For Michael Pace, fitness and leadership don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. “You don’t need to be fit to be a good leader,” he says. “But, regular exercise clears the mind and helps us to feel well. The better we feel, the better we work, whatever the job may be.”
Michael understands this more than most, having only recently discovered the knock-on benefits of introducing exercise. “Until a few years ago I didn’t do much sport and I found it difficult to build it into my routine. Work stress used to pull me down into a hole,” he recalls. “I was highly strung and even sleep couldn’t always clear my mind. Regular early morning outdoor sport turned things around. I think of it as a daily ‘total reset’ button to start the day at zero. My coping mechanism has improved and I now find it easier to switch off at the close of the day. And, although I have always kept sport separate from my business, I’d like to think that this reflects in my work too. I feel fulfilled and hope that I’m a better person to have around in the office and at home.”
Motivated by parenthood, his first steps towards fitness were challenging, he shares. “I had my first child at 39. It was then I decided that, if I wanted to stick around and be an able dad, I wasn’t going to leave it to chance and needed to do something about it. I began with morning pool swims and later added running. It was tough to get used to initially, but the turning point came when I started getting out early in the morning before my workday began. This was a game-changer as I could finally build a routine that didn’t interfere with my work and which, in turn, could not by compromised by it. When my workday starts, I’m already done with my exercise for the day.”
Having established this early morning training habit, Michael now alternates between running and swimming – and sometimes swimruns, a combination of trail running and sea swimming – both alone and with others. “I met a bunch of people on a similar trajectory and who inspired me, and they helped make this daily sacrifice a highlight. Nowadays, I’ll train alone when I’m short on time, but would always rather have company. I know that if I want to train, there are always like-minded friends I can count on to join. It is important for me to get out and have fun,” he says. “My advice for anyone interested in starting fitness is to start slow, aim low and get outside. Find when works best and build it into your routine, rain or shine. And think about how you’ll feel afterwards. Once done, you’ll never wish you’d stayed home in bed.”
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