Knowing when to Pivot

Knowing when to pivot is a concept I was introduced to by Simon Sinek in his highly-recommended book “Start with Why”. The concept of the pivot is a much less talked about skill, especially in the world of health and fitness. We all have goals and aspirations of where we would like to be in the next few month or by the end of the year. Some of you are training for one big day and a beautiful white dress. Others are pounding the pavements with a finish line set so vividly in your minds you can already hear the crowds, taste the sweat and feel the glory to come, despite it all being some months away.

So what happens when your best-laid plans hit a road block and you realise that your goal no longer works of fits with where you’re going? You pivot!

My goals were laid out at the start of the year in this blog to race at this weekend’s Dorney Triathlon and try to secure a qualification place for Great Britain at this year’s championships. Here is what has happened since that blog.

Training started reasonably well and I was back in the pool and on the spin bike following a heavy cold in January. By the time, I got to February training for the bike a swim was slipping due to a busy start to the year and a high intake of new clients. I was still running well and maintaining reasonable mileage. March rolled around quickly and it was time to head off to Lanzarote for some warm weather training. By now I was very tired after a manic start to the year and was ready to get some rest. I managed a good week of training and got in a lot of running miles on the rolling black lava coastline as well as some spinning and strength training.

By now, I realised I was getting close to being too late to put in a competitive performance at Dorney due to my inconsistent training across all three sports. Despite this my running remained strong and consistent. A week after our holiday we were racing the Kingston Breakfast run (8 miler) and I put in a very solid performance which left me feeling buoyed to get back at it and push again for qualification. Another two weeks past and training on the bike and in the pool remained sporadic.It was at this point that I made an important decision and realisation, it was time to pivot.

The Pivot

My passion for triathlon is huge, however, I have so many things I am focussing on I’m my business that I want to make a success that they currently have the line share of my time and passion right now. Triathlon is a time-consuming sport to train for and I am always very firm with clients that part of the trick to success in endurance events is to respect the distances. If you don’t they come back and bite you hard. My passion for my business meant I was not being respectful to the distance and therefore it wouldn’t be right to keep forcing the training and as such it was no longer enjoyable.

Changing course, however, is not about giving up and turning back, it’s about pivoting on the spot and setting a new course, a new direction and a new way to be motivated, engaged and successful. I realised that amid all the unproductive and sporadic training I had in fact been training very strongly and consistently in my running. I always seem to find a way to fit this in regardless, largely as it helps me think, focus and release stress and energy. My Pivot and new direction would be running.

Back when I was gaining my fitness for the first time running was the thing I worked the hardest at, partly because I was the world’s most unlikely runner when I was at school due to my weight. The gym led to running and running led to triathlon. Running, however, is where it all began and it’s something I could never give up. Realising that qualification was not the right motivator this year I decided to just focus on my running again and set myself some new goals for 2017. I now aim to get my Park Run back down below 20mins and would love to break 19mins this year. I also want to run sub 40 minutes at the Elmbridge 10K in July and I am going to try and break my long-standing PB for half marathon distance and run sub 1 hour 30minutes for half marathon in the autumn.

With fresh, goals my training has taken on a new focus and sense of purpose. I have been running a consistent 16-20 miles a week+ the past month. My Park Run time has already dropped by 90 seconds after remaining stagnant for several months and I had a strong benchmark run in Switzerland half this month coming in at 1.35 minutes, showing that I have the legs to smash my PB’s this year if I can keep up my consistency.

A pivot can inject some powerful new motivation and sense of purpose into your health and fitness goals. Forcing a goal never worked for anybody. Yes, I am disappointed not to be racing at Dorney for a qualification spot but ultimately, I am enjoying my training again now and that’s the key to real success, enjoyment.

So, what will I be doing this weekend instead of competing at Dorney? I will be attending a wedding fayre in Scotland and making sure I focus my attention on all the things that matter to me.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I won’t be heading to Park Run in Perthshire!

Good Luck with your summer and 2017 goals and don’t be afraid to Pivot and plot a new course. The only failure comes when you give up altogether.

Andy Strong: Runner