Triathlon gives this exec sanity—even when it means training at insane hours.

Triathlon gives this exec sanity—even when it means training at insane hours. 

Ever wonder who’s using the hotel’s 24-hour gym at 3 a.m.? Wonder no more.

“When I land in Asia at 1 or 2 a.m., I go right to the gym,” said Estée Lauder’s Chief Technology Officer Rhonda Vetere. “I get on the treadmill, swim, sleep for three hours, and then go to meetings. Working out right away after a long flight resets my body clock.”

Those dark-thirty workouts are not just a jet lag fix for a continent-hopping executive; they’re part of an endurance athlete’s training plan. Vetere not only manages tech teams in 162 countries, she’s completed over 52 half-marathons, two full marathons, four triathlons, and one Ironman.

A swimmer since age six, Vetere learned early on the discipline and the rewards sports provide. That’s why she doesn’t see workouts as one more thing to wedge into a jam-packed day, but rather an essential tool in her corporate success.

“Training keeps me sane. It clears my mind, helps me focus, helps me make decisions,” Vetere says. “The intensity of triathlons keeps me mentally sharper.” As important as fitness and competition is, it still takes some C-suite strategies to merge work that involves international travel three weeks of every month with workouts brawny enough to prepare her for a 70.3 tri or a full marathon. Here are some of her go-to tips:

Plan Ahead
Vetere finalizes her next year’s racing schedule in December, often planning races during vacations. E.g.., she’ll be running a marathon during her holiday in the Bahamas.

Hire a Coach
Vetere hands off the schedule of races to her coach who then fills in the appropriate workouts.“Having a coach is worth it,” she says. “I don’t have to worry about what workout I need to do or whether my training is right.”

Make Hay While the Sun Shines
She works out six days a week “no matter what”—three hours Saturday and Sunday, and an hour on four of the weekdays. But during holiday breaks, she’ll bump that up to three hours a day.

Book the Hotel with the 24-Hour Gym
“I can work out any time of day. It’s safe, convenient, consistent, and I can get in a swim, bike, and/or run.”

App Up
Vetere loves the TrainingPeaks app. It gives you an e-fistbump for a workout completed—boom.

Data Should Motivate, Not Bum You Out
“I never travel without my Garmin. I love all the stats. But I don’t wear a Fitbit—it drives me crazy after a day of meetings when it says zero steps.”

Be Flexible
Vetere prefers working out first thing in the morning, but some days, it’s just not possible. So 2 a.m. it is. “If things really get crazy, I’ll just call it my day off, and not stress about it.”

Listen to Your Body
Sleep in or suck it up? That’s a no-brainer. If she’s feeling exhausted or like she’s coming down with an illness, Vetere opts for extra snooze time. “Rest is my body’s best medicine. I’d rather skip one workout than push it and be out for a week.”

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