Ironman Legend Mark Allen: Creating the Right Mindset Before the Big Race

ironman-triathlon-mark-allen-and-dave-scott-1989Triathlon Psychology and Mental Toughness

The Ironman World Championship. Every year it happens on the second Saturday in October in Kona, Hawaii.

It’s been exactly 25 years since the most dramatic race so far took place. A duel lasting 8 hours 9 minutes and fourteen seconds between Mark Allen and Dave Scott.

We’re honored to have that day’s victor with us on the show. That’s Mark Allen. He’s now a coach, a mentor and guide in the fields of triathlon, endurance sports in general and in the art of living. He’s also recently produced an inspiring book called The Art of Competition – a series of 90 quotations illustrated with stunning scenes of nature.
Before we jump into the interview, it’s worth highlighting some of Mark’s many accomplishments: Winning the Ironman World Championships the six years in a row he competed; 10 victories in the ITU Olympic Distance World Championships. And how about this? He was named  “The Greatest Endurance Athlete Of All Time” in a worldwide poll conducted by ESPN in 2012.

Mark’s website is:” and the website for the book is:

“Desire and letting go – Two paradoxically essential ingredient for victory.” – Mark Allen
Excerpts from the interview and the July 2014 article in Outside Magazine:

…I had jealousy and self-pity when Dave Scott kept winning and I couldn’t. We all have to find a way to move beyond those things…
…We were side by side for eight hours. It had never happened before, and it hasn’t happened since. It was a defining moment for me. I made the switch to finally having the race I wanted to have. It was the first time I really integrated the soul-body concept. I really embraced how the internal space dictates what is going on outside of you…

…Dave was surging at the half marathon point. I remember looking around at the black lava surrounding us, and thinking that it was the most amazing creation nature could make. It was like a cloud had lifted. I stopped thinking about everything and became a vehicle for performance to take place. I think almost all great athletic performances happen when you are in that space…

…I threw off my heart rate monitor. It would tell me if I was running out of gas, and I didn’t want to know that…

With (Thomas) Hellriegel (in 1995), I was racing a guy who’d passed me on the bike and I didn’t see again for hours. It was very hard mentally to keep going and say this is something that could turn around.

…There are a lot of guys with better numbers. But the numbers in the logbook don’t necessarily tell what you will do in competition. I discovered how to persevere in difficult moments. When you just want to quit, you have to surrender to the moment, and find a calm…

…I believe in getting fit in a way that is healthy instead of burning yourself out. I tell a lot of Ironman stories because it brings to life that even champions struggle…

Key topics: Volume versus quality; Should the top competitors resign themselves to an injury every 12-18 months? Is training more about recovery now; and injury repair? Ironman triathlon; Dave Scott, Mark Allen Ironman, triathlon, mental toughness, resilience, over-training, recovery

Outside Magazine interview: