Monday, January 28, 2013

Marathoners and sprinters.

From about the age of 20 until I hit 45 and various parts of my body gave out on me, I was a fairly accomplished long distance runner.

During that time, I had run 12 marathons, 11 in New York and one in Philadelphia and was consistently running upwards of 40 miles a week. I could run, seemingly all day, at a 7:30 pace. And while this wouldn't count for much among the Tarahumarra or the Masai, for a Jewish New Yorker with Jewish New York adipose, it was quite an accomplishment. I had made myself into a long distance runner.

Long distance running skills are of great use if you're in advertising. Most goals are accomplished only after long days, nights and weeks of hard work. The mere showing around of work--what many people call a 'road show,' can occupy weeks at a time. 

It pays when facing situations like these to do what distance runners do. Drop your hands low to open up your lungs, stand up straight, moderate your pace and chug along relentlessly, come what may. That's how you survive the long haul.

However, every so often a different sort of situation arises. Work is due to the client in 48 hours and we have to be finished and shipped and on the air in four weeks.

In other words, a sprint.

In these circumstances, you keep your head down, you pump your arms hard and you move like a missile. Anything that gets in your way, you knock over. Nothing slows you down.

The best ad people are distance runners with sprinters speed. People who can adjust their wiring to the pace demanded by the circumstances.

Long and loping.

Or short and fast.

They each have their place.


Anonymous said...

for the first time in reading your blog, I felt that your metaphoric powers are failing you. Its too much of a stretch from the marathoner to the creative guy. The head down, keep moving no matter what creative guy is a dinosaur in the age of collaboration among peers. We'll call it an off day. The odds still favor your intellect.


Todd said...

I, frankly, like this post. In fact, I've always felt that, given my druthers, and all other things being equal, I'd hire a long distance runner over a non-runner. There's something to be said for an endurance mind-set, especially in advertising.

Anonymous said...


I have no idea what youre talking about. We hire people with deep talent who can lead, collaborate and operate well under pressure. Nice to think theyre "Kenyan" runners. Theyre not


george tannenbaum said...

I'm with Todd on this one, Meaghan. I think endurance, the ability to 'keep on keeping on' matters a hell of a lot in this business.

Rob said...

Reminds me of this

"Why would they come to our concert just to boo us?"

Great blogging, as always, George. Keep doing your thing.