Last weekend I ran a half marathon in NYC and placed 60th out of 1,417 in my age group. The race was two full loops of Central Park, and the park is no joke people! There are a lot of rolling hills and if you aren’t prepared for them, they can be intimidating.

But, I’ve been training and did the race in 1:45:43, which I was happy with (average of 8:04 / mile). That is 6.5 minutes better than my last half marathon in Central Park 7 months ago. Talk about improvement!

So how did I get faster? Two things really stand out to me.

First, I changed my training plan to incorporate more strength training and speed work. Last year I used to just go out and run. But I’ve been training on a track and it’s really paid off. There are two goals … first to “get comfortable with the uncomfortable” and second “learn to run on tired legs”. If you can figure these two things out, then you’ll improve.

Second, I started training with a group. We all have our own plans, but when we’re at the track we’re also working alongside each other. Everyone helps challenge each other. And sometimes it’s not about chasing the faster people. Sometimes I run alongside someone who’s slower than me, so that I don’t over-train.
Anyway, this does relate back to user experience …

To improve your experience you have to figure out all the variables and make sure you are giving each of those variables enough attention.

If you’re an e-commerce site, you can’t just focus on all the pages within the site. You also have to think about things like the emails you are sending your customers or potential customers. Or think about what you are doing on your social media channels. The sum of these interactions and impressions is what form people’s entire experience with your product.

Also, to improve your experience you have to get outside of your own bubble. It’s so easy for product teams to have their heads focused 1,000% on their own product and never come up for air to see what other companies are doing. Allow your competitors to be almost like pacers to your team – you’ll move faster, think smarter, and ensure that you’re not too caught up in your own heads. It’s basically the old idea that you shouldn’t be afraid to hang out with people who you think are smarter than you.

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