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On the home stretch after swimming 300 yards, biking 5.8 miles and running a 5K.

Mary Ellen Miller, MarketingMel, on the home stretch after swimming 300 yards, biking 5.8 miles and running a 5K.

Recently I heard a Millennial state that her generation now outnumbers Baby Boomers in the workforce. “The Boomer generation is dying,” she added. Really? As a member of that generation and someone who just competed (and won my age group) in my first Sprint Triathlon I take exception to that statement. Dying? I pondered my recent mile swim, six mile bike ride and four mile run (and that was just training over three days!) Immersion Interactive, an agency specializing in the 50+ consumer, says Boomers are the most health conscious generation ever. We’re eating healthy and competing in  sports. (Been to a 5K lately and looked at the huge age spread of participants? I met a fabulous 85 year old woman competing at two recent 5K’s who’s my new hero! I want to be active like her when I get to be that age.)

Now that my first Triathlon is over, I reflected on what I learned from this competition. These tips translate well from sport to business to life.

1. Encourage others along the way – I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to hear the experienced cyclists encouraging me as I peddled my way up the course’s steep hills. Biking is not my strong suit at all (I was still figuring out which gears to use and when) but a kind word here and there from the experts kept me going.

2. Transitions are inevitable – Life is about transitions. We move from one family formation to another (my husband and I are now parents of a teenager. Before long we’ll be “empty nesters.”) We change jobs and careers. In Triathlon, while speed of transition is key, it’s also an opportunity to take a breath and look forward to the change that lies ahead.

3. Play to your strengths – I swam collegiately for Cornell. So you can guess which sport is my strength. Five years ago I took up running. When it comes to biking, however, I’m a complete newbie.  Sure, I will work to improve my weakness but I know where I have my greatest degree of confidence and strength. It felt great to hit the first leg of the race,(swimming) at a sprint pace.

4. Stay positive and visualize – At one point in the run we were confronted with the steepest hill I had ever seen in a 5K. There had been a guy near me throughout the entire race.  We’d encouraged each other all along the way. This was our big chance. “We’re at the beach… it’s flat” we said aloud pretending between gasps. “We can almost see the finish line,” we said, huffing and puffing up the seemingly never ending hill. It worked. The visualization and positive support got us through that hill. After the race we introduced ourselves and fist bumped. Just an hour before, we were complete strangers. Now we’d been through athletic torment together and survived!

#1 in my Age Group

Won my Age Group

5. Set a Goal and then go for it – I wrote down my time goal in my personal prayer journal and in my running journal at least three times. It gave me something to focus on. What did I need to do in order to achieve those goals for each sport? When I was training I knew what the end game was. I was delighted when my final time was actually three minutes faster than my goal time.

6. Celebrate your victories – Whether or not you walk away with a top place medal, you celebrate when you reach a major milestone, like finishing the race! That in itself is worth celebrating. What victory have you had (small or large) that you and your team can celebrate today?

Which of these tips resonates with you for sport or for business?

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6 Responses to “Transitions: Six Tips Learned on my Triathlon Journey”

  1. jessica says:

    What an amazing accomplishment! I love how you thrived with the encouragment of others and visualized your way through the rough parts!

    • maryellen says:

      Thanks Jessica. It’s so important to have others to call on just when we need one another for support!

  2. Well done! You are an inspiration for all of us in that ‘dying’ generation. Agree with you on the boosting of others. I run a few 5 milers and 10K’s and it is always appreciated when you hear a kind word from a fellow competitor.

  3. Congratulations Mel! Your triathlon journey sounds a lot like life. Encourage along the way. Transitions are inevitable, Play to your strengths and be positive! Sounds like a real character building event. You displayed amazing perseverance!

    • maryellen says:

      Thank you Shawn. Yes, the journey is not unlike life, including the up and downhill portions. I loved triathlon so much I’m planning on taking part in another Labor Day weekend.

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