I’m in the midst of training for the Broad Street Run, a popular 10 mile race down one of Philadelphia’s most iconic streets. Running serves as an amazing metaphor for much of what we experience in life and just as I’ve discovered inspiration in pounding the pavement, I’ve found that running has many parallels to writing, content creation and marketing.

Here are four ways content marketing is like running a race:

1. Planning ahead leads to better results.

Heading to the start line at Broad and Olney on race day without planning ahead or properly training would be silly. Similarly, throwing up a blog post or piece of content on your own website or a client’s website without a plan or strategy is just as crazy. Months ago, I sat down and created a weekly training plan (that I have to admit, I’ve only loosely followed) but that preparation and step-by-step plan will ensure I’ve trained strategically come race day. When it comes to content marketing, having a clear goal in mind and an editorial calendar to help reach those goals will lead to better results and outcomes for your company or client.

2. Don’t do it alone.

Training for a race becomes a lot easier when you have a partner to run with or a friend to check in with to share war stories, motivation, tips and tricks. Content planning and creation also becomes easier (and more fun!) when you have a team to brainstorm with and share the workload. If you are lucky enough to be part of a team, gather together regularly for brainstorming sessions; many minds are often better than one. If you do work alone, enlist a friend or fellow solopreneur to check in with on a weekly or monthly basis to help keep each other on track, share ideas and gain new perspectives.

3. Consistency is key.

An important part of content creation and distribution is finding a posting consistency that works for your team and helps your company or client reach their goals. Whether you publish new content five times per week or twice a month, creating a consistent schedule and sticking to it helps your audience know when to expect you. Also, consistent brainstorming, writing and promotion allows you and your team members to develop and hone skills. When it comes to racing, shorter midweek runs have helped me build up a strong base for longer distance weekend runs and race preparation.

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4. Slow and steady wins the race.

If you’ve ever run a long distance race, you know that it’s best to hold a steady pace and slowly increase and get faster as you head toward the finish line. The same holds true when it comes to content marketing. You don’t want to go out too fast when you’re just getting started for fear of losing steam quickly and fizzling out. Start slow; strategy first, then content planning, creation, distribution and promotion. Following these steps in order and taking as much time as you need at each juncture to do things right will lead to successful results.

Happy racing! (Ahem…I mean, writing).

Jessica Lawlor is a public relations professional and freelance writer in the Philadelphia area. Her work has been published on Ragan’s PR Daily, Muck Rack, Brazen Careerist, Mediabistro, Business Insider and AOL Jobs. She blogs at JessicaLawlor.com about getting gutsy- stepping outside your comfort zone to live a life that makes you truly happy. Connect with her on Twitter.