If you could know you can do an Ironman…would you? If you decided you could and tried…would you keep going? When the training sucks and gets hard and you doubt if you can do it…can you push through? When you finish your half-Ironman training race and think there is no way you can double that in time for the big day…will you still keep going? When the biggest training day you have ever had is seven or eight hours and you plan your Ironman to take 12 to 14 hours…do you have the confidence to tackle it anyway?
The answer is yes! Ironman is not given away. The misconception is that this race is one of physical challenge when the real battle is that of mental dominance. I think how you really earn an Ironman is not by completing the physical challenge of that day…but by controlling your mind and learning to dominate the mental challenge of the entire six months of training leading up to your day.
I was inspired to write this blog by a conversation with my dad who is training for the St. George IM on May 1. This should prove to be one of the more challenging Ironman races as the mountain/hilly bike course is already gaining notoriety around the Ironman community for being one of the most challenging…and no one have even raced it yet.
He is going through the natural progression of first time Ironman self-doubt based on the daily challenges you face in training for an event like this. Stuff that I went through when I was training for my first Ironman. What I realize now is that the training gets you to where you need to be to finish this race. That is what it’s designed for…and if you can stick with your daily gauntlet of training, nutrition and dedication…you will finish Ironman.
But the mental battle…that’s all you. That part isn’t written into the training plan or taught or coached. Beating the mental battles that challenge you each day is the part of the accomplishment that you control and you have to own. Defeating these challenges on a daily basis all the way up until you finish your Ironman is what makes you an Ironman….and this will forever change the way you view and tackle obstacles and challenges for the rest of your life after you cross that finish line.