How training for a Marathon kept me motivated during my job search

When I first signed up for a marathon it had nothing to do with my job search, rather it was something I’d always wanted to accomplish and decided to go ahead and take on the challenge.

I had already run half-marathons, 5ks, and 10ks; so the marathon was the next distance to conquer. But, I found signing up for this race wasn’t just beneficial for my overall health and fitness, it also benefited my job search. I thought I’d share a few of the reasons how my training helped my motivation when I was unemployed and searching for a job. At a time when unemployment is still high for recent grads and young professionals, burnout and depression is not uncommon.

While I’m not suggesting you have to commit yourself to running 26.2 miles, maybe my experience will spark your interest in a local 5k race or signing up for a different fitness class!


  1. Provided a challenge and an achievement to work toward:

One way I try to keep myself motivated is through challenges. If not, I risk falling into a rut of boredom. During a tough job search, having a challenge unrelated to careers or jobs, was probably the most important factor in why my motivation remained high amid times of immense stress and disappointment. My days would consist of applying to jobs, polishing cover letters, and looking for networking leads, sometimes all of which led to a black hole of silence.

However, going out and finishing a training run provided a feeling of accomplishment and mental boost that was the perfect antidote. I started to find that after a week of dead-end leads or rejection emails from a promising job interview, I would drag myself out to complete my weekend long run and finished feeling rejuvenated from the challenge. I was ready to conquer the upcoming week.

  1. Provided daily and weekly goals:  

When you are unemployed and/or seeking a job, it gets so easy to get caught up with endlessly applying to jobs, following up with recruiters, or scheduling informational interviews, that you forget to do anything else with your time. If you go through your days with that consistently similar routine, you are at risk for burnout very quickly.

This is why I found having a training plan a crucial piece in why I was able to remain focused and motivated throughout my search. I had a ready-made plan that told me what I needed to accomplish during that day and week outside of my job search. Even on days wherein I didn’t feel like going for a 3-5 mile run (especially during the hot summer months), it provided that push I needed to do something else with my time besides applying to yet another job.



  1. Interesting topic during interviews or networking events:

When preparing for a job interview, we all know the standard questions to expect and prepare our answers accordingly. But I noticed over the past year I was thrown some curveballs in certain situations. The standard question “So tell me about yourself” was followed up with “So tell me about your interests/hobbies”, or “What is your greatest achievement” was changed to “Tell me about your greatest personal accomplishment.We are so conditioned by career experts to focus solely on the job and our professional interests/accomplishments, that when asked these questions about our life outside of work, we might suddenly draw a blank!

In these situations I was relieved I could speak about how I was currently training for a marathon. It provided an answer that both illustrated my ambition and willingness to take on challenges, without reveling any personal information that would be illegal for interviewers to ask about. I also found talking about marathon training to be a helpful icebreaker during networking events. Having an interesting topic to speak about helps to make you more memorable when networking, rather than becoming just another job seeker handing out your business cards.


All of these factors can apply to you whether you are employed and looking for a new job, find yourself in a rut, or if you hit a slump in your current job and looking for something to spark your motivation! The question now is what will you sign up for? Let us know below!


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Lauren Shank

Lauren Shank is a young professional pursing her passion for a career in Marketing and Communications. She has a B.S. in Psychology from Virginia Tech and currently works for a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C. Outside of work and GMAT prep, this ambitious and driven career girl can be found relaxing in yoga class, training for her next race, swimming, or just enjoying a good book or fashion magazine. Follow her on Twitter @LaurenEShank