The Link between the Ironman Race and Entrepreneurship

The Link between the Ironman Race and Entrepreneurship

Have you ever wondered why so many entrepreneurs compete in the Ironman race? Inc recently commented that there is a strong probability that 10% of the Inc 500 list is comprised of Ironman finishers. 


Ironman even has a race dedicated for entrepreneurs and CEOs: The Ironman Executive Challenge, otherwise known as EC. Another company runs an additional race, the CEO Ironman Challenge. 


Here are my insights as to why so many entrepreneurs and business leaders compete in one of the world’s most challenging athletic events.


Dream Big 


To become an Ironman, you have to think big. Really big. A marathon in itself is a huge achievement. Adding in the Ironman swim and bike course? That’s lethal. 


Taking a jump from security and a stable job to become an entrepreneur requires immense self belief and an idealistic mindset that anything is possible. 


With both the Ironman and starting a company, you just need to dive in and say yes. 


The Challenge


The race challenges everything in you: mind, body, willpower. 


Entrepreneurs want to achieve the absolute best outcome with their companies and most want to maximize their business. A large intrinsic drive is required to take on massive challenges like this. 


Focus and Sacrifice


Training for the Ironman took over my life. I would spend all of Sunday and half of Saturday training. My week days had to be highly organized to get a workout in but this also meant rarely socializing and going out. My life was on hold until the race. 


Entrepreneurship requires working long hours, often on weekends, and time spent away from family, friends, and beloved hobbies. The sacrifice and trade off is real. 


And with Ironman training, as with business, if you are unfocused, you will lose. You need to be laser focused during the race on your pace, form, and nutrition. 


Overcome Your Limitations


We all believe we have limitations. The Ironman and entrepreneurship set to break these limitations and force you to keep going until it nearly brings you to your knees. 


In Ironman training and racing, limitations are felt hard - physically, mentally, and emotionally. But you push through and achieve something which you didn’t believe possible beforehand, whether it be running an extra ten miles, swimming in rough waters most wouldn’t touch, or completing the entire race. Your mind limits you.


The Ironman and entrepreneurship conquer this preconceived notion. 


Do Not Quit 


With a half marathon to go, my body was on fire. The swim had destroyed my upper body and my lower body was raw from the cycling and running. I wanted to quit. I wanted to cheat. I just wanted it to end. 


I repeated out loud, “Do not quit”, “Do not quit”, “Do not quit”. I repeated my mantra throughout the next thirteen miles. I wouldn’t let myself quit. 


In business and in Ironman, you cannot let yourself quit. 


You can run, walk, or crawl. 


But whatever you do, do not quit.