Life Lessons from Reading .......Part 1
Updated: Jun 10, 2019
This blog is the first in a series I shall be writing, entitled "Life Lessons from Reading ......."
The idea for the blog originated from the assignments set during the Diploma in Life Coaching that I did with the Irish Lifecoach Institute. We were asked to read a book between each coaching module, and then write a 500 word essay, focussing on; "What did I get from the book, and how can I apply it to my life?" This blog is taken from my first assignment, reading Coaching for Performance by John Whitmore.
There are a number of elements to this particular book; certainly far more than I could talk about in 500 words. When we were first introduced to this assignment, our course facilitator said; "It might be just a section or even a sentence that you would like to talk about". A sentence? Yes, a sentence. Nestled in the Lean Principle section;
This requires each person to step out of their comfort zone into their learning zone.
The sentence caught my attention, and I read about the Kaizen approach - a Japanese strategy for continuous improvement.
As an engineer, the Kaizan approach has a logical appeal. And as a participant in endurance sports, it is a necessary and vitally important philosophy to enable continuous performance improvement. The idea that one looks for small, manageable improvements, always pushing the body for more, is the essence of any training regime.
"Plan, Do, Check, Act"
In preparation for a 70.3 Ironman event earlier this year, my triathlon coach developed a training plan, covering a set number of weeks and divided into sections, but focused on enabling me to achieve the goals I set myself. For each training session, be it swimming, cycling, running or gym work, I collected data on my training, my work, my output. This, along with my comments and thoughts on how the session went, were looked at, considered, and then the training plan was adapted and the cycle continued.
There were further "Check, Act" moments during our weekly telephone sessions. Here the challenges and issues, such as limits of performance, or indeed injuries, were discussed in more depth. It was more of a qualitative approach than the quantitative workout data analysis. My Training Plan was then modified, and the “Plan, Do”elements began again.
This approach to triathlon training is very analogous to the Lean Principles as it looks to taking me outside my comfort zone, making greater efforts in running pace or cycling for longer at a higher cadence of pedal rotation. Always looking to tweak the way the arms move through the water, or the head turns during swimming to take in a breath. We look for the small changes, minor improvements, which over time can amount to a place on the podium, beating the next athlete by only 5 seconds.
The application of this philosophy has taken me from a hip replacement operation three years ago, to a Third Place in my age group, at this year’s Dublin 70.3 Ironman race. I can look back now on my journey from the hospital bed to my recent races this year. I can recall each small, progressive achievement; first steps out of the bed, first time to walk up a staircase, walking 3km on crutches, or the first time I managed a short triathlon event. Each one moving me onwards by small degrees.
I am still applying this lean approach to my training. My goals for next year have been identified and agreed. My training has been adapted. Each month during the winter, my coach and I will look at my performance improvements and tweak the training plan. As each session is completed, we look for proof of performance improvements that will take a second of my race time. And then to the next set of training sessions, that will also, hopefully, take another second off
my race time.