Maintenance & Reliability Best Practices for Triathlons

Last Saturday, Andy Gager, Ricardo Garcia (Senior Consultant) and I took part in a triathlon called “Over the Mountain”, located in Kings Mountain NC.  The race consisted of a 1 mile lake swim, a 28 mile bike course and a 6.2 mile run. Racing in different age groups we each posted respectable times.  Ricardo’s outstanding performance earned him 7th place; out of 440 racers. Supporting Andy, Ricardo and me for every mile of the mountain course were Marshall Institute CEO, Dale Blann, General Manager, Glenna Wooten and Senior Consultant Mark Jolley and his son Kyle.  Their support was truly fantastic and eerily reminiscent of my days as a competitive swimmer when my mother’s voice could be heard above anyone else’s; thanks Glenna! You might be asking yourself “Tom, what does any of this have to do with maintenance and reliability?”  Well, this is how a triathlon relates to maintenance and reliability.

Planning and scheduling = Race Training In the weeks running up to the race we were training several times a week. To create the training schedule we had to plan and schedule specific training sessions for each discipline; swimming, biking and running.  We planned training sessions, which ranged in intensity to elicit specific physiological changes to achieve optimum performance and we scheduled each session 4 weeks out.

Preventive Maintenance = Bike MaintenanceTo ensure that we didn’t have any unscheduled breakdowns with our bikes on race day, we made sure that we were correctly lubricating and fine tuning in advance following visual inspections.  In addition, we were testing our brakes periodically. In case of a random tire failure we packed a spare tire and a pump.

Kitting and Staging = Preparing Clothing, Equipment & Food Kit preparation is vital for a successful race.  With 3 different disciplines – swimming, biking and running - we made a checklist of all the sport attire, food supplements and tools we required for each stage of the race.  We then followed the check list when packing our bags in Raleigh the night before the race. Failing to pack any key materials could be disastrous on race day.

The lessons we have learned - and teach others through our consulting and training services - in the pursuit of total reliability have permeated all aspects of our lives, including triathlons, and we are better for it.  Despite our competitive finish times, we are looking to improve on our efforts at the next race at Kerr Lake NC in 2 weeks.  It was a great company outing.  Thanks again for the support Team Marshall! I hope we can do the same at Kerr Lake.

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