When is the Best Time to Train for a Triathlon?


This past Sunday my cousin Avi ran his first triathlon (you can read all about it here: http://asthmathlon.blogspot.com/ ) which, as many people who run such races around this time of year know, involves a long period of intense training. It’s not just an event… it’s a process. The effects of a triathlon training process can be transformational in terms of a person’s long-term health and fitness lifestyle.

Why run (runswimbike?) a triathlon? Why not… that’s the point. “Because I can” is the reason some people will tell you… although for many, the real reason is “Because I used to think I couldn’t.” (Mid-life crisis variation: “Because I’ve still got it.”)

From April through September, my cousin blogged his way through his journey of change — both physical and psychological — to reach his goal of running a triathlon successfully and raising money for a good cause that is very close to his (pounding, asthma-inducing) heart. The story is inspirational… and yet grounded in the reality of the hard work involved in achieving something remarkable.

Recently, I heard about a corporate leader who was evaluating a senior manager within their company. The manager was extremely competent and had vastly improved the organization’s functioning. However, many people were not happy with this manager. The complaints boiled down to interpersonal communication… it was the classic case of Competency vs Warmth stereotyping.

The leader was asked about what kinds of efforts they had made to discuss this issue with the manager and work with them on their interpersonal communication. The response was, “We tried a bit, but don’t have a lot of time. Also, people don’t change their personalities.”

Yes, and asthmatics don’t run triathlons. (unless…. they… decide to…)

And yes, you don’t have the time motivate and guide your employee’s training and development — their interpersonal triathlon — but somehow you’ll find the time to fire and hire new employees? I suppose performing cardiovascular surgery on your organization may seem like more of a “sure thing” than a 6 month exercise regimen.

You may say, “okay, but it’s too late!”

To paraphrase the old Chinese proverb:

The best time to train for a triathlon is 6 months ago. The second best time is now.

To my cousin Avi: Keep on running, keep on writing.

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About danspira

My blog is at: http://danspira.com. My face in real life appears at a higher resolution, although I do feel pixelated sometimes.

Posted on September 26, 2011, in Business, Communication Skills, Learning, Life, Positivity and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Thank you, cousin Dan, for the youtube video dedication, oh, and also for your kind words in your post. What is more remarkable about my triathlon training is that I was amoung the fitter members of the Team-In-Training group that I trained with. Just as a side bar, TNT is a program run by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society that raises money for the LLS and enables people to get into shape and achieve goals that they previously believed to be impossible. You can learn more about my journey at my blog… but, back to Dan’s profound thoughts, comments and the topic at hand.

    One member of my team ran her first triathlon last year. It was the first time she had made exercise a part of her life, at age 55. She has lost 80 pounds and was (and continues to be) a tremendous inspiration to me – again, for more details, so my last blog post). Another one of my teammates who is in her mid fifties and is NOT an athlete actually competed in the triathlon with 2 BROKEN toes. She didn’t know that they were broken because she wouldn’t go to the doctor before the race, lest he tell her she couldn’t compete. She found out about the fractures at an appointment that she scheduled a day after the race.

    I think what we members of TNT now know is that when we say that we “can’t” do something, we are probably lying to ourselves. All we need to do is think back 5 months ago and know that almost all of us would have looked at what we accomplished this past Sunday and would have said, “There is NO WAY that I can do that!”, be it completing the triathlon at all, that fast, or at that level of fitness. I hope that I can take this new-found knowledge and use it as I move forward; and if I ever say the words, “I can’t” to you, remind me of this post… though I might just tell you that “I choose not to”, instead.

    • Thank you Avi for sharing this. You’ve covered some great techniques for motivation and personal improvement… in particular, the role of social support. I’ve already begun drafting a post on the subject of how to take the kinds of strategies TNT uses and apply them to communication skills training. There’s a fantastic business just waiting to be created around that.

  2. Very well said Dan. What words would you use to give that manager the feedback regarding his or her likeability? Somehow “You manage well, you’re just not liked” seems a little rough. I’m sure you have better words!

    • Thanks Karen. Yes, unless your job is to report approval ratings from political polls, telling someone “You manage well, you’re just not liked” is not exactly helpful feedback to give.

      The person in a coaching role for this manager has to ask questions to the source of the feedback and find out what exactly people don’t like. What is/isn’t the manager doing that is causing the friction? The coach also has to ask questions to the manager, to determine their awareness and dispositions towards the issues. Then, taking all that together, the coach has to help the manager translate the feedback into specific, actionable changes in cognition, behavior or attitude, all while motivating the manager to WANT to change.

      Yeah, it’s a long conversation. I guess that’s why some people would rather hand off the responsibility to a surgeon and their scalpel.

  3. I think what Dan would suggest that you bring in an consultant, like him, to work with the talent at the company. While the above statement was said somewhat in jest, the reality is that a one line statement is probably not going to result in the desired change. In depth training that imparts skillsets, knowledge and reasons for investing in personal growth are far more likely to be be impactful. Sure, this requires investment of time and money by the company. However, as Dan notes, it’s cheaper and less time consuming to start exercising than getting open-heart surgery.

    • Bring in a consultant to help develop the managers be better coaches (developers of others). If the organization is big enough, bring in a consultant to develop the in-house consultants to help develop the managers (developers-of-develops of others).

  1. Pingback: I Think You Can’t… I Think You Can’t…The Power of Goading and Other Tricks for Persevering « Meme Menagerie

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