How the CEO of Lululemon Stays in Elite Triathlon Shape

By Marty Munson, Men’s Health

Calvin McDonald is on his bike, indoors, on this early Monday morning, alternately putting his head down and eyeing the iPad that’s serving up his Zwift virtual-ride course. He’s tackling three epic climbs in nearly 30 miles. The cumulative 3,000 feet of elevation gain isn’t for the faint of heart or the tired of legs, but McDonald doesn’t mind. He’s all in with his virtual training buddies, who deliver a mix of support and typical bike-pack trash talk to grind through the pain. The workout ends with a merciful four-mile downhill.

After that, the 51-year-old Lululemon CEO shuts it down, turning off the fan next to him, hopping off his trainer, and wiping the sweat from his forehead. One workout down, one to go. And yes, you read that right: Calvin McDonald does two-a-days.

In a world full of busy execs who struggle to fit in workouts, period, McDonald, an accomplished triathlete, packs his workouts tight to keep his engine and schedule fine-tuned. And he does have an engine: This past December, he placed in the top 10 percent of the whole 2,300-plus-person field at Ironman 70.3 Indian Wells, a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, and 13.1-mile run. That qualified him for the 70.3 World Championships in 2024.

Lululemon bested market expectations with double-digit year-over-year growth in 2023, and McDonald says that’s not in spite of the ten to 12 hours a week he spends training. It’s because of it. With three disciplines to train and seven days to do it, “you’ve got to be deliberate with your time,” he says. It’s an approach he takes to training as well as to life in general. “I look at where the big opportunities and challenges are, and that’s where I spend my time.”

McDonald loves the bike leg (the longest portion of any tri) most. He’ll do up to six bike sessions a week, along with two swims, two or three runs, and two strength sessions. Zwift workouts (which let you use a standard bike for indoor workouts) with friends offer camaraderie, but he’ll ride alone as well. A setup in his office helps him be efficient with time.

Each session is about more than gains, too. “I use the training time to work through any mental roadblocks or challenges that I’m facing,” he says. “After the workout, this clarity allows me to be more present and focused in conversations throughout my day.”

Triathlons sync with McDonald’s being. He’s always been active (and used to play ice hockey), but the three-sports-in-one nature of a tri pushes his time-management skills, especially as a CEO who wants to be a present dad to his four kids. He races four or five times a year. He speaks often of being focused, doing what you love, and dialing up performance—and you can’t always tell whether he’s talking about running a company or training for a tri.

Every race teaches him lessons, like the crash on the course at the Melbourne 70.3 in 2022 that left him with two broken ribs and transformed him into a spectathlete, cheering his teammates on. “It teaches you that you’re not in control. For me, it helps me calibrate a lot of the emotions we feel in life and professionally when things don’t go the way you had hoped,” he says.

He shares these experiences with his Lululemon team when he can. Last July, he and 40 Lululemon-associated riders assembled at the starting line of the 75-mile Okanagan Granfondo bike race in Penticton, British Columbia. “Everyone does their own pace, and we connect at the end of the day and celebrate what everybody achieved,” he says. “I think sport is a wonderful learning platform for building character.” Which is exactly why he’ll be back on Zwift on Wednesday morning, too.

Article courtesy of Men’s Health – https://www.menshealth.com/