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News / 06 Sep 2023

From Project Manager to Iron(Wo)man: Malin's Journey to the Finish LineFacing discomfort

12 hours and 56 minutes after the start gun went off, my feet finally touch the highly anticipated red carpet and through in the speakers, I hear; "Malin, YOU are an Ironman!". Tears of utter happiness and exhaustion role down my face. I did it. I succeeded. I am an Ironman. It's unreal. It's true.

How do you end up at the start line of an Ironman when you have previously expressed the words "I don't understand why someone would do that" or "That can't be healthy for you"? For me, it's as clear. As soon as I express myself in that way, it always turns into "Of course I'll do it!" and "If she/he can do it, I can do it!". I never seem to learn.

And then I suddenly found myself registered for Ironman Kalmar 2023. In front of me, I had exactly 358 days of training and anxiety and work and family to take care of as well.

Being a project manager, you could assume that a structured plan is created immediately telling me what and when I should be training, what I should eat, and then make sure that the job gets done. Easy! The only problem with that is that it goes completely against my training philosophy. Exercise for me should be fun, energizing, and make me feel good - not a scheduled must! So, is it possible to reach the goal of getting in shape for an Ironman with a fun and relaxed training approach where you can maintain the desire to train? The answer is yes!

Believe me, not every workout is always super fun, but I've learned that I never regret a workout. The same probably applies to you! The trick for me is to do something (almost) every day, and what that is determines the schedule. Put achievement aside and instead try to do something. You don't have to run fast and taste blood in your mouth. Nor do you always have to be out on long runs all the time and even if you are training for a triathlon, you don't always have to swim, cycle, or run. I have spent a lot of time on my favorite workout Bodypump to strengthen my body, and for me the combination of cardio and strength exercise has been unbeatable.

Having participated in several different races, I have experience in mental preparation and strength, but tackling an Ironman, I realized early on, would require more willpower than I had ever needed before. Because no matter how strong you are, it's hard to push yourself physically and mentally for 12-15 hours straight. Your brain tells you that your body hurts and the devil on your shoulder says it's time to stop – and all you need to do is to disconnect that. So, can you?

The more I think about it, it resembles meditation. Let the thought come and let the thought go. Working with a mantra when it's tough during a race or training session has also been very good for me. They can be a little different but are usually rooted in my "why", Why am I doing this? For example. "I want (to do this), I will (do this), I can (do this)" but it can also be more cheering such as e.g. "Every step brings you closer to the goal!".

To finish off, I just want to say to those of you out there who are thinking about taking on a challenge; DO IT! It's so rewarding to do something new and challenge yourself. But remember to set reasonable goals, be kind to yourself on your journey towards your goal and try to keep the pleasure and joy in your exercise.

The main takeaway from this latest challenge is that I got to know myself in a completely new way! I AM strong, I CAN push myself when it's tough because I'm an IRON(WO)MAN!

Footnote: An Ironman consists of 2.4-mile swimming, 112-mile cycling and 26.22 miles running.

Exercise for me should be fun, energizing, and make me feel good - not a scheduled must!

Malin GundmarkProject Manager, Cloud Nine

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