Full Stride: An Interview with Zen Planner’s Ironman

5 min read


James O’Sullivan, Associate Software Test Engineer at Zen Planner, defines “high performance.” 

Let’s talk numbers: 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling and 26.2 miles of running. James has completed that sequence eight different times with a personal best of 9 hours, 23 minutes, 35 seconds. Not only that, but James has also finished the 70.3 (half) Ironman eight times with a personal best of 4 hours, 25 minutes, 24 seconds. Between Ironmans, James also dabbles in world-renowned marathons, finishing the Boston Marathon twice with a personal best of 2 hours, 50 minutes, 39 seconds. 

James has been ranked in the top 1% globally for his age group the last three years, and this may be his busiest triathlon season yet. In September, he will compete in the qualifiers-only 70.3 World Championships held in Nice, France. The following month, he will compete in the 140.6 Ironman World Championship held in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. The Kona championship is considered the “Super Bowl” of triathlon, and James has already qualified by winning his age division at the Ironman Boulder. 

From triathlon training to software testing, James is in full stride. We talked to James about his training regimen and about his work serving the Zen Planner community. 

How did you become involved in the sport of triathlon?

After playing competitive soccer for 17 years and collegiately for two, I took a long hiatus from physical activity. I wanted and seeked out a new challenge, so I Googled triathlons one evening. I found a local sprint distance race, signed up and then Googled a training program. The rest, as they say, is history.

What does your current training regimen look like?

I’m currently training 10-15 hours a week with some bigger weeks coming up as we approach Kona.  I will most likely tap out at 20 hours a week. I typically do shorter sessions during the week, and then the long rides and runs on the weekends. I’m swimming about three times per week, running 3-4 times per week with a track day on Tuesdays and long runs typically on Saturdays and then riding about three times per week with a long ride typically on Sundays. My long runs right now are getting up to 16-18 miles but will hit at least 20-22 before Kona. My rides are more time based and will be approaching six hours 3-4 weeks out from Kona. My coach and I will get some long brick sessions in, which is a bike ride immediately transitioning into a run. This allows me to practice my transitions, adapt to the feeling of running on “bike legs” and simulates race day. 

I need to get all my energy out so I stay out of trouble, similar to a puppy.

How does your fitness and competitive experience impact your work at Zen Planner?

I typically train in the morning and the aerobic effort first thing in the morning helps me focus throughout the day. It keeps me on my toes and my eyes open for opportunities within my team and the company as a whole.  

What is your role at Zen Planner?

I am an Associate Software Test Engineer. With all the new features we are rolling out and the bugs that we are fixing, it is my job and task to test the new code and “try to break it” before we roll it out to the public. I’m in a quality assurance role to ensure that what we release to our customers is quality and reliable software.

What is your favorite part about working at Zen Planner?

The team. The office atmosphere. The opportunity and challenges that the company and my specific role offers. The support from leadership to achieve greatness and excellence, not just within the confinement of the office but outside the walls of Zen Planner too.

What’s next for Zen Planner’s Ironman? First, “to rest and relax.” O’Sully, as he’s known around the office, may take a rest period following the big race, but we all suspect that won’t last long.

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About the Author: Kelli Sweeting

I'm Coach Kelli, a devoted CrossFit gym owner with 15 years of experience managing my facility, along with owning yoga studios and wellness centers. Beyond the fitness world, I have a passion for cooking, cherish moments with my children and family, and find joy in spending time outside. Having experienced the highs and lows, I'm dedicated to leveraging my expertise to help you grow and succeed on your fitness journey.