What Training for a Triathlon Taught Me About Entrepreneurship
The past few years as an entrepreneur have been incredibly rewarding as well as very trying. There have been plenty of times I’ve wanted to give up and go back to illusions of comfort I felt, once upon a time. My recent endeavor in training for a triathlon has taught me several lessons and drawn several parallels to my journey as an entrepreneur. In writing about my experience, I realized just how profound it has been and hope it serves as inspiration and encouragement for all those that read it!
This past December, scrolling through my instagram feed, I came across a photo of a friend who used to compete in triathlons. It was a #tbt post, of her physique after months of training. As we all often do, the social comparison set in, and I thought about the last time I worked out, and it made me cringe.
For those of us in the events industry, September through December, we don’t breathe, eat or sleep much. Needless to say, busy became my excuse for not exercising and I simply would no longer accept that as my reality. I pride myself in being active and I’m fully aware of the role exercise plays in my well-being. I went to visit my friend and declared my desire to do a triathlon. In that moment, the grand gesture seemed to be just that; a grand gesture.
“Let’s do it!” She proceeded to say.
Next thing I knew, I registered for the Napa Valley sprint triathlon in April (mind you, I have not participated in competitive sports since high school, nor do I enjoy swimming or running very much). Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the components of the race, I saw it as a challenge. Well, several challenges.
Challenge #1: Find time to workout 5-6x a week
Challenge #2: Figure out how the heck I’m going to master these skills
Challenge #3: Survive
I know what you’re thinking,
“You’re a planner by trade – this will be a breeze for you.”
Wrong. Competing in a triathlon for the first time is incredibly daunting. I knew that in order to conquer this feat, I’d have to break it down into smaller, attainable goals and JUST START. Starting is often the hardest part, especially for entrepreneurs. What happened next, was quite miraculous.
I began implementing a schedule for training – starting with one activity a day, whether it was running, biking, or swimming. I knew I could commit at least 45 minutes a day to exercise and increase as needed. I began practicing the art of time blocking: scheduling chunks of time for one (yes only one) activity/task for a set amount of time and do my best to stay focused on the task at hand (something us multi-taskers have a lot of trouble with).
As an entrepreneur growing my business I don’t often make self-care a priority, and I was committed to changing that in 2018. Even while traveling, I researched indoor pools, spin classes and running trails to ensure I could stay consistent with my training. I also practiced this thing called “forgiveness”, so if I missed a day of training, my world wouldn’t crumble.
My first day in the pool, I barely made it from one end of the pool to the next. I had already convinced myself that this was an impossible challenge and immediately regretted my decision to do it. The next day, I went back to the pool and swam a little bit further. The following week I was increasing my distance ten-fold. Two months later I’m practically a mermaid.
After only four weeks of consistent training, I noticed not only changes to my body, but also changes to my mindset. I went from a “how am I going to survive this” to “I am so excited to cross that finish line in under three hours!” The journey has been miraculous and has provided some profound lessons.
Lesson One: Doing something consistently with commitment and conviction will lead to results. Even just a little bit, every day, creates shift.
Lesson Two: You can develop skills you don’t have with practice and support. I began asking friends and total strangers for training tips and feedback, which helped me improve and kept me humble. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help. In fact, Tony Robbins speaks to “modeling” the techniques, strategies, etc. of other successful people and you too will be successful. Compelling, isn’t it?
Lesson Three: Permission to be human. I’ve learned to listen to my body and take time to recover. A beautiful reminder that I’m not saving lives and one day off track doesn’t mean the whole thing gets called off.
Lesson Four: DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF! I think we’ve all been sucked into the dark hole of self-comparison and feeling like we’re not enough – mainly because people share outcomes (sometimes total facades) and NOT much about their actual journey.
My first day at the lap pool, I stood and watched the swimmers gliding through the water at astonishing speeds. I was so intimidated that I almost didn’t get in the pool. Nearly two months later, I’ve made my way into the medium lane! The point is, if I compared myself to the swimmers in the fast lane (that have been training for years) I would have psyched myself out of even trying.
The moral of the story: It takes grit, consistency and patience to reach our goals. Don’t get discouraged if things aren’t progressing as quickly as you hoped and celebrate even your wins. There’s a great article about the Japanese art of Kaizen: Accomplishing Big Goals with Tiny Wins.
This journey has inspired and reminded me just how lucky I am to have a healthy body that supports my training and ability to compete. I’ve set a goal to raise $2,500 for an amazing non-profit Mary’s Place By the Sea; a respite home for women who are receiving treatment for cancer, providing services that complement their medical treatment, including oncology massages, nutrition education, individual counseling, Reiki, guided meditation, expressive writing, and yoga.
If this story has inspired you I’d love to hear about your revolutionary experience. If you feel called to help me reach my fundraising goal, please visit my GoFundMe page.
With love and gratitude,