I don’t look at this as a big big deal, but a lot of people are curious about how I got off the couch and finished an Ironman at age 50. It wasn’t easy, and definitely took a major turning point, but I really believe almost anyone can do an Ironman.
I started running for the first time in 2012. I was 48 at the time and probably 30 pounds over my ideal weight. A party video changed my life and I knew it was a now or never moment.
After about 8 weeks of walk/run training I finished my first 5k. In some ways I still feel like that was a bigger deal than finishing my first Ironman. It was the turning point that sort of shoved me into working out again. I loved it and kept going.
I went straight to a 5 mile, a 10k, then a 1/2 marathon two weeks later. It was probably an excessive path, but I was bitten by the bug.
But later that year the big bug bit me when I went to watch my friend Kevin do Ironman Louisville. It was truly a remarkable experience, and even as a spectator, I didn’t want to let go. I ran around with Jim for 17 hours and I knew it was just a matter of time before I was lining up to do Ironman.
From there it was just a matter of wrapping my brain around what it would take to get ready for a mass start swim, a hilly 112 mile bike ride, and a marathon, which I would never come close to running in training.
The swim was the biggest mental obstacle. The Wisconsin mass start intrigued and intimidated me at once. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, but the bottom line was I had to start working or I would be embarrassed . . . or worse.
A couple months after my decision, I met Coach Robbie and he patiently answered a million questions, guided my workouts, inspired me, and jumped my ass when I needed it.
We worked together from the beginning of January 2013 all the way through Ironman Wisconsin 9 months later. It was a bumpy road at times and often I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off. But the incremental growth kept coming.
Along the way I had 4-5 breakthrough moments that convinced me I could be an Ironman. They were mental victories that I believe pushed me over the top. I started with the hope of finishing under 13 hours, but as the summer went on, I started looking at the idea of sub-12. That decision was far more mental than physical and in this podcast I talk about how my mindset changed and what I think was the key moment.
We also talk about:
– The importance of recovery as you get older
– Turning points in Mike’s belief system
– How Mike went from a 42 minute Olympic swim to a 1:20 Ironman at Wisconsin
– How to virtually guarantee a solid Ironman run
– Why Mike’s longest training run was only 14 miles en route to a 4:20 marathon.
– How Coach Robbie kept him focused over a long 9-month-plan
– Overcoming mental and emotional burnout
– The mind game Mike played with himself to assure a sub-12 Ironman
*** And here’s a great recap from Coach Robbie from his day as a spectator/coach for my first Ironman at Wisconsin.
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