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Alison wet pit stop at Gawleys Gate, Co. Armagh

Top 5 planning lessons you can adapt from sporting challenges to your business

Have you ever completed a sporting challenge and realised afterwards that there are so many lessons you can carry into your personal or professional life?

Back in July, I wrote about the 97mile cycling challenge I was undertaking around Lough Neagh, Northern Ireland and the focus it required. I successfully completed it on Sunday 26th August 2018 on the wettest and windiest day of the whole summer ! Preparing for it and actually doing it required an enormous amount of planning.  I had a training programme of how much time I should cycle every week, but I had to plan out for myself:

1)     When to fit training in around normal work and life commitments

2)     What to eat to make sure I was absorbing as much nutritious food as possible

3)     What to wear and when to wear it


Years of project management experience has taught me whether you are the organiser of an event or simply a participant in it there are always lessons to be learnt and to document them right away.

These are the 5 main Lessons I learnt that can apply to any situation. If you set your mind to it, you can achieve anything you can you want as long as you:

  1. Follow the advice from your peers (in my case my local bike shop owner and other cyclists who had completed it) and you listen to it!
  2. Make yourself small achievable goals
  3. Build yourself up physically slowly
  4. Get yourself the right resources and tools
  5. Don’t do it alone, join a group

Bitter Lessons

It took me all day to complete the course but I did it. As one of my clients commented I  succeeded because I had strong legs and an even stronger mind! However, I stupidly ignored points 4 and 5 above.

I didn’t heed the advice of shopkeeper who told me to buy cycling shoes when I was buying my cycling gear. Then I left it too late to get some and get comfortable in them. I cycled all summer in my trainers which was fine until the Monsoon type conditions on the day. I learnt very quickly that if you are cycling in the relentless rain with only your standard trainers on , all the water runs down your legs into your shoes and then they begin to squeak which is very uncomfortable and very distracting for you and your fellow cyclists!

Picture of Virtuali on bicycle

Alison at a very wet banana stop at Gawleys Gate 20 miles in


I also didn’t join a cycling group. I made excuses to myself why not to join a cycling club such as 1)  you are used to cycling about in Europe so you don’t need one 2) you wo’nt be fast enough to go out with a group 3) they’ll go out at times that don’t suit etc.  On the day, I was very jealous of the groups who were flying along ahead of me , chatting to each other and spurring each other on.

The Lap of the Lough made me realise that in life just as in business you need the support of others to challenge and support you. You can only grow and push yourself so far as a lone wolf. So, in September this year I signed up to Louise Brogan’s 12-week online Mastermind challenge with 5 other women at a similiar stage of business development. The difference that it makes for others to question your business logic, to hold you accountable for actions you promised to take and to challenge you is remarkable.

Quote by Aristotle

The Roots of education are bitter but the fruit is sweet

I’ve been out the grand total of 2 times on my bike since the Lap of Lough challenge because for weeks afterwards I couldn’t bear to even look at the bike. I also had an extremely sore left knee and Achilles tendon which I probably wouldn’t have had if I had adhered to points 4 & 5 above! but as Aristotle said ‘The Roots of education are bitter but the fruit is sweet’

Since early October I’ve been ‘dunking’ with the Lough Neagh Monster Dunkers and I really enjoy the social bonding of throwing yourself into the cold waters of Lough Neagh and trying to revive yourself afterwards with copious amount of tea, buns and chat! I wouldn’t proscrinate about asking for group support again. Next challenge to do an Ice KM where you swim in temperatures of 5 oc or below for 40 lengths? I’m not saying yes but I’m not saying no either so watch this space!

Throughout this month, I will be publishing posts on planning so please keep out my website LinkedIn or sign up via my email list



















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