Sport & Leadership: Resilience

Lessons from completing an Ironman

In 2012, I completed an Ironman (Busselton, Australia), an achievement I had never thought I would be capable of. Ever.

An Ironman is a hard-core endurance triathlon that consists of a 3.8km swim – 180 km bike ride – 42km run. Yes, you have to do it all in 1 day and the cut-off time is 17 hours.

Besides helping me overcome the fear of becoming a Spanish seal feast for some hungry Aussie shark, (we wear black wetsuits in the water, I learned a lot from my experience and I have applied a lot of those learnings to both my personal and professional life:

Build a support network: from my Manager at Apple at the time who allowed me to take the time off work, to my “partners in pain”, Bea and Jane, and my then boyfriend, Dave, my coaches AM and Fen, it was key to have my crew around to share, support each other and reset. Alone you can only go that far…

Effort beats talent everyday: some people are naturally stronger, smarter, faster. However, showing up everyday, practicing, perfecting and doing it all over again will take you all the way to the finish line.

Remember, there is no shortcut to success: put in the effort and it will yield dividends

Reset when you are about to burn out: burn out is a thing in endurance sports, as it is at work and I have actually seen people collapse. Pacing yourself, knowing when you are close to exhaustion and identifying the first signs of burn out are key. Reset, refuel at the water station, slow down the pace, listen to your body and go again. Same applies to work.

Positivity: yes you can. You will have always have moments of darkness, but listen to that little voice we all have inside. They say 50% of the race is mental, so train your mind like your other muscles.

Time management: plan your week, plan your day, plan your rest. Something that you planned for is twice as likely to happen as something that you didn’t.

Self-improvement: there is always someone better and faster, but the one person to try to beat every time is yourself.

Big goals start with small steps: I didn’t become an Iron(wo)man overnight. My journey to get there took me 2 years. I couldn’t swim very well at first and my last bike had a basket in it.

You know what the real first step was: signing up to the race! Buy your ticket, sign-up for your goals, enter the race!

The biggest lesson for me is that whatever you set your heart on is achievable with hard work, commitment and dedication.

Effort is an input, success is an output.


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Veronica Llorca Smith
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Veronica Llorca Smith



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