The 17 Things That Ironman Can Teach Us About Business & Life

One of the things that many of you know about me is that I love to take on a challenge and believe in testing our limits in both business and life.

You also know that I’m a firm believer in setting goals and reaching them, then resetting your goals and reaching for a bigger goal. 

About 10 years ago, I started to take my personal health and wellness serious again after many years of not being as active as I should have and having some unhealthy habits.

My first event was a ½ Marathon and I only trained for it for about 6 weeks.  The day after I felt like a truck, actually a semi, had run me over.  But it was the day after the race that I said to myself you will not be this unfit ever again.  Now, I wasn’t overweight, but I was not fit, nor was I healthy.


Over the past 10 years, I’ve tried many things including Spartan Races, a 50 Mile Relay Running Race, many 5k’s, weight lifting, high intensity interval training, CrossFit and more.

But throughout it all, I had always been curious about Ironman.  Which is just a very long triathlon.  It’s a difficult race and event for many reasons, but it was even more difficult for me because at the beginning I couldn’t swim from one side of a pool to the other (now less than 2 years ago), I had never ridden a road bike (let alone a fancy Tri Bike), and really I had never had formal run training.


What I had was the mindset to make it happen and I had the discipline to make it happen. 


This is an important lesson in and of it self. If you have the right mindset, you can make anything happen.

Today, I’d like to share just 2 of the 17 quick lessons with you.  I’m hoping that one of them may help you become more successful in life and business too.


Lesson 1: Know You Don’t Know It All

 One of the things that separate winners and losers in sports, business and life, is the ability to be coached or be coachable.  As an entrepreneur, we can sometimes fall victim to being the “smartest one” in the room. It’s a bad place to be.

For a long time, I’ve put myself in positions and in coaching groups where people that are smarter than me are in the room.  Currently, I’m a member of a mastermind group that includes a couple of companies that are on the Inc. 500’s fastest growing companies. 

One member is the founder of the largest chiropractic franchise in the world.  They are smart people.

They have problems just like you and I.  In our own little world, we can sometimes feel like we’re pretty smart, but we should never think we know it all.

I took the same approach to Ironman.  In this world I started out knowing nothing!  I was a rookie in so many ways.

So my first goal was to find THE best coaches for each part of the race.  For me this included swimming, biking, running and nutrition.  I also joined a team, which I’ll talk about later in the 17 lessons, but they became a great source of knowledge to learn from.

I hired an amazing coach for open water swimming and she helped me go from barely able to swim to now better than average. I’m working now with another coach to take me from above average to the top 10% on the swim part of the race.

One thing I learned was that every time I asked a question and got an answer, it seemed to open up a new question and the need for new answers.

It became a continuous feedback loop between myself and my coaches.  

The first lesson is be smart enough to know you don’t know it all and be willing to ask the preverbal “dumb” questions.  Often these dumb questions are the ones that lead to real breakthroughs.


Lesson 2: When You Fall Get Back Up and Start Again

In business and in life, we often have a rough patch or a struggle.  Often these are the times that are make or break. It’s often where people give up or quit.

In March on the very first warm Wisconsin day, I took my bike off my trainer in the basement, where I had spent countless hours riding in one place watching morning news, educational programs and football games during the winter.

The new bike that I was riding in the basement is a Triathlon specific bike, which is designed to make your body more aerodynamic when you ride it.  Which allows you to ride faster as a result.

The bike also handles way differently because your body is more over the handlebars than you are on a road or mountain bike.

Of course I wanted to get it off the trainer and see “how fast can I go”…the first mistake in a series of mistakes that led to my first crash less than a half mile from my house. 

I got out in my driveway, clipped my shoes in and took off like a bat out of hell.

The other difference riding the Tri Bike, is how your head is positioned on the bike.  You’re looking at a point in the road closer to you than you would when you are on a road bike, compound that with the fact I had a helmet with a visor on it which further limited my forward vision.

See what’s about to happen…less vision, faster speed, touchy handling. 

What happens next is the next mistake I made.  There’s a small “downhill” by my house, it’s really just a small dip in the road about a tenth of a mile, but just enough to pick up speed on it.

I, of course, decide that I should start messing with my gears to get to a faster one on my first down hill on this bike.

Which then leads me to a small part of the road that had eroded from the winter melting here in Wisconsin. 

In the blink of an eye, I was heading toward it, panicked and tried to go left, but instead went right as the result of being on a new bike, going down hill at 23 MPH+, limited forward vision and bad handling skills on the bike.

Needless to say what happened next wasn’t fun.  I went off the road, flipped over the handle bars and skidded on my knees in the ditch. 

When I finally came to rest I was shaken, bleeding, but fortunately it didn’t feel like I had broken any bones.

That day it could have been real easy to give up on my goal.

I dusted my self off and got back on that bike the next day.  My bike did have some damage that needed to be repaired, but for the most part I came out of it pretty good.

I had a lot of road rash.  I pulled my the lat muscle in my left side of my back, probably from holding onto the bars of my bike, and as I summersaulted over the bars, the handle bars also hit my left rib cage and I think that I badly bruised or broke a rib.

Besides my ego being a little beaten up I was ok.  I met with two medical professionals who told me the ribs would be 4-8 weeks to heal and that’s about what it was. 

I couldn’t run because there was a sharp shooting pain from my back to my ribs on the left side every time I rotated my body.  I couldn’t swim because I had a lot of missing skin and the same pain would have happened in the water rotating while swimming.

So I spent many more hours riding my bike in one place in the basement and lifting some weights that didn’t further mess with my injuries.

The second lesson is to remember that the next time when you have something bad happen, you do have a choice.  You can quit or your can modify your plan. 

A setback doesn’t have to be a deal breaker, you have the choice to keep moving forward or being a quitter.  

You have the choice to reach your goal or be left to wonder what could have been.

It’s your choice.

About the author


Darin the founder of Fitness Renegades, a Dad and an Ironman. He started Fitness Renegades and the Renegade Lifestyle to help people transform their lives with our unique Fitness, Family, Food formula. He believes in fueling your body with real foods, providing workouts that are challenging, yet fun and having a family like atmosphere where we are all working toward improving our lifestyles. Welcome to the Renegade Family!

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