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Ultrarunning Parallels to Building a Business, Vol. V - Reflection before the Big Race

By Huw Edwards
Aug 4, 2017

This is the fifth post in a series written by our CFO, Huw Edwards. Huw is a “runner”, self-confessed running addict and finisher of numerous ultramarathons including the Leadville 100 mile footrace. In this series, he will explore the similarities between running an ultramarathon and building a business. You can review the previous posts here: Focus on the Wildly Important Goal, Act on Lead Measures, Keep A Compelling Scorecard and Create a Cadence of Accountability

Quick Recap

This series has previously laid out my approach to achieving my running goals and how they parallel our formula for executing on our most important strategic priorities at Jungle Disk in the midst of doing everything and anything that represents “keeping the lights on” in our business. In the prior posts, I discussed the process of focusing on a single wildly important goal, in my running case, to ‘Finish the 2017 Leadville 100 Mile Trail Run on August 19th in under 24 Hours,’ how to act on lead measures, and how to keep a compelling scorecard, and how to create a cadence of accountability.

To refresh your memory, I have been referring to the formula laid out in “The 4 Disciplines of Execution”, which I was unknowingly following in my running endeavours and have now adopted at Jungle Disk to achieve our wildly important company goal for 2017.

In today’s post I am going to reflect on my progress towards my Wildly Important Goal as the day of reckoning nears.

Recap of my 2017 Running Goal: Finish the 2017 Leadville 100 Mile Trail Run on August 19th in under 24 Hours

Wildly important? Yes, this race has a special place in my heart - it was the first 100 miler that I attempted in 2012. (and DNF’d - did not finish on that first attempt because I missed the time cutoff at mile 87.) I went back to Leadville in 2015 with a goal of finishing the race under the 30 hour cutoff time, which I was successful at finishing in 29 hours and 22 minutes. Since then, I have made great strides as an ultrarunner and it’s time to up my game and compete with the big boys. In the process, I want to carve over 5 hours off my previous best time! This would be HUGE!

Measurable? Yes, the goal time is set and the clock doesn’t lie. Deadline? Yes, August 19th, 2017 is the day of destiny.

Review the Lead Measures

You may recall that my two lead measures were:

Weekly Running Miles (i.e. did I follow the assigned periodized training plan set by my Coach); and Track Food Intake via MyFitnessPal and Measure Calories Out > Calories In (6 days per week)

I’ll review each individually from lead to lagging measure and whether I believe they predict success at achieving my goal.

1: Miles > Fitness > Results

My Distance chart for this year it shows that by and large I met or exceeded my weekly plan - the grey shaded areas indicate weeks where I missed my plan but these are few and far between; the dark blue shading is where I exceeded my assigned mileage:

But did this mileage turn into increased “fitness”? Based on Training Peaks’ standardized algorithm for analyzing training stress to fitness, the answer is a resounding YES! The above chart on the right shows how the Training Stress of individual runs and workouts translate into Chronic Training Load (CTL) aka “Fitness”. And I reached my peak fitness on July 30th - right on time. But what does this “fitness” score mean? Ultimately I’m trying to run a race in a given time…..

Actual finish times and places are a lagging indicator but that’s what we are looking for here to see if miles run translated to “fitness” and ultimately running success. Reviewing my Ultrasignup results for the past year shows a steady improvement in both finish position and rank in the races I have run - the training seems to be working!

(Notably my performance year over year at the Bandera 50k from 2016 to 2017 reflects a significant performance improvement over the period).

Calorie Tracking > Weight Management

By consistently tracking my diet and calories consumed on a daily and weekly basis over the period I have been able to manage my weight to an appropriate level that I am both light in order to run quicker, and strong to withstand the abuse of running on trails with significant elevation gain and loss:

I was shooting for 170 and I pretty much got there depending on whether I weigh myself before (~172) or after (~168) a run and my level of hydration at the time. I’ll take it!

Do I think I will achieve my Wildly Important Goal?

I have followed the process, been disciplined in my execution, acted on my lead measures and hit the lagging indicators along the way. And I believe the results extend into my hitting my goal on August 19th being a reasonable expectation. But at the end of the day there are a number of external factors any of which could significantly impact my performance on the day:

What will the weather be like? Will I be slowed by thunderstorms and mud? From the heat during the day to the cold at night? How will my stomach hold up? Will I be able to consume enough calories on the day at altitude to fuel me with energy through to the finish? How might a trip, a fall, a turned ankle or other unforeseen event affect the course of the day?

That is part of why I undertake these challenges - the uncertainty of what might happen; and that success is far from assured. Wish me luck!

Next Time: Did I achieve my goal?

Check back to see whether I achieved my goal or not… Stay tuned!