I recently read an article in the New York Times, When Amateur Ironmen Pay for the Elite Treatment. In the article it stated that average income for all amateur triathletes is $126,000/yr according to USA Triathlon, the largest multisport organization in the world. But not all triathlons are the same. There's only one that when you finish participants permanently tattoo themselves with the logo of the event, the M-Dot. This triathlon is the Ironman. It's 140.6 miles of swimming, biking and running that will punish every fiber of your body. It's the king of the triathlons and those that successfully cross the finish line are crowned the name, "Ironman". World Triathlon Group, the organizers of the Ironman races, conducted a survey in 2015 on this subset of triathletes and found that their average income is double the average of the general triathlon participants at $247,000/yr.
The distance of the Ironman is what sets it apart from the rest. It's composed of a 2.4 mile swim then a 112 mile bike finished off by a 26.2 mile run, which is a full marathon. All of this needs to be completed within 17 hours. I live in Southern California so I'll give you the following example. Start in San Diego by swimming around in the ocean for 2.4 miles. Get out, jump on bike and then ride it to Long Beach. Then drop your bike off and run to Hollywood. That's the Ironman.
This shear craziness isn't cheap either. Just the entrance fee for the race is over $800. Then you need all the gear which can cost as much as a Honda Civic. However, where you will spend the most is your time. I've done two full Ironmans. One in Tempe, Arizona and the other in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. My weekly training, including planning and preparation, was anywhere from 12-24 hours a week. That revolved around a full-time job, a toddler and a wife battling terminal cancer. The motto of Ironman is, "Anything is Possible", and when you become a member of this club it becomes hard to look at yourself again and say, I can't.
Each achievement is spectacular by themselves but how can one individual achieve such high levels of success in different areas of their lives? The biggest standout reason is these individual's mindset. They think in ways that sets them apart. I believe that you can have all the tools and technics to achieve success but unless you have the mindset to execute them they're worthless. There are five ways Ironman triathletes think that make them stand out.
1) Improvement - Ironman triathletes are obsessed with improvement. From workout to workout they're always looking for incremental improvement. Faster times, improved heart rate performance, better power output, etc. They educate themselves and research ways to get better. They hire coaches and join teams to establish accountability, mentorship and synergy. Their goal isn't anything else but to be the best possible version of themselves.
2) Efficiency - Some people call this time management. I don't like that phrase because no one can manage time. We all have 24 hours in a day. We can only manage the use of our time. Ironman triathletes are ultra efficient. They all have various obligations that need to be fulfilled before their Ironman hobby. So, every minute of their time is maximized.
3) Fortitude - Fortitude is strength of mind that enables a person to overcome challenge, pain or adversity with courage. When you hear the phrase, "mind over matter" it's fortitude that they are speaking of. The Ironman or any challenging situation or endeavor requires us to endure through challenges. It's our mental strength that helps us push through.
4) Analytical - Cadence, power, wattage, heart rate, and Vo2 are just some of the vernacular of an Ironman. It's the data they use to understand how their body is performing. When a triathlete signs up for a particular Ironman course they incorporate their training specifically for that course. They account for the temperatures during the swim, bike and run. The climate of the region and the elevation changes of the course. Very little is not scrutinized and prepared for. With any endeavor or goal there's risk involved. Through their analysis and preparation they can mitigate potential risks to maximize success.
5) Discipline - Any success in life that didn't involve discipline is called luck. Getting up before the majority of the human population to punish yourself with 2-3 hour workouts is never fun. 99.9% of the time you're questioning why the hell are you doing it. The answer is the achievement of the goal. However, they know the real value isn't in the achievement of the goal, but the person they need to become to achieve it.
The same mindset that these individuals use to be successful in their profession and in the sport of triathlon is completely interchangeable to any goals we have. Success will always live in the mind first and it's our ability to use this mindset as the fuel to create massive action towards your goals.