MANAGEMENT LESSONS FROM TRIATHLON

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9th Aug 2015, was my second Olympic triathlon, comprising 1.5kms open water swimming, 40kms cycling and 10kms running, non-stop. The sport arena has entered my life less than 2 years ago. Sharing some experiences & takeaways.

Clear Objectives:

Was focussed on the following self-set goals:-

  • To finish strong
  • To better my previous year timing

As I am not into speeding, “Slow and steady wins the race” was my slogan for the event.

Mind power:

While I was relatively lucky with the weather Gods in July 2014, this year the Chennai sun was a killer! However it helped me overcome my mental block of being under the sun and helped me achieve what I thought was almost impossible.

*It is all in the mind. Win your mind to win your challenges.*

Self-motivation:

Swimming commenced around 7.30am when the sun was already bright! The swim seemed a breeze surprisingly. Enjoyed the swim thoroughly & was impressed with my own self for swimming the distance continuously. I exceeded my own expectations!

*Encouraged self*

Panic elimination:

Panicked thrice. The cycle brakes had jammed while taking the cycle out from my car but there was timely help. After completing the swim, I changed as quickly as possible but in my anxiety that morning I seemed to have pinned my bib with the front and back of my tee! Not just that I thought I had forgotten to pack my towel only to realise that it was there in my bag!

*Panic curtails both thinking and vision!*

Frustration obstructs progress:

Munched my sandwich & off I set on my hybrid. I started at a slow pace thinking I could increase it gradually. As the initial stretch of the road was rugged and narrow, I was caught behind a slow paced lorry for 2kms which would not give me the way to move ahead. But I quickly realised that frustration would not get me anywhere! And surprisingly, the moment I cooled off my head, I could see a narrow gap & overtook the lorry!

*Learn to move ahead within the given circumstances*

Recharge:

Already past 9am & it was hot. The traffic annoying. By the time I reached the 10thkm, was feeling totally famished and dehydrated. Gulped Gatorade. This gave me the energy to move on another 5km. Strong head winds & cross winds made it tougher. By the time I reached 15thkm, I was thirsty again! Mouth totally dry. Wanted water and my bottles had only Gatorade. Lowered my gears and pushed myself to the half way point. Gulped litres of water to quench thirst. Still thirsty yet felt my stomach might just explode! Decided to rest and feel rejuvenated, before I could push myself further.

*The power of power break!*

Winners don’t quit:

As I sat down, decided to take a few quick Ujjai breaths with closed eyes. It helped. But the tricky mind started to play games. Questioned myself if I have gone mad. Why am I doing this? What is the need to get roasted in this scorching sun? Just then I saw a car pass by with the cycle rack carrying someone’s cycle. I was so tempted to stop it, put my cycle on it & quit right there. But thankfully my mind played the devil’s advocate! Half way done and why should this effort go a waste?! Reconciled myself to this thought and was determined to complete.

*Grit and determination are best friends in moments of weakness!*

Refresh:

The return seemed slightly easier than anticipated. However stopped mid-way & had the most refreshing orange juice from road side vendor. Worth the ten minutes spent here! So refreshed. Thanked & blessed the little boy who made the juice.

*Refresh to break the monotony*

Conflict management:

Both the temperature and the traffic were rising. Was expecting to cramp but thank heavens I didn’t unlike the previous time. I heaved a sigh of relief when I was turning left from OMR. But alas! There was something totally unexpected. Just as I turned, there was a huge temple procession & the road was jam packed. Even worse, I was right next to a bursting cracker which I had not noticed. Luckily the cracker did not injure me. In a fit of fright, I thought it was the best to get off the cycle but my mind was in conflict with my body and as a result had a silly fall! Hurt my leg & my nail less toe. Gratitude to a stranger who helped.

*Life offers unexpected twists at turns! Be prepared*

Change management:

Lost over 10 minutes due to the procession. But focussed on my goal to finish strong. Finally, I reached my running destination. Wondered how I was going to manage in the sweltering sun. Just at the start, the runners were refreshed with ice water sponge shower! Oh wow! It felt so good.

*Be receptive to change*

Push limits:

Started walking, to get my legs accustomed. After a few meters started to run but oh boy! Couldn’t run beyond few meters. It was awfully hot, barren & blazing sun. Decided to do intervals and push myself to complete. After what seemed an endless path, finally I saw an aid station. I initially mistook it to be the 5km mark & cheered myself but only to discover it was only the 2.5km mark! Speculated yet again if I could complete.

*Listen to your Inner voice to stretch*

Flavour of success:

With great difficulty, completed the first loop of 5kms. Dreaded the fact that I had yet another loop. Cursed myself for signing up & wailed to do another loop. But astonishingly the second loop seemed easier. Guess my body was habituated to the temperature & since it was past noon, it could not have gotten any hotter!!! Upon completing the 7.5 km mark, I got company of a co-runner till the finish and it helped! And lo! Before I realised, I was right where I wanted to be!!!

*Satisfactory accomplishment! Cherished moment!*

Scaling up:

Although the time-taken had exceeded what I had budgeted, I was still happy, because the heat made it lot more difficult than expected. Was competing with self, so was glad to have outperformed my previous years’ effort. Finished a lot stronger and more confident than last year despite being a year older!

*Out-perform yourself!*

Keepsake:

Although I felt fried by the gruesome heat with different shades of brown all over me, I reconciled that it was my middle age madness mania. It was a moment of triumph when I got the completion medal and felt proud in the bizarre heat!

*This triathlon has taught me some management mantras for life*