Not a chance.
So says Nick Taranto, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Plated. Taranto recently braved the Mont Tremblant Ironman, a grueling form of triathlon consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 bike ride and a full marathon run of 26.22 miles (in that order). Because of the enormous physical requirements involved, training for any Ironman competition requires a considerable time commitment. You can't just go for a 30-minute jog on your lunch break and call it good.
"Training for an Ironman, plus kids, plus a full time job is definitely a handful," Taranto says, "At peak, leading up to the race, I left work early at 2:30 p.m., got on my bike, rode 100 miles from NYC to Bear Mountain and back, and then directly went out on an 18-mile run. I got home around midnight."
Through Taranto's training, these are the key apply-it-to-your-own-life principles that ensured neither his body nor his business suffered.
1. Quantify everything.
Taranto notes that he and trainer Olof Dallner turned to tech like a Bluetooth-enabled power meter, heart rate monitor and the Training Peaks app to track and adjust workouts during his training.
"If you can't measure your goals," Taranto says, "you can't manage them. [So] wherever I could gather data, I did. Whether it was nutrition, microbiome, weight, sleep, heart rate tracking or time in meetings, I kept data on my inputs and outputs."
The result of applying all that information well? Not only did Taranto finish the Ironman, but he did so with a sub-11:30 time, more than a full hour faster than the average. (Let that sink in for a minute. I. Am. In. Awe.)
2. Lean on a framework to keep your priorities from getting muddled.
"I'm a Marine, and I like to use frameworks to keep things simple. If I can balance my five F's (family, fitness, friends, fulfillment, finances) and hit my objectives for each, then I know I'm doing alright."
3. Use a calendar.
Workouts. Date night. Time with kids. Coffee. Game of Thrones. Whatever you want to do, write it in. Doing so means you've committed to the activity and makes it clear whether you can afford to lollygag or take on anything else.
"Every Sunday evening," Taranto explains, "I worked to prioritize my objectives for the week. Was I going to more heavily skew towards family, fitness, or making that deal happen at work? This meant getting comfortable saying 'Sorry, I can't' a lot more. I think this sounds more ruthless and soulless than the reality of saying, 'OK, Thursday I have a business trip to Dallas. I'm going to pack my wetsuit and wake up early to find a lake where I can swim a mile before my meetings.' [But] the process forced me to be super disciplined, which had positive externalities across all aspects of my life, as I had to be more efficient with my time in everything I did. Your pie is only so big!"
But here's the tip from Taranto that will make the difference between merely taking part and pushing your chest through the ribbon before anybody else.
Let go a little.
"As an entrepreneur," Taranto cautions, "it is incredibly easy to burn yourself out. The temptation is to micromanage and do everything yourself, which doesn't scale and is a surefire recipe for failure.
"Training for the Ironman taught me that it's OK to relinquish control and decision making authority. In fact, the business runs better when I'm out on the bike for a few hours and folks are empowered to make great things happen without me. There are mission critical decisions where I need to be in the room, but those are fewer and farther between than I thought before I started training. There's a lot of power to getting out of the building, clearing your head, and letting your team execute. You don't need to ride your bike 100 miles to make that happen."
With this take-help-when-you-need-it and trust-others mindset, Taranto says he's only warming up, both with his fitness and his company.
"I definitely caught the Ironman bug!" he says. "I'm already working to figure out how to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona! Simultaneously, we've got big plans at Plated. We spent the last five years getting to the starting line, and the next five are about winning the race."