What Running A Marathon Taught Me About Project Management

In fewer than 24 hours, I’ll be lining up on the start line for the Surf Coast Trail Marathon. This is my second marathon and my preparation has been less than perfect. When I ran this event last year, I had a solid 16 week preparation with lots of long runs that were planned with a specific cycle of three weeks of increasing distance followed by an easier week. This year, has been a different story and it strikes me that there are some lessons that can be applied to project management.

Break it down

One of the most basic project management techniques is to use the Work Break Down Structure. This means starting with the big task, let’s say build an app, and then breaking it down to it’s constituent units until you get to small enough tasks that can be executed and allocated.

So, building an app could be broken down onto designing the UI, designing a database, and defining the business logic. If you take the business logic task, this can be broken down into defining business processes, decision points, allocation of different responsibilities in the process and so forth. Each of those pieces might be further broken down.

The marathon I’ll be running isn’t a road race. Those 43km (it’s actually longer than regulation marathon length) comprise of hills, sand, uneven tracks and a bunch of different surfaces. My preparation for those 43kms means breaking the race down into parts and preparing for each one accordingly.

When I ran this event last year, I took a Work Break Down Structure mindset into the event while I was running.

I looked at the race as a series of six 7km segments. Mentally, that made a huge difference as 7km, by the time I get to race day, is an easy training run. It also helped that I’ve run a number of half marathon and longer sub-marathon events as it helped mentally break the task down.


One of my favourite runs each year is the

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