On the 20th of June Ben and I are both competing in the Nottingham Outlaw Triathlon – consisting of a 1.9K Swim, 90K Bike ride and 21K run. I fully expect to batter Ben 😇 and will report back here…
It’s been a tough few months of training; having to deal with covid related postponements (the event was originally to be held in May), swimming pools being closed and crappy weather through the whole of May making cycling difficult. It got me thinking about how gruelling the whole process is and how it easily relates to the process of prepping for a board. Both can seem relentless, grinding you down into submission and making it difficult to see the end goal. Is it all worthwhile?
When training for a long-distance triathlon, a structured training plan is essential, or you know that you will get to the starting line ‘undercooked’ and doubts creep into your mind about your fitness and if you will be actually able to finish the race. A standard training plan is around 16 weeks long, incorporating a 4-week base, 4-week build and 8-week speciality phase. If you stick to a plan like this you know that barring injury or some mechanical issue, you will finish the race. I think that the same highly organised approach can (and should) be used to help you plan for success in your board – get the training plan correct and you will ‘b’ the best you can be. Let’s see how you can do this…
Triathlon Base Phase
Any successful training plan is built upon a basic, underlying foundation of fitness: Cultivating endurance and the skills required for further specialisation. Base conditioning allows you to fine-tune your training regimen to meet your schedule and goals. This phase helps you build a broad aerobic base while paying attention to any specific intensities you may encounter in the race. Base phase plans effectively build endurance in all three triathlon disciplines of swimming cycling and running.
The equivalent base phase for preparing for a promotion board is to familiarise yourself with the CVF and start getting your evidence together – the underlying foundation of success. You need to build a comprehensive portfolio of preprepared answers for all the competencies in the CVF that you can call on and use when the whenever the boards are announced. Read one of our earlier blog articles here to see how to do this.
Typical Base phase training plan
Triathlon Build Phase
Phase two in a structured training plan increases the overall weekly workload, focusing on specific performance goals. The Build phase recognizes the necessity of improving sustainable power as well as high power for short durations. This phase pushes the strength-endurance requirements noticeably higher than the previous Base phase.
The equivalent Build Phase for you is to firstly, fully understand what the board will consist of. Is it just an interview or will you also face other exercises such as a role play or in tray? If in any doubt, ask your HR Department for clarity. Secondly, you then need to know what content is required in each of your prepared answers, know how to structure them so they are easy for you to tell your ‘story’ and for the assessors to comprehend. And then you must understand how delivery, or authenticity, is essential for your success. I.e., what is required for you to perform at your best in the board. You need to ramp up the time spent preparing in this phase as it is essential to you success. Like training for a triathlon, you really need around 4 weeks preparation in this phase.
The easiest way by far to do this is to get yourself an expert coach who knows what they are doing through a competency based process (not just a peer or colleague who has passed a board at some point in the past, I guarantee they will just confuse you). Get yourself booked onto a bselectedpolice masterclass or personal consultation which are guaranteed to help you focus on what matters.
Triathlon Speciality Phase
In this 8-week phase you train exclusively to meet the specific demands to win your upcoming event. With the necessary endurance & strength in the bank, the objective here becomes growing as familiar as possible with the very specific demands of racing long distances. This challenging mix of speed & endurance demands very particular preparation – essentially fine tuning for race day. This phase also includes the ‘Taper’ where you add in some rest and recovery time into the final week of your plan to ensure you are not burned out prior to the big race day. The hard work is done now and overdoing the workload at this point is counter productive.
The equivalent for you is to make the final tweaks to your answers, ensuring that the content, structure and delivery of your answers is as good as it can be. You then need to practice – a lot! You do not want to walk into the board not knowing what you are going to say or how you are going to say it. Again, bselectedpolice can really help you here – for those that have completed a masterclass or personal consultation with us, we offer additional bolt on coaching sessions or mock interviews where we can work together to ensure you are as effective as possible.
And don’t forget the taper. In my experience speaking with promotion candidates, they very often cram until 5 mins before the board. Don’t do this! Give yourself some down time and trust in the work you have done and rest. You need to be fresh for the day, so cramming in the last week or so will just add to your stress but is unlikely to make much difference to your overall performance. Slowly reduce the amount of preparation you are doing in the final week and actually build in some activity that you love to take your mind off the whole process, as it will be all consuming.
Also, it is beneficial at this point to give more thought to the logistics of the board – double check the time of your board, arrange travel plans, check that Zoom or Teams is working (if doing a virtual board), iron clothes, fill water bottles, have pens and paper ready etc. Do not leave these simple tasks to the day of the board. In my experience of triathlons, organising kit is just as stressful as the event itself!
The kit required for a triathlon minus the bike). A real stress-fest to get organised.
Finally, the day before your board, plan a quick run through your answers to sharpen your mind – but nothing more.
The simple message here is to get planned and organised in good time. You will need more than you think. We recommend at least 16 weeks to prepare effectively for you board, but the more time the better and certainly will be less stressful. And when you walk away from the board knowing you have given your best, you know it will have been all worthwhile.