Lessons Learned Through Ironman Training


Enjoy this guest blog from Garmin Ambassador Stephanie Johnson who shares the lessons she's learned while training. 


If you want to change your perspective on life…watch an Ironman.

If you want to want to change your life…train for an Ironman.

If you want to transcend life…Finish an Ironman.

These are a few of the lessons that you will learn during Ironman training that will carry over to every aspect of your life.

Let go of your fear of failing.

When I let go of my fear of failing I knew I was ready to do an Ironman. I wanted to participate in this event so badly that I let myself have to option to fail. I know that seems counter-intuitive but isn’t “NEVER FAIL under any circumstances” a big burden and pressure to hold. I knew that my passion was so intense I HAD to play. I had to race. I also knew that Ironman didn’t define me. The world wouldn’t fall off its axis if I got a DNF (did not finish) or some tragedy happened that prevented me from starting. There wouldn’t be a great cloud bursting and tossing gold on the entire world if I won or even crossed that finish line either. I knew it was something I not only wanted but HAD to do and the end result wasn’t going to take away a single joy or pain along the journey.

I knew the finish line was my ultimate goal and not a single day for an entire year went by without visualizing it, but I was no longer scared to fail. Fail others or myself. That is what gave me the strength and quiet confidence to persevere through months of training and a 14-hour day. I am not scared of success or failure because neither defines me.

Create a plan…Work RELENTLESSLY toward it…But write it in pencil.

Ironman and endurance sports are 95% mental…you have to keep your mind as strong and as focused as your body. The same with ANY fitness goal whether it is weight loss, building muscle, or general health…there will be highs and lows. You will have off days and on days. It is about getting back on track every time you get off and not beating yourself up! Pencils have erasers for a reason. Don’t be afraid to erase a day or week and start over. Work RELENTLESSLY toward your goals…not perfectly toward them.

You are more capable than you could ever realize.  

You have more potential in you than you know. You not only can but you MUST do the things that you never thought possible. Live limitlessly! All it takes is a simple act of trust. Of yourself. You don’t need anyone else’s validation (although it is nice sometimes to have!, but not necessary). Believe that you can go one more mile. One more lap. One more minute. And if you trust that you can do that simple mile, lap or minute…you will one day look back and realize that all those little acts of trusting your body, mind and spirit have brought you to a place you never dreamed of. A place your spirit KNEW was capable but your mind needed time to catch up. You are capable. You are strong. Small acts of trust.

Rise up and meet the obstacle versus run from it. 

There are SO many obstacles that we encounter from fatigue to the elements to mechanics. If you haven’t met one yet I assure you that at some point in your training you will! When that obstacle comes embrace it. Don’t quit or back down. Look it directly in the eye and call it by name. (You are a flat tire…You are a blister…You are rain) Once you name your obstacle rise up and meet it. Don’t panic or shrink away. If you need to take a breath or 100 breaths before you meet it DO IT…but don’t back down or let fear, anger or sadness overcome you. You will know what to do when you meet those obstacles with an equanimous mind. You will find out who you are when you rise up and meet the obstacle. Who are you at the uppermost limits of your stressful situations? Calmly. Rise up. You are stronger and braver than any obstacle you may face.

Mental Toughness: Whether you think you can or can’t you’re right.

Don’t doubt yourself!!! The moment you begin to doubt you will set in motion the universal energies that will lead to your break down. Now that I say that, let me take one step back…You WILL doubt at times. That is inevitable. The key is to learn to let the doubt go as quickly as it appears. Recognize the doubt. Call the doubt by name… “You are doubting your ability to make it through this workout which is causing you to doubt your dream.” One does not equal another. Separate them. As quickly as you name the doubt, let it go. Find a mantra that you can repeat to yourself when doubt appears. It can be as simple as:

“I can do hard things”

“I am more fearless than my fears”

“I am strong”

“I have what it takes but it will take everything I have”

“Relentless forward motion”


Create your own! Remember doubt will come, name it, let it go and start repeating your mantra. You don’t doubt yourself. Doubt doesn’t control your belief and dreams. You are stronger and tougher than your doubt so take it head on.

True strength is measured in how many times you rise every time you fall. Believe in your big dreams and take a chance on yourself. Become who you are meant to be. Beat yesterday!


Stephanie Johnson

Yoga Instructor, Ironman, Runner