by Sue Aquila
This has been the summer of business crisis management-- actually, it’s been more like the summer of how not to manage a crisis! We have had Toyota blaming crashes on floor mats, BP leaving every trace in the Gulf, and Apple instructing us how to hold our cell phones.
In triathlon, our crisis management is often weather related. Usually our concerns revolve around how hot it will be during the race. Lately, it seems like every race is “damn hot” and ridiculously humid. In the beginning of my triathlon career, I had a horrible time learning how to overcome the crisis of weather. Over time, I have learned to “adapt and improvise!”
So, how do we apply business crisis management to triathlon crisis management? By assessing potential threats, by preparing for threats and by implementing responses.
My real life example:
- I pick races based on my topography and weather.
- I know from repeated sweat tests that I need approximately 20 ounces of fluid per hour.
- I track the weather for race day, including historical averages and extremes.
- I train in weather that has the least systemic stress which means I often start at 6 a.m.!
- Two weeks out from my race, I start training later to end my training day in the heat.
- I hydrate throughout the day and strive for the “hint of yellow” in my nature breaks.
- I pick clothing that will provide maximal coverage and the least heat absorption.
- I practice my implementation in training. Repeatedly.
- If it’s a cloudy day, I wear a visor.
- If it’s a sunny day I wear some sort of white hat to reflect the sun.
- On the ride I frequently douse my head and body with water.
- I have a small cooler in transition filled with ice.
- Before I start the race I place my hat in it upside down and full of ice.
- When I start the run, I take the hat full of ice and place it on my head.
- I frequently toss water over my body on the run.
- I refresh ice in hat and may place some in bra, back and even shorts.
- I wear shoes and socks that will drain easily to protect my feet.
- When all else fails I improvise.
Our work doesn’t end with implementation. After a crisis or a race it is important to reflect on the event. As a company we assess our response and as triathletes we need to assess our races while they’re still fresh in our minds.
- I record race conditions in my log
- I record all nutrition choices before, during and after
- I record any training or racing changes I have made
- I note things to try in the future (I limit changes to one or two things per race)
A crisis, whether corporate or athletic, is an opportunity. Teach yourself and your body how to go fast when others are quite literally trapped in hell. On the perfect day, everyone will bring their A game but on a day of crisis, only the prepared will survive and win!