When you’re training for a grueling race such as an Ironman it’s easy to get frustrated. Times aren’t what they should be on the swim. Power isn’t where it should be on the bike. Speed is lacking on your long runs. So many times training for Ironman Cozumel I questioned my sanity. Ironman. What the hell was I thinking?
I’ve never competed in sports as a younger person. I was pretty mediocre in all three sports. How the heck was I going to beat the clock in one of the toughest races known to mankind? On paper I was a disaster. A 2:43 min/100m swimmer. A 12 mph cyclist (on a good day). A 15-min/mile runner. Someone who weighed 257 pounds. All signs pointed to failure. I had failed once before. It would not surprise anyone that I could fail again. The reality at the time when I signed up for Ironman Cozumel was that I was not ready for that race.
But over the course of six months I found you can definitely change your reality. All you have to do is believe. When you believe others believe as well and that becomes a powerful force for change.
I remember the day I decided to sign up for my second Ironman. It was May, 2013, I didn’t have a full-time job, I was broke, struggling to pay my rent but so focused on completing the penultimate of all endurance races. I called a friend who I had occasionally rode bikes with and begged him to talk to me about whether I should sign up. I told him about Ironman Cozumel, how I would have lots of time to train.
I had attempted an Ironman five years and I DNF’d on the bike. When I contemplating signing up for my second Ironman, I was three months out from my first 1/2 Ironman in five years. I was nervous. Could I do it? Could I succeed this time? I kept asking him over and over. After going through all the reasons I shouldn’t sign up for the race–not enough time to train, too much weight to lose, not fast enough, didn’t want to miss the bike cut off again–my friend cut me off with a simple, “What are you waiting for? Sign up.”
He didn’t realize it but in that moment my entire mentality about my athletic ability changed. He was a nationally ranked athlete in college. He was a national champion, one of those athletes that I had tried to avoid all my life. And yet, he was telling me that I could do what some consider one of the most athletic feats known to man. Something, admittedly that he couldn’t do. (He doesn’t swim). So I clicked “Enter,” and my Ironman journey began. Well, continued really, because it began the day I DNF’d at IMCdA. I could have walked away but I didn’t. Because, me being me, I had to have redemption.
Throughout my nine months of training my body and spirit have evolved. I’ve shed a total of 110 pounds, I’ve shaved a full 1:12 seconds off my swim time per 100 meters, I’ve evolved from a 15-minute miler to a 11:24 min/miler on my best run. I bested every PR I’ve ever had and I have shattered all the endurance records swimming, running and biking longer than I’ve ever had before. During one particular freak out over a training bike ride gone wrong, my friend the athlete told me, “You are training just as an elite athlete trains. You are doing the exact same thing we did.” That blew my mind. I began to realize that in training for this Ironman and competing in that race I am doing an elite athletic feat. My days of not being an athlete are over.
Yet I still did not believe. I would attend my IM training group sessions and I would still mentally look around the room at everyone who looked nothing like me. And I would repeatedly think, “Do I belong here?”
And then I got an e-mail from one of my fellow IM glory chasers and he said, “You might not believe it, but you are more prepared than any of us…besides being physically prepared, you have that fire burning deep inside that is much greater than we have. YOU WANT THIS!!! That fire that is burning inside you is spreading into me, building my fire…”
You’re never more clear about who you are than when you see yourself through others’ eyes. That e-mail was the beginning of my athlete revolution. He was right. I was physically prepared. But mentally I was still on the fence. I destroyed that fence. I dumped that barrier. I lit it with my fire to win.
But crossing the finish line in 15:25 at Ironman Cozumel never would have happened if I didn’t at first believe. There were people who told me I couldn’t. And others who said I shouldn’t. But the only voice that mattered was my own, and those of the people who believed in me.
So if you want to change your life, you really want to transform it. You want to go from point A to point B. Then here’s a magic formula that I guarantee will work for you just as it worked for me: BELIEVE. WORK. FAIL. TRY. SUCCEED.
It’s just that simple. It works every time. Just ask Arthur, the man in the video who used something as simple as yoga and a belief in himself to change his world.