7 months ago

How Running Helped Me Find My Path

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Running can benefit a woman’s confidence, well-being and energy levels far beyond expectations. Mary Jennings became so passionate about running that she switched lanes in her highflying career in order to found “Forget the Gym.ie” encouraging people of all ages, sizes, shapes and fitness levels to get out and pound the pavement. She tells us how she found her path…

The Vision

Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?

Ironically it was this very question that made me look at the career path I was on, change things radically and end up sitting at my kitchen table writing my book. At a career path workshop in my management consultancy job, we were asked to map out our future from our current position to the desirable top position of partner.

As I sat there doodling on the paper I realised that being partner really didn’t interest me at all. My forties were 15 years away at that stage, but the dream of the big salary and the powerful job didn’t really appeal. I couldn’t understand how I would get to have any flexibility in my schedule if that was to be my path.

It was the kind of job which involved a lot of travel and uncertainty around work locations. While it was exciting at first, the novelty of hotel breakfasts and early morning flights wore off quickly. I realised how impossible it was to commit to any extracurricular nurturing activities.

If I had not completed that planning exercise, I’m certain that I would have stayed on that career path. I had great friends and the longer I remained in that circle, the more normal it would have become and the harder it would have been to jump ship.

The Breakthrough

I secured a one-year career break which meant I didn’t have to take any big leaps. Yes, I feel very lucky to have my own path now. But I am also lucky to have had the career I had before. The lessons I learned there helped me build a business, a loyal customer base and a career that fits in with my grand plan. I have a huge amount to thank PwC and IBM for all I learnt there. The project management skills I acquired there helped hugely in setting up my business. The computer skills I used to create a website, and the admin skills I used keep the business going. I still exercise the presentation skills gained to deliver talks to groups.

I also developed the kind of confidence that comes from being thrown in at the deep end to challenging jobs. Most importantly, I had firsthand experience of how years at a desk job can impact our body and our motivation. So I know how hard it is to make time for fitness and health when work is stressful. I’ve been there too.

Wherever you are right now, you have lessons learnt and experience you can bring to your future. You might not be able to drop your job completely. But there are opportunities everywhere! Whether it is to help out initially with volunteering or surrounding yourself with people who do the things they love. I would never have assumed I would have been running and writing as a career.

How ironic, and gratifying, 15 years later, to be delivering talks on well-being and the benefits of running to the same employer that kickstarted my career!

Get Running by Mary Jennings is published by Gill Books, available now in bookshops and online (€16.99)

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