September 29, 2009

Running a Different Kind of Race. ~ via Barry Siff

A part of elephantjournal.com’s series on, and by, the Boulder City Council candidates. elephant editor Waylon Lewis will moderate two City Council debates, including one with New Era Colorado at the Fox Theater.

Barry Siff’s Run for Boulder City Council.

Having run well over 50 marathons, several ultramarathons, eight Ironman triathlons and many multi-day adventure and expedition races, I am now embarking upon…a totally different type of race: I am “running” for a seat on the Boulder City Council. And, after being in this “race” now for nearly 6 months, it’s amazing the similarities between an athletic race and a political race.

GOALS – It’s all about setting a goal, and working toward it: finishing a marathon and feeling like a winner…finishing a political campaign and being a winner.

PLAN – When you are working toward a marathon (maybe 3-6 months away), you make a plan and stick to it. Running a political campaign is similar; establish a plan, complete with dates and actionable items, and stick to it.

BUILD – When I ran my first marathon (1981), I was able to run 5 miles at once. Over a period of 3 months, that amount gradually built, such that I was able to run the necessary 26.2 miles on race day. Boulder City Council meetings are known for their duration (not unusual to run for 6-7 hours to midnight or 1 AM). I attended my first Council meeting in April and lasted 2.5 hours. Two weeks later, I made it through 4 hours and, with strong determination, sometime in June, I made it through an entire City Council meeting! I am now “comfortable” with a 6-7 hour meeting. However, when I gain a seat on Council, I will do all I can to expedite the meetings through stronger leadership and better business techniques.

TEAM – As an athlete, one may have a coach, massage therapist, PT person, training partners, and other persons who support you toward your mission/goal. In a political campaign, it is equally important to surround yourself with a team who will support you: a campaign manager, issues advisers, writers, treasurer, volunteers and others.

RACE PRACTICE – When getting ready to race your first major goal event, you will race a few shorter events leading up to it. Politically, you will find yourself in front of large groups and voters in meetings, forum, and public debates. It’s a good idea to do a few “practice races” leading up to the big ones, getting in front of small, “friendly” groups, and getting comfortable with that arena and Q & A sessions.

CONSISTENCY – I learned a great deal last year, after 28 years of racing, of the importance and value of consistency. I literally had the same workouts (building, of course) on the same days, in the same order, for several months, leading up to my Ironman. It worked. Politically, I have found value going to every City Council meeting, answering emails related to the campaign every day (answer each within 24 hours ideally), and spending time each and every day (for me, 8-12 hours right now) on the campaign.

BALANCE – Finally, both type of races can put havoc into your “normal” lifestyle, particularly into relationships and emotions. One must never lose focus on the truly important things in life, beginning with loved ones. Balance must be achieved. We know triathletes are notoriously Type A “achievement-at-all-cost” individuals. Try taking a triathlete and placing he or she in the political world! Answer: Type A times a big multiplier. Remember: balance.

If all goes well, we should be celebrating the finish line on November 3rd.

For more information on Barry Siff, please visit his websitem or call 303.442.0041.

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