Why my crazy husband does 1,000 squats (and what he taught me about business)!

What athletes can teach us about business

Squat after squat after squat after squat after...

The other night, I opened our bedroom door to check on my husband.

His eyes were staring straight ahead, fixated on his laptop screen. Sweat poured down his face and chest on to a green towel carefully placed beneath him. His face was pink from exertion.

I watched him squat again and again and again. Finally, tired from simply observing his efforts, I closed the door.

I think he's crazy.

About 30 minutes later, he walked into the living room freshly showered and proclaimed with a smile, "I hit 1,000."

This was a big deal.

He has been working toward 1,000 squats over the last several months. He started with 50, then 100, then kept adding 100 each week but got stuck on 800 for a while.

So, finally hitting 1,000 was a personal record and a big goal he had set. I drank a glass of wine to celebrate his success. He had water.

I'll never understand what drives my husband to push himself through pain like he does to hit his goals. He will barely be able to walk tomorrow.

But his efforts pay off. Big time.

You see, my husband - Nathan Riddle - is a pro-Mountain Bike racer. If you are a cyclist, then you'll be familiar with his specific sport - Enduro. And he's really good.

He is often on the podium, right up at the top.

Why the 1,000 squats?

In just a couple of weeks, Nathan will be racing in Downieville, California at the Downieville Classic (Aug. 3-6). This amazing event attracts riders from all over the world to come and race the demanding miles of epic singletrack trails that wind through the Sierra Buttes wilderness.

And, of course, he's in it to win it.

He chooses to do the All-Mountain Classic. Let me explain what this entails because it's not only grueling, but it requires careful planning.

The requirements for All-Mountain riders dictate that they must ride on Saturday in the Point-to-Point Cross Country and then on Sunday in the Downieville Downhill using the same bike and same components.

This means that riders must choose their weapons wisely.

To succeed, All-Mountain riders need a bike that is both light enough to climb efficiently and descend with precision over the 29 miles of Saturday's cross-country terrain but then is durable enough to handle Sunday's 15-mile downhill trail with its 5,000 feet of vertical drop.

If they don't pick the right bike, it will be too heavy for the cross-country day or will break down in the downhill section. Nathan spends the entire week before Downieville getting his bike ready, obsessing over the weight and durability of each component.

Let me explain the two courses in a little more detail, since - if you aren't a mountain biker - you may not truly understand the brutal nature of what he is undertaking.

The 29-mile cross-country course begins in the mountain town of Sierra City (elevation 4,100') up a dirt road which gradually steepens and narrows to an exposed, loose shale-covered track. This 8-mile, 3,000' climb up the face of the Sierra Buttes is known as the "Trail of Tears."

Then the riders follow the crest of the Sierra Nevada (elevation 7,100') across the "Baby Heads," which is loose and rocky and causes many flat tires. After fording a river, navigating jagged rock, and traversing multiple bridges, they eventually drop 5,200 vertical feet into downtown Downieville.

That's Saturday.

On Sunday, the downhill course drops 5000 vertical feet in 15 miles from Packer Saddle to Downieville. It’s the longest and most demanding downhill mountain bike race in the nation. The riders scream down single track sections at 40+ miles an hour, bomb down rock face drops, and also have to pedal through roller-coaster sections of riverbeds.

Needless to say, riders need to be in incredible shape, both mentally and physically.

Which brings me back to the 1,000 squats.

Nathan does the squats to develop the powerful thigh strength and stamina that he will need to sustain him over the fast miles of rough Sierra Nevada terrain. He also uses the squats to teach his brain to override the intense pain that occurs while he is racing.

And, he performs his squats in front of his laptop, watching his own helmet cam footage of the Downieville trails so he can memorize and internalize every turn and bump, while visualizing passing other riders for the win.

What Nathan's race preparation teaches me about business

The thing that you have to understand about my husband is that he is incredibly efficient with his time. Unlike some athletes, he does not have all day, every day to train.

Rather, he has a full-time job teaching people how to become bike mechanics at the United Bicycle Institute, and we have two young children that demand lots of our attention.

This means that workout time, while a necessity to Nathan's success, is not amply available to him.

As a result, he does workouts that are painstakingly tailored to maximize the small windows that he does have. He makes every minute count toward the highest and best use of his time, often using his lunch hours to do intervals on his bike and doing his squats after the kids are in bed.

Because I can't help but apply everything to business and entrepreneurship, which is my passion, I realize how much I can learn from his 1,000 squats, his commitment, and his tenacity.

Here is what I've learned about my business from my husband:

  1. Working more doesn't equate success. I don't have to work long hours if I can maximize the time available to me. By being brutally-efficient in fewer hours, I can realize bigger gains compared to filling many hours with low-return activities (plus I get more time with my family at the end of the day).
  2. Stay laser focused on my goals. When Nathan works out, he simultaneously watches the course that he will run for his race. He sees himself winning. In the same way, when I focus on the goals I want to achieve in my business, it helps me choose the right activities to complete instead of wasting time on other things.
  3. Get more serious about improving my mindset. Reaching the next level of business is almost all mindset. This means that committing to a regular practice of visualization, meditation, journaling, affirmations, self-talk and/or motivational reading into my day improves the way I think and act.
  4. Get comfortable with discomfort. Nathan trains himself to get used to pain. In the same way, entrepreneurship requires embracing a certain level of discomfort. About 6 months ago, I did my first Livestream for my Facebook group. It felt awkward and weird and I was uncomfortable. But, I knew that I would get better if I kept doing them (and I did). Embracing the feeling of being uncomfortable enables me to accomplish many scary things in business such as trying new technologies, asking for a speaking gig, facilitating an important meeting, or pitching a new prospect.
  5. Play a big game. Nathan always amazes me in the way he sets a big vision for what he wants and then goes all in to get it. It's an ongoing reminder to me that I don't have to settle for the little things - I can play as BIG as I want to as an entrepreneur. The sky is truly the limit.
  6. Don't let setbacks stop me. In some races, Nathan has crashed or had a flat tire or broken a chain. When these events happen, a rider's chance to win evaporates because there are only seconds between the winning times. Last year at Downieville, he caught a really bad cold the day before the race thanks to our toddler's amazing cough-cannon ability. It prevented him from completing the race. That doesn't keep him from working just as hard to win this year. As an entrepreneur, things can set us back but we just have to pick ourselves up off the metaphorical ground, dust ourselves off, and keep on going with conviction.

What's next?

As I mentioned, Nathan will be racing the Downieville Classic in two weeks, then he will be going to Crankworx in Whistler, BC.

I hope those 1,000 squats will pay off in a win.

But even if they don't, I know he will keep on working towards his big goals.

He tells me that 1,000 squats take him about 2/3 of the way through the downhill course as he is watching it on his laptop.

Next year, he says he will start doing squats in January so that he can hit 1,600 by July. He estimates that will be the right amount to take him all the way through the Downieville race course while watching it on his laptop.

I told you I think he is crazy, right?

8/7/17 UPDATE: All those squats paid off! The 2017 Downieville Classic was this past weekend and all those squats paid off. Nathan came in second in the Downieville Downhill overall! 

About Wendy Maynard, Marketing Strategist and Business Consultant

Ambitious, visionary leaders of B2B companies call on me to grow their brands from good to remarkable.

It’s my passion to help business owners create purpose-driven companies and big momentum. I’ve always found that committing to your mission, values, and vision leads to a remarkable company where nothing is impossible and you are unstoppable.

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