Be an Ironman at Work

Did you know that nearly half of the athletes registered with USA Triathlon are professionals working 40+ hours a week?  On average, someone training for an endurance event, like a triathlon, may work out 10-20 hours a week.  Endurance is the ability to sustain a specific activity (endurance running, cycling, swimming, rowing, cross-country skiing etc) for a prolonged period. That means the average working professional sees the value in spending an extra 10-20 hours a week working on peak performance.  They are not just surviving; they are thriving and see the connection in their fitness and work life.

Ironman, the ultimate in endurance sports is—a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2 mile run—requires approximately 20 hours of training per week for six months, the equivalent of adding a part-time job to an already busy professionals life. Why would anyone want to do this? 

Simply put, it can:

  • inspire you
  • give you confidence
  • improve your focus
  • show you how to deal with emotions
  • help you learn to overcome pain
  • teach you lessons about patience
  • perseverance
  • persistence
  • relationships

An endurance athlete, like Ironman, is always striving to improve performance.  This level of grit, determination and desire all translate to improving our performance at work. 

Here’s how the endurance athlete applies these qualities to their professional life: NOT TO SURVIVE—BUT THRIVE AT WORK:

THEY MASTER TIME MANAGEMENT

There is no time to waste.  Endurance athletes pack their bag for the next day’s workout the night before.  They plan their meals, which not only helps them fuel, but it keeps the random fast-food option at bay.  This helps them stay on target with their goals. 

Translated to the workday, be prepared, and adhere to a strict schedule.  Checking Facebook “really quick” at 10:00 a.m. then realizing 3 hours has gone by and you’ve accomplished nothing and don’t know what you are going to eat for lunch is not effective. Know what you are going to do and when you are going to do it.

PERSEVERE THROUGH SETBACKS

We all get derailed by the unexpected but with some mindful, intentional actions we can get back on track.  An injury can be a setback, but it doesn’t have to take you out of the game.  If you didn’t get the promotion or missed a deadline, don’t give up.  See it as temporary, not permanent and do the things you need to do to get better. 

ADDRESS THE SELF-DEFEATING THOUGHTS

Putting something off or not preparing well could stem from belief you aren’t worthy of success.   Ultra-marathon runner and adventure racer Travis Macy noticed that his own dysfunctional beliefs were undermining his training, he recognized them as fictional “stories” that can be rewritten. Attack the negative stories, stop self-sabotaging, and get back on track.

NUTRITION AND SLEEP

Let me put it to you this way, I HAVE NEVER read an article that advised optimal performance will occur with poor nutrition and very little sleep.  This may mean some major lifestyle changes for you.  But you will need to get out of the fast-food line and go to the grocery store.  Prepare your meals ahead of time.  We also don’t perform at our best when we are tired.  Improve these 2 things and you’ll have more energy, enhance creativity, problem-solving, and overall performance at work. Your relationships will benefit as well, we work better with others when we are rested.

HAVE THE RIGHT TOOLS

I view a triathlon as a perfect metaphor for being prepared.  Swim, bike, run are the three stages and each stage requires specific tools and equipment.  You are more effective with the proper gear.  Sure, you can swim without goggles and a cap, but you are faster with them. You can’t ride a bike without wheels and you’re faster in the run with the proper shoes.  It’s no different at work. The proper knowledge, skills and tools will help you thrive at work and prepare you to transition to the next phase.  As you transition forward you will gain even better skills and tools that boost your performance 

Pain is temporary but the outcome of persevering, thriving and performing at your highest potential is FOREVER.  

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