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  • Doug Morris

How to Prevent Triathlete Fatal Flaws

No matter how good you think you are or others know you are, if you perform a fatal triathlete flaw, then all the good you developed in training, all the greatness you displayed while racing, and all the positive reputation you earned becomes tarnished.

Fatal flaws are limiters to triathletes, your professional career, and your life.

First step is to recognize types of fatal flaws: 1.) personality traits, 2.) too much action, 3.) lack of action, and 4.) under-developed abilities. Next, know how to make decisions to avoid them. Finally, understand your accountability to prevent fatal flaws while pursuing your life’s ambitions. Here, we’ll focus on triathloning though recognize the process is portable to other endeavors.

Fatal Flaws in Triathlons -- a Broken Triangle

The write-up is not about you being perfect but preventing and minimalizing impairment when problems occur and to capitalize on resulting opportunities.

Here are examples of fatal flaws pertaining to personality traits of some triathletes:

  • Inconsistency – On race day, superstar Kyle shows up and shines. But at other races, his evil twin Lyle wears his brother’s kit and puts on a shit show.

  • Procrastination – “I cancelled my hard run for today. I pushed out the long bike ride for later. I need to check the pool schedule for the next open swim session. Sure, I’ll get my workout in sometime.”

  • Selfishness – “You don’t really need me at rehearsal do you as long as I show up the next day right? I’ll definitively be there for our wedding night though.”

  • Self-Doubt – “I’m not sure about swimming in open water without a black line.” “I’ve never even run a marathon, let alone after swim and bike legs in a race.”

  • More talk than doing – “Let me tell you how I’d race if that was me going to Kona this year.”

  • Wanting to be looked at than action oriented – “Hey Freddy, that’s a top of the line tricked out carbon fiber bike!”

Do any of those make you feel uneasy? Then continue below for solutions to adopt or at least be aware of them. Click on the link for addition insight for prevention if interested.

You may put too much reliance on your action oriented strengths allowing your actions to become fatal flaws. Examples include:

  • Over-trained without enough taper to peak on race day.

  • Biking too strong and shuffling your way through the run or worse, bonking.

  • Holding back on a strong swim-bike performance for a stellar run but running out of real estate to make up lost ground on the earlier legs.

  • Obsessing on wrong Metrics – you know numbers, just not what is critical to successfully reach your goals

Working with a knowledgeable triathlon coach will keep you from over relying too much on your strengths. Learn more about coaching benefits here:

At the other end of the spectrum is no action on activities that are critical elements of being race ready. These may include:

  • Not showing up at the race with all the equipment needed to be competitive

  • Not fully testing nutrition that you will use on race day

  • Not prepared with contingency plans when reality alters from expected assumptions.

  • Not putting in the training for endurance event that you chose

  • Not preparing a journey plan to know when you get off course in life

Most of these can be handled by you in the weeks leading up to race day. Talk with training partners, your coach, and support structure personnel to get further insights.

The other area of fatal flaws address under-developed abilities you might have at this point in life. Focus. Inabilities to:

  • Manage time -- Escape time poverty by using your time more effectively. Click here for time saving ideas:

  • Make choices to be ___________ (you fill in the blank with as many items as you choose and can commit to in life). Saying: “I wish”, “I want”, “I might”, “I could”, “I hope”, or other is not the same level of commitment as “I choose to be ……..”. If you choose, then you make a commitment to achieve. All actions become narrowed to earning the right to be recognized for your choices.

  • Leverage across life’s silos – Use what you learned in school in life. Use what you learned in one sport to that of another. Use what you learned from sport in your career and vice-versa. Look for the similarities first in something new to something you already know, then look for differences. Analyze what your already know and apply across silos.

Shit happens. Everyone needs alternative plan of actions to be prepared when something goes wrong. The Boy Scouts definitely understood this requirement. In my first Ironman triathlon I over-tightened the screw to the bike’s handlebar stem. I didn’t bring an extra one. Three bike stores didn’t have any in inventory either. Running out of options, I went to the bike mechanic at the Expo. He looked at my broken screw. Then looked at me with face like I was SOL. Then he pulled out a used screw from a small tray in a rarely accessed area of his supply cabinet. With a few twist and the right amount of torque, I was ready to rack my bike for the next day’s race. I never traveled without a spare again. Recognize too, if your contingency plan doesn’t work, be ready to MacGyver your way back into contention.

Talk with your SIGO, teammates, coaches, or even co-workers. Get their input about your potential to be felled by any fatal flaws. Evaluate yourself too. Think through how to prevent fatal flaws from impairing your performance.
Be ready to overcome problems with existing contingency plans you prepared.

And know when to move to the MacGyver phase if necessary. Shit happens but great performance will overcome no planning. And if a personal fatal flaw arises, you have no one to blame than the triathlete in the mirror.

Do you know of anyone that incurred a fatal flaw? Would you share stories of preventative plans you put in place not to succumb to a disastrous outcome to your career, relationship, or triathlon race?

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