Before I got into tech, I was training full-time to make the Australian Olympic Team in triathlon.
Triathlon is a true test of a person’s determination and commitment. My level of dedication to triathlon reached neurosis and while it meant that I made remarkable progress between the ages of 18 and 22, it may have ultimately been the reason I burned out and moved on.
A typical week in my life between 2010 and 2014 might have included 20 or so miles of swimming, 250-350 miles of cycling and 40-50 miles of running, plus the supplementary weight room sessions and stretching. There were several occasions where I surpassed all of those figures in the same week, clocking 40 hours of intense training in a 7 day block.
I took a day off of training once every three weeks and I ate an excessively strict diet, weighing and recording every bite.
So anyway… how did I get started in triathlon?
I got hooked on triathlons in my late teenage years and by the time I was 18 I was winning the small local races I did each Summer.
After I won my age category by 30 minutes at a half-ironman event in California, I began to imagine what life might be like as a professional triathlete.
My training started getting more structured and I teamed up with one of the USA’s most respected coaches. I sought out professional athletes at the top of the sport to train with them and learn from them. In 3 years I went from being mediocre to excellent.
I set a 10-year goal to race in the Olympics but my dream was always to win the Ironman World Championships – you know, the one people always talk about…. “that crazy Ironman thing in Hawaii”.
My mission to become an Olympian meant that I wouldn’t be able to race the Ironman until I was 32 years old. Only 11 years down the road.
When I turned 22 I began to struggle with the idea that my career as an entrepreneur would have to take a backseat until I was in my forties. I loved the lifestyle of training all day every day, but was I willing to sacrifice my twenties, most of my thirties and all other career opportunities outside of my sport? I wasn’t sure.
I raced in the professional division in a half-ironman race in Australia in February 2014 and that turned out to be the last triathlon I ever completed.
Looking back, I probably wouldn’t have been so nervous the night before the race if I knew this was goodbye!
After our team built and launched Timeagram later that winter, I decided that I should focus on the app because at the time I felt the urgent sensation that “this was my shot to be a billionaire“. I channeled all of my time, energy and resources into building the business and I stopped training.
I was never a world-class triathlete but I was one of the top athletes in the country for my age group. How good is that, exactly? Here are some of my PRs…
I could swim 500 yards in under 5 minutes, I could ride my bike 20 kilometers in under 30 minutes and I could run 5 kilometers in under 16 and a half minutes. I could race a sprint triathlon in just under 1 hour and an Olympic Distance triathlon in just under 2 hours. I swam 5400 yards in under 1 hour once. My highest recorded FTP was 325 watts at 187lbs body weight and my VO2 max was just below 70ml/kg/min at that same weight.
These figures won’t mean much to the average Joe and truth be told they wouldn’t impress the world’s best triathletes, either. But it took years of tenacity and perseverance for me to reach this level of performance and it certainly qualifies me to help you reach your fitness goals 🙂
Before I raced triathlons, I was a soccer player.
I played competitively my entire childhood. Some highlights were winning a state championship with my club in Australia and traveling to Brazil to represent the United States against professional clubs in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
When I was 16 I was invited to train with a professional team in San Jose, Costa Rica. I spent 3 months training with Asociación Deportiva Municipal Grecia Fútbol Club, living with one of the coaches during my stay.
Grecia were in the country’s third division so they weren’t a top team but they had a handful of outstanding players I could look up to and learn from.
I was still young and wasn’t ready for the physical aspects of the professional game. There was no contract offered to me after my first stay at in San Jose.
That said, I knew I had left a positive impression with the coaching staff because they wanted me to return. At the end of my residency I was invited back again the following season to train with the team again, if I wanted to.
I returned to Costa Rica for another three months the next year. I trained with two second division teams: Limón F.C. and C.S. Herediano. By this point I was in love with Costa Rican culture and my Spanish was good enough that it felt like home.
I was offered a permanent stay after my second trip. I could live with one of the coaches and play with Limón indefinitely. I finally had a chance to live the dream as a pro soccer player.
But I wanted to play in Europe. I wanted to play first division in the Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga or the Prem. I was well aware how few Costa Rican players there were in those leagues. Top teams weren’t scouting the lower leagues in Costa Rica. I thought that if I stayed, I might never be found.
I was only 17 and I was still developing. I decided to pass on the opportunity and hold out for a chance at European glory. I returned home and waited for an opportunity to trial with a European Club. That opportunity finally came in 2009. I was 18.
When I was 18 I traveled to Jerez, Spain to trial with The Glenn Hoddle Academy, locally known as “Jerez Industrial CF”.
It was their pre-season camp and I was 1 of 8 players on trial. By the end of the two week trial, only 2 of us remained. The other guy signed a contract on the last day at our lunch gathering and I was invited to sit down with the coaches before dinner that evening.
I was a nervous wreck as I pulled up a chair at a table with Glenn Hoddle, Graham Ricks, Nigel Spackman and Dave Beasant. These guys were all superstars in their day and I was absolutely desperate to stay at the team so that they could continue coaching me. To my dismay, they didn’t offer me a contract that night.
The coaches at The Glenn Hoddle Academy told me I had the talent, the skill and the vision to play at the highest level but I just wasn’t physically ready yet. They assured me that I could return to Jerez for another trial one year later and they looked forward to seeing me once I had matured physically.
So what does a kid do when his dream is so close he can taste it and he has one year to get “physically ready”? He starts doing every single thing he can imagine to develop his physical fitness, power and speed.
He buys a bicycle and starts riding it up every hill within 100 miles. He starts running twice a day every day until he can practically sprint for miles on end without losing his breathe. He even starts doing triathlons on weekends just to make sure that when he returns to Spain, he’s the fittest soccer player that The Glenn Hoddle Academy has ever seen.