People ask me, or more specifically wonder, how I can do an Ironman. They find the idea of swimming 3.86 km (2.4 miles), cycling 180.2 km (112 miles) and running 42.2 km (26.2 miles) to be outrageous, or even preposterous, let alone complete it in one day. My answer is always the same, “it’s just one step then another step.”
In the book “Slow Burn“, Stu Mittleman & Katherine Callan break it down nicely. Although they are describing how to be metabolically efficient and burn fat as the primary fuel source, the metaphor is transferable.
“There is a way to transform the most unfathomable challenge into a repeatable series of manageable journeys. We can adapt to anything if we make the right demands on ourselves. The key is to do this incrementally—little by little. In order to make the extraordinary a reality, you must start with a plan designed to get you to your goals one step at a time.”
While there is, in fact, an ‘end’ target, everything is broken down into workable bits. It reminds me of filling a jar using a funnel. Pouring too fast overflows the channel, but done at the correct pace it all works out.
Life has, at times, been rather like this for me. In fact, there was a period in my life where one day at a time was far too big to manage, not even one hour or one minute at a time was manageable: one breath at a time was the maximum bite size without overloading the system.
I’m much more conscious now of breaking down tasks into incrementally digestible portions. Each chunk–or step–is part of the aim to reach the goal. But I’m also rather aware that it’s in the journey that real learning, joy, and discovery happen. “Be here now.”
There’s an interesting balance between having a plan while also swimming in the unknown. It can be scary, but it usually is the most rewarding. So it is with the invitation that the Universe has been asking me to investigate. I’ve refused, shunned it as overly ambitious, even crazy, and, well, just not for me. However, with my new focus on Longevity, the challenge became appealing.
I’m now ready to announce that my new goal is to complete an Ultraman race: 515 km (320 miles). Whaaat? Yup. I vacillate between being excited about the adventure and being frightened by it. But it’s all just one step, then another step–a slow burn journey.
BTW, an Ultraman is done over three days with a twelve-hour completion restriction for each day.
Day 1: Swim 10 km (6.2 miles), followed by 145 km (90 miles) of cycling
Day 2: Bike 276 km (171.4 miles)
Day 3: Celebrate the first two days by running a double-marathon, 84km (52.4 miles)