Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Ben Parker, Co-Founder & Head Coach at Runna

Ben Parker is the Co-Founder & Head Coach at Runna, a running platform that provides world-class training, coaching and community for everyone.

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To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I’ve been a PT and running coach ever since leaving uni over 5 years ago. I grew my online running coaching business to a point where I was at maximum capacity so with the smartest friend I knew we spent 9 months trying to see if we could automate this process.

We went onto launch this as a business in March of 2021 and have now grown to have over 4000 paying subscribers to Runna in 154 countries with coaching from myself and British Olympian Steph Davis.

What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

As a founder of a fast growing startup my life is changing very fast, while also being very different day to day. I have a lot to work internally on the business managing a team of 10 while also having lots of external meetings with everything from companies who want to partner with us, investors, athletes and ambassadors, etc.

Additionally with ~ 50% of our customers coming from outside the UK means I’m often being pulled in lots of directions! Outside of Runna I’m also a very passionate and enthusiastic Ironman athlete which requires 10-20 hours of training per week too! 

My typical Wednesday for example: 

  • 4.45 alarm
  • 5.05 set off on my race bike 
  • 5.15 start club cycle 
  • 6.30 coffee with club post ride
  • 7.30 breakfast, prep for day and swap to commuter bike
  • 8.45 arrive at work
  • 8.45 – 11.30 various work including: managing team, internal & external meetings, talking to affiliates/investors/partnerships, working on coaching / building new plans etc
  • 11.30 fortnightly team run
  • 12.30 fortnightly team lunch @ nandos 
  • 1.30 back to work
  • 5 – 7 depending on workload leave office
  • 7.30ish meet girlfriend at gym, workout, then get lift rest of the way home
  • 9 dinner maybe with some telly before bed

What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I am writing this at 8.10pm after getting to the office before 8am. So I can’t say I have mastered this! But today is a monday and I like to get ahead to leave myself a good rest of the week. 

I break my life into 3 segments and I want to progress in all 3, and all 3 are equally important to me.

My Work is one, my fitness / my running / triathlon ability is two, my relationships – my girlfriend, my friends and family are three. 

I try to zoom out on my life and assess if I’m neglecting any one and refocus my attention. It always fluctuates, sometimes I’ll go a week without seeing any friends or some weeks I’ll work late and spend less time with my girlfriend and sometimes I nail training and feel on top of my work.

Most people running a startup refer to it as their baby – it’s hard not to make your baby front and centre in your life but I try to remind myself that all 3 are equal and now matter how successful I can make this business it means nothing if I’m unhappy, and I need my training and I need my relationships to be happy! 

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In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

YES! The past 2 years since launching my startup my fitness has gone backwards – ironic for a running coaching company right! 

I’ve set out to make 2023 my year again, where I go forwards with my training alongside the business. As a result, every Friday I start work at 6am, work until 11am, have a 4 hour lunch to do a long cycle session, then work from 3pm to 6.30!

I’ve had one Friday so far and it was fantastic. I was so productive before everyone else started work while also motivated by my exciting long lunch treat!

Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

The Diary of a CEO podcast by Steven Bartlett is honestly one of the biggest teachers for me as an entrepreneur. I also loved the books Atomic Habits, Happy Sexy Millionaire and Bounce!

If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

I’d love to know how the most influential man in the world does it all – Cristiano Ronaldo. He can perform at the top of his game at pro sport, he can navigate enormous business deals all while raising a family and being a partner – is money the solution?

Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Does anyone who reads this / resonate with the type of person I am truly wanting work life balance or is it something we just think we want. I’m hard working, driven, competitive or even relentless – I do wonder if I ever had true balance / calm in my life would I not be bored?

I desperately want better balance but I think those close to me know that I’ll keep filling my time with more challenges as that’s the type of person I am. Should anyone want to take their running to the next level and try out Runna use code ‘BPF’ for a 2 week free trial. 

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.