You know I like heroes. They inspire, they thrill, they teach us how to be better people.
And I’ve come across an extraordinary hero quite close to home: my co-founder Alex Douzet, who recently completed his first Ironman.
Now he’s had to suffer, and work hard, and deal with exhaustion and injuries and unfavorable conditions for years. But… that’s enough talk about what it’s like to work with me…
What I really want to share with you is Alex’s story of how he trained for, and finished, the Ironman, and how to apply what he learned to your job hunt.
Alex, over to you:
“At the beginning of August, I completed my first Ironman triathlon. From that experience, I’d like to share with you “Ironman’s Seven Rules of Job Searching”:
1. Have a Map
The Ironman is the most challenging endurance race in the world.
You’ll spend a beautiful Saturday swimming 2.4 miles, riding a bicycle for 112 miles, and then running a 26.2 mile marathon.
All within 17 hours, Ironman’s notorious cutoff time.
So it’s kind of like running three marathons in a row, one after the other.
You can’t run an Ironman unless you have a map of how you’re going to get to the end. Which is just like the job search: you’re not going be productive and successful and happy with the outcome unless you know where you’re going.
In Ironman training, it’s thirty weeks: ten weeks baseline, ten weeks building, and ten weeks in the “peak phase”.
In your job search, it’s six months: research, apply & follow-up, interviews & negotiation.
Do you have a plan in advance for winning your race? I had one for mine.
2. Celebrate the Wins
It’s a long road full of ups and downs. It can be a lonely, frustrating process.
To improve on my weaknesses before I ran the Ironman, I scheduled races to just, you know, get the kinks out and get some wins under my belt.
You should consider the same when you’re looking for a job.
Schedule interviews and get networking early in your hunt so that you build confidence, fix weaknesses, and have small wins to celebrate.
Sharing the glow of a great interview with your family over dinner is a great way to keep motivated.
3. Get back in that pool!
Unfortunately, that great interview, callback, or salary negotiation that you’re celebrating can also lead you to ruin.
It’s so easy to get distracted on the long, long bike race (112 miles!) to victory.
Actually, when I’m thinking about my own abilities, swimming is my weakest sport when it comes to the triathlon. So I had to work harder at it.
I did not enjoy getting in the pool, though, so I had a “48 hour” rule.
After one of my little wins, I allowed myself to celebrate for 48 hours, and then…
Get back in the pool!
4. It’s 75% Physical and 75% Mental
You might think that swimming two-and-a-half miles, biking 112 miles and running a marathon is all about becoming Ironman-style “fit”.
And yet, fitness is only 75% of the battle.
The other 75% is mental.
During my race, after the swim and the bike, I was making great time in the run. I was feeling good, on pace to finish within twelve hours, and quite happy with how well everything was going.
Which, of course, is when my body gave up.
Both legs froze at Mile 16 in the marathon — my quads, my calves — I was paralyzed.
Stretching didn’t help. “Walking it off” didn’t help.
The body, being sensible, decided that it had had enough and was ready to quit.
Which, honestly, would have been the rational thing for me to do. Nobody really blames or criticizes you if you “DNF” your first Ironman.
But in my mind, I told myself that I came to finish Ironman. As long as that clock did not say 17 hours, I was going to keep moving forward.
That is when my brain took over and showed the body who runs the show!
Your job search is no different!
To be successful in the search, you have to invest a lot of time. As you go through the emotional roller coaster of the hunt, sometimes you, too, will just want to quit.
The big interview… bombed. The callback… didn’t. The offer.. offended.
You’ll want to freeze, curl up on the couch with Fritos, and quit.
Nobody can blame you or criticize you for quitting, but you need to keep going and focus your mind on your objective.
Landing the job is the goal. Don’t give up until you get there…
5. The most important line isn’t the finish line
Sure you’ve got 17 hours to complete your IRONMAN (and I finished mine in 12 hours, 12 minutes and 21 seconds… who’s counting?) but in reality, those are not the most important hours of your Ironman.
Everyone is focused on the 17 hours of “race day”, but the real secret is the 17 hours you put in last week. And the 17 hours you put in the week before that. And the 17 hours you put in the week before that, and so on, and so on…
In truth, the Ironman is not about crossing the finish line, it’s about showing up at the starting line. And the hardest part is committing to the boring, dragging, grinding, exhausting work that makes those 17 hours (or, perhaps I mentioned it to you… 12:12:21 in my case) go by fast…
6. Taper down before race day
There is only one thing worse than showing up on race day under-trained. And that is showing up over-trained.
Training for Ironman is intense: 16, 20, sometimes 22 hours per week.
It’s grueling on the body.
So the last three weeks are “tapering” weeks. You decrease your training hours down to 14, then 11, and then just 5 hours per week. Enough to keep up your fitness level, while giving your body much needed rest.
Think about “race day” as the first day of your new job. If you show up at your new company tired and overworked, you’ll make a bad first impression.
You want to show up relaxed, happy and smiling; ready to tackle your new challenge.
So make sure you take at least a few days off before the new adventure…
7. There are only two kinds of days
“Now I only have two kinds of days…good days and great days.” ~ Lance Armstrong
Congratulations. Now that you have learned to overcome adversity to achieve your goal, you should only have two kinds of days ahead.
Enjoy them both.
- Alex ”
Well, many thanks to my co-founder, friend, and hero, Alex, for sharing his Ironman insights with all of us.
And good luck to you, as you run your search to success!
I’ll be rooting for you.