Think like an Ironman

Posted on: January 31, 2013

The Ironman Triathlon is the ultimate physical challenge.  To be crowned an Ironman (or woman!) athletes must complete a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile marathon.  To most people this challenge sounds crazy and painful.  It certainly requires a lot of hard work, dedication and sacrifice. 

As a student at JIU, you are not unlike the Ironman Champion.  Chances are you may have even heard a “you’re crazy” or “that sounds like a lot of hard work” when you tell people you are working towards your degree.  You may feel like giving up along the way too.  No one said it would be easy!  When you feel discouraged, think of yourself as an Ironman in training.  Just as athletes have highs and lows in their training, everyone goes through peaks and troughs, good points and bad in their quest for their degree.  So how do the athletes overcome these tough days?  According to four-time Ironman Champion Chrissie Wellington, it’s all about mental fortitude.   

According to Wellington: “sporting success rests, in part, with having the mental fortitude necessary to overcome our fears, pain and discomfort…We can all train our brains to be as strong as our bodies. It sounds simple, but it's so easy to forget. If we let our head drop, our heart drops with it. Keep your head up, and your body is capable of amazing feats.”

This concept is true for any challenge, be it completing a triathlon or earning your degree.   Here are a few of Chrissie Wellington’s keys to success.  The following tips have helped her become a multi-time Ironman Champion, and they can help you become a champion in your educational quest as well.

“Have a mantra and/or a special song to repeat”

A mantra or inspirational song can help you get through the tough times.  It can be as simple as “I can do it” or your favorite inspirational quote. Write it down in your notebook or at your desk where you will see it often.  Whatever your mantra, read it and repeat it when you need that extra boost of self-assurance.

“Practice visualization”

While studying, exercising or cooking dinner, this is the simple act of closing your eyes and picturing success. Relax your mind and visualize completing your course work, daily tasks and degree. Draw on these images throughout your educational journey, and especially if you are feeling any doubts.

“Break the race up into smaller, more manageable segments”

Your educational journey is much like a marathon.  Just as 26.2 miles seems quite daunting, so does completing an entire degree.  Instead, think of your degree in terms of much smaller goals.  Break up your studies into easily attainable tasks such as studying for 30 minutes every night or getting an “A” in your course this month.  Little by little you’ll chip away at that degree and suddenly the daunting task will be finished!

“Get people to support you”

Much as athletes thrive on cheering fans on the sidelines, you need cheerleaders too.  Let your friends and family know how important your degree is to you and ask them to be your own private fan club. 

To read Chrissie Wellington’s original article click here: