What insights from your career have you applied to triathlon?

I looked on every ship I served on

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Similar to @Matthew_Spooner, I work in an industry where those at the top tend to have shed all non work layers from their life. This appears to either be the explicit trade they made, or more likely the personality type that is driven by external status and validation is the one that tends to be last man standing, so to speak. I refuse to follow that pattern. I work hard and productively, and I want to be successful, but that is measured by internal validation for me. Did I do a good job? Was my work of high quality?

The same thing applies to my hobbies. I don’t care about things like Kona, but I do care about making a good showing based on my abilities and the time I dedicated. But that last point is where I am happy to trade for other priorities. Family first, work is unfortunately second because that puts food on the table, hobbies a distant third. If I am not willing to make the sacrifices to make my hobbies work (like waking up early or not drinking the night before because I know that I will not want to ride at dawn if I do that), then why on earth should I expect my wife and kids to be willing to sacrifice the time I should be spending with them (or at work)?

So the basic lesson I bring is that I look for being internally validated by work and hobbies and I hold myself to account, and I don’t let external things impact that (like judging myself against someone that is smashing out 4 hour rides but never seems to talk about their family).


Yes, I think it’s safe to say you don’t get to the top of any industry, career or sport without massive sacrifices to everything else in your life.

Except maybe a few big-money professional sports where talent gets you a long long way? (ball sports)

There’s always someone younger, more talented, with more money, influence and luck than you. Be the best you, focus on and enjoy the process. Sometimes the best you is the best, then you have cake


This is something I need to work on. I’m never validated by myself and always need external validation for what I am doing, especially in work.

I guess this is as much my general life values, as much as my career.

I’m definitely not a Type-A go getter. I fell into my job (public sector procurement), but i do enjoy it. I’m not particularly career motivated beyond having enough money to live a comfortable lifestyle, but more importantly the balance has to be right. I’ve worked flexi time, with lots of leave and 8-4 for a decade now. There are occasional peaks, but they’re rare enough for me not to mind. I VERY rarely look at a work email outside of work hours. I don’t own a company phone.

Home comes before work for me, always has. I have always vowed to get out of a job if i didn’t enjoy. I did that early in my career - said i’d give a new job 6 months, quit at 0900 on the 6 month anniversary. I work at a decent enough level, for me, and i’ve steadily moved up the organisation, next stop though is management of the function and, at this point in time, that does not appeal in the slightest. I’ve managed to avoid any line management for my whole career so far! I can sense myself getting a little bored though, so i think a change is probably due in the next few years. Probs need to bite the bullet and seek some line management experience. Though arguably it’s touger ‘managing’ people outside your team.

I do what i’m good at well. I’m a people person, and i like to think i’m very approachable within my organisation and that people trust me. It’s much easier to get things done if your colleagues trust you. I’m not afraid to admit when i’m wrong or when i’ve made a mistake and i’m definitely not afraid to admit when i don’t know something. In those instances i’ll seek help or guidance from a more experienced person, i won’t pawn the task off, but i’m happy to ask for help.

I wouldn’t last a minute in a fully fledged corporate world - it just wouldn’t motivate me being under constant scrutiny and pressure. That’s not to say i don’t mind working hard, but there has to be balance. In my mind, there’s no point in earning 6 figures if you don’t have any time to enjoy it (i know that’s a very b&w statement, but you get my drift). I’d love to earn more money, but i don’t think i’m willing to sacrifice anything else to get it, so it would have to be a right place/right time opportunity i guess. Would be pretty hard down in the SW as well to go much beyond where i am, which i get the feeling is pretty modest amongst the TT massive, but much more comfortable than the UK average.

That’s probably the key carry over to my training - balance and happiness. I think i’ve generally managed to maintain balance since i’ve taken up endurance sport. I have to enjoy myself. I am more than happy to put in the beast sessions, work myself to a pulp, get in the big mileage blocks, but it has to be at the right time, not all the time. The data interests me, but doesn’t govern me. I allow it to inform me but not dictate me.

Again, i’m happy to seek help. I’m not an expert, but an enthusiast. i guess it’s a reason why i’m here so much. I may not take everything on board, but that’s a conscious decision after being as informed as much as i possibly can.

Could i be better if i threw myself 100% into it? Of course. But i’d be single and unhappy! :rofl:

What else? I think i like being the underdog. My friends accuse me of being a sandbagger, but i think sometimes, despite my geneally upbeat and playful character, i am always stuck between doubting my own abilities and believing in myself. Maybe, sub consciously, i like hiding behind not taking things as serious as a way to soften the blow of (perceived) failure or to avoid it completely - i was on a carp bike, i didn’t train properly. Maybe getting a bit deep there, but i kind of know it.


Hindsight is a great thing isn’t it. I look back on my past career, and think I would probably have done much better as a SNCO, than as an officer; it would have suited me more (joined the infantry as a young sprog, but then went away & got a degree, then re-joined on a Commission). To get-on as an officer, you generally have to do quite a lot of desk (staff) jobs and leadership/man management becomes less important. At least relative to why most of us join-up in the first place. I simply do not thrive in that sort of ‘HQ’ office environment. My second posting was at HQ, in what I can only describe as a ‘vipers pit’ of competitive senior staff officers; seemingly the rest of us were there to just turn-the-mill to get them noticed. I went from having up to 120 guys at one point, stints in Norway/Cyprus etc, to that. I fcukign hated it. After that, I decided to go off the reservation, and do various non-mainstream stuff; the manning (HR) people generally punish you career wise for this, but you have a great time… and you only get one life.

Late in my career, a good friend who had a very good career including an MBE, said he wished he had my breadth of experience to take out into the outside world; that was quite surprising to me, given his ‘professional’ success. He left mid-40s too, as I think he did everything he wanted ‘in-command’ wise, and saw a lot of office work ahead, to stay on the career path. Ironically, now he’s the one doing the gucci stuff, and I’m the one sat doing desk work :sweat_smile: We had kids a bit later-on, so at the moment I’m taking the option of being boring, but being around for them… whilst they are still interested in us!


i turned down a commission at Cpl and S/Sgt and regret it now although it also allowed me at play at being soldiers…am toying with rejoining :slight_smile:

Started out as an IT Dev as I always enjoyed coding, early career was spent trying to succeed in following the ‘path’ which meant more management and much less coding, which wasn’t fun, so quit, had 3 months off and went into contracting instead (i.e. stayed what I loved doing - building stuff). I came to that realization during a lovely winter run.

Self Rule #1 - being fit enough to enjoy exercising is great for mental health. Never risk pushing too far to lose the ability to go out for a slow run/walk/cycle to clear the head.

Similar in tri - did a 70.3 in 2013, absolutely hated it. Did a marathon later that year (DNF) and the stress of training and putting all the eggs in those baskets wasn’t great. Stepped back and from then of have just done what I enjoy, never really planning a season, just bumbling along from one event to the next (or not - just training, I enjoy training).

Self Rule #2 avoid doing stuff you don’t intrinsically enjoy as a hobby - because the extrinsic rewards aren’t guaranteed


The Officers’ pension is certainly better though! I have have toyed with joining the RMR; not sure if they’d have me at my age :sweat_smile:

I always liked coding myself but then ended up going down the server support side of things, I also quite liked that and the constant changes helped to keep the interest going.

I know what you mean about the big race thing as well, that happened at Hamburg last year partly but I lost interest training a few weeks earlier. I don’t mind 70.3’s as I never really treat them as an A race, more of a training day, so if you have a bad one I don’t dwell on it.

It’s the same for a marathon as well if you are really looking for a time, e.g. sub 3.

army taking re enlisted up to age 57 at present!!!

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Some good insights here. I’ve been doing freelance business improvement work since 2007. Prior to that I was a Site Ops Manager. Also worked in NPD, R&D, process and project management.
I learnt very early in life that I need balance and also that I get bored easily. When I got into manufacturing, I looked at some of the decisions people made and thought/knew that I could do better. This turned out to be true - most managers align business decisions with whatever makes them look good & helps them progress, rather than what is best for the organisation. Unfortunately, my ability to gather and interpret data, work well with people and use this to make good decisions which are sustainable didn’t insulate me from politics, which I hate. I also refused to work silly long hours.
The great thing about consultancy is that I say much the same things but people listen to me more.

I didn’t deliberately apply any of my work skills to sport - it was more about becoming more effective about learning as I matured. In general:

  • Data, data, data. But must be the right data. (for many years managing effort on the bike didn’t come naturally. I started using power in 2007 and it made a real difference)
  • Focussing on an area of weakness will yield much better outcomes than repeating what you are good at (1-2-1 swim training moved me up the swim rankings by 50%)
  • Discipline and rigour to adhere to the above (get a coach)
  • Be good to yourself and those you train & race with
  • Keep your training aligned with family life as much as possible

I’ve made a few switches in my relatively short career, Architecture grad (part 1), NHS IT operational role, risk consulting (with an ACA qualification), Internal Audit, programme manager and now management consultant.

My approach to work is throw yourself in even if you’re not an expert, learn quickly and become competent enough to talk to the experts - just go for it, doesn’t matter if you’re not brilliant at first

Never become a specialist or expert yourself - relates to multi-sport rather than a single sport

If you become the smartest person you’re working with then leave and go find other people to work with - for me this is, seek out people fitter, faster, stronger than you to learn from or train with, always improve and never stand still.

My last job at a bank was a cruise on easy street, being paid too much for what I was actually doing, working very few hours, I stagnated and hated it. Where I work now is demanding but I enjoy it. At 32 I’m definitely one of the young ones, some of them at just 25 are seriously impressive, bright and hardworking. It is pushing me to improve my performance and that is exactly where I want to be right now.


Where can I get me some of that??? I usually find I’ve got too much work for too little pay :rofl:

Seriously, I’m 16 years older than you and I think we’re at opposite ends of our careers. I’m intending to retire when I hit 55 so I’m trying to maximise my pension saving up to that point, but I’ve done enough years of crazy, demanding hours to be happy to cruise a bit where I can now.

TBH I think my sporting life is mirroring my working life to some extent. I spent years being massively competitive, first in swimming, then rowing and finally in tri, but now I just want to enjoy the experience and my competitive fire is a bit burnt out.

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Thinking it over again, these are the things I’ve learned from my career:

Nobody is really any good at doing anything
People are fine managing time and money, but don’t give a fuck about quality
Given the choice between the effective thing and the ineffective thing, people will always choose the ineffective thing
Most people have their hearts in the right place

I’m not sure what triathlon can gain from this wisdom.

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I’m a musician - I’ve learned a lot about how vital consistency is - that’s the key to improvement. My best seasons have been my consistent training seasons. And bloody hard work. The harder you work and sacrifice, the higher the dopamine return when you’re successful. I think a lot of people frown on problem that possibly seem to train really hard and seem to sacrifice a lot ‘how can they be enjoying it’ - I think that some people don’t understand the level of payback that you get for such hard work.

I’ve also learned a lot about coaching through teaching at University more recently - and vice versa. Mainly that people know the answers to a lot of the questions that they ask, they just need to be guided there.

There are hundreds of of other things but they are the most apparent.