You Say You Can’t But I Say You Can

Just about everyday I get asked the question of how do you do what you do?  I ask them initially what they are talking about because I don’t consider myself special and certainly don’t have some super human powers.  I wake up early to train because I want to be home in the evening with my family.  I plan out my day/week to maximize each and every minute so that I don’t feel like I wasted any part of my life.  I live life without regrets so thinking that you could have, should have, would have BUT is just not in my DNA.

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you know that I have flatted out on long bike rides only to get picked up by my wife, repack my car and continue that ride.  I have also ridden on a flat for 6 miles to finish and follow that up with a 40 minute run.  Why do I do that?  Because I don’t want to waste a moment or have regrets.

As the conversation continues to develop I get to the crux of the matter and that is typically the person I am speaking with has all their excuses lined up.  For example, I was speaking to a person about my couch potato to marathon program (Marathon Makeover) and was asked time/place/cost.  I told him we start at 6a-630a in the Winter and Fall but at 5a in the summer as it can reach 105* here in Texas.  First response:  Oh that’s too early.  We meet in Irving, which is about a 15 minute drive from where I live.  Second response:  Oh that’s far.  The program this year was $300 for 40 weeks of training plus other items.  Third response:  Hmmm, that is expensive.

I am getting tired of these excuses and responses.  In the past I used to say that when you are ready we will be waiting.  The truth of the matter is they will never be ready because of these excuses.  The excuses have to stop and action has to take place.  My response to these excuses has become:  It might be early and far and costly but compared to the alternative of leaving your family forever, or paying for diabetes care or not being able to ever leave your house this is actually a drop in the bucket.

Couch potatoes to marathoners is one thing, becoming a triathlete is another but to each and every one of you I say You Can Do It.  I say it’s time to step up your game and get moving.  I say that today is the the day you start and that tomorrow is the day for the next workout.  I have close to 10 participants in my marathon program, but now you are saying that a marathon is one thing, but a triathlon is another.


To that I comment I present to you pieces of Susan Lacke’s article on No Meat Athlete titled from Couch Potato to Ironman:


Anyone can do an Ironman

After the Ironman, I wrote a post which was titled with the one statement about Ironman I firmly believe: “Anyone Can Do an Ironman.”

If you sit on the sidelines of an Ironman finisher’s chute long enough, you’ll believe this statement, too. There’s such a wide cross-section of Ironman triathletes, from chiseled studs to 80 year-old nuns. After sitting at enough finish chutes, I decided I didn’t want to be a spectator anymore. I wanted to know what it was like to be on the other side.

The next time I saw an Ironman finisher’s chute, I was running down it.

When I made that resolution to run my first 5K, I had no idea I’d complete an Ironman 20 months later. I was a couch potato who was trying to quit smoking (again). Ironman triathlons were something crazy people did, and though I was happy to spectate with a beer in my hand, I never saw myself as one of those people.

Besides, training for a 5K was hard enough. Training to run 3.1 miles was difficult and time-consuming.

Covering 140.6? No freakin’ way.

The 9 things that helped me do it

It was a series of bold choices, hasty mistakes, happy accidents, and – finally – focused planning which took me from couch potato to Ironman in just 20 months.

Key #1: Start small

For those people who think “I’d like to do that someday,” don’t make Ironman your first goal. Start small, like with running a 5K, and then gradually build from there.

Key #2: Commit

If you’re thinking about doing it, stop.

Plenty of people think. They have dreams and ambitions and goals, and they’re beautiful… but you need to become a person who stops thinking and starts doing.

Key #3: Find those who know

No one expects you to be an expert in triathlon before beginning your training for Ironman. But what is expected is that you’ll be willing to seek out those experts.

Key #4: Build gradually

Focus on the next race, weeks away, not on the Ironman months away.

Key #5: Make mistakes

You will make mistakes. Lots of them. Too many to count.

Anyone who says they didn’t make at least one mistake while training for an Ironman is a liar. Mistakes happen. It’s the people who are willing to admit and learn from those mistakes who truly succeed in moving past them.

Key #6: Balance, not sacrifice

Triathletes, by nature, are exaggerators. They’ll look at a short rolling course and declare it mountainous. They’ll loudly complain that a bad race was not their fault – it was always something (or someone) else. They’ll brag about sun-up to sun-down workouts and ravenous buffets to refuel. They’ll tell you they spend more time with their bikes than with their spouses.

Such declarations are extreme. (Okay, not the ravenous buffets. That part is actually true.)

Key #7: Have a support system

Having people to support you goes hand-in-hand with finding balance. A support system will know when to say “Quit being a baby!” and when to say “Oh, you poor baby!” They’ll understand why you fall asleep during the afternoon matinee, and will happily give up their French fries when you ask, “Are you gonna eat all that?” They’ll smile when you have a good training day, and give you a hug when you have a bad one.

And when you finally do run down that finisher’s chute, they will cheer louder than anyone there. In a way, it’s their big day, too!

Key #8: Blinders on

I hate the word “impossible.” Hate it, hate it, hate it.

Anyone who does an Ironman needs to learn to hate that word, too. You’ll hear it a lot during your training, and it’ll sneak into your thoughts now and then, after a bad run or when you panic during your first open-water swim start.

“Impossible” is your mind’s way of tricking your body into quitting. “Impossible” is what you say when you’re too scared to keep trying. “Impossible” is the easy way out when you begin to doubt yourself.

Fear and self-doubt can be powerful, but the only way to overcome them is to face them head-on.

I won’t lie: I had a lot of “oh, <bleep>” moments, especially in the days before the race. But I also had a lot of really good people who were able to talk me down before I gave up altogether (see #7, above).

Key #9: Enjoy it

Most people sign up for one Ironman, finish it, and then rack their bike in the garage, never to be ridden again.

I’m not that person. I love this sport, and have continued to train and race since last year’s Ironman. If there’s one thing I learned in going from couch potato to Ironman in 20 months, it’s that 20 months can change a lot.

And I enjoyed every single second of it. I still do.

I don’t mean to oversimplify the sport. If I’ve given you that impression, I apologize.

It’s work. It’s dedication and commitment and perseverance. But it’s still fun. I wouldn’t do this sport if it wasn’t. Race day is one day, the culmination of many days of training, each of them bringing their own little victories and joys.

Is it for you?

Many people train for much longer than 20 months before even thinking about registering for their first Ironman. My path just seemed to be a little shorter. It’s not the path for everyone, but it worked for me.

I still stand by my assertion that anyone can do an Ironman. It’s just that most people won’t. Many are content to let it be a fantasy, always on the “maybe someday” list; or worse, they’ll focus on all the reasons why they won’t instead of all the reasons why they can. They stand on the sidelines of the finisher’s chute, watching but never acting.

Don’t get me wrong — the sidelines are pretty cool.

But actually being in the finisher’s chute?

You’ll never understand what it’s like until you find out for yourself.


I don’t know what you are thinking right now but I can tell you what you should be thinking.  What should be on the tip of your tongue right now is: I can do an Ironman.  You should not be thinking of what time or how fast you can do it in.  You should only be thinking that you can.
I believe in you to accomplish your dreams.  I believe in you to set a goal that seems unattainable but with hard work and perseverance comes into light.  I believe in you to do it.
With that as way of background:  You Say You Can’t But I Say You Can.
Let me wrap this up by thanking Susan for allowing me to place portions of her article in my blog.  I have been following Susan ever since Mandy posted a link to an article written by Susan.  If you don’t follow her I don’t know why not.  Humor and Reality all rolled into one.  An Ironman who is compassionate and sensitive yet able to kick you in the pants to get you going at the same time.  The kind of person you want on your side…..stop wasting time and go follow her then sign up for a marathon or an Ironman.
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  1. Jim says:

    I think there are some definite physical traits that help people like marathoners & ironmen … your body has to be able to withstand the punishment if you are going to be successful. But I couldn’t agree more about excuses!!! I think what sets positive people like you apart is not only your ability – but also your outlook & positivity. So many people look for an easy way out … “I have a little cold today”, “I ate really poorly yesterday”, “I’m too busy to workout” … EVERYONE has an excuse if they let it become one. It’s a matter of priorities and not looking for any excuse to quit.

    The more races I run, I think you’re right about “anyone can do it”. Just when I start thinking “Wow, I’m really getting fast and I must be in great shape” … I’m passed by an overweight 50 year old or something. These folks come in all shapes and sizes. It’s just a matter of how bad you want it.
    Jim recently posted..Why Do You .. Ah-Ah Push It?My Profile

  2. Christie says:

    I really like Key #2: Commit. ‘Dreamers’ leave everything up to fate and chance, resulting to an easy cop-out and never obtaining their desires. Commitment takes some balls! Committing allows you to make your own fate.

    What are your thoughts on an appropriate time from to train for an Ironman?
    Christie recently posted..Tapering ReviewMy Profile

    • CTER says:

      I would say a year is what you need for training for an Ironman. You need to do other races to get the feel for it and you can include those races as part of your training. I will have done my first HIM in April 2011 and first full in May 2012. Between the two I will have raced 2 HIMs plus a number of Olys.

      Prior to the first HIM I raced one oly and a number of sprints.

  3. GREAT article and motivating post. I know I have an IM in my future and not for one minute have I doubted I can do it. I think anyone who has heart and is willing to put in the time can do it. But you have to really want it because the time sacrifice which will impact family, social circles, etc is a big one. Also you need to have that FIRE that you, Jason, have.
    Shut Up and Run recently posted..A World Record Is Not What It Used To BeMy Profile

  4. Jen says:

    Thank you – this was absolutely awesome. The whole thing. I needed this shot of inspiration today in the worst way! Great post.
    Jen recently posted..From Slump to Streak – and the winner of the giveaway is announced!My Profile

  5. BDD says:

    I am REALLY trying to ignore that I just read you rode Diablo for 6 miles on a flat and wont lecture you. Just remember, bikes talk and you already have a rep for riding dirty

    It all starts with commitment, not a goal, the goal is the easy part, to commit is the hard part
    BDD recently posted..The Pukie AwardMy Profile

  6. Morgan says:

    This post rocks my socks! Timely too as my photo challenge yesterday was “Something that has made a big impact in your life” I took a shot of my first marathon medal because once upon a time I thought that was impossible and training for/running it showed me that NOTHING is impossible. You just have to believe to achieve. (And train your ass off.) :)
    Morgan recently posted..Tuesday Trial: YMX Product Review and Giveaway!My Profile

  7. And you still have a rim??

    It is tough, but don’t become obsessed with it either. That’s what creates the “one and done” crowd or leads to hobby ending injuries….. and I stress the word “hobby”, which means “to have fun” (my dictionary definition)
    OneHourIronman recently posted..KONA RAMP UPMy Profile

  8. can i shake your hand for this post??
    for SOOOO long i let excuses rule WHY i did not take control of my health.

    i did not have time to workout (ummm but i had time to sit around and watch tv?)
    i was too tired in the morning to exercise (watching too much tv can be exhausting!)
    blah blah blah

    if it is something you want to do you find time, make time to do it (like getting up at the crack of dawn to ride/run/swim/etc.)
    MilesMusclesMom recently posted..Fun Foto FridayMy Profile

    • CTER says:

      Oh the excuses are what drive me nuts and again we are not super human. We have family and friends, work, children, etc just like them and yet waking up at 3am to get it done and feel great and have tons of energy throughout the day is what we strive for.

  9. Hi, my name is Patrick from People for the Ethical Treatment of Bicycles and the next time I see you I am going to spray an entire cartridge of compressed air on you in protest of you riding on a flat for 6 miles.

    Susan’s article is awesome, really awesome in fact. Spot on and relevant to all.

    Patrick Mahoney recently posted..How Not To Age OutMy Profile

    • CTER says:

      I know, I know. I did not want to do it, but this was the 2nd time in 4 weeks I flatted on this ride and I was pissed and just needed that last little bit to be over with. Frustration is no excuse but I’m using it.

  10. marlene says:

    Very inspiring! When I start to think it might be impossible, I remind myself what I used to think of the marathon when I trained to run 5K for the first time.
    marlene recently posted..Ironman 70.3 Syracuse Relay Race ReportMy Profile

  11. Natasha says:

    Loved it! Gonna share this with a few ppl that I have had similar conversations with!
    Natasha recently posted.."Scary" ExercisesMy Profile

  12. Jeff Irvin says:

    Dude, you had me up until you rode six miles on your rim. Make sure you take that rim apart and check it out. Doing stuff like that will damage a rim and cause even more flats ….

    The excuse crowd sucks, they are all around us and a lot of us actually used to be part of that crowd and we sucked then too. Good on you for pushing back because instead of pacification by all the enablers of our pussified society the excuse crowd needs a kick in the butt to become part of the active crowd.
    Jeff Irvin recently posted..Rev3 Cedar Point Half Rev Race ReportMy Profile

    • CTER says:

      Right to the LBS after the run to have them check the rim, and had them put on a new tire since this was the 2nd flat in about 4 weeks. They were to different tires (front and back) but to be safe I wanted them to put it on b/c I might have not been putting it on correctly.

  13. Jeannie says:

    Oh yes I believe it too! I will get there some day when I have a bit more time to get the quality training in without sacrificing family needs.
    Jeannie recently posted..Mud and Chocolate Race ReportMy Profile

  14. KRISTIN says:

    great post!! Its so right that I’ve been there a few times, but pick myself back up and find the reasons I want to do this again and again!!!

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