How Running a Store is Like Running a Marathon

By April Rice

Many of you know about AFS’s relationship with the Utah Valley Marathon. I had the privilege to participate in the Utah Valley Half Marathon in 2015 and I persuaded my daughter, McKenzie to join me in this event. She hesitantly accepted the challenge.   

If you’ve ever run or trained for a 5k, half marathon, or another physically demanding event, you know you need to do a few things to prepare yourself to be successful. 

Let’s review these steps. First, you must want to accomplish the event. You must have a training regimen in place. You must have the proper equipment. You need running shoes, proper clothing, etc. You need timelines and goals so you can measure progress as you prepare. Once the race starts you need execution. You must show up! As you plan, train, coach, mentor and execute, you can cross the finish line. In my case, I also needed a training buddy. I found that buddy in McKenzie. McKenzie and I encouraged each other and kept each other motivated.  

In many ways, store owners and team members “run a marathon” every day. To be ready, they need to work together. They learn, they train, they do all the things to prepare their departments and store to meet guests’ needs. To be ready, they need the right equipment and the right uniforms to execute their plans. They need the right coach who cares and motivates them to improve step by step. They need timelines and goals to be more successful, grow sales and WOW their guests. If they prepare effectively, have the proper coaching and support and follow their plan they can cross the finish line and win! 

As Mckenzie and I prepared for the half marathon, things were great. We trained and encouraged each other. When the big day came, we woke up in the middle of the night (or at least it felt like the middle of the night to me and my fellow marathoners) to run the race. My daughter was on the verge of changing her mind. A warm, comfy bed was hard to leave for a cold morning before the sun rose. She didn’t want to let me down. She showed up at my door and soon we were on our way.   

The first half of the race went extremely well. We were on schedule and feeling good.  As we headed into the second half of the race, I had to encourage McKenzie the rest of the way. I told her to “make it to the next telephone pole and then we could walk.” When we passed the telephone pole, it was time to run again. Then it was “make it to the next light post, then we can walk.” This went on for about four miles. I encouraged and coached and did not leave her side throughout the entire race. As the finish line finally came into view, McKenzie suddenly got a burst of energy and left me in the dust! She crossed the finish line about 15 seconds before me. So much for crossing the line together!   

(In the accompanying photo, I am circled in red as my daughter sprinted across the finish line without me.) This experience made me very proud and remains a rewarding memory we accomplished together.   

I see this level of effort, teamwork and support every day in our AFS Member stores and at the distribution center and corporate office. It is so rewarding to see the planning, the hard work, and all the efforts that make our grocery stores the best place to shop. We have amazing independent grocery store owners and awesome AFS team members who coach, mentor, and encourage each other. Thanks for allowing me to run “the marathon” with you!