable $15 to transport me to select locations along the course in order to clang a cowbell(provided by Safeway) and cheer when I saw her.

Sports analogies and training go hand in hand, likely because it is readily understood that for one to succeed in an athletic event, one must train for it.  For example, one cannot decide to run a half marathon one day and just do it the next.

Take a look a little deeper, though. As one prepares for an athletic event such as a marathon, one doesn’t just engage in training.  One goes through several human performance interventions.

Human Performance Improvement (HPI) is a systemic approach that looks to six categories of conditions that can impact performance, and finds opportunities to improve to both individual and organizational performance.  For marathoners, you could apply HPI as follows:

Resources Motivation
Marathoners learn to know their body, from the right pace to “listening” to it at mile 5, mile 10, etc. You can’t just wear that sneaker from DSW anymore — you need the right shoe for your feet. You’re waking up at 5 am on a weekend (usually a Sunday), about to run 26.2 miles. Starbucks don’t cut it.
You need motivation!
Knowledge / Skills
Capacity Incentives
There’s a skill to running long distances. There’s a skill to finding your pace, to running up hills, and down hills. You can’t decide to run a marathon and do it. You need to build your body’s fitness so you’re capable of such a feat. My wife typically runs marathons where there’s a participant’s medal involved. The medal for the Nike Women’s Marathon? Made by Tiffany.
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2 thoughts on “Marathons — The Ultimate in Human Performance Improvement

  1. melaclaro says:

    I love this metaphor, Paul. Great analogies.

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