How To Become An Ironman Or Accomplish Other Goals You Can’t Currently Fathom

I had let myself go in my early 20’s after starting my career out of college. Smoking a pack of day, eating like crap and not doing any exercising left me in pretty rough shape with the start of a paunch. At the time, I worked with a guy who was working to compete in his first Ironman triathlon; 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and full 26.2 mile marathon. Impressed by this daunting task, I set out to get back into shape and start doing triathlons. Less than three years later, I had qualified for the World Championships in Hawaii at my second Ironman.

So how in the heck did I go from a sloth to being in the top 5% in my age group at one of the most grueling races on the planet in such a short time? The answer was basically hard work, mental perseverance, and preparation. Whether you want to be an Ironman, compete in weightlifting or strongman competitions, or climb a 5.11 ascent, the path to greatness is the same.

1. Start at the beginning and learn your sport; there are no shortcuts

When I started on my triathlon path, I didn’t even know how to swim. In the water, my initial goal was not to drown. To get over this, I used books, DVDs, and a little bit of coaching to build up a swim stroke piece by piece over a period of months. Swimming, like technical weightlifting movements, has a lot of tiny moving parts that you have to get right if you want to be successful. If you want to be mediocre, just jump right in and use bad technique. For triathlon, that equates to slow times, but for other sports like weightlifting, Crossfit or strongman, poor technique could lead to injuries. Break down your movements into small parts; drill those parts over and over again, slowly adding more parts as you become proficient with the foundation. Eventually, you will have a competent movement or skill that at least will allow you to at least compete at an average level.

2. Stretch the rubber band

While I’ve known a few people who decided that their first triathlon would be Ironman distance, most take the approach of smaller steps to the goal. For one thing, it takes a long time to build your body up to something big. Whether it’s snatching your bodyweight, or a twice bodyweight squat, or a six-hour bike ride you don’t just start out going big unless you want to end up injured and back where you started. Slowly extend your training sessions or add weight to your lifts, and build in recovery. Recovery isn’t just eating well with good protein, but it means limiting the amount of stress you have in your life and getting sleep. If you keep adding volume to your training sessions without built-in deload or recovery weeks, you’ll actually take longer to reach your goals. With that said, your body is capable of things you never believed if you take care of it. Less than two years after taking that initial step to get off the couch, I completed my first Ironman and even then barely missed the cut off for Kona. Think big, even when starting out.

Ironman Austria Greyskullduggery (640x418)

3. Set small goals

You may not know what your “big” goal is when you are just starting out, but you can certainly set small goals that take you higher along each step of the path. Without goals to hit, it can be very easy to mentally stagnate. Goal accomplishments, even small ones, give you that psychological boost that you need to keep on trucking, especially on days when you don’t really feel like it. Goals need to be specific, attainable and in a set time frame or they aren’t worth much. Saying you want to get stronger isn’t a goal, it’s a wish. A small goal may be to complete your first triathlon by June , or adding 10 pounds to your squat in a month, or learning how to properly squat clean or snatch. Each small goal is a step to the slightly bigger goals of adding 25 pounds to your squat or hitting a two-times bodyweight deadlift.

4. Track your progress

Not only is progress tracking necessary to learn what works and what doesn’t, thereby allowing you to tweak your training, it is important from a psychological perspective as well. If you have ever competed in anything, you know that failure often sticks in our minds much more than success. So if you have a really poor lifting or training session, you’ll be disappointed and maybe question your abilities to be successful. But if you were to look at your training logs, you’d see firsthand the progress you’ve already made which can be a motivating factor. Be aware that the better you get at a sport, the slower the gains will be.

That first year of lifting, running, BJJ or triathlon you’ll go from knowing and being nothing, to actually having something to hang your hat on. After that, things often slow down and when tracking your progress, you may be discouraged by how long things are taking. Don’t be; you’ve wrung out the newbie gains and are now into the area where you really have to work to make progress. The weak will give up at this stage, the strong-minded will power through this to the next level.

5. Nothing replaces hard work, consistency and time

If you want to be good at something, especially something as large as an Ironman, there is no escaping hard work and patience. You change the way your whole body operates, establishing movement patterns, training your heart to pump blood efficiently to feed your movements. Training through low motivation periods are necessary, as are grinding through periods where it looks like you aren’t making much progress. Muscles get stronger; technique improves if you continue to drill small parts; aerobic and anaerobic capacity increases. Large goals are as much about mental perseverance they are physical. Try to combat the lulls and boredom by introducing entertaining workouts and keeping things positive. But at the end of the day, you have to work long and hard to attain a large goal.

Clean and Jerk Swamibu

6. Set large goals

I knew early on that I wanted to do Ironman, and wanted to be competitive at that distance. Once that was established, all my small goals led to the large goal. I started my training plan 1.5 years prior to my first attempt at the race, building my base and body, and stretching out what I could do even that far in advance. I was successful because I did things others didn’t or wouldn’t do, such as indoor biking for 4-6 hours at a time in my cold weather climate. Training camps and seeking coaching at various points also helped keep me motivated and increased my abilities. Be patient as you work toward the end goal and enjoy the small victories along the way.

7. Mentally prepare

Preparing all your equipment is the start of this, but visualizing your event cannot be understated. You can set up scenarios in your mind and develop contingency plans for when things start to go awry. Also, you can mentally prepare yourself to be calm in heightened state and stick with the plan. When you find yourself in the heat of the actual moment, you’ve already done the race or event in your head hopefully multiple times and can continue to execute at a high level with very limited mental energy.

8. Race or competition day

By the time you get to the actual large event that you’ve been working towards for months, if not years, you simply need to show up and execute. The hay is in the barn, so go out and enjoy the fruits of your labor. One thing I’ve found that translates to an all-day Ironman event equally as well as a two-day Crossfit competition is pacing. You are going to be ramped up with adrenaline pumping, as well as rested and ready for action. You’ll feel as fresh and as strong as you ever have if you’ve trained and tapered properly. Most people will start out way too fast, blowing their load in the first quarter or third of any event. If you start out slower than you think you can go, settle into a groove and maintain that pace (or even increase) you’re going to find much more success on game day. Finally, don’t underestimate nutrition for any large event, and practice that nutrition in training to make sure it sits and digests well in higher stress situations.

Ironman Finish Josh Gray

Working toward something big that most people can’t even fathom is something most men should reach for at least once in their life. Whether you hit your goal and perform as expected is moot, as the journey and pushing yourself to your limits is part of the very definition of being a man. Don’t settle for being average; instead find something that allows you to be awesome, starting today.

Read More: Are You On Pace To Reach Your Goals? 

56 thoughts on “How To Become An Ironman Or Accomplish Other Goals You Can’t Currently Fathom”

  1. Hold on, “average married dad”? Dullcock, is that you?!
    Here’s the timeline for your marriage;

    1. stopped watching after “First Kiss: 1 week”
      that is supposed to be the average American relationship?? LOL yeah right, girls are making out with dudes within 30 minutes of meeting them nowadays

      1. You should have kept watching, Hani. Sex was at 2 weeks. Which most people in the Youtube comments thought was way too soon. But his video isn’t about meeting someone in a club for a one night stand, its about a couple that meets in a more organic, realistic way and actually does the dating and getting to know one another thing, so yeah, one week is about right for the kiss considering they meet (looks like introduced by a mutual friend), then probably have a “coffee date” or “hang out” the same day and then arrange to meet later that week for a real date. So the first kiss probably happens on the first date, and then a week later on the second date – sex.

    2. damn no anal sex or threesomes or gangbangs ? you can count me out not make it count…..

  2. Another one of these, good grief. Outside of the lawyer, tuthmosis, and few others this site is morphing into pure beta bullshit. triathlons, marathons, biking, etc are all fag “sports’ for dudes with no prowess for real sports and competition. go nurse your spermless balls after todays bike training!

    1. When you’re young all this Alpha/Beta shit might matter, but when you’ve gotten older and accumulated enough assets to essentially say “fuck the world”, it really doesn’t matter how you work out, team sports or solo, all that matters is that you’re active. I agree with you on biking; it’ll kill the nerves going to your dick.

      1. alpha/beta always matters. more so when you’re older. look at the legions of broken down and defeated middle aged husbands kowtowing to their fat wives in this country.

    2. When you have a real job it becomes pretty difficult to do something other than compete against yourself or pick events that can be trained solo. Toss in a family and its pretty much game over unless you are a professional athlete.

        1. Fuck that gay shit. Drag racing. Only sport in the world where you need two balls.

      1. You want a manly solo sport, do boxing or kickboxing. Train to fight in the ring. Learn Muay Thai, then enhance your technique with BJJ, Sambo and Judo. Become an unstoppable force. That is far more respectable than being a gay little fag with shrivelled arms and legs due to a reduction in testosterone from all that running.

    3. One could argue that contact sports is more “faggy” than solo riding (alpha going it alone). In fact, the overt homo-eroticism of team sports does not go noticed by us spectators.

      1. Alphas going alone is the last thing that applies to triathletes. they are herd animals through and through. and nothing is more pleasing to them than herding together and talk talk talk about this boring hobby. that faggy comment tells you clearly never participated in real sports. spectator is all you’ll ever be.

      1. Ones that weren’t invented by narcissistic babyboomers in the 70’s to make up for their lack of athletecism in football, baseball, basketball, hockey, etc etc. Triathlons, marathons, minis, all that shit is for people that crave some type of outside recognition from others that stems from a deep seated lack of self confidence and recognition in life. Look at all those idiotic windshield stickers they put on the back of their subarus and minivans. 26.2, 13.1, 140. It’s so gay!. Weightlifters don’t drive around with their bench max plastered to the rear window. And of the guys I’ve known personally that do these triahlons- all are beta husbands to their wives and it’s clear the wives run the families.

        1. You do know that the Marathon is run in commemoration of Pheidippides, who after fighting in the battle of Marathon was sent as a runner to Athens to announce the Greek victory ?
          It’s inclusion in the modern Olympics dates back to 1896.
          Way to make yourself look like a dick…..

        2. Wow!!!!!! That’s awesome, I had no idea!!!!!!! And right before he died i heard his family put a 26.2 sticker on the back of his donkey cart!! And the swimming portion of triathalons are modeled after themistocles and his swim across the bosphorus, while the biking stage salutes the hard work of jimmy pappadopoulus and his feta cheese delivery route from the hot gates to Corinth!! nice attempt at trying to make marathoners share something in common with greek warriors, typical beta delusions of grandeur.

        3. Ok, you like team sports. I can understand that, it’s easy to coast when you have the rest of the team to blame for failure…

    4. You don’t think it’s respectable for a man to have the dedication to take on the challenge of training for for a gruelling endurance event like an ironman triathlon? Do you have any idea how much work it takes, waking up at 4 am, training at least 2 hours a day every day for over a year, maintaining a strict diet, etc.? Endurance racing is as real a sport as you can get because it takes out many of the elements of chance and it’s purely a competition of the physical abilities of the individuals. What real physical challenge have you accomplished in your life that makes you so much more of an alpha?

      1. fine if you are into it….never knock someone else’s accomplishment…. sports are good, but i’ve never got competitive sports, and i think pushing yourself too hard and being too ripped or too fit can work against you later on…. one injury or a few months sliding from that high level and you easily get flabby and fat…..
        whereas maintaining a basic level to ski black runs and hike in the forest, and do the active things i like to do, doesn’t have me turning into a telly tubby if i get an injury or have to ramp down the fitness regime for what ever reason…
        there’s also alot to be said for the expression ‘all brawn – no brains’
        i find that too much exercise, even too much weights begins to reduce my intelligence and quick thinking….
        exercise for fitness and general health and to have good outdoor pursuits…. challenge myself making money and getting rich and or getting pussy…

        1. Glad to see you have other interests besides attempting to convince straight men that buttf*cking women isn’t really latent faggotry.

        2. nothing wrong with a bit of old fashioned buggery from time to time, puts the bitches in their place…. don’t knock what you haven’t tried…. oral was also categorized as sodomy not so long ago… anal with a girl is not homo….. any more than a bj with a girl is ….

        3. Female ass is different from male ass. If it wasn’t, black dudes would be fucking each other, since their asses are big and they like ass.

      2. i like how you added the gruelling adjective to endurance. A truly grueling endurance test is listening to triathlon guys speak endlessly about their equipment, times, training routines, blah, blah, blah. Talking with a ‘triathlete’ reminds me of that old movie Airplane where the protagonist keeps boring the people next to him with his endless gibber jabbing and they all kill themselves out of boredom.

    5. It’s the competition against one’s self that I love in sports like this, personal bests, pushing your own limits further each time.

    6. I agree, and I’d like to add that they might want to stop this shit to give so much importance to sports and how they make a man “alpha” or “successfull” or all that shit

    7. An accomplishment is an accomplishment, buddy. Read between the lines. If you want to become a bodybuilder on Ronnie’s level or a powerlifter who can deadlift 800 and bench 600, this is how. If you want to make a company worth billions, this is how. If you want to pull loads of poon, and get laid multiple times a day, this is how. Granted, cardio bullshit isn’t good for testosterone, but the same level of willpower applied to any of those above three pursuits, or something else as manly, will do you wonders.

  3. Thanks for this article. The part about learning to swim was good and the part about recovery too.
    However having kids is beta and gay as fuck dude.

      1. The PUA origins of RoK run deep.
        However, the argument would go that within the confines of the usual suspects of legal jurisdictions, having children inherently puts your balls in a vice.
        And the divorce rate of those who get hooked on Ironman as a ‘lifestyle’ is near 100%.
        Temujin, was alpha as fuck, to the extent that he was able to create his own legal jurisdiction.
        Elliot Spitzer, not so much.

      2. A kIng needs to sire offspring to maintain the bloodline. There’s nothing wrong with having a Queen as long as you keep the bitch in her place.

        1. Yeah well. With current population of the world at 7.139 billion people I dont think my “bloodline” will be missed too terribly.
          Anyone that thinks changing Pampers and buying tampons for the wife at the grocery isnt totally beta?
          Again, marriage and kids are for beta faggots.

        2. How little you know. I never changed a diaper ONCE. Married Russian and she was a great little wifey until western society eventually corrupted her.
          I agree, marriage sucks, but kids are great! Just make sure you breed well. My exie was gorgeous and I’m handsome so we have wonderful kids. Good luck out there!

      3. Or yeah dude. Hey, why dont you go buy “preggers” wifey some pickles and ice cream for her cravings.
        Then you and your other manly men bro’s can discuss the latest technological advances in baby strollers.
        What a bunch of faggots.

        1. Pop Quiz:
          If only men, who are less than or equal to Beta, have children, Assuming you aren’t a virgin birth and your father stuck around to raise you, what does that make your father? and your grandfather? How about your grandfather’s father?
          If “having kids is beta and gay as fuck” your entire family tree could be considered Beta, which would include you.
          Fatherhood isn’t a Black Hole where men walk in ‘Alpha’ and get spit out ‘Beta’ If a man is dumped into fatherhood ‘Beta’, chances are he probably stumbled into that motherfucker ‘Beta’. The difference between Alpha and Beta isn’t what you do, it’s how you do it.
          Taking a wife doesn’t make you Beta. Marrying a slut and allowing said slut to ride roughshod over you, makes you Beta. Raising a daughter doesn’t make you Beta. Raising a whore does. Raising a son doesn’t make you Beta. Raising a pussy is what distinguishes the Beta.
          Having a family doesn’t make you Beta. Relinquishing your claim to manhood and allowing a woman to control your house is textbook Beta.
          I don’t have children but I do have complete confidence in my ability to lead a family, with manhood intact, should the need arise. If you have have so little faith in your own ability then by all means avoid breeding but don’t tell other men to fear and avoid fatherhood because you couldn’t do it without
          ‘becoming’ a Beta.

        2. That was pretty funny but I don’t see how showing a family whose patriarch is M.I.A. disproves my point?
          The Alpha is created under pressure. There is nothing Alpha about avoiding a challenge (i.e. Fatherhood) and there’s definitely nothing Alpha about not having a legacy or at least a reminder of your greatness. Enjoy dying alone.

  4. I’m bookmarking this; and that’s the second Return of Kings for me, right after How to Get Everything You Want.

  5. Don’t be ashamed of starting at the bottom. Learn the fundamentals, don’t just understand them, do them over and over until they are committed to memory.
    It January of course, once of my lest favourite times a year, because that means it’s time for another influx of resolution white belts, people who join the dojo, stay for three weeks and then leave and never return having abandoned their new years resolutions. At least they’re subsidizing my training costs. One out of ten might stay, of that another one out of ten makes black belt level. To the one percent that stays, I often point out my teacher and the pictures of the founders on our wall when they look frustrated and say, “even those guys, undisputed masters, even they started out right where you are.”
    My point is, don’t be ashamed or afraid to be a novice, there is no shame in admitting what you don’t know. It’s good actually you have no junk cluttering your mind and you will be opened to learning the right way. Don’t get discouraged if you are not instantly good, an easy thing is not a thing worth doing.

  6. Great post. I happen to have learned that a lot of points you made are true. Ive been working out for 2.5-3 yrs and I’m currently a young 40.
    It takes a lot to accomplish worthwhile goals. Congratulations on your success! In a world of fat or skinny excuse makers this was a refreshing article.

Comments are closed.