Eight Lessons from an Ultra-Athlete Rob Gray

4 comentarios

Fantastic article! Fantastic insight into some mental aspects of his approach to training that are super helpful and applicable to other ‘extreme’ sports such as my sport of freediving. I also love the Blue Magic Mirror as my go-to pair! Thanks for sharing this content!

Katie Kleinwachter 24 febrero, 2023

Really a great read & it sure got me motivated .
Thank you 🙏

Kathy Heidebrecht 24 febrero, 2023

You are so inspiring!! I love these 8 tips and since I am a Type A
they are most helpful!! It’s a process for me…

Judee Biggles 24 febrero, 2023

Great article. As former Ironman athlete I can recognize characteristics and intensity in this athlete that are unique to triathletes as a whole. Love the balance this guy has struck which I am sure makes his racing and the rest of his world a more rewarding and fuller experience.

Angie Testerman 24 febrero, 2023

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You might have heard of an Ironman, but have you heard of an Ultraman? An Ultraman is a three day triathlon that covers 320 miles (515 km). Athletes complete a 6.2 mile (10 km) open water swim and a 90 mile (145km) bike on day one; 171 mile (276km) bike on day two; and, a 54.4 (84 km) run on the third day. It takes a special kind of human to complete such a demanding, enduring physical feat and one of those humans is Rob Gray. Former Ultraman World Champion and multiple podium finisher—who works for Google and also has a young family— Gray shares eight lessons he has learned from his experience training, racing, failing, and winning the world’s longest endurance triathlon.

1. Be Disciplined, Not Rigid

“People assume I’m super disciplined and I’m not. In my gym, I have stuff lying everywhere. When you have so many things to do, there is an order of importance.” Gray says the cost of time is a huge factor in his life so, things like keeping his home gym neat and tidy just aren’t a priority. As a Google team manager, a partner, father, and an ultra athlete, time is always in short supply. “The secret is not to be too rigid with what training was planned. I would get very stressed if I had to stick to it religiously. If I have to go do something with the kids, I just don’t do a training session. As long as you’re flexible, I catch up with it some other way. That flexible approach has kept me sane.”

2. Seek to Understand, Not Control

I don’t feel the need to control. I feel the need to really understand. I want to understand how things work—exactly how they work” Gray says. Whether it’s athletic performance or working with his team at Google developing applications, Gray says his focus on performance is driven by curiosity. “In my early days of Ironman, I was experimenting with nutrition and I discovered accidentally I could take more nutrition than the experts said you could take,” Gray says. Since the store bought product he liked the most was so expensive, he had decided to make his own. “On a training ride I miscalculated the amount. I was planning on taking 400 calories per hour, which was the limit of the commercial product and any more than that I would get stomach cramps or GI issues according to the experts. I took 700 calories an hour accidentally and I felt great. Just the simplicity of the ingredients and the specific quantities I

put in made quite a big difference to performance.” Making plans, testing theories, and honing in on details isn’t about controlling everything to have the perfect race, it’s about understanding how things work to achieve the best performance.

3. The Details Matter

Seeking to understand at such a detailed level “triggered a very detailed-oriented approach to everything.” Gray plans his training months out from an event, his power output on the bike, pace on the swim, and his nutrition down to the milligram for race day. The details are a culmination of years of training and race experience and it’s one reason why Gray chooses THEMAGIC5 custom goggles. His preferred pair for outdoor swimming is the Blue Magic Mirror Gold. His biggest lesson in the details? He once misread a nutrition label and mistook grams for milligrams. He ingested so much sodium that he gained 15lbs of water and lost some of his vision. “I literally lost sleep about it,” Gray says. “I’m not over it. But I’ve moved on.” Having the details dialed in means less avoidable mistakes and that can add up to a win on race day.

4. Swimming is Therapy

Gray is as busy as they come and swimming has been a mental refuge. “It’s like sensory deprivation. You’re in the water and you have nothing to distract you. I do a lot of thinking in the pool. When you’re running or biking, there’s stuff to look at and things to concentrate on.” Gray says it’s not only being in a different, less distracting environment, but it’s also the physical practice of swimming that helps his mind. “Because you have to breathe in a rhythmic way, it forces you into a relaxed start, even if you’re swimming hard. Even after the hardest swims, I feel refreshed,” Gray says.

5. The Motivating Myth of Perfection

Gray has competed in Ultraman since 2016 and he says what keeps him motivated is the pursuit of the perfect race. However, he also says the perfect race doesn’t exist. “I think you can get pretty close,” Gray says. “Even if everything went smoothly, probably part of me would

be disappointed; I would think I didn’t challenge myself enough. So something always has to go wrong.” Whether it’s a nutrition mistake, a strategic error, or racing a new competition, Gray says each year “there is always something to improve.” Perfection is a myth but it can be a great motivator.

6. The Thirty Second Survival Rule

An Ultraman covers 320 miles (515km) over three days across the disciplines of swimming, cycling, and running. Fatigue is inevitable but Gray says that isn’t the time to think about the goal of winning or even finishing. “Every race there is a patch where I’m exhausted. I just take it thirty-seconds by thirty-seconds and eventually you’ll get out it. That’s all I’m thinking. I’m not thinking ‘big picture’; I’m not thinking that I want to win or about the competition or this being a realization of my potential, it’s just ‘survive the next 30 seconds’.” Gray says focusing on just the next step has helped him get through times when he “felt like he was going to die” during a race and those experiences have helped him outside of sport as well. “It’s a good life lesson because life’s like that as well. You have bad patches in life and if you can just get through that without thinking long term, you push through and the bad eventually goes away and the good times come back.”

7. Stay Calm and Keep Perspective

Ultraman might be an incredible mental feat but Gray says he always remains calm because he can keep perspective. “Even if something really bad happens, I’m able to think about it quite rationally and calmly,” Gray says. His ability to stay calm under pressure comes from his experiences growing up white water kayaking and rock climbing in his native South Africa. “In both sports, you have moments where if a mistake was made you could die. If you have those experiences—being on a cliff with a 700 foot drop with a storm coming in— it puts other experiences in perspective. Me being five minutes behind in a race isn’t that big of a deal.”

8. Relationships Over Results

Before the pandemic, Gray says he would prioritize training on the weekends but now he doesn’t think twice about putting training aside for a family activity. “Like many people, covid reinforced priorities in life. I view my athletic career and my actual career as less important

than before. Life is fragile. Building relationships with your family and friends is something I might have overlooked before and during the pandemic. It made me take a step back and realize what the priorities are in life—they are different from what they were before.”

( 4 ) Comments

Fantastic article! Fantastic insight into some mental aspects of his approach to training that are super helpful and applicable to other ‘extreme’ sports such as my sport of freediving. I also love the Blue Magic Mirror as my go-to pair! Thanks for sharing this content!

Katie Kleinwachter

Really a great read & it sure got me motivated .
Thank you 🙏

Kathy Heidebrecht

You are so inspiring!! I love these 8 tips and since I am a Type A
they are most helpful!! It’s a process for me…

Judee Biggles

Great article. As former Ironman athlete I can recognize characteristics and intensity in this athlete that are unique to triathletes as a whole. Love the balance this guy has struck which I am sure makes his racing and the rest of his world a more rewarding and fuller experience.

Angie Testerman

Deja un comentario