Ironman World Champion Pete Jacobs rediscovers that the journey is just as important as the destination as he articulates below.
Everybody has different motivations for becoming an Ironman and for continuing to complete these races again and again. My motivation is made up of many different aspects, but the overriding theme is probably similar to many others – the need to find out the limits of my own abilities.
I am driven by my own goals, my own dreams, of what I believe I would be capable of if I learned everything there is to learn about myself. And perhaps that is it – that a feeling of enlightenment will follow if the “meaning of one’s life” is revealed to one through Ironman. As I notched up my 26th Ironman in Frankfurt 2013, and a week earlier watched an Ironman for the third time this year, I rediscovered what Ironman means to me, and who I want it to help me become.
A fortunate side-benefit from my current position – a position that requires answering lots of questions – comes from being asked constantly about life, job, training, racing, career, life balance, relationship, future, inspiration and motivation (just to name a few topics). Doing so forces you to say things you otherwise may never have said, and perhaps never have realised. Often, those words lead to other realisations. In particular, having to answer a question on the spot without time to analyse what you will say makes for honest answers that can sometimes surprise you, and it is often very enlightening and helps you to find out more about who you are, and why and how you do what you do.
“BEING OPEN TO CRITICISM, BLUNT QUESTIONS, AND BEING HONEST, ACCEPTING, AND OPEN TO CHANGE FROM WITHIN IS MORE BENEFICIAL IN AN IRONMAN JOURNEY THAN ANY AMOUNT OF TRAINING”
Having someone to ask you those questions helps you learn more about yourself, and that is what makes you faster in an Ironman. It’s not more training or harder training, nor is it a more expensive bike. Finding out about who, why, and how is more valuable than a coaching program. Having a coach help you discover truths about yourself is not always an easy process, and can be confrontational. Being open to criticism and blunt questions, and being honest, accepting, and open to change from within is more beneficial in an Ironman journey than any amount of training.
My motivation is to learn more about myself. And becoming a better athlete, for me, is directly related to understanding what, how, and why I do what I do – and ultimately becoming happier with myself. A better self means a better athlete. Both require an intelligence that is not measured by book smarts or degrees, but by both the heart and mind’s ability to empathise, self analyse and be open to change.
Our motivations can change every week, as we change, and so can our fears – those subconscious walls we put up around ourselves. Confidence is nothing but an absence of doubt. So if you have no one to ask you, then ask yourself: Why am I doing this? What can I change? And how can I grow along my Ironman journey? Be aware of yourself and the doubts will disappear, leaving a faster, smarter, happier, more confident and more motivated athlete.
Australia’s Pete Jacobs is the 2012 Ironman World Champ and an exclusive columnist for 220. His ‘less is more’ approach has also helped him place 2nd in 2011 and gave him the third fastest marathon in the race’s history in 2010, a 2:41:05.