Qualifying for the Ironman World Championship - three times - requires the passion, persistence, and belief in one's self similar to achieving a successful corporate executive career. Add to that a structured German upbringing, and athletic conditioning starting at age 7, and you’ve got the powerhouse that is Friederike Edelmann.
Frieda’s journey to triathlon started late in life, after she moved to the US in 2005. She had grown up a competitive swimmer but, being only 5’2”, was unable to make the German national team that had a minimum height requirement of 5'4”. Somewhat bored with swimming as an adult, and with the peer pressure of a co-worker, she ran her first half marathon in NYC in 2005. After completing that race, she had some new-runner injuries, but maintained a desire to stay active in order to counter the over-sugared, over-processed foods in the US that she was not accustomed to growing up in Europe. She started swimming again, bought a bike, and signed up for her first triathlon where she came in second in her age group.
Since then, Frieda has gone on to compete in more triathlons than she can count, all while excelling at her role as the Director of Investor Relations for Criteo. She is based in NYC, and prior to the coronavirus crisis, she traveled regularly for her job. How does she manage it all? Here is Frieda’s story, in her words.
Q: Training for long course triathlon takes a lot of dedication, as does your career. Where does your motivation come from to pursue aggressive goals?
It probably boils down to passion. You're passionate when you're good at something. And without passion, you’ll lose interest and stop doing whatever you were doing. And without interest, you most likely lack the necessary commitment and drift from one goal to another without really sticking with anything to completion. Meaning you’ll have a better chance at long-term success if you seek your passions and set goals related to them.
Q: What is your mantra or motto for your life, and what is the inspiration behind it?
A very good question, and difficult to find a good answer. I grew up with a brother and my parent's friends had three boys, and it never occurred to me there was anything I couldn't do that they did. From climbing a tree to building entire cities with LEGO, using a hammer and other tools, riding a bike or using a computer. In short: "I can do this".
Q: How has triathlon helped your career success?
When you begin pursuing your passions, it’s important to take time to prepare. Whether it's a triathlon race - from nutrition, gear, and apparel to travel logistics, a work trip - from researching hotels with or near a gym, pools and running routes to healthy food options, or a non-deal roadshow with senior management - from targeting the right investors to preparing senior management for their questions, handouts, travel logistics to preferred snack or coffee preferences. And you certainly need to be persistent. Success takes the time to develop, which means you will go through trials and errors along the way. Instead of giving up due to the mistakes you make, you need to learn from them and improve yourself. How many times have I altered my nutrition plan for an IM distance race and I am still from having found the perfect recipe...
Q: What is the most impactful lesson you've learned from your coach?
Because we are all overachievers and always want to cram too much into the day - work, workouts, social time, household chores, self-improvement - I am sometimes stressed out and don't know where to start. He encouraged me to take a deep breath, and take one step at a time and not try to accomplish more than three things per day at work and three things in my personal life.
Q: How do you set boundaries at work, in order to make room for your training and the rest of your life?
I delegate as much as I can - I have a cleaning lady that comes every other Saturday, a dishwasher and a washing machine, most of my shopping except groceries is online and I am experimenting with a food delivery service, though I really love to cook, so you often see cooking batches on weekends. I usually workout around the same days/times - Monday evenings, Tuesday-Friday mornings and Tuesday and Thursday evening, plus Saturdays and Sundays, so I typically have those times blocked on my calendar for the next months out. Most work travel around quarterly earnings, non-deal roadshows, and investor conferences are set at the beginning of the year, so I already know when it's busy at work and when I have to travel for work. That allows me to plan my race season early on. Then, usually, on Sunday afternoons or evenings I plan my workouts and my social activities for the coming week.
Favorite race destination: I love to mix it up as every destination has its charm but I loved Cork, Ireland - except for the pouring rain.
Favorite way to stay active during business travel: Swim, bike, or run - there's always a possibility to make it work.
Favorite post-workout meal: Real food. If it's lunchtime: edamame pasta with veggie balls in tomato sauce. No shakes, no smoothies.
Bucket-list race or athletic goal: #1 AG on the podium at any 70.3 or 140.6. And I would love to race Israman at some point.