Ironman competitions are not only a test of skill but of endurance and willpower. So much work goes into coming out on top, but at the end of the day, the results will always be worth it. Mark Allen is a six-time Ironman Triathlon World Champion who holds the record for the longest winning streak in the history of triathlon. Together with Fireman Rob, Mark shares the lessons he’s learned from participating in Ironman competitions. Learn more about this rewarding athletic endeavor from someone who’s at the top of the field!
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The Ironman Comes Out On Top With Mark Allen
The guest I have is one of those guys that you are lucky to be able to have on a show. He’s a six-time Ironman World Champion. He is a USAT, Ironman, ITU Hall Of Fame. I could go on and on. Mark Allen, it is great to have you on the program.
Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it. I’m looking forward to it.
It's a challenging time but having you as a coach, MarkAllenCoaching.com, a lot of people are looking to you for advice in how to weather the storm of not being able to compete but at the same time, keep their fitness level up. What are you telling these athletes of yours?
It's been interesting seeing how my coaching has evolved. I thought more people would drop off that half because clearly if you're getting coached it's because you want to get better and have a great performance in races. People have shifted that focus away from thinking, “I'm doing this because I want to set a PR, qualify for a championship,” to having their exercise be something that is an inherent day-to-day reward for having at least something that they can have some semblance of control. It’s also something that feels good that's good for their health. It helps reduce stress. It gives them a break from having to mull over the situation with their job or somebody who did get sick, when is this going to end, or when do we get back to normal?
People have shifted the reason why they are training. I've tried to emphasize this to all the people that I coach. Have it be that you put in a consistent training regimen into your day. Life does get in the way a lot of times, but it's not negotiable in the sense of, “Should I do it or should I not? Train because it's essential to your physical health, well-being, and helping reduce your stress. You'll feel good and feel like, “If nothing else, I got in that 45-minute run,” or “I got in that hour riding my stationary bike,” or “I did my swim stretch cords, I stretched, and I did a little bit of core work,” or whatever it is. My coaching has helped to be an accountability tool for them. They have a calendar with training work that workouts on it. It's like, “This is what I'm going to do.” At some point, those races will come back. Those who are laying the groundwork now and maintaining a decent base of fitness without doing too much, they're going to shine once races start to pop back onto the calendar.
Especially having your background, you go back to 1982 when you began getting into endurance sports. You look at something like now where it's the unknowns and not knowing what's going to happen next that scares most people. Back when you started, there were no books, no videos or Google to be able to find out how to do things. You just had to learn how to do it on the fly. Does that make you a better coach to be able to adapt to these kinds of situations?
The element of what I was doing in the early ‘80s that applies directly to what's going on is that when I first got into the sport, I did it because it felt like an adventure and fun. I enjoyed seeing how I could become more proficient at swimming, cycling, and running and putting all those together for the races. Certainly, the races were an important element of why I trained. The racing was just the excuse to be able to get out there and train. I loved the process of training. I've been able to instill that emphasis in people's minds a little more. What's going to happen is those who are training, they’re going to have a different relationship with fitness and why they're doing it than those who have given up because there are no races. People who are training, they're in it for their lifetime. They're seeing that they do feel better. It keeps their morale up. It has required them to adapt. Nobody has pools, what do you do? You'd get a pair of stretch cord, you attach the thing to your doorknob, and you go at it.
You find different ways to adapt to the situation as it is. A lot of people had those 3 or 4 days in the beginning where it's like, “What's the purpose now? Why am I doing this?” A lot of people cut back on some of the volume that they were doing. If your Ironman got postponed or canceled, you don't want to go out there and do 5 or 6-hour rides every Saturday or whatever. You cut it back to something that still maintains your fitness and gives you that good feeling about life. That's what I got from the early ‘80s. I got into the sport because I love to train. I love to get out there, swim, bike, run, and get out there in the world and see what's going on. Even though a lot of what people are doing now has been inside on trainers especially cycling, they're seeing that there's that inherent goodness they get out of exercise and staying healthy.
When I was reading an article about you, you said you didn't classify yourself as that classic competitor, but sport was to evolve yourself. That's exactly what you're talking about. A lot of people are choosing that new healthy path for the simple fact that it's making sense even though they don't have a race, they're fine with that. Are you seeing more people changing that lifestyle and still having that camaraderie of the endurance sports? Are you seeing the symbiotic relationship between those two in helping them to continue to advance?
Without that real competitive element being at the forefront of what they're doing every day, they're relaxing a little bit like, “I didn't go so hard on that workout but that's okay, I still got it out there.” Other days they're like, “Sorry, coach, I felt so good. I ignored my training zones and I went for it.” People are getting more organic methodology integrated into their structure. They go with more how their body is feeling. The interesting thing is that people have taken the time to work on some of the elements that they know they’re weak. Somebody might know that their cadence rate is too low when they run. They've been spending time focusing on gradually building that cadence rate up so that they're running with the cadence rate of good runners, because they can focus on it. They don't have all these other things like, “It's three weeks before the race and I've got to get my wheels together.” They are calm down.
It's the little things that matter in the long run. Going back to your career because you had a long career, twelve times in Kona. One of your things when I asked you what’s your favorite story is, you said about losing Ironman six times, making some significant changes, and coming back. You won it six times in Ironman Kona. Tell me more about that transformation from not making that podium to all of a sudden, making it numerous times.
For those who don't know that history, the first six years that I raced in Hawaii, it might have looked good races on the surface. I finished fifth twice, third, and second twice. The very first year I was in the lead with Dave Scott on the bike. My derailleur broke and I had to drop out. Thank God, the derailleur broke because truth be known, I would have completely blown up on that marathon. I could go home saying, “I was in the lead when my bike broke.” Those years were tough because there were a lot of those first six that I felt I had what it took to win and I couldn’t. I could be in the lead at the end of the bike, I could be in the lead at the half marathon, even with the few miles to go in the marathon, but I was falling apart. It was in the winter of ‘89 that I was at that crossroads having that chat with myself, “Am I going to go back for the seventh of one of those freaking things? How many times do you beat your head against the wall before you realize you don't have what it takes? Go do a long-distance race where you know that you can go fast.”
I wasn't going to go back. I thought, “It's not for me.” Two weeks later after I started my training, I could feel the subtle pole of the Big Island like, “Come back, you need to come back another time.” I'm like, “I do.” I need to go there for a different reason. I had been going to the Ironman World Championship on the Big Island of Hawaii in Kona trying to be the first person to cross that line. When I didn't, there was this huge disappointment and let down because I felt like I had done what it would take to be the champion. Many of those years and it wasn't materializing. In ‘89, I took my own step back and relax a little bit. I thought the reason to go back there is for the same reason I got into the sport and it's to go to the Ironman, try to cross that finish line in the best fashion you can, go there and have a great race. Don't even think about if you're going to win, not win, or where you're at. Put together an amazing swim, bike, and run and honor yourself with that effort and focus.
That's why I went there in ‘89. I also knew that I needed to have a different relationship with the island itself because it's a very intense natural environment. You get off that plane there and you know you were not in Kansas. It’s a whole different piece. I was trying to push away that intensity rather than finding a way to embrace it and see the beauty that is there. In ‘89, a couple of days before the race, I went to this place along the ocean on Ali’i Drive where the marathon course runs. I sat there and had a talk with the island. I said, “Let it be okay that I come here as me, that I can feel at home and welcome here.” I felt like the island opened up to me. I had this warm feeling instead of this intense fear feeling. That was the first time I'd ever experienced that at the Ironman in Hawaii. The race evolved and there's a lead into a story that's wild and completely out of left field. At the same time, it’s the reality of what happened.
Dave Scott who had won the race six times prior to 1989. Going into that race, he was the guy to beat. He and I were together in the entire swim. I shouted at him the entire way. I thought, “This guy knows how to do it. Stay with him and see how he does it.” He knows how to pace this so that the last two hours are his best part of the race. Not like mine where the last two hours is where I fell apart. I stuck with him on the swim and stayed right behind him on the bike. If he surged, I surged. If he backed off, I backed off. I thought, “I like this. I got the best chauffeur in the world here. The best tour guide, Dave Scott. Next time, you remain champ.”
We hit the marathon and he started out blistering fast. We were going somewhere around 545, 550 miles in the first 4 or 5 miles. I thought this is complete insanity but I stuck to my plan. I said, “Stick with him. If you blow up, at least you go down with the best guy there is.” Finally, when we headed out onto the middle of the marathon course which was about 20 miles out on the lava fields, he settled into more of a same pace. It became this waiting game. Both of us tried to build the pace unsuccessfully to get rid of the other guy. Slowly it was becoming apparent that there was no surge or mental move that I could do that was going to break Dave Scott.
He was going to be strong all the way to the end. That was so intimidating because most guys, at that point in my career, if I've put in a good surge and started to pull away a little bit, they'd give up. Dave Scott was not going to give up. Somewhere around 12 miles to go, he started building his pace and then he'd back off, he'd build it and then he'd back off. Finally, he settled into about a six-minute mile and I was barely hanging on. I thought, “He's going to go this fast for the remaining 12 to 13 miles of this marathon.” It completely blew my mind because nobody had run that fast ever in the history of the race. I certainly hadn't run that fast that late.
My mind started going berserk with all the crap that doesn't help you out like, “Dave Scott is going to win. My legs are killing me. I shouldn't have come back. I should have done different training. Why? Poor me.” My legs are killing me but, what was I thinking was going to happen? Was I going to get to the Ironman, run the marathon and not feel it? It's like, “Get real.” It got so hard to match his pace that it took every ounce of focus I had to stay with him another step. That became the only focus and my mind went quiet. The instant my mind went quiet, an image came back to me that I'd seen in a magazine two days before the race. It was a photo of 110-year-old Huichol shaman medicine man from Mexico in one of the indigenous tribes down there. His name was Don Jose and his grandson Brant Secunda. They were going to be teaching a workshop in Mexico talking about the way of life from the Huichol people, which is they're very indigenous. They value connecting with nature. They love to laugh and joke, but they also have a deep sense of how important it is to feel connected with the natural world, which was ironically something that I did for the first time there in Hawaii. Those two days before the race, I felt like I connected with the island for the first time. It felt so alive and so real.
Don Jose's image came back to me and in the photo, he had this beautiful, peaceful, and powerful smile that seemed like it reached across the universe. As an athlete, that's the two qualities you're trying to blend together. A sense of peace yet having a sense of power and strength of being able to keep sticking with it no matter what. That can be very difficult when the guy next to you is running a six-minute mile and you're ready to quit. My mind goes quiet, Don Jose's image came back to me and all of a sudden, I felt like I was being flooded with that sense of peaceful power. It's hard to even find the words for it but I felt like there was this life force that was filling me up. There was a switch. All of a sudden, my entire being relaxed and it got a little bit easier to match Dave’s pace. The chatter wasn't about how bad I felt. It was like, “Look at this, I'm with the best guy in the world. There's no shame in that. There's still almost an hour and fifteen worth of racing, something might change. This is not a loss. This is amazing.”
I looked around and the island looked so beautiful. The raw rugged lava that had looked like hell for me for so many years, I look at it and I'm like, “This is so incredible.” This is in the middle of the world championship. I have this vision of 110-year-old Huichol shaman medicine man. I'm looking around going, “This Island is so amazing.” You'd think I'd gone nuts, but these were the kind of things that bring you back into space where you're fully engaged in what you're doing. You're not held back by worrying about how it's going to turn out or what the end of the day is going to look like. You're there, you're present, you're giving everything you have, and everything starts to flow again. We stayed side-by-side all the way until the final uphill, which was about 1.5 miles from the finish line. On that hill, I was able to start pushing the pace a little bit faster than we had done before. It caught Dave a little bit off guard and right away, in a matter of a few steps, I put about 5 feet on him.
The gap started to grow. You can see in the TV footage that he realizes that I'm pulling away from him in his territory, those last miles of the race. His shoulders get tight. He starts to rock and he's having to deal with a situation that he never had in his career ever. I went on and I won the first six races that year. Dave had his best Ironman that year, but he broke his previous world's record by almost eighteen minutes. I did my best time to that date by nearly 30. The difference in our times at the end was very small, 58 seconds. It was incredible. When I finally got with inside of the finish line and I realized Dave wasn't going to catch me, I wasn't going to cramp, I wasn't going to fall down, I was going to win it. These tears of joy, relief, total ecstasy, and fulfillment filled me.
Eventually, a little bit after that race, I went down to that workshop in Mexico. Don Jose had died the month before it, but I met Brant Secunda and started studying that beautiful tradition with him. I've been studying with him since 1990. That became a real integrated part of my preparation because it helped me. The tools and practices that he teaches and that we use. It helps you to embrace a sense of peace, learn how to get your mind to be quiet, to surrender to life, try and be grateful. No matter what's going on, how it's looking, how impossible it is, just take that next step anyway. That became such a huge part of my racing.
When you're in an Ironman, I don't care if you win it and you look like you had the whole thing under control. There were still going to be about 1,000 points where you're going, “I can't do this. I'm getting the sit-down office job the second I crossed that finish line. I am never doing one of these things again.” You have to bring yourself back into that space of, “There's the quiet. Remember why you're here. You’re here to give your best effort. It’s going to happen when you're quiet and engage, when you get to that next aid station, and when everything loosens up. Shake it off, suck it up, and here we go.” You have to keep coming back to those places over and over. If you can do it in a breath or one second, you're engaged more on the race than the other competitors who were sitting there fighting themselves, trying to decide, “Is this excuse good enough to drop out? Will it sound okay?”
You're convincing yourself. You say it perfectly because you talk about tuning into your body and dealing with things that don't show up on the garment. Those are the things that are the intangibles, that are hard for individuals nowadays because they have so much information, whereas you guys had to figure out your bodies. I love when you talked about your mind because when your mind is quiet and you're able to talk to yourself in a strong tone, that's when you can achieve greatness. I love how you put that because it's so important. Talking about you won that race, did you win 20 or 21 straight races?
I got on a winning streak in about a month or so after Ironman in late November of 1988. That was after my sixth Ironman, the last one that I lost. I went to a place called Reunion Island to do a long-distance event. It was about a six-hour race. It’s a very hilly demanding course. I won it in Reunion Island. From there, all the way through 1989 and 1990, I didn't lose one race. I won every race that I competed in at all distances and all places around the world. From that race in Reunion Island until the last race that I won in 1990, it totaled twenty races. For years, I was telling people that I had this twenty-race winning streak that started in late November 1988 and went all the way through the end of the season in 1990.
A few years ago, I found this moving box that I had at my storage shed that had a bunch of my old trophies in it. I thought I'd go down memory lane and started unwrapping them. I unwrapped this big Waterford crystal glass and it was the championship trophy for winning the race in Bermuda International Triathlon. I looked at the date and it was November 6th, 1988. I had started my winning streak at the beginning of November that year. I realized the winning streak wasn't 20, it was 21. I had to revise all of my printing and press stuff. The winning streak is 21, not 20. Somebody goes, “How can you not remember a race that you won?” I go, “I don't know.” Don't come to me if you're looking for the stats on anything in sports because I'll get it wrong for sure.
You race each race. From that streak and from all of your other accolades, you got the Greatest Endurance Athlete of All Time by ESPN, which is a huge accolade. Endurance sports is such a critical part of life. A lot of people learn many skills. I've been able to cope with a lot of things and been able to learn a lot about myself. One of my favorite stories of yours is that 1995 comeback when you were 37 years old and you had taken a year off. Run me through that last miles when you got into the marathon because you were thirteen minutes back on the run.
This was my final Ironman in 1995. This was the twelfth run. If I could win it, it would be 6 wins and 6 starts. That sounded cool because that would tie Dave Scott's record of winning six Ironmans. I was 37 years old that year and nobody had won as a 37-year-old. Nobody had won 6 races and 6 starts either. Dave had won six but he had a loss in there during one of the years. Going into it, I had two levels of this impossibility phase in me and like everything else back then, you couldn't google, “How do you win Ironman as a 37-year-old six in a row?” The problem was that the guys I was competing against were 10 or 15 years younger. They were able to load on the volume much more than me. I'd been able to do it in the early part of my career, but now I was at a point where my body couldn't take that same training. I had to dial it back. The question is, where am I going to get more out of myself with less training?
That was the year that I did a ton of extra stuff with studying with Brant working with him. He helped me out a lot to get in the right space to be able to draw energy and strengths from the island, and also to stay in that right mental space for eight hours, which is very hard to do if you don't train for it. If you go to the Ironman hoping you're going to be able to deal with yourself, forget it. You’ve got to practice it. Things weren't looking too good. I came off the bike 13.5 minutes behind the leader, Thomas Hellriegel. He was a 24-year-old German soldier. Nobody had come from that far back to win. There's the third level of impossibility facing me. I had to make up 30 seconds a mile, every single mile of the marathon if I was going to catch him at the finish line.
That seemed completely impossible like, “How am I going to do that?” I broke it down and the one commitment that I could wrap my brain around was to try, make up, and answer a second every step like, “I can try to manage, I can do that.” I was clicking off time. I was getting closer but with 8 miles to go, I was told I was four minutes back, which in relative terms, that's meant that I still had to make up 30 seconds a mile and I was going to catch him at the finish line. That's not a good place to catch a guy thirteen years younger than you when you're sprinting for a world championship.
As I said, I had done a lot of work with Brant and right before I came over to Hawaii, I stopped at where he lives in the Santa Cruz area and spent a day with him. He did a final blessing for me. He said, “If you have problems out there, call out to the Big Island. It's alive. It will hear you. It will help you.” I thought one more time. I said, “Big Island helped me here. I need something extra. I need to make up a little bit more. I'm giving everything I have and I'm going to give everything I have even if I blow up, but I need your help.” The next mile, I made up about 40 seconds. The one after that about 50, and the mile after that, I made up a minute and fifteen seconds run. Hellriegel had been leading for over six hours at this point. Right past the 23-mile marker, I came up behind him and I thought, “This is it, just rest for a second and then go.” I did. I passed him and I didn't look back. I kept the pedal to the metal and slowly I could hear his footsteps fading and then I couldn't hear his footsteps anymore. I kept the pace up all the way to the finish.
It was very intense because there were many moments where I did want to give up because it seems so impossible. It was funny. The next day at the awards, every single one of the guys in the top ten came up to me and they go, “How did you do that?” They said, “I would have given up. I would have thrown in the towel. Did you think you could win?” It's like, “I had no idea but I knew that this was my last Ironman. I knew that I wanted to go out knowing that I'd given my best effort.” That kept bringing me back to that space of give your best effort. Don't worry about Hellriegel, the race, the victory, the loss, or however it's going to turn out. Don't even think about that, just make each step count.
In the end, even though when I came off the bike, I thought I was having the worst Ironman of my life. In the end, when I looked back, I realized that was the greatest race of my entire career because it took so much to overcome that part of myself that could have easily said, “I can't do it. It's not worth it.” I would have given up. I would have given a halfway effort. Every time we rise above those moments in our lives, whether it's at a race, in a relationship, at work, or wherever you find yourself where you want to give up and throwing the towel, you re-engage and you take something to completion, that's empowering. That empowers you for your life. It's a memory that fuels you for a very long time. Brant and I teach a workshop called Fit Soul, Fit Body. We haven't for a time because of the situation with the virus. In that workshop, we teach a lot of the tools that I use to become an Ironman champion. The tools that everybody can use to become healthier, happier, to overcome many of the challenges that might seem too daunting to be able to manage and to re-engage with a much more peaceful, yet powerful focus in life. That's precious to do that.
You can go to FitSoul-FitBody.com or MarkAllenCoaching.com to find out more. I love your philosophy because it's more than sport. It transcends into the soul and that's where you find the true transformation. Mark, thank you so much for coming on. I appreciate it. I’ve got questions though. I don't give these questions to my guests ahead of time because I want that confusion and the truth that comes straight out. The first question is, what is one thing you haven't done but is outside of your comfort zone?
There are a lot of things I haven't done that are outside of my comfort zone. I haven't climbed Mount Everest, parachuted, river rafting, and heavy water. There are a lot of things. Not that I want to do any of those. People sometimes think, “You did Ironman, you can do anything.” I was like, “No, I can't. I'm as vulnerable and human as everybody else. I happened to be good at that one thing.”
Here's your second one. What is your favorite quote and why?
One of my favorite quotes is “You don't have to be having fun to have fun.” I liked that because that summarizes a lot about the race experience. You can't say you're out there having fun. It's painful, it's intense, but it's fulfilling and fulfillment is a form of fun. A second quote that I like and that I had to think about for a while is one that says, “How you do anything is how you do everything.” Do you leave your dishes in the sink all the time? What other parts of your life do you leave undone thinking that I'll deal with it later? Not that you have to be neurotic about anything or everything. Once I started thinking about that, just a simple thing of you get up in the morning, you make your bed, and you do some form of morning rituals to set the tone for the day. Everything in that day becomes a very different experience. Life becomes a practice that is enabling you to perfect yourself a little bit more each and every day. That quote is a broad one. If people think about it and see how that does apply in their life, it transformed things.
Here's your third one. If you could pick to have coffee with three other people, it can be living or deceased, at a firehouse table. In other words, nothing is off the table. You can ask them anything. Who would it be and why? This one we've got people all over the board.
One person I would want to have coffee with would be Obama because he did something that nobody had done before in history. I would like to learn more about him. What makes him tick and what's his thought process? Do you remember the climber Lynn Hill? I would love to talk with her because she a trendsetter in climbing. It would be cool to talk to her to see what made her tick and what she felt when she was up there on rock.
I've got a trend of innovators here. What makes you tick?
When you spend time doing things that are not in your comfort zone, that’s when you're living and when you're perfecting. They did that study to figure out how is it that two different people may have practiced the violin the same amount of time, one of them gets good and one of them becomes a virtuoso? Did they have some inherent genetic thing that made them be better violin player? Was there something in the way that they practiced? They found that in terms of music, anyway, you’ve got to put in the hours, there's no getting around that but those who've put in the hours in a way that's uncomfortable. For most, the uncomfortable is when you're practicing on your own. It's much easier when you're with a group. Those who did the practice on their own which was in the uncomfort zone, those are the ones who got that last little bit that the other folks never got.
I thought about that in terms of my training. I never did the workouts that I felt were comfortable. I was always training in a way that at least in the broad progression of week-to-week, month-to-month. I was always trying to get into that uncomfortable place whether it was something with consistency, speed, or volume. It was always uncomfortable. That's one of the reasons why I got so good at triathlon. The third person could be an interesting conversation with Jimi Hendrix. He was so young when he died and he did stuff that nobody else has ever done since. There are people who are equally good but nobody that's quite like him.
That's a great firehouse table. This last question is the rapid round. I'm going to give you two things. All you’ve got to do is say which one do you choose. Paper or plastic?
Soup or salad?
This one's going to be tough. McDonald’s or Taco Bell.
I knew that was coming. Camping or hotel?
That's a tough one. I would do the hotel because I do a lot of camping. I spend a lot of time outside outdoors in nature. I'm not deprived of that. When I think about going to stay somewhere, I want a nice hotel room. The sheets on the bed, the duvet, and everything is way more comfortable than I ever have in my house. I think, “Where did I get this stuff? I want this on my bed back home.” By the way, I like the fact that somebody comes and tidy it up every day. Pamper yourself.
You have to every once in a while. Fly or drive?
That depends on how far.
You're a deep thinker. The rapid round is not for deep thinkers.
The world isn't black or white. That's the problem.
It's funny because a lot of these questions are from a psychological exam.
My world is almost never black and white. That makes it very hard for me sometimes because a lot of times, people want me to give them a black or white. A definitive one or the other answer, response, or communication. It’s like, “I don’t know what's the right thing to say right yet because I haven't digested all sides of this discussion, relations, or possibilities.” If it's to the grocery store, if it's six hours or less, I'm driving. If it's over six hours, I'm flying.
This is an accentuation of going Mark Allen Coaching. You better go there because you know that it's going to be precise. It's not going to be wake up and go bike. Sleeping late or wake up early?
They're both so amazing. Since COVID, I've been sleeping in late. I keep asking myself, “What's going on with this?” However, one of my favorite things is when I first get back from being in Europe and you're on European timezone. You wake up at 3:30 in the morning, it's quiet, you're wide awake, you get up, and you have a cup of coffee. The next thing you know, it's 4:30 and it's almost sunrise. You're like, “I'm the only human who is taking advantage of this. This is so awesome.” You get the wetsuit on and you're the first guy to paddle out in the water. It's like, “This is so awesome.”
This is the best rapid round I've ever had, I have to say. The next one is run or walk?
You're going to be surprised on this one. It’s walk. Was that what you were thinking?
I’ll tell you what. I was surfing and it was a big day. I took off too late on this one. I was going to take it in because I'd had this incredibly amazing surf rise and it’s one of the best in my life. I'm like, “This is awesome. I'm done. I'm going in.” It took off late. The board dropped out from underneath me. I came down the face and the rise was coming down the face. The board was coming back up and it hit me in the head. It sounded like when a baseball hits a bat solid and that crack. I'm like, “Oh no.” I came up and I put my hand on my forehead. I know it's going to be bleeding, but I want to see. I put my hand up there and for a second, I took my hand down and it was completely red. I'm like, “Crap.” I paddled in, I lived two blocks from where I surf. I walked to my house with my hand on my forehead. I could see everybody's eyes like, “Are you okay? Do you need us to drive you somewhere?” I'm like, “I just live two blocks away.”
I went to the emergency room. They ended up putting in fourteen stitches. It split the scalp open all the way to my skull. Fortunately, it didn't crack. I might get knocked out or anything. I had a little bit of a concussion from it. The last thing I wanted to do was anything exerting, but I still wanted to get out. I started walking a little bit and I took my iPhone because it counts your steps and your distance and all that. I used to hear these recommendations, “You should do 10,000 steps a day to be healthy.” I wonder how long it would take me to do 10,000 steps. The first walk that I went on, it seemed like I was out there forever. I'd only walked about 5,000. I'm like, “10,000 steps. That's a big deal.” When I'm saying walking, I’m walking with intent not just strolling. I’m moving a lot. This is a form of workout. As I've been doing this, I got up to 10,000 steps and that's about 5 miles, the way my stride is. It's a big deal to walk 5 miles.
The thing about that that’s amazing is because it's a slower motion than running, you can be very acutely aware of many muscles in your legs, your glutes, your ankles, how much you're using your feet, articulating your feet, getting engaging the muscles in the ankle, engaging the glutes, making sure your core is solid and stabilized. I realized doing those walks was giving me this huge strength that I haven't had before. It helped me to balance some left or right imbalances. We know one leg doesn't work quite the same as the other type of thing, but you don't notice it when you're walking. You go, “They're working a little bit differently. Let me get them to work both the same sets of muscles in each step.” I never thought I would say this but walking, if you do it with a focus and you do real walking, you do 10,000 steps in a day whether it's all at once or you split it up into 2 or 3 walks. If you do that fairly consistently, I am seeing personally these huge improvements in this overall integrity of my body. It's the strangest thing.
I can see that. I've done a lot of walking in my lifetime. It is challenging and you have to focus because it's not the quick muscle. It's using every single aspect of your mind. It's a totally different thing. This next one. I want to hear this answer. Partly sunny or partly cloudy?
Partly sunny. I'd say partly cloudy because in the winter if it's partly cloudy, that might mean it might rain which is a good thing in the winter.
I like the analytical side of that. This next one's going to be critical. Fire or water?
This one's going to be a good one. Use a porta-potty or continue to drive or run to the next physical bathroom.
Being around in the world is a bathroom.
I knew that one. I'm guessing this one is going to be like the McDonald’s and Taco Bell. Coke or Pepsi?
The last one, go big or go all the way?
Go big all the way.
Mark Allen, this has been a fantastic talk. Thank you so much for coming on. Anybody who wants to find out more, MarkAllenCoaching.com or you can go to www.FitSoul-FitBody.com. Mark, thank you again so much for coming on.
Thanks, Fireman Rob.
Thanks for joining us. We'll talk to you next time.
About Mark Allen
6x Ironman Triathlon World Champion Olympic Distance World Champion Longest Winning Streak In The History Of Triathlon - 21 Straight Races ESPN's Greatest Endurance Athlete Of All Time Greatest American Triathlete of All Time Ironman University Advisory Board Member of the Ironman Hall Of Fame USAT Hall Of Fame ITU Hall Of Fame