Running Marathon the Agile Way

Note: This article is not about our training plan for a Marathon. This is more on the way how you can keep the motivation. This is my analysis and my way of keeping things going. I don’t say this is the only way or perfect way. You can keep Inspecting and Adapting changes to your plan accordingly. If you are a seasoned runner, this may not be for you. If you are still struggling to get motivated for the first 10k or something, this post will surely help you. 

Are you planning to run a Marathon or a 10k soon? Here is a plan how you can do it the Agile way. This post is mostly to show how Agile can be implemented in real life away from Software Development.

Lets meet Mr.X, who want to run a full Marathon in next few months. A brief introduction on his profile.

Name: Mr. X

Gender: Male

Age: 32 Years

Occupation: Developer

Weight: 81 kgs.

Height: 175 cms.

Previous Experience: Had run few 10K’s and a half marathon a year and half prior to this Marathon.

Now, lets take an ADKAR Individual Assessment to assess if he has any bottle necks in achieving his goal.

ADKAR Introduction

A – Awareness – The reason why should be doing what he is targeting. – Mr X is well aware why should be running the Marathon. Lets put a score of 5.


D – Desire – Mr. X is very lazy at getting up early. If he wakes up, sure he gonna run his target but very hard to getup. This also makes him run for one day and miss the next day. He lack the desire to have the training plan practiced. The score here would be a 2.

K – Knowledge – Mr. X has good enough knowledge of the training plans, stretches, cross-training etc,. His knowledge on plan for running a Marathon is very good. So the score is 4.

A – Ability – Mr. X had previously ran few 10K’s and a half marathon. So it is not hard to run a marathon provided he practice well. So a 4 again.

R – Reinforcement – Mr. X is so lazy that he run for one day and misses the next day. He lacks reinforcement. If he had managed well, he should be ready for a Marathon anytime. The score would be another 2.

So, as per ADKAR’s change model, the first score that is 3 or less than 3 is a barrier point. Here the barrier point is “DESIRE”.

Though we can work on DESIRE directly, lets see how we can use the five values of Scrum and three pillars of empirical process control.

Firstly the Five values of Scrum:

Scrum Values
Scrum Values

Courage: Courage to challenge the status quo. Courage to change your habits. Mr. X already has the courage to challenge his friends. So, now to show his courage, he can post on the Social Media saying that he is going to Run a Marathon / Half Marathon / 10K in the up-coming event. By this Mr. X is making sure that there are few eyes looking at him to support his success. Also there are few people who are ready to make fun of him if cannot accomplish his goal.

Focus: Focus on what is required for running the Marathon. The Practice. The plan he had put in place to make sure that he can run the Marathon on the big day. Is Mr. X focusing on completing the plan as per the schedule ? If not, what is stopping him from focusing on the goal ?

Commitment: Mr. X should his commitment in running the Marathon. It was his goal to run for the Marathon. Is Mr. X showing enough commitment on following the plan without fail and loosing the enthusiasm? His commitment shows it all. The timing does matter. If his target was to complete the 10K run in say 50 min, is his training in accordance with the target?

Respect: Mr. X needs to respect others time as well as his time. Is is balancing his professional and personal commitments. It should be like as he is targeting on his goal, he should not be sacrificing his time towards his family. He should spend enough time with his family. He should be delivering his commitments at his office and finally he should be practicing for the Marathon.

Openness: If Mr. X tries to be open, he can enjoy the fruits of encouragement. By being open, he can post his scores on Facebook and other social platforms where in his friends can support him and encourage him for his achievement.

Let us see how the three pillars of Empirical Process can help in achieving the targets.

The Three Pillars of Empirical Process:

  • Transparency
  • Inspection
  • Adaptation

Transparency: This is same as the Openness value of Scrum.  Mr. X can enjoy the fruits of encouragement by posting his updates on Social Media. This can also help in having some of the expert views and guidance for the Marathon.

Inspection: How well Mr. X had made the plan, if he do not inspect on how well it is helping him, there is no use of the plan. No Process is ever optimal and complete. So, Mr. X need to Inspect and see if the plan is working for him or not. If not, he need to go the next step of adoption.

Adaptation: Inspection and Adaptation is a feedback loop. When Mr. X inspects on the progress as per the Schedule, he gets an idea of what is going wrong and what needs to be improved. Adaptation is the phase where he can start adapting the lessons he learned. This can also come as feedback from Elite runners.

Now that Openness and Transparency came into picture, the DESIRE being bottle neck / barrier point can be improved with the help of encouragement from friends.

Also physiologically, people keep continuing a process if it is rewarding. So if Mr. X can reward himself with his favourite food item on the day he completes his plan, there is a chance that he can improve the ADKAR Score in DESIRE also.

With that said, lets keep running as per the plan for the Marathon but with the Inspect and Adapt cycles in addition to the feedback loops.

8 thoughts on “Running Marathon the Agile Way

  1. That’s a great idea to use marathon to explain the principles of agile. very well explained.
    I have a point to add on transparency. It not only helps you but also helps others who haven’t yet taken the plunge to try it and others who have started but couldn’t keep up to reconsider.

    1. Thanks a ton. Yes that is true. People are reconsidering to start working on it as health is also a major factor for happiness. This also had implanted a thought of “while others are able to achieve, why can’t I?” Transparency at organizational level also helps in wonderful results. Agile is all about that.

  2. Great article. Helps to adopt and improve use of agile processes to build high-performance in Marathon or at work.

  3. Great work Arjun, excellent way to tie up ADKAR and the Scrum Values together, as well as the 2 TIA Pillars underpinning empirical learning.

    The next thing to develop this model on would be to form the team (him, plus peers in his group, plus a trainer/coach for motivation) and organise sprints (the practice running sessions to increase velocity).

    1. Thanks a lot Sir. Also thanks for the thought. will surely work on it. There are lot of tools in ADKAR that can help in achieving Organizational Agility. Sure will try to work on it. Thanks for the support.

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