Design Reality

7 Ways Running Marathons Made me a Better Designer

Jonathan Marchbank, Lead Designer at Design Reality tells us how running Marathons made him a better designer.

It taught me perseverance

Success is a matter of perseverance, the time to push hard in running is when you’re hurting the most- you’ll always get through it.  If you’re struggling to find the right design solution, keep going, ask people for feedback and try new things, you’ll get there in the end.  This is the point in a design when things get interesting- this is where you’ll make the breakthrough that many others can’t.

Training refreshes the brain

Solving complex problems all day can lead to creative block.  Running after work clears my head, releases the happy juices and revives my creative brain.  It’s amazing how taking a step back can make even the most challenging problems become clear.

Relaxation is inspiring

When I first started running I used to train hard, almost every day in search of ever improving pace and distance goals, inevitably I ended up with injury niggles and a progress plateau.  As my training evolved I realised that relaxation is equally important to my time out running.  This is the same with Design. I’ve discovered that my best ideas usually come after a holiday or whilst I’m catching up with friends.  When it comes to improving personal performance, downtime is as good at refreshing the mind as it is the body.

I’ve learnt to accept failure as a positive

Running is like designing, one day your smashing a personal best, and the next you’re side-lined due to injury.  In the design industry you must be ready for failure, not every idea works but that’s ok.  The achievements are in the process and implementing everything you have learnt will benefit your work in the long run.

Thinking (and running) on my own two feet

Running taught me to have faith in my own ability, that working through the uncertainty brings your concept to fruition.  Running is very much an independent sport, especially when you’re training for a marathon.  In Design, once the teamwork has reached its full potential, as a designer we take certain elements to deliver on our own and having faith in your ability is a key personality trait that is ultimately important for the delivery of the project.

Adapt for success

Anyone can create a Marathon plan, there are resources everywhere but when your training doesn’t go to plan you have to improvise, because if you don’t injury will be on your doorstep and you’ll never be fit enough to master the marathon.

Design is the same, you can produce the ‘perfect’ project plan to deliver a product to market but you can almost guarantee it never works out the way your first thought.  With such a wide range of variables in the market which can contribute to changes in a project plan.  The best designers identify risks early on, react and adapt the plan to ensure a successful project.

Do what you love, and success won’t be far behind

Becoming a better runner is a journey of constant improvement, however it never feels like a chore because I enjoy every minute that I’m out on the road.  For me it’s the same with Design- the more you do it the better you become, it’s ultimately my passion for the design process that makes it so enjoyable.

Jonny Marchbank

Lead Designer