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The One About The Ironman Triathlon, Business, and Peak Performance

Something that you may not know about me is that many years ago I competed as a triathlete. You know... the sport where we swim, bike, run...

Anyway, this is not about that.

It's about what I learned early on in the sport that helped me sustain my performance for more than 25 years in the sport... in business... and in pretty much every other aspect of life.

Triathlon is a sport where you're either prepared to succeed, or you're not. If you show up on race day, and you haven't prepared for it, it's going to be a very long day. It's going to hurt, and there's a good chance you won't finish.

There are 6 specific things that I did to keep me performing at my peak physically and mentally for many years.

Here's the TL;DR

  1. Set a goal

  2. Make a plan

  3. Take action

  4. Monitor progress

  5. Expect setbacks

  6. Adjust the plan, not the goal

Set a Goal

At the beginning of each year, I looked at the upcoming race calendar, and selected 4-5 events that I would focus on. But, there was always that ONE event that I would use as my main event. It was usually a Championship race, or some other high caliber event, like the Ironman.

Make a Plan

Once I had my race calendar set, it was time to make a training plan so that I would be at my best for each event. I considered each event a project to be completed, and the training tasks would lead me to completing the race to the best of my ability.

I would get out my planner, and plan what I would work on every single day. What days would I work on my swim training, bike training, run training, strength training, and rest.

I didn't plan each workout at this point. This was only to setup the training framework.

Once I had the framework set up, I would work with my coach to plan out each workout in four week blocks. That way there was no guessing about what needed to be done on any given day.

I've used this same approach in many other applications of the years... in business, and in school.

--> Investing time up front to make a plan is one of the keys to success because it removes all of the guesswork.

Do the Work

Once the plan is made, and each task is scheduled, then it becomes a matter of completing each task. It's a very methodical process. Each day look at the plan for the next day, and get ready to execute. There were days when I wasn't motivated, or was feeling tired, or some other excuse. But, as long as I had specific tasks to complete, I would just complete the task no matter how I was feeling.

Monitor Progress

Every four weeks, I would test myself by simulating a race effort in each discipline. I could see how my training was working, and what was working. That gave me an opportunity to adjust the plan, or make other changes to my training.

Later in the season, I would use certain races to monitor my progress. The key is to not put any additional pressure on myself by competing against anyone but myself. Was I improving, and working up to my potential?

Expect Setbacks

No matter how disciplined I was, setbacks were expected, and happened all the time. Injury, fatigue, work schedules, and so on would throw my plan off. When that happened, it didn't come as a surprise. It was expected.

When setbacks happened, and I missed a workout, I didn't go back to make up the missed training. I just kept going with the plan, and trusted the training process.

Adjust the Plan, Not the Goal

When my performance was not where I thought it should be, or I suffered an injury, the key to success is to adjust the plan. I remember one year I was training for the Ironman in Hawaii. It was about 6 weeks out from the race, and I suffered a knee injury. Fortunately, I was just entering my taper phase, where my training volume and intensity was being reduced. I could still swim, and bike. But running was out of the question.

I worked with a physiotherapist who helped to rehabilitate the injury. after about 4 weeks of therapy, I was good to go. I had to modify my training, but I still kept the goal in mind. I went to Hawaii, and competed in my first Ironman.

I adjusted the plan, but not the goal.

No matter where you find yourself in business, your career, your education, or any other aspect of life the same 6 things will either lead you to success, or not. It what you choose to do to prepare for success that will get you to the finish line.

  1. Set a goal

  2. Make a plan

  3. Take action

  4. Monitor progress

  5. Expect setbacks

  6. Adjust the plan, not the goal

PS. If you'd like to see some photos of two of my Ironman races, here's Ironman Canada 1996, and 2003.

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