Career / Career Progression

5 IT Training Secrets from a Professional Triathlete

by Raju Woodward
5 IT Training Secrets from a Professional Triathlete picture: A
Published on August 1, 2017

Editor's Note: This is the third post in a series of blog posts devoted to IT training tips and guidance, courtesy of CBT Nuggets-sponsored triathlete Evan Pardi.

Let's be honest, learning new things isn't always easy. In fact, there are times it can be downright daunting. IT pros know this feeling all too well. Earning certification is no walk in the park. It's more of a marathon.

We turned to Evan Pardi, a local triathlete we sponsor, for his tips on training for the long haul. After all, IT training isn't all that different from training for a triathlon. Think about it… it requires planning, endurance, resilience, and the right attitude. Get ready to train for your next IT certification like never before.

1. Set a Specific Start Date

Goals are great. They provide motivation and guidance, whether you're training for a triathlon or studying for an IT certification. While Evan is all about setting goals (athletes are all about setting personal records), he cautions against rushing into things.

Instead, he recommends that you set a date to begin your training journey, and being deliberate in choosing the day so that it provides you with at least two days to clear your mind. Evan said that trying to do too much too soon can lead to shell shock, which can lead to burnout.

Pro tip: Evan usually takes aim at new goals on Mondays.  

"I'll put things off a day, even a few days," Evan said. "I'm very deliberate about choosing a specific day that works best for me. Usually, that's a Monday. Especially, if I had a bad week the week before. I can give myself the weekend to clear my head."

While it may be tempting to get started right away with your IT training, even just watching a few videos, resist that urge to go — pick a later date and let your mind and body relax for a day, a week, or whatever works best for you.

2. Be Realistic: It Will Be a Grind

Want to know something crazy? Evan says he often approaches his training with the mindset that it's going to be frustrating at times. He says it's important to accept that whether you are training for a race or an exam, that it's not going to be all fun and games. In fact, he said there will be times you might hate training.

"It's going to be a grind," Evan said. "In fact, it will suck. That's why I go into it knowing and accepting it's going to be bad at times, but then as I go through it, I start thinking 'Oh, this is okay,' and then it's over."

Remember, if you really want to be successful in learning IT, training needs to be part of your daily routine. And with that in mind, make sure you understand what you're getting yourself into. Don't create false expectations.

3. Don't Tie Results to Your Worth

Maybe you are struggling to understand a key concept. Or your practice exam results aren't that encouraging. Don't let it get you down. Evan says that assessment is vital in the training process, but only if you can externalize your results — meaning you have to be able to separate your biases and opinions from your results.

"The results, the entire assessment is not a reflection of yourself or your worth," Evan said. "Your worth is you. The test results, while it's a reflection of what you've done in life doesn't mean you are a bad person. And it doesn't mean you can't get better."

On the flip side, Evan said that getting good results or being happy with your assessment doesn't mean your work is done. He said you can always learn more, which is a key to keeping up with the fast-paced, ever-changing nature of IT.

4. Don't be Afraid to Cut Your Losses

We've all been there. Deeply immersed in our studies and all of a sudden the dreaded mental block hits. No matter how hard we try to refocus, our brains have turned to mush. And you know what? Evan says it's perfectly fine to hit the pause button.

"It's okay to say, 'Hey, I am not getting this. Let's take a step back and come back tomorrow,' Evan said. "Chill out and take a breather."

However, Evan stressed that you before you call it a day, try to power through the task you are currently working on, so you can take away a sense of accomplishment. And remember, while it's okay to cut your losses for the day, be ready to get back at it the next day!

5. Make Sure You're Comfortable

Believe it or not, on the nights before long, arduous days of training, Evan usually lays out what he's going to wear, all the way down to his shoes. He doesn't want to worry about the small details the next day. He wants to get up and go. And part of being prepared means being comfortable — from what you wear to where you train.

So, be prepared to hunker down and train. Jeans or sweats are alright, maybe even athletic shorts. Have your favorite snacks and water on hand. Make sure your training space is organized and clean. The more comfortable you are, the easier it is to sit back, focus, and learn. And it also makes getting through the not-so-fun training moments more bearable.

Try this, and you might be surprised just how easy it is to hit the ground running and execute your training goals for the day. How great would it be if within seconds you were training with no interruptions — because you've got everything you need in place!

Keep Evan's tips in mind when you start thinking about your next IT training journey. Because remember, it's not a race, it's a marathon. With the right approach and mindset, you can weather the ups and downs of training. And, half the battle when it comes to training is sticking with it to the very end. Good luck!

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