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As of this writing, I’m currently three months into triathlon training, intending to complete a full-distance Ironman at the end of the year. That’s a 4km swim, 180km on the bike, and finishes with a 42km run (yes, that’s a full marathon). Having done CrossFit for four years prior, I needed to take another approach for this endurance training. I couldn’t simply rock up each day and do something different (as is usual with CrossFit). And 20min workouts we certainly not going to help complete an event of this magnitude. So I picked up a highly regarded book called 80/20 Triathlon and did a deep dive into the world of endurance training. After some reading (and a lot of time thinking on the bike) I couldn’t help but draw similarities to business and software development.

Below I cover each aspect of training for an Ironman, and how I’m applying it to my business this year. Naturally, topics are ordered from higher level / bigger picture, down to the individual actions.


A common theme found in all aspects of training was cycles, and the season represents the largest form of this.


Seasons are typically a six to twelve-month time frame that includes all your training, the main event, and rest periods. You may have a larger vision of a few seasons, but most of your time and energy is devoted to the current season.

Each new season allows you to reflect on the past seasons and refine your approach, building upon your knowledge, experience, and fitness.


I like the concept of chapters when it comes to business. You can think of each new job or company you start as a new chapter. Ideally, you’re also able to draw upon the experience of past chapters to make each new chapter better and more successful than the last.


This goes without saying, but both training and business must have goals to guide you. You need something to work towards - a north star to aim for - a destination to drive to. The more specific the goals are the better, as you’re able to measure your performance, plan, and adapt as necessary. SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) are a great way to break it down.

Each season or chapter should have a main goal you’re working towards.


Goals usually take the form of an event, with time or place being the specification. For example:

  • Complete a full-distance Ironman triathlon in under 12 hours on Dec 4th, 2024.


Depending on what you value, your stage in life, and your type of business, there can be many different goals. One key goal for us this year was:

  • A Next Twelve Months’ revenue of $2m across our portfolio of products and clients with a 50% profit margin by Dec 2024.

Both these goals are ambitious but achievable, designed to push us out of our comfort zones. Critically, they allow us to start breaking it down and work backward so that every day-to-day task gets us closer to the result.


This is where things started to get interesting as the concept of phases isn’t covered in depth in the business world. But I think they are very closely related.

In triathlon training, you have four main phases that make up a season:

Base1 - 3 monthsThis is the start of a new season when you begin the actual training towards your main race.

The goal here is to develop or improve your foundational aerobic fitness. You can think of this as raising the floor. It consists of long, low-intensity workouts where your body increases the number of mitochondria in your cells and becomes more efficient at using fuel (carbs or fat) to produce energy.

The important part here is that this process only takes place during low-intensity training - which also allows you to increase the volume of training with minimal stress to the body.
Build2 - 4 monthsWith the foundational fitness now in place, the focus now switches to increasing the power and strength of your fitness. Think of this as raising the ceiling.

While low-intensity work still makes up the majority of training (hence the 80/20) you now begin to incorporate some higher-intensity workouts, race pacing, and brick sessions (e.g. cycling to running).

Here your body strengthens the mitochondria in your cells so each mitochondria is stronger and more efficient.
Peak2 - 4 weeksWith six months of solid training under your belt, you should now be much fitter than when you started the season. It’s time to shine and see the results of all the hard work with a race.

This phase is where your goal is to maintain your fitness level while reducing fatigue as much as possible. Low levels of fatigue are also called high form, which is what you want to maximize by race day.
Recovery1 - 6 monthsAfter your main event, you can now take some time off to recover. It may be weather-dependent (e.g. winter) or a time to focus on another sport.

Fitness levels may decrease over this time, but ideally, they will still be higher than when you started this season. The goal here is to avoid any physical or mental burnout and re-ignite the fire ready for the next season.

Once all the phases have been completed, you’ve finished the season and a new one begins. The reason training is broken up like this is that nobody can just continually train at the same intensity for years on end. As we’ll see more in the next aspect, you must create a progressive overload on your body, while also giving it a chance to recover and adapt, which is what’s happening here at a high level (and why the best triathletes have been doing the sport for many seasons).

Applying the same concept to business, we can break down each chapter like so:

Base6 - 12 monthsThis is the time to get everything set up. Company structure, emails, processes, team, etc.

You begin to build a name for yourself, gather some foundational clients, and get your cash flow rolling. In the startup world, this is when you’re building and releasing your product’s first version and trying to get product market fit.

The goal here is to get a foothold in the market and expose yourself to as many opportunities as possible - iterating and adapting until you’ve established your position and approach.
Build1 - 4 yearsSimilar to training, the build (or sometimes referred to as scale) phase is when you start to leverage the opportunities, experience, and reputation in the market.

Like the new mitochondria in your legs, your business has found something that works, put processes in place, and doubles down to grow grow grow. The hardest part of this phase is focusing, and having to say no to new opportunities.

Switching tactics or building a new product each month can be advantageous during the base phase, but now is the time to stick with what’s working for the compounding effect to take place.
Peak1 - 6 monthsWe’re focusing on digital SaaS products here, so the peak phase usually represents some form of exit event. Like training, it’s the time when all the hard work is realised via an acquisition, sale, or IPO.

The goal is to maintain the momentum you’ve generated during the build phase while looking for buyers and/or helping with a transition.
Recovery???Maybe you’re already itching to start something new, or the journey was enough to say “never again!” and you retire. But some time to reflect and relax is usually a good idea before jumping into your next business or role.

Having spent all of 2023 setting up our business and building our first set of products, 2024 was the year we started our build phase for Knkt.


Continuing with the theme of breaking things down, we arrive at cycles. Conveniently, software development already has the concept of cycles (or sometimes called sprints) but there’s still some learning we can apply to development and other areas of business.


Each phase in triathlon training consists of multiple cycles, typically around 3-4 weeks long. The majority of the cycle (weeks 1-3) progressively increases volume and/or intensity each week. After these three weeks, the volume decreased for a week.

For example:

WeekTotal training hours

work • recover

This is designed to put your body under more and more stress so it adapts and also provides a chance for it to recover and make those adaptations. Think of this as one step backward (recovery week) and three steps forward (working weeks).

Usually, there is a set of standard tests you complete at the end of each cycle or two. These are designed to update your current fitness level, measure the progress you’ve made, and help plan future workouts so you know what pace, power, or heart rate to aim for.


I’ve known about the concept of software development cycles for quite some time, and even been a part of teams who practiced it before. But reflecting on 2023 during our base phase, I realised we hadn’t been doing any of it! We were just taking each week as it came - going from one high-priority item to another. When things got crazy or overwhelming, I even brought out the pen and paper to make a list…

But like training for an Ironman, that approach simply wasn’t wasn’t sustainable, purposeful, or measurable. It was like waking up each morning and trying to guess what workout to do.

“Hmm, I haven’t run in a while. I think I’ll do a couple of laps around the oval today.”

And when you’re simply going off what’s urgent now, everything you do is usually high intensity. So rather than an 80/20 distribution, it was a 10/90 distribution ultimately leading to a period of burnout by the end of the year.

So for 2024, I decided to apply the same cycle approach to the business. Rather than work and recovery weeks, we had three-week cycles with a one-week cooldown afterward. This new cooldown week was a time to switch focus from the main development tasks.

Immediate thoughts were “I can’t spend a quarter of all my time on non-revenue generating tasks!” but then I broke it down:

Cycle weekTasks
Working (1-3)- Building new features
- Improving existing features
- Starting new client projects
- Fixing critical bugs or incidents
Cooldown (4)- Fixing technical debt or non-critical bugs
- Reflecting on the past cycle (also known as retrospectives)
- Planning the next cycle
- Scoping tickets and design
- Writing changelog entries and sending out email updates
- Meeting with clients or key customers to provide progress update
s - Meeting with future client and assisting with proposals
- Documentation and process improvements
- Housekeeping (removing unused branched, cleanup from incidents, refactoring, removing unused env variables, removing unused services or deployments)
- Security (rotating secrets, trying to find vulnerabilities)

What did I notice? I’m already doing all the items outlined in the cooldown week - just ad hoc! The only change by adopting the cooldown week was implementing boundaries for when this work occurred, and here’s what we noticed as a result:

  • Ancillary tasks were time-bound. If you did an audit of a typical week of 2023, my guess would be I was spending closer to 50% of my time on these tasks. So the cooldown week resulted in more time for important work.
  • Generating momentum. With software development, it takes time to “load up” the context of the system and architecture in your head. So if you have two equally sized tasks for the same project done back-to-back, task one might take 2 hours to do (1 hour gathering context, one hour implementing) but task two only 1 hour (as you already have the context). Throw a few client meetings in between the two tasks, and you’ll need to gather the context again, taking an extra hour than it would otherwise. Because there was less context switching, the time I spent during weeks 1 - 3 allowed me to build up momentum and build more for the same amount of time.
  • Light at the end of the tunnel. During Ironman training I was able to put my body through more stress and go harder in the workouts even though I felt tired - simply because I knew there was a rest week coming up. I found the same thing happening inside the business as well. While the cooldown week wasn’t a holiday by any means, knowing there was a change of focus and tasks coming up allowed me to push through the three-week cycle and get as many tickets done as possible. The part of the brain that deals with code also got time to recover and was usually itching to get started again after the end of cooldown week.
  • Measurable. With proper task estimation and a retrospective after the cycle, you can start quantifying your capacity and better prioritise what to include in future cycles. Additionally, you can see a breakdown of where your time was spent between the types of tasks (e.g. new features vs bug fixes) and the projects/products (e.g. if a product only accounts for 10% of your revenue, you shouldn’t be spending 50% of your time on it).
  • Less worrying. When working on the Ancillary tasks, my mind was usually thinking about all the other revenue-generating tasks I wasn’t doing. But the reality is that running a business requires you to do these tasks - so the cooldown week allowed me to complete them guilt-free.

While this is very software development-focused, the same approach was applied to other aspects of the business as well. For example, the sales and customer success tasks were broken down as follows:

Cycle weekTasks
Working (1-3)- Calling prospects
- Demos
- Onboarding new customers
- Followups
- Dealing with contracts
Cooldown (4)- Reflecting on numbers, new sales, and tactics
- Updating help centre documentation
- Creating onboarding videos
- Email updates and blog posts
- Internal documentation and process improvements
- Planning next outreach list
- Helping development team plan and scope next set of features

We also made sure the cycles from each team lined up. This way, the feedback gathered from sales demos could be shared with the development team, and missing features discovered when onboarding new customers could be scheduled for the next cycle.

This required a few changes from the team and clients to help support the new approach. Mainly moving our meetings around so they landed on the cooldown week, and also communicating that some features or projects likely won’t be started until the next cycle (which could be a month or more away). The general approach was to not change the content of a cycle once it had started (to protect the momentum) but to keep future cycles open until the planning session during cooldown week (to ensure we were always working on the most impactful tasks).


Up until now, we’ve only been talking about planning and high-level tactics. But surprise surprise, no amount of planning will help you finish an Ironman if you don’t do the actual workouts! The same rule applies to business - tickets must be finished and demos must be had.

Initially, I thought that’s where the comparisons ended, but after digging deeper I managed to apply some more concepts to the business world.

  • Work in progress. Never would you start a workout, stop halfway through to start another, and then come back to finish it later. It’s obvious training doesn’t work like that and you won’t get the most benefit with that approach. I did the same thing with development - only one item in progress at a time, and that item must be finished before starting a new one.
  • Context switching. You can’t race in the pool and on the bike at the same time. There’s a clear transition period between the two which allows you to wash the salt off, put on your bike shoes, and set yourself up for the next leg of the race. So when I started a ticket that was from a different project or product than the last ticket I completed, I made sure to also have a mental transition period, such as stepping outside for a few minutes, getting a drink and food, or using that as the time to go workout. This quick break allowed me to clear my head of the previous context and start with a fresh mind on the next task.
  • Focus on time. I thought it was interesting the Ironman training plan workouts all revolved around time (except swimming, as you couldn’t just stop in the middle of the pool). This was for good reason, as it allowed you to focus on hitting the correct intensity rather than being tempted to rush through the workout at a higher intensity to get it done quicker. It also meant training was more likely to be adhered to, as you could accurately plan each workout and not get discouraged if you weren’t going as fast or as far as you thought. It brought it back to basics and focused on the inputs to your training (time) rather than the outcomes (speed). I found applying the same approach to development very beneficial to overcome to hardest part of a task - starting it. Rather than thinking about all the things that needed to be done, I thought about the time it would take. While it’s hard to accurately predict, each task ends up taking an amount of time. It’s there in the future somewhere. So when starting a new task, I also started a countdown timer with an estimate of how long I roughly thought the task would take. Then, the work would usually follow naturally as a result.
  • Pareto Principle. Also known as the 80/20 rule, the week’s workouts followed this distribution between low and high intensity. This is because high-intensity training generates more stress on the body than the same volume of low-intensity training - and this distribution was found to be optimal for performance gains while avoiding injury and allowing for recovery.
  • Relation to the greater goal. Each type of workout format has a specific focus and explanation on how it helps to achieve the longer-term goal. Applying the same approach, we set up templates for every new ticket with the heading “Relation to Goal”. Forcing ourselves to always write down how it was moving us towards the goal kept it front of mind and ensured we could accurately prioritise what to work on.

Recovery & Nutrition

These are often regarded as the fourth leg of an Ironman, and for good reason. But the approach is essentially the same for training and business. You need to ensure you’re getting enough sleep, looking after yourself, eating healthy foods, etc. Part of the reason these are so similar is because training is also a mental activity. Muscle movement requires electrical signals from your central nervous system, and training for long periods induces mental fatigue.

It’s still early days, but I’m excited to see how this approach plays out this year.