Lawyer Stanley Geronimo decided to completely change his lifestyle after getting cabin fever from the pandemic
Photos courtesy of Stanley Geronimo
Triathlon is well-known as a sport that brings together people from all walks of life. Come to any race and you’ll see the diversity in backgrounds among the racers—you’ve got pros, young athletes, and a lot of professionals in other fields, all challenging themselves and putting their bodies through the rigors of the sport.
What’s always most interesting to observe are the age groupers. Unlike other sports, a multisport event like triathlon allows pro athletes and non-pros alike to mingle in one event and run the same course. Arguably, the non-pro athletes have more interesting stories to tell because they have a different life outside of competing, and participating in these things often require an intense balancing act. One such story is that of Stanley Geronimo.
A finance and tech lawyer in his 30s, Geronimo recently took up triathlon and is set to compete in his first-ever Ironman 70.3 this June in Subic. Professing to have tried several sports throughout his life, he had come to triathlon because of its nature as a grueling sport comprising three different disciplines, and he simply wanted to test himself outside of the boardroom.
“Learning something new opens a new cognitive space and I feel myself growing in knowledge each time I start something from zero to one,” says Stanley Geronimo about constantly trying out new sports”
Geronimo’s campaign is especially compelling, as he sets his sights on arguably the country’s biggest triathlon event while being relatively new to multisport and having a self-admitted sedentary lifestyle and zero sports background to speak of before the pandemic. However, he made up for lost time and started getting active. Like his law firm work, he now seems to have it all figured out—serving as a possible inspiration for other non-professional athletes to give new challenges a shot.
How do you define your relationship with sports, especially since you grew up to become something totally different by being a lawyer?
I experienced a metamorphosis during the lockdowns. I lived a sedentary life before the pandemic and did not have any sports background at all. I worked 15 to 18 hours per day as a corporate lawyer doing M&A and financing transactions. I managed somewhere around 10 deals and 20 clients at a given time. I had a sleeping bag in my office because I hardly ever went home.
Then the lockdowns happened. I was practically on house arrest. I had a glimpse of time slowing down. This drove me crazy and my eventual foray into fitness must have been the pathological effect of incarceration. I was a huge nerd and spent what little time I had on games and books, but suddenly indoor hobbies lost their appeal. I realized that I was missing out on life.
So one day, I decided to hike Mt. Arayat. It was a decision made in the blink of an eye. I saw an ad and booked the trip the very same day. It was perilous and taxing and I would go on to climb 20 more mountains in the next few months. That gave me momentum and a foundation of strength and endurance for all the other sports.
“It’s too late for me to become an elite world athlete, and I’m all the better for that. There’s no pressure for me to win. So I just dip into whatever catches my fancy”
You have a long list of different sports that you’ve tried. Why try all these? Is it a love of just being in constant motion and trying out new things, or have you not yet found something that really stuck with you?
I love the feeling of being a beginner. Each sport requires a different combination of physical and mental skills, such as strength, agility, coordination, and strategy. Learning something new opens a new cognitive space and I feel myself growing in knowledge each time I start something from zero to one.
Additionally, I believe that the world belongs to generalists. The science fiction author Robert Heinlein wrote, “Specialization is for insects,” and I believe that. A competent man must be able to do many things.
What’s your favorite sport among those you’ve tried?
My favorite sport is long-distance open-water swimming. It’s the closest thing to flying since you’re not required to struggle as you glide effortlessly through the water. It’s also low-impact and doesn’t result in injuries. However, it’s also thrilling because there are many potential hazards, such as rip currents, cramps, jellyfish, drowning, and other underwater unknowns.
What led you to try out triathlon, and take on a challenge like Ironman 70.3 this year?
I was looking to expand my range of athletic competencies. I came across duathlons, aquathlons, and long-distance endurance events. I was immediately drawn to the idea of a multi-disciplinary event that would test my endurance, strength, and agility. The Ironman 70.3, in particular, presented the ideal challenge for me. I wanted to test myself to see if I had what it takes to complete it, and I’m excited to be taking on this challenge this year.
Tell us how you’re preparing for Ironman—physically, logistically, and mentally.
There’s only one bible I use to prepare me for this—the Navy SEAL Physical Fitness Guide, because if it’s good enough for the military, then it’s good enough for me.
“One trick I use [to balance training and my job] is that I keep a sports calendar and I represent workouts, races, and events with colored highlights. That way, my consistency is visible, and it is easy to detect the moment I go into a period of stagnation”
My training routine includes a structured schedule of endurance and strength-based exercises, with a focus on building aerobic capacity and muscular endurance.
In swim training, I focus on increasing my volume and technique, incorporating stroke-specific sets and working on my open-water swim techniques. For bike training, I work on building endurance by increasing my weekly mileage and incorporating high-intensity intervals such as threshold and VO2max intervals, as well as hill repeats and power-based training. In run training, I emphasize building my endurance with long runs, incorporating speed and hill intervals, tempo runs, and fartlek runs. The schedule is structured to help me progressively overload, periodize, and peak in time for the Ironman 70.3 event in the middle of 2023.
Is it really difficult to balance training for such a demanding event like Ironman with your mentally intensive day job? How do you handle it?
I schedule my training and racing around my work schedule, and when I’m at work, I give it my full attention and effort. And when it comes to training, I make sure to use my time efficiently and get in quality workouts whenever possible.
One trick I use is that I keep a sports calendar and I represent workouts, races, and events with colored highlights. That way, my consistency is visible, and it is easy to detect the moment I go into a period of stagnation.
How do you manage your energy levels?
As an endurance athlete, I rely heavily on electrolytes to keep me performing at my peak. During endurance events, I also use a bunch of energy gels to prevent hitting the wall.
I use intermittent fasting on training days. By limiting my eating window, I can control my hunger, which allows me to focus on my training. It improves my overall energy levels and mental clarity. This eating pattern works well for me, and I’ve found that it helps me perform at my best.
“The most important life and career lesson I have learned from sports is the concept of quantifying oneself. In sports, you can always measure your progress through numbers”
Is there anything you’re looking to prove?
I guess you can say that I’m trying to prove to the man in the mirror that I can transcend being a bookworm and a nerd, and multisport is my way of overcompensating a lifetime’s worth of physical weakness.
What’s the most important life and/or career lesson you’ve learned from sports?
The most important life and career lesson I have learned from sports is the concept of quantifying oneself. In sports, you can always measure your progress through numbers, such as time, distance, and weight. This same concept applies to lawyering, where I need to obsess myself with tracking and measuring billable hours, revenues, and client acquisition rates. Quantifying oneself is the only way to consistently improve and reach new heights. This simple yet powerful concept has helped me to stay focused and motivated in both my athletic and professional pursuits.
What’s the most important sports lesson you’ve learned from your career?
Always be optimizing. Ruthlessly streamline processes and you will have a hyper-efficient system that generates clients, revenues, referrals, and billable matters. This mindset of optimization in business can give you a sense of progress, much like a game. It’s a trick to gamify your work. And since I can gamify my work, it’s not so much different from sports, which is essentially just playing physical games with a scoring system.
What advice do you have for professionals who want to take up something physically taxing like triathlon?
I have two unorthodox pieces of advice.
First, leap before you think. By that, I mean that you should commit to a race or event before you have time to overthink it and talk yourself out of it. Signing up for an event will give you a clear goal and a deadline to work towards. This will provide you with the motivation and discipline you need to stick to your training plan.
Signing up for an event will give you a clear goal and a deadline to work towards. This will provide you with the motivation and discipline you need to stick to your training plan
Second, focus on quantity over quality. Many people can be paralyzed by the fear of not being able to do something perfectly right away, including perfect form and technique. But the most important thing is to focus on volumes: more distance, more techniques, more races, more calories burned, and more training hours. This gives you enough momentum to keep you going—only then do we need to talk about perfecting form and technique.