Thinking like a triathlete


Yesterday, I put on my journalist’s hat and interviewed Mark Hudon for a newspaper article. Mark is a three-time Ironman triathlete. One of the world’s most difficult one-day races, the Ironman Triathlon consists of a 3.86-km swim, a 180.25-km bike ride and a 42.2-km run—completed without breaks within 17 hours. In his first try in Klagenfurt, Austria, in 2003, Mark crossed the finish line in 11 hours, eight minutes and 57 seconds.

It winds me just to think about doing all that…and in under 12 hours! And Mark went on to compete again in 2005 and 2011, and he plans to enter next year.

Ironman triathlete Mark Hudon, as he crossed the finish line in Klagenfurt in 2003, clocking in at an impressive 11 hours, eight minutes and 57 seconds.

Ironman triathlete Mark Hudon, as he crossed the finish line in Klagenfurt in 2003, clocking in at an impressive 11 hours, eight minutes and 57 seconds.

Triathletes don’t usually earn their living swimming, biking and running, and Mark supports his family as a financial planner. Like my protagonist, Pat Tierney, he helps his clients get their financial houses in order.

In the course of training for competitive sports events, Mark has developed a set of principles to enhance his performance and help him break through perceived barriers. He coaches his clients to use them to achieve their financial goals.

It crossed my mind that I could borrow some of Mark’s ideas to reach my goals as writer. Here are a few he shared with me:

  • Clarify your goals. What exactly do you want to achieve? “If the goal is not important enough,” he said, “you won’t do the work it takes to achieve it.”
  • Confront your fears. “Whether the goal is to complete a marathon, lose 40 pounds or be financially independent,” Mark said, “the deciding factor…is usually when you make the decision to face your fears head on.”
  • Be flexible and adjust your strategies if they don’t seem to be working. The best strategies in the world might not work for you.
  • Be persistent. “Slow and steady often wins the race,” he said.
  • Avoid procrastination. “When I delay tasks that I should complete, it can be very emotionally draining. When I take action, I feel much better; in fact, it tends to energize me.” He adds that there are many reasons why we procrastinate, but what is important is knowing when we are procrastinating and asking ourselves what we can do about it.
  • Commit to complete your work towards your goal. “This will carry you past the challenges that will come up,” Mark said. “It will help you to stand back up and keep going.”

Food for thought, eh?

For more about Mark Hudon, check out his website.

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About rosemarymccracken

Rosemary McCracken is a Toronto-based journalist and fiction writer.
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