Friday, 29 January 2010

Managing an(d) IM

In spite of being back into training for three whole weeks my weight has still risen and I now stand a full 7kgs heavier than when I started IM Switzerland back in July.

Spent last Friday chasing Jevon's rear wheel around Hertfordshire for about 5 hrs in the pouring rain. This was mentally quite a challenge and demonstrated how far away I am from my peak fitness of July last year. I was also impressed at how hard Jev was able to go this early in the year and suggest he will be flying by the time we get to Zurich. Would like to be able to run more but I am nursing my achilles tendon again for reasons that I am not sure about (it flared after the most moderate of running sessions). I sympathise with anyone out there suffering from one of the many endurance sport injuries that afflict us hope you get better soon (Jo)

Have just started embarking on a few work projects and I am developing my skills as a medical manager and have started noticing how similar training for an Ironman and my role in management is. I guess it should be obvious but there are clearly a number of skills that transfer directly form one to the other.

In particular

Goal setting

For ironman it is obvious your goal is the next IM race, the race time, qualification. Some of these goals merge with people out there trying to seek some progress year on year and some (like me) seeking some form of life balance (?) through the whole experience. The clearer your goal e.g. I want to go sub 10, get to Kona .. the easier it is to target your energies towards that goal. Likewise in my work project the clearer the goal the easier it is to work out how to get there- but in medicine it is not as easy to for instance to change and improve the delivery of emergency care for trauma patients. This is not a single event but a whole variety of activities. However by having a strong goal or target the steps towards it can become clearer.


Having identified your goal it is helpful to look at your motivation towards the goal. Why am I doing a 6th and 7th IM this year? what will be different to 4 and 5? Why do I wan to keep going? For me IM is to a greater or lesser degree part of who I am and what I do. I fell better through what I have learnt from IM, I enjoy the process (see below) of training for IM and enjoy having a goal (see above) to help me through the short cold winter days. It also provides stimulation, sights smells and sounds that otherwise pass us by and the occasional special moments (I get to see a lot of Foxes as I cycle around London in the early hours). My motivation in work is different but also derives from a need for challenge and stimulation but also a desire to do things better and to do things my way ;-). A greater challenge is to transfer this motivation to others, and to do this you have to convince them of your plan and goals.


I like process. I love the way that at the moment there is no chance I could race an ironman without serious risk of major physical injury and pain. However knowing as I do that by following a graduated system of training I am 100% (injury permitting) certain that in 6 months time I will be able to give a good account of myself. This is achieved by following a now familiar process- sure I can tweak it and might need some external input but given the time available and other life commitments I am more than happy with my performances so far. I like the fact that it is the knowledge coupled with belief in a incremental rise in training stress can lead to this change which is both reliable and predictable. I hope that some of the projects I work on will follow a similar path: the challenge is that this is more like my first IM and I have some mistakes to make and some knowledge to acquire- nonetheless the similarities are clear. Above all the doggedness in applying process to training and racing will hopefully transfer well to my work challenges.


I am not sure if I have heard this phrase or just made it up. I find that if I am around management consultant types if you use the right sort of language in a bold and expressive manner they will often nod knowingly as though people always talk about "chunking"- No disrespect and I guess it is the same in any group that has their own language (tribars, bonking, diskwheels and gels anyone?).

So what does chunking mean? Well to me it means breaking things down into smaller chunks to make them manageable. IM training is all about that; think macro, meso and micro cycle, think swim, run and bike, think endurance, tempo, threshold. The breakdowns are endless but provide us with a way of coming to terms with what is otherwise potentially an overwhelming event. It also provides us with suitable staging posts along the way so that we can measure progress as we move towards our goal when hopefully we are able to get them all to work to their best ability on the same day. Similarly most medical processes are an immensely complicated interaction of different activities, involving complex equipment, complex skills and introduce the additional challenge of working with other humans.
Working or training, when it all works it is a wonderful thing to behold and can feel much the same whether you hit the groove in a race or training and everything just seems to flow or the team around you rises to the challenge and responds like a well oiled machine...

....when it doesn't happen well that's pretty much a normal day and it is how we respond to this that defines us. The good take stock, reflect learn and improve.

The rest, well they are the rest.

1 comment:

Jevon said...

Good post. Sure I'll be following your wheel before long!
looking forward to the next session.