Glued to the television watching the Olympic Trials for track and field, I found myself cheering and screaming at the screen as I saw Bernard Lagat attempt to represent Team USA in the 5000-meter race. At 41, Lagat is not the typical age of a distance runner. But he did not allow age to hinder him from not only qualifying but winning the race.
Another phenomenon took place in February at the Olympic Marathon Trials. Meb Keflezighi defied age placing second. Keflezighi is the only person to win an Olympic medal (Silver – Athens, 2004), New York City Marathon (2009) and Boston Marathon (2014). His Boston Marathon win at the age of 38 made him the oldest men’s champion since 1931.
At 36|86 I attended a presentation by The Family Adventure Guy, Charles R. Scott. In his presentation, he used Keflezighi as an example of the secret to optimal performance. Lagat and Keflezighi benefit from training regimens that can be applied beyond running.
Startup life is often perceived as requiring hard work, dedication, adaptability and sleep deprivation. Hearing one tout working 70+ hours a week or pulling all-nighters is not uncommon. Then, there is the notion of fast is as slow as you go.
Just like runners require rest, so do entrepreneurs. Without the proper work-life balance, burning out is imminent. The body can only take so much before it will take matters into its own hands.
If the body has to do it for you, you could be out longer than you want to. According to Keflezighi, “Being as dedicated to your recovery as you are to your harder workouts will allow you to perform at your max.”
Athletes use periodization, which breaks training into smaller blocks and phases. Within each period there can be focus on a specific skill or goal using building and recovery. Additionally, this makes the end goal more manageable.
Would an entrepreneur have the same level of success using periodization and what would it look like?
Being connected has become less a convenience as it has a chore. Looking at a screen whether it’s a phone, computer or tablet dictates our lives. Is it imperative you have your phone available at all times? Breaking away could make you more productive. Scott gave an example of a periodized work day.
- Wake up, usually after 7+ hours of sleep. DO NOT CHECK YOUR E-MAIL OR TEXTS.
- Meditate for 15 minutes.
- Take a 20-minute walk.
- Shower and get dressed.
- DO NOT CHECK E-MAIL OR TEXTS. Briefly review the day’s schedule and to-do list.
- Breakfast/family time. – Be fully present.
- OK, finally, quick check of e-mails and texts to see if there are any emergencies.
- Go to work.
His periodized schedule continues with breaking the day into manageable pieces. He suggests spending the morning on high priority, time-sensitive work and the afternoon on high-priority, longer-term strategy. There is even a nap thrown in for recovery. He recommends avoiding screens 30 minutes before going to sleep.
This may sound far-fetched, but the idea is to create balance. Identify work times versus recovery times and deal with them accordingly. You’ve heard that one should work hard and play hard. If you’re always working there won’t be any time to play.
There is a reason why returning from a vacation is refreshing. It doesn’t take a week to do that. Start working like Lagat and Keflezighi train. Remember to follow Keflezighi’s advice and “allow adequate recovery between hard sessions.”