Fueling The Pursuit

World Champion Triathlete Tim O'Donnell on Enjoying the Process & Overcoming Adversity

Episode Summary

Our conversation with Tim will leave you in awe. Not just because he has accomplished so much as a pro triathlete, but even more so for what he has learned along the way to the top of his sport.

Episode Notes

"What are the other aspects of my life where I can really try to make these small… And it’s marginal gains, right, these little fractions of a percent. But they add up. And when you're at that level and everybody's super fit, it's those little details that are gonna make a difference."

Today's guest is Tim O’Donnell, the fastest American in history at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.

So do you want to know how to run a sub-8 hour Ironman in Kona? Easy. You chase happiness the entire way! At the heart of Tim O’Donnell’s success as a pro triathlete, is his journey towards perfecting his ability to stay present and his commitment to focus on the details. 

So many of our fellow runners share an admiration for those who compete in triathlons, and specifically at the Ironman distance, because it’s a true test of how much one person can really endure. Our conversation with Tim will leave you in awe. Not just because he has accomplished so much as a pro triathlete, but maybe even more so for what he has learned along the way to the top of his sport. 

There are a lot of lessons throughout this conversation with Tim. So grab your favorite pen and notebook and get ready to jot a lesson or two (or three) that resonate with you!

Show Notes

(3:39) Babies, burst pipes, and training—the everyday challenges all athletes face…

(5:28) What led to the Ironman?

(9:32) Deciding to go big as a professional long distanced triathlete, and a very difficult decision to leave the Navy…

(13:18) Stubbornness, excelling at the Ironman distance and the most challenging leg of the triathlon…

(15:36) “I remember running three or four miles, and at the beginning thinking, this is impossible, this is so hard. But that's where I put my energy. I put so much energy into running because I wanted to be a triathlete.”

(17:33) A shift in mindset because it’s adapt or die…

(20:17) The power of biohacks…

(23:53) The satisfaction and confidence that comes from knowing you gave it your all…

(25:41) A bumpy, rocky road...

(29:42) “Everybody has this experience in the race, that's not going well. You start beating yourself up about why it didn't go well; maybe I started too fast, maybe I didn't prepare enough, maybe I didn't fuel. Right? Maybe I didn't do whatever, but you just get into this mental cycle of negative self-talk and blaming yourself, and you sometimes have to find something. It sounds like it was seeing your wife and your daughter that triggered you to stop that cycle and start a better, more positive one.”—Bryan Green

(31:08) Adversity, more adversity on the road to Kona…

(37:05) Staying in the pocket, executing the plan, and not forcing results…

(39:23) Picking a pace versus going up against a competitor in the very long Ironman distance…

(42:49) “So all of a sudden, something that seemed impossible is now the benchmark. And all the guys are setting their eyes on that benchmark, and they're stepping up. The bar gets raised, and the competition goes with it.”

(44:59) Closing the gap and advice for others who want to excel...

(48:40) BONUS: Tim shares why he chose UCAN and how it fuels his ability to perform.


Mirinda Carfrae (Tim's wife) - website

Ironman World Championships 2019 Results - Ironman.com


Tim O'Donnell - website | Instagram | Twitter

Tim's fav UCAN product: Chocolate Energy Bar

Tim's most used UCAN product: Plain SuperStarch Energy Tub


Jon Rankin - gobemore.co | @chasejonrankin

Bryan Green - maketheleapbook.com | @maketheleapbook

Learn More:

UCAN - ucan.co | @genucan

Your Personal Best Awaits