Total­ing 140.6 miles, the Iron­man Race is one of the biggest accom­plish­ments an endurance ath­lete can com­plete. Split between 2.4 miles of swim­ming, 112 miles of bik­ing, and a full marathon of run­ning (26.2 miles), the Iron­man isn’t exact­ly an event you can just step off the couch and expect to crush. But instead of let­ting those daunt­ing num­bers scare you away from the start­ing line, take some advice from expe­ri­enced ath­letes that have gone the dis­tance and use their words of inspi­ra­tion to set the goals you need to accom­plish this buck­et list endurance event. Here are 5 dif­fer­ent Iron­men and women shar­ing exact­ly why it takes to tack­le the Ironman.


The Clymb: Can any­one run an Iron­man race?

Beto Navar­ro: Absolute­ly! You will hear sto­ries of peo­ple fight­ing can­cer, hav­ing organs trans­plant, being hand­i­capped with no leg or arms… if these peo­ple can do it, why can’t you? That was my moti­va­tion to start train­ing for one.

Mike Tar­rol­ly: I’ve com­plet­ed Iron­man Wis­con­sin and Louisville, both after the age of 50, and I have seen many sto­ries of peo­ple over­com­ing remark­able chal­lenges to fin­ish Iron­man, so I would say yes, any­one can do it.

The Clymb: What’s the hard­est part about Iron­man training?

Monique McDo­nough: The hard­est part for us, hon­est­ly, is the long bike rides. The last sac­ri­fice that Greg and I want­ed to make was spend­ing all day Sat­ur­day on our bikes, while miss­ing pre­cious time with our girls and pay­ing for a babysit­ter. We both have flex­i­ble jobs,) so we were able to take a fair num­ber of Fri­days off from work so that we could get in our miles. We found a chal­leng­ing bik­ing route while prepar­ing for IM Lake Placid last year that would enable us to drop the kids at school at 8 am, dri­ve out to our launch point, ride 90–100 miles, and then jump back in the car and pick up the kids by 6 pm. It’s a long day, but it works for us.

The Clymb: What does your typ­i­cal week­ly work­out reg­i­men look like in prepar­ing for the race?

Beto Navar­ro: Train­ing for an Iron­man demands a lot of dis­ci­pline. You have to be aware that there are going to be days that you will be train­ing for around 9 hours. You have to pre­pare not only phys­i­cal­ly but men­tal­ly… but you will learn a lot from your­self dur­ing train­ing. The most dif­fi­cult part is the train­ing, once it is done… the only thing miss­ing is to cross the fin­ish line on race day.

Greg Kolodziejzyk: A typ­i­cal week max­es out at about 30 hours of train­ing. This includes one or two long rides of around 8 hours with a brick run of 1 hour, one long run for 3 hours, one long swim for 2 hours, then 3 more short­er swims dur­ing each week, one recov­er (easy) run day, and one mile inter­val speed work day.  I’m on the bike almost every day with one inter­val ses­sion each week using a watts meter.

The Clymb: If you can put it into words, what is the dri­ving force behind your Iron­man achievements?

Greg McDo­nough: Tru­ly, my Iron­man achieve­ments are about the jour­ney and not so much about the race. Do not get me wrong, I love race day. It is a time that is unlike any oth­er in my life. But I look at the train­ing while bal­anc­ing with work/life as the dif­fi­cult part of the achieve­ment. Both Monique and I also believe we are set­ting the right exam­ples for our chil­dren (6 y/o and 2 y/o). They see us work­ing out in the morn­ing, see us try­ing to eat right and going to bed ear­ly, and expe­ri­ence race week­end. In fact, our old­est con­tin­ues to ask when she will be able to race with us. We want them to know that any­thing is pos­si­ble if you plan, pre­pare, and ded­i­cate your­self to your goals.

Mike Tar­rol­ly: I’ve writ­ten about 600 posts on my web­site and most relate to this ques­tion in some way. What drove me ini­tial­ly was the “I was get­ting fat and lazy” cou­pled with the “life is short” adage and I want­ed to try some­thing that seemed way out of my realm of pos­si­bil­i­ty. Now what dri­ves me is the elu­sive quest of find­ing the per­fect bal­ance of health, hap­pi­ness, and accomplishment.

Monique McDo­nough: That’s a com­pli­cat­ed ques­tion, and every­one that I know has a dif­fer­ent answer. Though it’s the same race, we all get there, and con­tin­ue to come back to Iron­man for dif­fer­ent rea­sons. For me, ini­tial­ly, it was about prov­ing to myself that I could tack­le any­thing I want­ed. The con­sum­mate “over-achiev­er”, it was about con­quer­ing some­thing that seemed impos­si­ble, espe­cial­ly since I nev­er con­sid­ered myself to be an ath­lete. Now, 11 years, 5 IM races and 2 kids lat­er, it’s about prov­ing to myself—and my children—that you can do any­thing you set out to achieve. And, to be per­fect­ly hon­est, the feel­ing of cross­ing of that fin­ish line after months of com­mit­ment and sac­ri­fice. Well, there’s just noth­ing like it.


Beto Navarro
Beto Navar­ro

Beto Navar­ro
Orig­i­nal­ly from Ecuador, Beto Navar­ro made the tran­si­tion to Mia­mi and in the process of work­ing mul­ti­ple jobs, attend­ing col­lege, and find­ing a mean­ing­ful job, Beto found him­self los­ing sight of the ath­let­ic man he once was. It was in 2006, prompt­ed by a New Year’s res­o­lu­tion, when Beto joined a gym to regain some of his lost fitness…and the rest is his­to­ry for this now mul­ti­ple-Iron­man fin­ish­er. Beto has doc­u­ment­ed his jour­ney from that first moment he strug­gled on a 10 minute tread­mill rou­tine to the moment he crossed the fin­ish line at the Iron­man World Cham­pi­onship in Kona, Hawaii.
Mike Tar­rol­ly

Mike Tar­rol­ly
While in his 40’s, Mike Tar­rol­ly found him­self falling down a slip­pery slope filled with “a lot of time at the local bar and way too much piz­za.” So, like a true cham­pi­on, Mike decid­ed to do some­thing about it, and after struggling/tackling his first 5K, the road to both of his Ironman’s (Wis­con­sin & Louisville) was marked by hard work and deter­mi­na­tion. Mike has doc­u­ment­ed his jour­ney, pro­vid­ing more than race work­outs and nutri­tion tips, but also insights from train­ing and advice on how to fol­low your dreams to the fin­ish line.

Greg & Monique McDo­nough + Kids

Monique (Means) McDo­nough & Greg McDonough
It might be pos­si­ble that Monique (Means) and Greg McDo­nough nev­er sleep. That’s because atop of two full-time career jobs, and two chil­dren to spend qual­i­ty time with, this dynam­ic duo of par­ents have also found the time to sneak in some Iron­man train­ing and com­pete in some of the biggest races. Greg has tack­led the Lake Placid Iron­man and Means has accom­plished an impres­sive 5 Iron­mans includ­ing Lake Placid (twice), Mary­land, Brazil, and Wis­con­sin. Their web­site doc­u­ments many of these out­stand­ing events and also gives guid­ance and inspi­ra­tion to oth­er ath­letes look­ing to bal­ance work, life, and fam­i­ly into an entire­ly too short 24-hour day.
Greg Kolodziejzyk

Greg Kolodziejzyk
Greg Kolodziejzyk is part human, part world-record set­ting robot, and he has the acco­lades to prove it. On top of com­plet­ing an aston­ish­ing 12 Iron­man Races (includ­ing Cana­da, Flori­da, Ari­zona, Utah, and the World Cham­pi­onships in Kona to name a few), Greg also holds the world records for longest dis­tance trav­eled by human pow­er on both water and land (he ped­aled 647 miles in 24 hours!). Greg is all about inspir­ing peo­ple to achieve their max­i­mum poten­tial, and he’s not back­ing down any­time soon, either—his next plan is human-pow­ered air travel!