What the 400-Meter Run can Teach Us About Marketing

What the 400-Meter Run can Teach Us About Marketing

By Peggy Tierney, chief strategy officer, Force4 Technology Communications  

When I was in high school, I ran track and field. Because I ran the 300-meter hurdles, I would occasionally be tapped to run a leg in the 4 x 400m relay. 

For those of you who might not be familiar, the 4 x 400m – the mile relay – is the final event of a track meet. Each event of a track and field meet – from sprints to distance to jumps to shot put – racks points on the scoreboard for your team. If it’s a close meet, then your school’s success might rest on the results of the mile relay. 

No pressure. 

As we move through Q2, I’ve been thinking about the 400-meter race.  

We used to visualize each part of the track: the initial turn, the first straightaway, the second curve and then the final cannonball run towards the finish line. 

Some races can be paced better than others. A 100-meter run might not be paced; unless “go balls out” can be considered a pace. Others are exercises in mental pacing: our steeplechase coach (itself a race that leans heavily on grit) insisted that the 800-meter was unpaceable; and maintained that the second lap was an exercise more of pain endurance than in calibrating 80% of effort here, 100% of effort there, and “whatever you have left” over there. 

But the 400 meter you can pace. The first 100 meters, you come off the blocks, get fully upright by the 50-meter mark with strong, controlled form. Enter the 200-meter mark at 80 percent stride and maintain your form down the straightaway. The beginning of the 300-meter mark – the second roundabout – is where you gradually increase to 100% effort for the final 200 meters. And that final 100 meters, you leave it all on the track: finishing it out by giving it everything you’ve got.  

Practice is key. Triathletes sometimes joke about “faking” one leg of the tri (usually the swim; pour one out for the poor swim) since it’s easier to fit in training runs and bike sessions. But in the 400-meter run, none of the legs can be faked. Each one is built on the previous one and sets up the next one for success.  

For 2H 2023, we’ve put together a game plan of resources to help you maintain your stride. The goal is to stick to the plan and keep your focus on the goal. Taken together, they will help you keep your pace strong and in the best position for ramping up in Q3 and finishing the year strong.  


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