Jesse Fewell

Innovation. Collaboration. Agility.

Agile Project Management for Marathon Training

Posted by on Nov 15, 2013

Completing my last half-marathon before the BIG race

Completing my last half-marathon before the BIG race

This weekend I will run my first marathon ever. It’s been a journey that’s taken over a year to get this far, and even then only with the use of agile project management techniques from an adaptive and empirical mindset. I’m sure it will take me a handful of posts to talk about all the techniques I used, but the first one I want to share with you is this:

Deliver Early, Deliver Often.

Theory: Agile practitioners universally advocate the use of short cycles. When large scary projects are decomposed into a series of timeboxed phases, they suddenly become suddenly achievable and less intimidating. It turns out that marathon training already has a commonly accepted cycle for crafting a project schedule: the weekly running plan.

Application: My very first research efforts led me to www.marathonrookie.com, which offers a basic 16-week complete training plan, broken down into a series of weekly goals.(scroll down to towards the bottom to see it). This is HUGE! Now I don’t have to run 26 miles, I only need to run 3. Heck, even I can do that.

In fact, I’ve heard that for distance running, your weekly goal is all that really matters. One of my advisors, PM expert and 3-time marathoner Dennis Stevens, told me that you should shoot for running in a week 1.5 times the number of miles for your target race. Running a 10K? Target 15K-per-week by race day. Running a half-marathon? Target 20m-per-week by race day. By the time you hit your peak, most marathon training plans have you doing between 34-40 miles per week.

More posts to come: Right now, I can think of several other techniques I used that I will be sharing with you all, such as…

  • Go Small.
  • Don’t fight adversity, adapt to it.
  • Define project success beyond the constraints.
  • Get some project data.
  • Choose your team.
  • Build an infrastructure.
  • Review your Budget.

…and so on.

What about you? Have you found project management to help you achieve large personal goals like this?

8 Comments

  1. I have been utilizing Agile project management techniques for managing my weight loss this year. Looking at losing a large amount of weight at once seems impossible however developing a plan and executing and delivering in Timeboxes works much better. I have a plan(Sprint planning)that I develop at the beginning of the week of the food that I will be eating during the week (User Stories), I collect my thoughts for the day in the morning( Daily Standup) for determining how much exercise did I do yesterday and how much will I do today. Likewise, I review what I ate yesterday and look ahead at what I will be eating today. If I don’t have the food for the day or there is an issue with exercise for the day, I develop a plan to resolve it early in the morning rather than waiting until 10 PM and realizing I still have to exercise or the food I need is not available. At the end of the week, I do a weigh in (Demo) each Saturday morning to see how my product (weight loss) evolved for the week. I will take a look at the results and determine if I need to make any changes in my plan or execution (Retrospective)The feedback from the Retrospective will be included in my next weekly plan(Sprint plan). So far this has worked well since I have lost 30lbs using this planning method. The plan is still in progress and I look forward to completing the plan( I am within 10 lbs of completion) – Steve Colasinski

    • Steve, this is an excellent implementation of Scrum. I may have to interview you to get the full story.

      -jesse

    • Odysseas, Congratulations! What a great story. My official finish time yesterday was 5:15 for the full 42+KM. So…it seems that I am even slower than you :) Perhaps I will race Athens one day to see what it really feels like.

      • Congrats to you as well. Any finish is a success. I did my first Marathon in 5.02 is a much easier rout than Athens. I hope you fulfil your wishes.

  2. I
    agree with pretty much everything you say here. To
    deliver the greatest amount of value in the shortest amount of time, Scrum
    promotes prioritization and Time-boxing over fixing the scope, cost and
    schedule of a project. An important feature of Scrum is self-organization,
    which allows the individuals who are actually doing the work to estimate and
    take ownership of tasks.You can learn the agile way of managing project through http://www.scrumstudy.com/.

    • Thank for the comment, Lydia. Interesting you mention Self-Organization. That’s a topic that has more attention this week, thanks to Zappos. I’ll be posting later this week to share some thoughts on it.

  3. An agile process tends to focus on iterations, and
    client feedback, to allow for the inevitability of changing requirements
    whereas a waterfall process tries to define all requirements up front, and
    tends to be inflexible to changing requirements. You can learn more about agile
    and scrum by referring to some free resources
    (http://www.scrumstudy.com/free-resources.asp) provided by scrumstudy or by attending any agile scrum certification
    courses. I would personally suggest Agile Expert Certified course or a Scrum
    Master Certification
    to you.

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