An Unlikely Breakthrough Performance at Muncie

An Unlikely Breakthrough Performance at Muncie

by Coach Jim

One of my heroes from history, Winston Churchill, had a quote during the Battle of Britain that I have always tried to emulate. That quote says, “Never, never, never give up.” I had no idea to what degree I was going to be tested at Muncie with that mantra.

We all have struggles to overcome; in our life, in our training, and in our racing. However, I feel the difference in overcoming those struggles, and really the difference in how we live our lives, lies in how we react to these struggles. Do we let them beat us down or do we overcome them and adapt to rise above and keep pushing forward living our lives to the fullest?

While I won’t go into any detail on the struggles I personally faced leading up to Muncie 70.3, suffice it to say, at least in my mind, they were significant enough to cause doubts within me about starting that race right up to minutes before getting into the water. And quite honestly those details have no bearing here because we all face doubts in our life every single day and sometimes they seem insurmountable to us and this story is meant to inspire you to overcome yours no matter what they are.

The other part of this story is to bring some conscious thought to the mental side of life, training, and racing and mentally training ourselves for when those times in life try to beat us down. We need to prepare our minds so that when things get tough we’re as prepared as we can be to push through to the other side. Those days when you just don’t feel like training or you don’t feel like racing, or more importantly, when you’re in the middle of a race and you just want to quit. This is when that mental side of triathlon will really pay dividends. That’s when a mantra like “Never, never, never give up” or whatever motivates you to keep going comes in handy. Have it in your hip pocket for when those times get tough and you just don’t think you can take one more step or any more pain. It’ll get you through to the finish. Use it in training so it becomes second nature when you race. Another quote I try and live up to is

“Under pressure you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training. That’s why we train so hard.”
— Navy Seal

I speak from an experience decades ago that giving up will hurt much more than the pain you’ll experience for the short term and the memory will stick with you for long after.

Had I let all those struggles deter me from starting the Muncie 70.3 race I wouldn’t have experienced a PR at that distance, I wouldn’t have experienced the best run time of my triathlon career at that distance, and I wouldn’t have had the pleasure to have the best finish experience to date. To say I had a breakthrough day at Muncie would be an understatement. What I received was a much higher level of consciousness on the importance of a mantra and mental preparedness.

While every part of my being that day was saying quit, it’ll be ok, you don’t feel good, you had some missteps in getting prepared, you forgot this or that, you have reasons for not starting, this race is snake bit, I actually said out loud to myself, “IT’LL BE OK!!!”

Well, from past experience I knew it wouldn’t be ok and it wasn’t ok and I realized that before I went into the water. I said do what you can today, today is not about the podium, it’s not about first place, and it’s not about beating other racers, it’s about having the best race you can today. Most of you at one time or another have heard me say, “I’m going to take what the day gives me and do the best I can on that day and be happy with the outcome.” That day at the Ironman Muncie 70.3 I lived up to my creed and I’m a better person, triathlete, coach for it. I raced to experience the thrill of racing and took what the day gave me.

Jim Riga is the Director of ET West based in Phoenix, AZ.  He is a Certified USA Triathlon Coach and RRCA Certified Run Coach. As leaders in the endurance services industry, Coach Jim and the Experience Triathlon team help athletes of all ages and abilities achieve success in training, racing and life. Learn more about Coach Jim and Experience Triathlon at

Share this post