3.86km Ocean Swim + 180km cycle + 42.2km marathon.
This blog shares 3 key learning points Jan Bartscht learnt from his experience in completing an Ironman in Conzumel on Dec 1st, 2013. He took 13 hours 48 min to complete it. No big deal.
High quality training is superior to high quantity training. This may sound a bit obvious, but do you really know what kind of training you need to be ready for an ironman? For example, is it better to go for very long training sessions at low intensity or do short, high intensity training sessions? Regardless of what you’re trying to achieve, you need to be clear in your mind of what kind of training regime you need to do in order to achieve your goals. If you don’t know then find out! Don’t be one of those people whose idea of preparation is a quick Google for ‘Ironman Training’ or ‘Leadership training’. Take the time to research and upgrade your understanding so you can make informed decisions about what training you need to be at your best. This transforms you from someone who is making it up as they go along into a clear and confident individual who knows what they need to do to succeed.
Plan ahead and plan in detail for what you will do the week before the race and on the race day itself. Do not deceive yourself into thinking you can ‘keep it simple’, complex activities have a lot of details that need to go right, and if one thing goes wrong it can ruin everything. For example, for the Ironman cycling leg, if you choose to only pack one spare inner tube and get a 2nd puncture on a part of the course where there is no spare tire support (usually most of the course!) then it’s probably game-over for your Ironman race. Is it really worth throwing away your entire race, and a year’s worth of training, financial investment, pride etc. for a $5 spare part? Of course not, but if you fail to plan to pack a 2nd inner tube then this is what can happen (this actually happened to my good friend in his race, luckily he had the sense to pack a 2nd tube!). In the same way, leaders need to actively plan to achieve success in order to minimize the chances of failure and maximize success. As the saying goes, “if you’re failing to plan then you’re planning to fail”.
Effective execution refers to the ability to use the existing potential to achieve the desired result when the time comes. Just because you have trained well and planned well does not mean you will perform well on the day. Whether you are leading or competing, a simple plan executed excellently will always outperform a clever plan executed poorly. For example, 1 month before my Ironman I ran a hill half-marathon in Cambodia (Bokor Hill Race) in 2 hrs 36 mins. My friend ran a half-marathon in 1 hr 36 mins and had always been ahead of me in our combined training sessions. He was clearly far fitter than me and yet on race day I completed the Ironman over 1 hour ahead of him. Why? I believe that I was able to execute better than he was, even though I had less ‘potential’ as I was less fit than him, I was better able to convert my potential into performance and hence was able to achieve a faster time.
What should you do? I firmly believe that visualization is the key. This is the technique of imagining yourself performing the desired activity before you perform it. I had spent over 50 hours during the year visualizing myself performing the race so when it came to race day I had ‘been’ there many times before and I knew exactly what I would do and how I would feel. It felt like I had done the race many times before and that this was just another day. The greater clarity, focus and confidence I had enabled me to achieve a better result. To conclude, visualization cannot replace training. However, you can over-train and under-visualise. Instead of doing one more hour of training, or planning, take the time to visualize your successful completion of your challenge and this will transform your ability to execute effectively.
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