Running a marathon is the best Test education I know

Running a marathon is the best Test eduction I know

What are some good qualities that can make you a good tester? A lot of people on the internet agreed that some of them includes:

  • Time Management
  • Passion for the job
  • Dicipline
  • Determination
  • Focus

Time Management

What needs to be done first? What is the top priority today? A good tester knows what needs to be checked. Setting priorities and time estimates are necessary for this. This is why a plan is needed. A plan to see if your tests still fit within the time available. If necessary, adjust the plan daily.


A tester is very disciplined. He structures everything he does: his tasks, the process. He knows what he did and when he did it. This is because if something goes wrong, he should communicate it to the end users or developers. Therefore it is important to work in a very structured way. The communication to the users has to be clear. Also towards the developers, sometimes you have to know exactly what you did. That is why discipline is important.


Sometimes, you have to keep going as a tester, even if everyone says it’s good. Often people say it works, but when you dig a little deeper, it turns out it doesn’t work after all. So you have to learn to keep going even though everyone says “stop it.”


A tester can not be distracted. A tester must be able to focus on details as well as the whole picture. Both are important for testers because you must be able to both empathize as an end user and understand the developers well in order to communicate your decisions to them as well. Especially when things go wrong, this is extremely important.

How do I learn this all ?

How do you learn this? Do you learn them from a book? No, because if you read a book about learning to ride a bike, you can’t do it yet. That’s how it is here. Just because you read a lot of books on testing or get a lot of certificates doesn’t mean you suddenly have all these skills in your pocket.

You can learn all these skills by doing something that has nothing to do with software testing. Namely, by training for a marathon.

Training for a marathon ?

Training for a marathon can teach you these skills. And you can’t cheat. With an exam, you may still be able to find out questions and thus cheat yourself. But you either finish a marathon or you don’t. There is no way in between.

Without training, you won’t make it through a marathon. By training you acquire those skills. You learn to run anyway even if it’s scorching hot outside or if it’s raining outside. You learn the discipline to run, day after day.

When you are running, the start goes fine. When you get over kilometer 30, your mind is asking you “why are you doing this”? This is the so called wall. You have to get over it and convince yourself to keep going. You trained for it, so you can do this. This is the determination that a good tester needs. Testers need to keep going, even if the collegues tells them to stop because there are no errors anymore.

While training for a marathon you also learn that you are going to think long term and thus break down your problem into pieces. You can’t run 42 kilometers if you’ve never run before. You will have to be able to run 1 kilometer before you can run 2 and so on. In other words, you stay focused on reaching the end goal.

But this end goal is a lot of work. You are with a time limit and you may have other things to do than train for the marathon. So how can you do that? How should you tackle this huge work?

It is not about doing the occasional big things. It is about doing the consistent small things.

The solution is to create a plan. You create a training plan to achieve your goal in as many weeks. This plan includes smaller intermediate goals. For example, your example could say you have the following goals:

  • week 1: goal A
  • week 2: goal B
  • week 3: goal C

The trick is to meet the goals each week. This is kind of how the agile way works. We make a plan. After the sprint is done, we show what we finished. Did we did what we promised in our plan?


So you see that training for a marathon can also help you in professional life. It is more than just a sport to get healthy. Running changes your mindset forever. Those who have ever run a marathon know this.