Innovation Junkies Podcast

1.46 BONUS: Cycling and Trail Running

The Jeffs talk about how biking, road cycling, and trail running apply to how they think about business & leadership. You’ll hear how cycling benefits leadership, innovation, and strategic thinking, the importance of a collective effort & group dynamic, and why you need mindfulness and solitude

Jeff Standridge: This is Jeff Standridge, and this is the Innovation Junkies Podcast. If you want to drastically improve your business, learn proven growth strategies and generate sustained results for your organization. You’ve come to the right place. Over the next half hour, we’re going to be sharing some specific strategies, tactics, and tips that you can use to grow your business—no matter the size, no matter the industry, and no matter the geography. Weekly, we’ll bring in a top mover and shaker, someone who’s done something unbelievable with his or her business, and we’ll dig deep. We’ll uncover specific strategies, tactics, and tools that they’ve used to help you achieve your business goal. Welcome to the Innovation Junkies Podcast.
Hey guys, if you’re looking to put your business on the fast track to achieving sustained strategic growth, this episode is sponsored by the team at Innovation Junkies. To learn more about our GrowthDX, go to Now let’s get on with the show.

Jeff Standridge: Hey guys, Jeff Standridge here, and welcome to another episode of the Innovation Junkies Podcast. How you doing, Jeff?

Jeff Amerine: I’m glad to be back. Another great day to have good conversation. Hopefully, help innovators figure out what to do next.

Jeff Standridge: Always good to be here. And today is another bonus episode. What are we talking about today, Jeff?

Jeff Amerine: Well, we were thinking about what we do to stay in shape and to kind of clear our heads and thinking about how that connects to leadership. And I know you’re a… Well, there you go, Arnold Schwarzenegger

Jeff Standridge: Do you see those guns?

Jeff Amerine: Definitely be a viewer after that, folks.

Jeff Standridge: Do you see those guns?

Jeff Amerine: Here to pump you up, right. But in all seriousness, we have both been involved in some form of endurance athletics at different points during our lives and whatnot. I know it was high school and College athletics and different things as well. But I know you’re really an avid distance cyclist now. You’re doing 100 mile, 150-mile rides. I’m a trail runner, and I enjoy that as well. And there’s a certain zen. I think it informs the way we lead. So talk about that a little bit. What does the time you spend in the saddle on a long ride do for you in terms of leadership, innovation, strategic thinking, et cetera?

Jeff Standridge: I have spent some time thinking about that, and there are a couple of observations that I’ve made. One of the most profound observations is that I have noticed that I only improve when I cycle routinely with people who are better than I am. And I’ve talked for a long time about leaders who are fives on a scale of one to ten; they tend to hire sevens. And as a result, they remain fives. And if they would hire eight or nines, it would move them up the scale themselves. And so, as I started working out routinely, cycling routinely with people who were faster and more powerful than I in the saddle. I found an exponential increase in my ability to improve speed and power and endurance and what have you. That’s probably number one.
Number two is similar. I rode a 100-mile ride about three months ago. And to give you an example, I’m a B group rider, kind of a B plus group rider. So my average speed is about 16 and a half to 17 and a half. And that’s on a… Anywhere from a 40 to an 80 to a 100-mile ride. I rode; it was a flat course, mind you, but I rode 100 miles about two months ago, and we happened to latch onto a peloton or a group of cyclists riding together, about two dozen. And it was the fastest group that I had ever ridden with for an entire, almost 100-mile ride. And by the time I finished that ride, we were at 19 miles per hour on average, and I felt no better or no worse than a ride where I had finished at 16 and a half to 17 and a half miles an hour on average.
And so that really taught me, similar to the point I just brought up about surrounding yourself with faster people— I kind of equate it to culture, this culture of mutual respect and encouragement and lending a helping hand and falling off of the front and rolling to the back and then circling around and giving people breaks and drafting off one another. It just really spoke to me about the leadership benefit of the collective effort, I guess. Those are a couple of things that I’ve noticed.

Jeff Amerine: Yeah. And just to follow onto that, there was a time when I rode a ton, and I’ve transitioned to trail riding, but a couple of observations to build on what you said is, one thing when you’re facing a headwind or you’re facing a sidewind, and you’ve been out on the pavement for a long time. If you’re doing that by yourself, it’s torture. I mean, it truly is the race of truth and that there’s nowhere to hide. There’s also no one to rely on, and it’s totally between your own ears. And there’s some good things that come from that struggle. Realizing you’re not really done. When you think you’re done, you can always go a little bit farther. But when you’re with a group, and you’ve got a good system of echeloning where you’re blocking the wind and where you’re changing who’s in front, fighting the wind, the magic that comes from that, that collective effort.
I can remember one time being out on hot pavement; we were riding across Kansas. It was a four-day ride. And there were times in central Kansas where I thought this is torture. How am I ever going to make it? But because of the strength of those other riders who were all better than me, you find a way. You find a way to hang in there, and you realize at any point during a ride, one, you’re going to wish you were somewhere else. And the strength of who’s the strong rider in a given ride based on nutrition and electrolytes and how hydrated you are changes. So you end up having that second wind, and it’s typically at a point that’s different from other team members. And all those things talk to how important that group dynamic can be when you’re doing the shared activity. In business, it’s the same. We all have our ups and downs. Together, we’re a lot stronger than we are individually. So, I mean, I’d love you to tell me what you think.

Jeff Standridge: Yeah. You said one other thing. And I want to share my third thing, and then I want to hand it to you and talk about trail running and some of your observations. But you talked about nutritional management. I also learned what it’s like to bonk 15 miles from home or 20 miles home, where I had no problem understanding the need for hydration when I first started cycling and the need to consume calories regularly and how scary it can be to get 15 or 20 miles from home and just flat out bonk and have no other way to get home but to just pedal through it. And as I equate that to leadership, this concept, I know you and I both are avid readers, and we’re avid consumers of content that is designed to make us think, to make us better, to improve our skills, to improve our capabilities. And that’s another kind of parallel that I see in cycling. We’re consuming calories to keep us going and to keep us sharp, and to keep us attuned. And in business, we’re hopefully consuming content that is designed to do the same thing from a leadership and a business perspective.

Jeff Amerine: And with the mindset of always a little bit, always a little bit better. And I think we undertake some of these things as well to kind of maintain that edge— Constantly challenging yourself to go a little bit farther, to go a little bit faster, to be a little bit better. And I mean, that’s great stuff. And as I think about the trail running side of it, to contrast that a little bit is, first of all, a lot of people would mountain bike on the trails that I typically run, but I’m not well enough coordinated to be any good on a mountain bike, some amount of self-preservation. But what I find is different, whether I’m with somebody where cycling is very social, you can talk, you can have conversations.
The thing that I like about trail running is there’s mindfulness and solitude associated with it when you’re doing it by yourself. It’s you and the trail. But unlike running on a pavement, which can be monotonous and jarring, the thing that I get from trail running is I’m constantly having to look up ahead, see what’s coming next. But I also have to be mindful of every footfall because there’s rocks and stops and everything else. So it’s almost like a pilot. It forces you into the situation where you have to have that forward-looking scan while also paying attention to what the plane is telling you and what the insurance is telling you.
Trail running is the same way. And after time, after a few miles in, and you get over that initial angst and worry, and the anxiety associated with it, there’s this clearness of thinking that comes through that, to where you’re in the flow that they talk about sometimes where you’re not even feeling the steps. It’s just, it unlocks. And I find I do some of my best creative thinking with that solitude that informs what we do in business and whatnot. And I don’t run fast anymore. At best, it’d be a combat shuffle. Some people would say it’s a fast walk where the guy’s faking running, but it really is something that provides clarity of being able to think through problem-solving clearly; in trail running anyway.

Jeff Standridge: I have some of those same kind of solitude moments where I’m riding and I think of something and the problem is I’m not coordinated enough to pull my pad and pencil out and write it down, so I forget by the time I’m back.

Jeff Amerine: You just hope you don’t forget, right. That it stays with you afterwards.

Jeff Standridge:
That’s right. Yeah. Well, great. Another bonus episode of the Innovation Junkies Podcast. We’re talking about the parallels to leadership and business between biking, road cycling and trail running. Jeff and I both indulge in those activities every once in a while. And the things that we’ve learned that we can apply to our businesses on a daily basis. Thanks for joining.

Jeff Amerine: Hey folks, this is Jeff Amerine. We want to thank you for tuning in. We sincerely appreciate your time. If you’re enjoying the Innovation Junkies Podcast, please do us a huge favor, click the subscribe button right now. Please leave us a review. It would mean the world to both of us. And don’t forget to share us on social media.

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