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Episode 027: Mirinda Carfrae: Planning, Preparation and Visulization

PostCover-Ep-27

Sam Cook sits down with Triathlon world champ Mirinda Carfrae for a discussion on what it takes to become a world-class triathlete. Hear Mirinda’s story and get some great advice on how to excel in your sport, no matter what level you find yourself right now.

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Summary

Miranda Carfrae on training, coaching and winning

Podcast Intro
Sam Introduces Mirinda Carfrae
Mirinda’s Bio
Mirinda on Triathlon Training
Mirinda’s First Coach
Mirinda’s Early Career
Mirinda’s Olympic Dream
The Trials of Triathlon
Dealing with Doubt
Overcoming the Fear of Failure
Defeating Fear: Life Applications
Sam’s Triathlon Experiences
Failure is Good
Evolving Lifestyles
Mirinda on Training
Mirinda on Podcasts
Habits of Pro Triathletes
Working with Siri Lindley
Training to World Champ Level
Finding the Right Coach
80-20 or 50-50?
Becoming a Triathlon Champion
Preparing for the Big Races
Planning, Preparation, and Visualization
Mirinda on Triathlon Training Camp
Mirinda on Interacting with Fans
Siri Lindley at Training Camp
Don’t Be Afraid of Failure
Mirinda meets Tim O’Donnell
Spring Camp Promo
Wrap-Up
Mark Allen Outro
Podcast Outro

Transcript

Intro
Welcome to Triathlon Research. The podcast that brings together the world’s best triathlon coaches, athletes, equipment experts and medical professionals to get you the right information that you need to race past your personal best, and get more enjoyment out of your triathlon journey. Triathlon Research, where we teach you how to train smart. Here is your host Samuel Cook, Founder of Triathlon Research.

Sam
Hello Triathlon Research listener, my name is Sam Cook the founder of Triathlon Research, and I am back today to host another episode of Triathlon Research Radio. I’ve been off of the podcast for a while because Suzanne Atkinson is just a much better host than I am but I thought I’d come back on today to introduce a very special guest who is joining us today and I had the opportunity to sit down with her here in Boulder, Colorado. Very busy, you might recognize her; 3 time Ironman World Champion Mirinda Carfrae. So while I had the chance to do a podcast I thought I’d record it and, apologies to Suzanne for not letting her take this interview because I know she is probably jealous right now. Welcome Mirinda to Triathlon Research Radio how are you doing?

Mirinda
I’m doing great, thanks for having me Sam.

Sam
Alright Mirinda, I know you know you need no introduction to this audience but as the Aussies say I just want to get stuck straight in and get into your story

Mirinda
Get stuck into it.

Sam
Exactly. Let’s just introduce you and where you come from and how did this World Champion developed? Just from the beginning let’s get started.

Mirinda
I don’t know how far you want to go back but I guess I’m obviously Australian, you probably know that by now. I grew up in Brisbane, Australia, just South of the Brisbane on a small crop farm. Im 1 of 6 kids, so 3 brothers, 2 sisters. I had a pretty active childhood running around the farm, and I started in organized sports at the age of 7. I sort of followed my brothers into basketball and sort of that was my first real love for sports, played as much as I could, as much as I’m allowed to and go to a pretty high level.

In Australia, or in Queensland where I was living it’s not quite the national level, but I guess the level below that. I guess the best I got to is representing Queensland at the National Championships but never really was able to crack into an Australian team. And around the age of 18 or 17, I was finishing high school at Southern University, I’m still playing basketball at a very high level but again at that age I kind of knew I wasn’t going to grow past 5’ 3. So I sort of, I don’t know I guess I was looking for that next challenge in life. A transition from high school to University. I studied movement studies; which are based on kinesiology and also business, but I was still playing basketball. I didn’t know what the next challenge would be until I met some triathletes. I was doing some off season training with the basketball team’s to get there because they also happened to coach tri-athletes.

And so that off season, basketball off season I should say, I started lifting weights just to get strong and fit for the upcoming basketball season, met a couple of triathletes and was intrigued right away at the sport and how intense it was, how hot it was. Completely different to Basketball obviously, but I was kind of drawn to the fact that it was an individual sport and after being in team sports for so long and you know having, I guess being overlooked a lot in team sports being 5’3 I was always the fittest athlete on the court but I was overlooked a lot because of my size and I’m kind of like sick of the subjective take on sports and looking at Triathlon and knowing that the person cross the finish line first is the winner. No one can take that away from them and so basically just intrigued initially.

I never really said anything to anyone, I just carried on and kept playing that season of basketball; that must have been 1999 and then sort of halfway through the year I was also doing some run training along with my weight training for the upcoming last full season and the Team Visio just said to me one day, “You know you are a very beautiful runner; you have a very natural stride. Have you ever thought about doing triathlon? I think you’d be a great tri-athlete.” And I said, “Yes actually I am looking for something new to try and I would be interested in giving it a shot.” His next question was “So can you swim?” And I said “of course I can swim. ” I mean we had a backyard pool and I’m great at Marco Polo. And then he said, “Okay, well bring your swimsuit to the pool tomorrow and we’ll have a look at your stroke and see what you got.” Let’s step back a second: I actually didn’t really love running I was a very good runner but I didn’t love running. I didn’t see the point in running unless you are chasing after a wolf. I’ve never really swam in a back yard pool or at the beach and then I didn’t own a bike and the last time I rode a bike I was probably 10 or 11 – a BMX bike around the farm.

So this is a complete new avenue for me, a complete new sport but something really told me to give it a shot so I turn up to the pool the next day in my Bikini of course. I didn’t own a pair of goggles or a cap, I dived into the pool and swam maybe 25 meters lay back on the lane and kind of looked up at the triathlon coach and said, “So what do you think coach? Am I in?” And he sort of walk away so I kind of scrambled out of the pool and ran after him and said, you know, “Do you think I could do this?” And he just said “We’ll have a lot of work to do but if you are willing we can give it a shot”.

So from there I was sort of thrown into the swim program and that was a very hectic time in my life because I was studying a degree in the university, I was still playing basketball as full time as I was before taking up triathlon. I was working because I just moved out of home and a study triathlon, so I didn’t know exactly how I got through this those couple of years, but, I don’t know but you know we were early 20’s I guess we have unlimited energy. I certainly must have because somehow I made my way onto the junior Australian team in 2001 and for me that was a massive eye-opener, sort of a very big boost of confidence that I was on the right track on triathlon. I’d actually given up basketball probably a year before that and that was a massive decision for me and to pull on my great goal to represent my country and travel internationally for the first time. After only a year and a half of doing Triathlon and then looking at my basketball career and thinking you know I’ve been playing for 11 years and never really came close to making the Australian team, as if you were on the right track and that was kind of exciting so that was kind of an overview of how I got stuck into Triathlon.

Sam
Well that coach is a pretty brave coach to take you on, when you showed up completely clueless about the sport. Why do you think he took a chance on you?

Mirinda
I think he saw something in me initially and I guess his group was pretty small and he had another triathlon coach who did a lot of the hands on works so It wasn’t a very big commitment from him, I don’t think initially. I guess it’s just one of those changing points in your life and he happened to see something at the right time and I was in the position where I could make the decision to make a change so. I kind of think at how things end up and I feel like when you are on the right track it was often things happen easily and that’s certainly been case in my triathlon career

Sam
Well he’ll probably, definitely sensed the determination. Just from meeting you earlier and talking to you, it’s clear that you are determined in all you are doing. I think some coaches listen to that when they see it and others don’t and you got lucky to have one that’s on you

Mirinda
For sure, definitely.

Sam
Just going back into your career a little bit, you started triathlon in 2001 and that’s a very interesting time in the sport especially in Australia. Australia really dominated the early days of triathlon, so what was it like growing up and getting into the wild crazy early days of ITU racing when the Olympic sport just took off and then triathlon?

Mirinda
Yeah, I mean 2000 was the first year triathlon was included in the Olympics and the Olympics were in Sydney so me just starting in the sport that was very exciting for me also one of Australia’s favorites that were had train on the triathlon coach that was also coaching me now. To have that connection with one of the world’s best, she also won 1999 World Championship in the ’99 Australian Women as you mention dominated Australian women world 1 2 3 4 5 6 in Montreal I believe. So female triathletes even the men were really dominating that time and having triathlon set a stage at the Olympics I think it’s one of the first sports to, yeah an exciting time in triathlon but then I was very new, very green and as I said not a very good swimmer.

So it was tough over the years. I was pretty much thrown into some of the Formula one draft legal racing and Olympics were my main goal early on and I was also included in…14 which is a junior program at that time which is perfect for me because it enabled me to travel internationally and get that experience racing on the world’s stage when I really didn’t have the money to be able to fund that kind of travel. It was an exciting time and some great experiences and those years gave me a lot of the skills that I still use now in terms of just racing on the road traveling, knowing how to manage yourself, eating right and all those sort of things so I was very lucky that those events happened in that order because – also the Australian Institute of Sport included triathlon as a program and as triathlon became an Olympic sport so it was basically in 2000 and one they have their first program that they decided to make junior program and again doors opened for me and I walked through them.

Sam
Well that’s a great lesson for people as you listen to this is whether it’s in triathlon or life and opening noticing open doors and walking through them is a big thing and one of the things I like to talk about at our camps is triathlon is a metaphor for life and It’s exciting and you have so much more control sometimes in triathlon but in a way a lot of times you don’t and you just get into it. So you had dreams of the Olympics and, what was it like in those first 5 years of your racing career not making that dream and what you learned from that early setback I guess you’d say in terms of your IT racing and reaching goals?

Mirinda
I don’t think… So 2004 obviously athlete’s next Olympic games and I really still was too green and too young in the sport to really be considered for that team and again the Australian Women were phenomenal and that time we had so many amazing women racing well in the world’s stage – I mean I could have been ranked in the top 15 in the world but I was probably 6th Australian and they only take 3 women so, I didn’t really expect to make that team in Athens and wasn’t even a sure goal. I guess I was thinking more 2008 potentially but then around that time as well I sort started to realize that you know I could outlast to the girls I was training with and then as I said I was basically in the national junior program with the best juniors in Australia and everybody else seems to get injured and run down and sick and I could just handle a very big workload of training and not break down and so I had some early indicators that potentially long course racing would be in my future, but that’s not to say that I gave up on my Olympic dream because I feel that, that road was always going to be a very hard road to travel given that I wasn’t a very good swimmer and I was competing against women that have been in swim programs since 5 or 6 years old.

I’ve been starting I know a lot of people realize this if you start this, it’s really is an uphill battle and it’s tough to be able to compete with people in the pool that happens in their whole lives because it’s such a technique driven sport and it’s very hard to pick up at a later age. I just knew that I was always an uphill battle and, I don’t know, things transpired and I didn’t make the race for Australia for five years in all the world championships and in the 6 Australian national directors didn’t choose me for the elite team which was I believe those world championships were in Switzerland and they decided to Only take 3 women and I felt very disappointed that they weren’t willing to put me on the team and give me an opportunity to experience racing at the hottest level and given the fact that I was mid 20’s I was still developing as an athlete for sure. I felt disappointed, it just felt subjective and that’s kind of what I didn’t like about basketball, I didn’t want to be involved to have someone tell me whether I can or cannot be on the team I just sort of wanted to be able to race and then have the opportunity to race and perform and let my performances speaks themselves.

That was around the time where I’d actually come to the US just for a month or a couple half Ironman race and to make money base because I wasn’t really making any income IT racing It’s very tough for anyone to make income for IT racing unless you are the best in the world and I came into the US just to do a couple of half Ironman events and so I did two here in the US I think I won one and second in one and that was like 8000$ which was great when I get back to Europe to continue racing ITU but then when I didn’t make that team in 2006 I just felt that I didn’t want to be involve in the federations and have somebody dictate whether handle I am good enough or I’m not good enough to be in a team so that was a perfect timing for me because the 70.3. World 70.3 series pops up so It was a great stepping stone for me to Ironman cause I really wasn’t ready physically or mentally step up and race overnight distance but I felt that.. I was ready to move on from halves and do more than drafting. Races where the bike wasn’t much more important and the run is much more important and the swim well so important wasn’t as crucial as IT racing.

Sam
This is an Interesting thing I found about triathlon just by observing it. It’s a hard life financially to live but what was it like just early on just ITU race just live in and out and traveling?

Mirinda
I think I was super lucky that I was included in the sport because they pay for the travel and when we were on camp you know, the food meals and everything was covered so I didn’t really need a lot of money and honestly I would have been out to do that. If I have to be on there on my own this hour but I think that all those things really set me up for moving out and moving on to a race, drafting and also just racing internationally. I think the toughest part is coming home every year from New York, because you’ll probably travel to Australia, for instance our race is trans-season head overseas and May or June and race the Europeans will get you a couple ITU races and then come home the hardest thing was I really have go part time and then eventually give up on the University studies because that was the bolt of year and you are most away out of the year the university you’ll schooling in Australia runs from basically February to November, so a lot of that time I spent overseas especially in the critical exam period so coming back home. Seeing my parents look at me, “You’ve given up your studies, you’re chasing this crazy dream” and even you know you lost that question this my time I think I kept coming back to the fact that you and my brains work forever I only has this opportunity once I chose to continue down the path of triathlon but it wasn’t easy to explain to people what I was doing and how I was going to make a living I just thought I have a gut feeling that I was doing the right thing and I thought I just trust in my gut and kept racing and I’m glad I did.

Sam
that is just really interesting point because I spoke to a lot of athletes and they are doing a coaching and see if they’re if they want to turn our camp. We always ask them what is your dream in the sport? And a lot of them getting had a hard time vocalizing it and really saying what they’re going after and your parents and everyone else around you kind of like “ when are you going to grow up get a real job” and that is hard I think a lot of triathletes weather your age group or you just want to take a crack at it or really inflicted by that dream, I really like to dig in a little bit more on that decision and the doubts that you felt or rather people might have felt and how that affected you how you dealt with that because I think a lot of people struggle with that in the sport so talk a little bit more about that.

Mirinda
I think yes. Definitely there’s this few years when you are not really making money but you also almost making it as a tri-athlete. That’s the toughest time you invest in a few years I mean you can’t just invest two years and think that you got to be great this is a sport but takes a long time to build the skills and the strength endurance to be able to compete at the top level. I think you really need to set aside if you are going to go pro and if you believe that you got what it takes then you really need to think 3 to 5 years is what you’re going to have to put aside and realize you probably not going to make a lot of money unless 3 to 5 years and if you are okay with that.

If you are in the position financially where you can make that decision then that’s fantastic but there will always be the doubters and the people that will tell you crazy and you shouldn’t be doing these things but I think if you believe in something so wholeheartedly then you owe it to yourself. To go in down that path and see whether you can be great because if you don’t do that then you’ll live little breaths for the rest of your life and I think that is where I was at. I could have walk away, gone back to the University finish my studies be a physiotherapist sort of PE teacher or whatever and made a living doing that in Australia but I would have missed out on so many amazing Opportunity even before I made any.. have any great results I mean moving in your life skills I mean learning how to get by minimum language, for example speaking French speaking Italian or speaking whatever country you are in. To be able to travel and survive and eat well and train and figure out how to use the transportation system and also have a budget that you have to seek to and know that I haven’t yet talk dream this next race I’m not eating for two days. I think those days were super Important to teach you how to manage yourself and also gave you that I think he gave me the mental age to be like what I have to.

I don’t have a choice I don’t have money sitting at home, I don’t have moments and send money on the mail like If I don’t win I have to go home and go back to work so it was kind of like you know racing weekend, week out you get 500$ seeing you at 300$ later and figuring out how to make it work I think that those years has so many great stories. I mean there is so many professionals athlete that has fantastic stories of how they live and have to sleep on a train station or whatever for the night because they couldn’t afford a hotel room. I fortunately was in the areas program and they look after accommodation lower in Europe.

I mean it was certainly you know difficult to go home and not so much my mom but more my brothers and sisters kind of looking at me thinking hey are you finish playing now are you going to get a real job or relatives and friends certainly, they wouldn’t really ask question but you’ve know that they’d be wondering what you are doing with your life. I’m just glad that I stuck in my God and even if I didn’t get these results, if I haven’t got results 5 years ago – 6 years ago I probably wouldn’t go at that point, go back to Australia and finish my studies and gotten a job but I wouldn’t have regretted any of those years wouldn’t felt like that all wasted because it’s such a great experience traveling the world racing on the internationals stage and learning to live overseas, I think those lesson are valuable.

Sam
And at least you know you gave it, you gave your all and I think… You know when I speak to people about this, what stops a lot of people from setting those outrageously crazy goals is fear of failure. Have you always been… I mean you strike a lot of people just fearless out there in terms of your racing. Have you always been okay with going forth and failing? Or have you overcome that?

Mirinda
I think I’ve always been okay with failure. I suddenly fail away early in my career but it wasn’t for lack of trying and I’ve always believe that if you put in a hundred percent and you are beaten it doesn’t mean you will always going to be and that means you weren’t the best in that day – and I’m okay with that. I think a lot of people are so scared of putting their best out, and they’re beaten, they’re not good enough and that they are forever not good enough,that is so misguided. I believe that on that day if you are beaten and there is somebody better than you and you go back and do your homework and figure out how to beat them – wow to get back on top. So failure really I don’t think is a big deal to me.

Failure really just means that I didn’t have what it took on that day, but not to mean that tomorrow the next day I could’ve won and I think when you, the minute you release at pressure that if you lose then you’re a loser. The minute you release that then you are free to discuss the limit. I mean I kind of always just believe that you put the best set on the day, you’re going to be a better athlete because you are giving your best every time. And secondly again if you’re beaten then, go back home and figure out what you did wrong and try again.

Sam
I think that persistence in doing that and that’s on triathlon… But has that helped you on other areas of life? Or have been afraid of failure, or do you think it transfers in all areas of life?

Mirinda
Absolutely I can’t really think of any example right now, but I’m absolutely thinking different aspect of life. If you don’t give yourself the best possible opportunity then you’ll always going to fail because someone else is going to be willing to put out their best than have done their homework, and then if you don’t put in your best in then you will lose and you deserve to lose because you haven’t given your all. So always encourage people to give their best no matter what and then you can walk away regardless of the outcome knowing that you did yourself proud. You can look yourself in the mirror at night and be proud of what you’ve done regardless if you became first or last, because that’s going to give you so much more power than somebody who is too scared and fall short in terms of just not giving themselves the best opportunity to do a good job.

Sam
I think that’s a really good lesson for just tri-athlete to listen to and I know that, that muscle you develop of confronting goals and being okay to fail and not putting yourself identity in the result. I might have failed on this race but I’m still Mirinda Carfrae and I’m a good person and I’m not you know just because you lose doesn’t mean you are a loser. I think that that’s a great way to put it.

Mirinda
For sure and I think it really, I’ve always been a very honest person with myself and I think it comes back to back. Just being honest with yourself and giving an honest effort and then looking at yourself in the mirror and saying did I do the best I could today? And if the answer is yes then be happy but if you know you haven’t given your best then you know in your heart that you haven’t done the best and if you are honest with yourself then I mean that, that’s probably the core value you need to have -dishonesty.

Sam
And I think also.. this reminds me of when I told the story at the camp I was actually chasing a big triathlon dreams a few years ago and I got in the sport late. A lot later than I should have to have the dreams I had but at the end of the day I went for it, I gave it a crack as you guys would say in Australia and I had a blast doing it and the best thing that ever happen to me was actually not getting that or going for it because when I went for it and didn’t get it, It took my life in an entirely new direction and you know at that time I was actually in the army. I dad 10 years to retirement and knew in my heart that I wasn’t ready, I just wasn’t happy continuing on that path. I’m very comfortable and it was a good salary.

They pay armies really well in America and I was crazy to leave the army to start up what I’m doing now which is a publishing venture and Triathlon Research is part of my new publishing company that I’ve started in. It’s really exhilarating and scary to be a business owner but the metaphor I kept looking back at is “Men I gave it a crack in triathlon and I really love it”. And that was like some of the best times I just can remember on the bike thinking about what I wanted to do in life and going back at it and I feel so much more alive doing that. So I transfer that into my business life, my professional life and you know leaving the army as much as I love doing what I did, it was the best thing I ever did. Not making much money at all. I’m in that phase before I can say I have the results kind of like you when you are racing and you haven’t had one until World Championships.

Mirinda
Yeah.

Sam
And I can honestly say right now, I don’t care about the long term outcome I’m just having a blast doing this. Having a blast doing the camps and having people like you, all things I’m getting to do… So one of the things I love about triathlon is people, he metaphor that people can learn from you not everyone is going to go in Kona 3 times like you, but what you are teaching them through your journey in the sport – everyone can have that kind of journey, many different goals in the sport or outside of the sport

Mirinda
Yeah definitely. I feel like they’re, It’s kind of sad I feel like there is more people in life and in sport who are not willing to give their all because there are so scared of failure. Failure is healthy, failure helps you be that so if more people can give their best in life then I think we’re going to have a better world

Sam
Yeah, I’m wondering why there is such a stigma about failure.

Mirinda
It’s not being good enough. But I mean Okay, you give your all maybe you are not good enough. You are good enough at something so find what that is and I believe that everybody has a talent or something that they can be amazing at. You just have to figure out what that is it might not be at triathlon, it might not be… anything whatever pop on your mind. It might not be that path if you keep running into walls and you keep giving your all and not quite getting there find out what it is and then go on that path and always give your all because then you know, you give your all and you fail you go back and try again. You fail, fail, fail Okay maybe this wasn’t supposed to be doing and you move on and figure out what you are supposed to be doing and where your talent does lie.

Sam
And you look for those doors that you said open.

Mirinda
You listen to your gut and you look for new door openings, and it’s amazing. I can only speak to my experience in the sport and the crazy journey that it’s been but every turning point in my triathlon career a doors open and you look back now and just so perfectly made out for me to this point. So I don’t know what the future has but me as you said it’s been an amazing journey and I’ve done some incredible things and fortunately have to meet some amazing people have some incredible experiences in the world so

Sam
And met your husband in the sport?

Mirinda
That’s true, I’ve met my husband in the sport as well, yeah my whole life to this sport and to this experience.

Sam
I was actually, I’ve been really thinking a lot about triathlon and I tell people when I speak to one on the phone. I’m not a coach I’m a recovering tri-athlete, I’m just a student of the sport. I’m almost like a historian of the sport because I use to teach history and I think what strikes me about triathlon is we were born as humans endurance athletes if you read book a lot and some literature that’s where we kind of feel most alive and 250 years ago, 99% of humanity was working on a farm from sun up to sun down — and then a hundred years ago we moved into the cities started doing coal mining and really hard physical work in factories. It hasn’t been until the last 30-40 years coincidentally when Triathlon took off that we all have these very comfortable sedimentary jobs that don’t demand any physical labor and I always found that the best thinking I ever got done with the most clarity I had on life, who I was and all that was I called that endorphin therapy on the bike.

Mirinda
Sure yeah, that’s a lot of hours I think – less thinking.

Sam
How many hours a week do you train Mirinda?

Mirinda
Probably in my biggest weeks I probably on 34-35 hours right now week 1 back up my broke, so a little more hours right now maybe 15 probably 12-15 — but we’ll get up to 25 hours pretty quickly and then about standard amount 25-30 would be a week.

Sam
That’s a lot of time to think.

Mirinda
Yeah! It is a lot of time to think.

Sam
And actually we were talking about this before we started recording one of your sponsors is your buds and I asked you what’s your lesson to it and I know everyone is curios. Honestly I ask you because we haven’t heard of it yet in Triathlon Research podcast what are you listening to?

Mirinda
I mostly listen to a lot of music, I listen to Pandora radio a lot of the time. I like to put it on a pretty up beat radio station when I’m doing hard work, but I actually just logged into podcast called Sereal and sereal.com, and it’s basically a murder — mystery and I’m on the second episode but first long wind training ride, so it is windy here in Boulder. Heading to Australia in 3 weeks so I’ll be out of the road and probably be not seeing this podcast. Yeah it is entertaining, and I was looking for a great podcast that keep me entertained for those long boring ride on the trainer.

Sam
Yeah. And knows that I think everyone really wants to hear, we’re going to talk about and the main subject of your camp coming up with us in Boulder is all pro triathletes putting some more hours to you and one of their are lazy — they’re not working hard, you’re in Boulder you know a lot of them, but the difference between you as World Champion and my theory is just superior habits and that you developed over the course of your career, and that you’re very disciplined and execute that. I just want to talk through a little bit of the habits of that. First of all, where did you learn? where is your greatest source of learning for all the habits and things that kind of influenced your career, where do you think that really started?

Mirinda
I think, maybe as a child growing up on a farm maybe, seeing my parents work hard and I was one of six kids and money was tight so money certainly didn’t come easily and my parents have to work for every dollar, and I was put to work as well and we joked that they had six kids for cheap labor, but it’s a little bit true.

Sam
Definitely on a farm, it financially make sense.

Mirinda
Yes. even in a young age you can go through the process first of all I had to, for my older brothers couple of lettuce and carrots will come have carry done, we actually lettuce is we’re growing at a time. So I mean maybe that being also being fault one of the middle children.

Sam
Me too, I’m was 3rd of 5.

Mirinda
And having two older brothers, and a younger brother so basically surrounded by boys. I’m a little bit of a tomboy too so I always trying to keep up with my older brothers and being a little bit scrappy — always getting my hands dirty if I have to try and keep up. I mean no where it started even as a basketball player I was willing to do the extra individual session. I was willing to do, stay off the practice and shoot around or work on my jump shot, work on whatever the coach had for me to work on. I know that there are many of the other girls wouldn’t do any of these homework this have basketball court or the common practices. I don’t know I always just have that willingness to do whatever chosen to be the best. I think maybe little bit must was that end is smaller in basketball and I always said you need to work twice as hard to be as good or to get as much as the six foot girl — tall girls in the court.

So I think I just thought that you need to work harder to make it into triathlon and I think I’ve obviously I’m built for triathlon but I still have that mentality where you have to work twice as hard, and I think initially in triathlon it was true because coming into the sport in 18 years old still young enough to able to get to the top level, but not as young as kids now starting a lot earlier than back then. I just felt that I needed to work hard, I didn’t have a running background or swim background — which is most triathletes come into the sport with. I came into the sport as a complete newbie with a complete different skill set, coming from basketball so I brought that mindset into triathlon initially –that need to work twice as hard to extra sessions, to classes hard, to catch up to where my peers are at right now. I think it’s just now and current and everything to do, willing to do the extra session and work extra hard. I was talking realized how eventuated was necessarily I mean all growing at the farm and having brothers and that made me because I was but being a small basketball player being told that you need to work twice as hard, I think really is the mindset I carried into triathlon.

Sam
I’m sure your brothers also gave you quite a bit of that mindset.

Mirinda
For sure yeah.

Sam
I have two older brothers also, I was third of five. I always find like in my family it was, when I finally started to do something intelligent or work then you get noticed in a big family, that’s a pretty cool feeling, especially when you’re not the oldest — there’s not much expected of you.

Mirinda
Yeah for sure, there’s nothing much expected of me, but I love my sport so that helped.

Sam
So you moved into long course racing. When did things really click for you in terms of a — you know obviously we’re doing your camp coming up with Siri — Siri Lindley, when did you find Siri and what changed in your career when you got a coach for you? I guess the right fit for you?

Mirinda
Siri actually approached me in 2005 — at the end of 2005 I left my original coach, who really is a great coach for my 1st few years but he wasn’t or didn’t have the skill set for coaching a professional athlete at the highest. I left him mid 05 and was looking for a new coach and Siri wasn’t even actually in my list of coaches that I was talking to. At that stage I had two silver medals at ITU World Champ — Junior World Champs, one the couple I have a one which was a long course race was a big deal to me. I had some great results, I really had done anything spectacular yet.

That is where Loretta Harrop comes back into the picture, Loretta Harrop as I mention earlier play silver in Athens when she was 15 in Sydney –and she was coached by my original coach and live in the area where athletes trained and she was kind of a mentor to me early on. I remember being at the pool and also chatting with her like, “Yehey, you know? like I’m looking for another coach.” And I’m not sure what to do then yet, I just was a kind of I was training less coaching myself and I knew I needed a coach someone to have partnership with to continue on my triathlon journey.

I guess Siri Lindley and Loretta Harrop were best friends and have their influence as they’re also teammates back when they both race ITU, she must’ve mentioned to Siri and Siri sent me this email that was 2 pages long and the enthusiasm like is .. the computer screen to me. If anyone has met Siri Lindley then there’s no one like her, she’s very special, with her enthusiasm, her energy and her thought for what she does and her passion for sport. So I read that email, and I agreed to meet with her, she was in Australia at that time too. She had a couple girls down there training on the golf course and I was up in Brisbane. I went down to the golf course and met with her and immediately I said, “Absolutely! I want you to coach me.” I just felt that no other triathlon coaches out there with that kind of enthusiasm and passion and commitment to their athletes and I just knew that I wanted to work with her.

From there we started a partnership, and I was still racing ITU maybe for another year after that but I’ve making some transition and eventually sign– and that was kind of an interesting pick for me because Siri know nothing I’ve been racing at that point, I mean she probably raced olympics distances, and only coached the biggest of athletes and really specialized in ITU triathlon racing. So… I don’t know if one of those got feeling to start fresh and we started working together at the end of ‘05

Sam
And how did that journey evolved to getting — talk about the path with what you and Siri figured out together on getting you to the World Championship level.

Mirinda
Well, I think initially were still more focus on short course speed and non drafting and we both kind of make transition to half ironman and racing. I don’t know, I think it was our approach or my approach in the beginning but I knew it was all laid down the track and so I thought of talking to her about half ironman racing and ironman racing –and then I think that opened her eyes so Im like, “OK, I need to figure out how. How do you coach an ironman athlete?”

So she has taught me to like.. Paul Newman Frasier and Mark Allen and learning as much as she can about ironman training and the differences between Olympic training and Ironman training. I’m also talking to people like a good friend of mine like Craig Alexander who really kind of stand up under his wing on the 1st few years –anytime actually I have question about Ironman racing and his willing and able to give me as much advice as I needed. We both have same great help, and people are willing to give you their secrets so to speak or great advice along the journey, but I guess we both kind of just know went along our way, made mistake and figure out how to do a better job and we kind of how I think what was interesible on that what was the communication, my communication to the coach. I think a lot of athletes don’t let the coaches know how they’re feeling, what motivates us or whatever. I think it’s so important to have that two-way conversation going all the time and we have a great friendship too, that’s the base of any good coach / athlete relationship.

Sam
Yeah! Coaches strikes me and I was watching Gwen Jorgensen and Jamie Turner at the last camp and how they would finish each other’s sentences, and their sense of humor, their ability to joke with one another and I really get that sense talking to Siri of that same connection. As an athlete, how do you find the right coaching? It’s such an individual thing, I think a lot of athletes specially the age groupers have coaches, and even pros who have coaches — I think a lot of them struggle to find the right one for them.

Mirinda
I don’t think that every athlete necessarily need a coaching relationship like this, I think it’s case by case a lot of male triathletes don’t have coaches or have coaches that they barely see and really someone to look over them and make sure they’re on track. But for me I knew that I needed like a partner, who would go down on this road with me — this journey with me and for me it was evident right away that Siri was the right fit for me. I think it takes time to figure out what the best fit is for you.

Some people like an emotional coach who is very numbers driven not necessarily very motivational or — and not that serious motivational, it’s more just that the way she talks to her athlete and how she get everyone ready for the races. Fifty percent of the work and the tapper and fifty percent how she talks to athlete, and how she gets athlete hungry, and excited, and ready to race. Especially Ironman racing we need to be super fit, you need to be super strong, everyone super fit and super strong on that spot in Kona. You need to have that I guess mental edge maybe, or mental toughness or whatever it is. Siri is very gifted at getting her athletes up for the big races.

Sam
I’ve been talking to people like Mark Allen and Bobby McGee, and all these great minds and the sport and they say, “Racing is about 80 percent mental, and 20 percent physical.” Because everyone there is fit, would you agree with that or how do you think that is?

Mirinda
I think 80/ 20 is pretty steep. I would say 50/50, I mean you’re right yeah , so the most part is everybody there is very fit, but I don’t know if they’re 80 % mental.

Sam
It’s a lot, Siri really hammers that part.

Mirinda
Yeah! I think looking at Ironman results in the co-athletes that she coaches, I don’t think there’s a coach that is better comparing their athletes for races than she does– the big races.

Sam
OK. So the next question is, this is for Age groupers for anyone whose distances, Ok. How does she do it, How did she, you know, how did you turn yourself into this championship racer? I mean what’s the secret?

Mirinda
The secret is, there is no secret, I mean there’s a lot of hard work and I mean I didn’t just turn up to Kona in 2010 and think I was gonna be able to win. I had thinking about that race, visualizing that race for many, many years before. As I said I did my 1st triathlon in ’99, my 1st Ironman in 2009, so basically 10 years in sport before I stepped up to Ironman racing and in those 10 years I spend the 1st few years focusing in ITU learning how to travel and race. And then I stepped up to the half-Ironman and really tried to be able to race in distance, the full distances from start to finish and once I was strong enough physically and mentally for that, then I stepped up to Ironman that time, but all the while making small steps to be able on get to that start line in Kona and be confident that we’re ready to race the distance.

I think that is the common mistake that people make, they jump, you know, they jump through distance too quickly and then go and race an Ironman. You know ninety percent of the time they’re going to fail because they haven’t done their homework. I think it takes a lot of time to be able to step up and race the distance, survive the distance no problem, race the distance is a whole different ball game. I think it still proves you can survive Kona, endure and race to the end. That I think is the main difference in what we do getting the physically fit strong enough to be able to race the distance and mentally being able to continue to push in the last you know through that marathon, the last half of the marathon.

Sam
So really it’s about replicating race day conditions as close as possible in your training then?

Mirinda
Yes and no. You know I mean race day conditions in Kona change, day to day it’s really hard to replicate racing in Kona, I think is more about going out and doing every race the best you can and then making adjustments as you go to try and improve and then make the next step and always try and make the next step to become better.

Sam
Yeah. So really an Ironman is hard to, there’s not many places on earth like Kona and how do you get ready for that physically, mentally, you know you’re training in boulder. Talk a little bit about how you get to the race specifically, as you’re approaching the race what changes and when?

Mirinda
Well, I think first of all, our whole year is planned around Kona. I’m week one into 2015 season and already in some session I’m thinking about Kona. And so I think when your mind is constantly going there, I mean it helps that I’ve been there before. I’ve raced, I know how the ocean feels on your body and how the heat feels how crazy the winds can be. So I can put myself in that place and in any given moment in training here even though physically it’s freezing whole outside and even in the summer especially leading Kona it’s starting to cool down again. I think the preparation is more in your mind and anything else obviously you need to do work that’s a given. You do the hard work, you do the miles but then I think if you’ve been there so many times in your mind, you get to race there as we said earlier, you’re not scared you’ve been that before you been there in your mind nearly every day of the year in training and so when you get in the race day it’s become the 2nd nature to be able to push through when it gets tough. And then that mental preparation is not just, aah, “its two weeks before the race start thinking about Kona, it’s a yearlong, many years of thinking about the race. I mean my first race in Kona was in ‘09 and as I said I never even, I went to Kona once in ‘07. Preparing for 70.3 world and because I want to check out Kona and the course and so I got insight into what it felt like to be in Kona, what the heat was like, what the ocean was like. But I wasn’t even training for Kona then well I was really trying to prepare for 70.3 in November.

I’ve never been in Kona the day of the race until I raced it in ‘09 and I think because I was showed on videos and read some of the interviews all of the race and I’d really been a student of the race before I turn up to actually race myself. I think that that gave me a huge advantage of over other people and then you know, that’s is not to say I wasn’t scared the first time around Kona in ‘09 was my first ever Ironman and it was on the biggest stage and I have a bunch of pressure on because people were looking to me it’s greatest in palms to step up and being competitive to Chrissie Wellington who had already won the two years before. So, um, going into it as a rookie I had expectation and I didn’t even know if I could get through the distance I’d never gone that far. You know I trust the training that we’ve done and think all of that mental visualization was huge in getting me into the race and I finished in 2nd place. So how do I do that I think it was mostly planning preparation and visualization.

Sam
So just thinking about the workout or thinking about Kona is much as possible in your workout.

Mirinda
Putting yourself especially in your key workout, putting yourself you’re doing hills this is running up twenty. You know you’re in the end of hard work out or at the last 400 meters of swimming Kona. I mostly, most of my visualization is in the run, and I think that’s why among other reasons why I’ve been so successful in the run, but, and that’s kind of a thing that I love the most. So I think about it the most put myself in that position in my mind training a lot but yeah I mean thinking about being on the bike doing those longer efforts, or thinking about climbing up to being all of those moments in the race that you can visualize in trainings in key sessions I think that is important.

Sam
And we obviously going a lot more on this entire subject of our camp with you, I think. It’s just fascinating the mind set of racing I just can’t wait to really explore that with you and teach that over the course of a five day camps. So last thing just you know you and Siri are so busy and you guys have done so much you have season ahead of you, for the fans out there who is listening why you deciding to do camp on now and what are you trying to give back to the athletes as part of the camps because it’s such a rare thing for you to do and you said this is your first one, what do you want to give to the athletes?

Mirinda
I think over the years, I’ve been ask a lot if I would coach anyone. And I just don’t have the time for full, you know, to put enough energy into an athlete where I’m coaching them all year and this is just great opportunity where I typically I have two weeks off during the season where I’m not doing anything and this is one of them where I can give as much as possible and afterwards I can walk away and focus on my training and what I’m doing. And yeah, as I said this opportunity we came up and it just made sense to be able to try and teach as many people as possible or who will listen. What I learn through being a triathlete and share with them my experiences and hopefully help them on triathlon journeys so I wish I can do more this sort of thing but as you mentioned I’m trying win another world title. So as I said earlier the whole year has to really be focused on Kona, yeah I mean this is a rare opportunity that came up and it made sense and I’m excited to meet some people and hopefully impact on a few lives and see some good results out of it.

Sam
And you landed your fans on the course in the airport and you were talking to me earlier about how it’s sometimes frustrating because you have this brief encounters with these people who obviously want to spend more time with you. So, how is it been interacting with fans? That must have give you energy, you seem really like just enjoy and just kind of giving back to the community.

Mirinda
Yeah I really enjoy interacting with the fans, unfortunately a lot of the time as you said it’s very brief –a lot of the time the race is on you, I’m doing a signing, the line is crazy because I’m racing the next day, and I need to go to my hotel room and get ready for my race. So, it’s tough, but it’s really nice to be able to engage with the small amount that I can at this point.

I get emails all the time from young women — all the women, guys who have seen me race, or seen the NBC coverage and have been inspired by that. I just got an email yesterday actually from a young women who suffered of depression, she came across me somehow on the internet and from there has changed her whole life around. She’s now racing triathlon, she never get use to live the house — had a rough childhood and now she’s out, and about racing triathlons and really enjoying life. Stories like that really inspires me to try and get back and meet many people as possible. I don’t think I’m anything special but if I can help somebody out even though it’s not many people –I can reach one person, or a couple of people here and there, that difference is important to me. As I said, this is a great opportunity over extended period of time where I can be there, it’s not a beez trap because it’s not about me, its about the athletes and being able to spend time with them and hopefully help them on their journey.

Sam
And then obviously Siri — I was so fortunate to catch you and Siri in a week where both of you are available and she’s going to slip to spend individual time with each athlete. For those who get that opportunity, what do you think the whole week of training structure with siri and the ability for her to look at their training plan and just talk to them, how do you think that will?

Mirinda
Honestly, meeting Siri is life changing. If you have opportunity to spend time with this woman, it will change the way you look at life and not only in triathlon just your outlook on life, she is a special person –anyone that gets to work with her is very fortunate. I know her elite program is always full, she doesn’t really take on too many people because she likes to be able to focus wholeheartedly on the 20 athletes that she has. She won’t take on more than 20 pros in a year, and I think she has a handful maybe 5 of age groupers. This such a greatest opportunity — a rare opportunity where people interact with Siri, she’s different but in a good way.

Sam
Oh yeah! I just spent in the day with her — today going over the camp and the plan for iit was just amazing. We’re sitting here in the middle of January we were really serious as such a fanatic about the experience she wants to create for the camp coming up, it’s just amazing just full energy ,all the ideas that she has. Mirinda, I just want to to wrap this up because you’ve been so generous with your time and I know the audience is really going to appreciate it. A couple of quick wrap-up questions for you; If an Age group triathlete were listening to this, what’s the biggest takeaway you think that they should get from your journey? Obviously they’re not a pro, but what can they learn from what you’ve learn in the sports? What’s something valuable or just piece of training advice? What is your number one taking away for any triathlete that you’d like to leave us with?

Mirinda
I think we’ve kind of like talked about it, and that was always — do not be afraid of failures and always give your absolute best, and be okay with not reaching your goal and know that it doesn’t mean that you could never reach it– that mean that on that day you were not good enough. I guess that is for the main goal, always give your best in whatever it is that you’re doing.

Sam
Yeah! And I was just –it’s a powerful lesson just reinforced to me, I love giving this, doing this podcast because I seem to learn so much by talking to great mind like yourself and all of the people we got on the show, you know Mark Allen and Gwen Jorgensen and Jamie Turner, Bobby McGee and all this people and you have Tim O’Donnell here, your husband there to join us in the show that’s coming up because I know he has lot of fans out there and audience. And that’s another thing, finding the love of your life in triathlon. I know people want to hear a little bit more how it happened, how did you meet Tim?

Mirinda
We have different stories on how we met, I guess we met in Buffalo Springs in 2008, but I don’t remember it. We were in the medical tent, I was getting my first IV because it was ridiculously hot day that day, and the trainee nurse was giving me IV and she was doing a good job, apparently he was sitting beside me and I do not remember him that day.

Sam
That’s a good excuse

Mirinda
He jokes that! I remember we met in St. Crowley in 2009 and we met at the pasta party not before 2004, one of the pasta party –he came to sat down ,we kind of chat a little bit the day before the race I believe, and the next day he won and I got the second and he says that he needed to win the race so I could pay attention to him. It was just again opportunities come up he just move from the training center in Colorado Springs to Boulder and I every summer I would come from Australia I was going to St. Crowley and heading back to Boulder for the summer, so he’d move to Boulder in January or February and I was just coming back for the summer. so he moved to the town I was training in and we had a connection in St. Crowley, we started dating probably June or July of that year.

Sam
OK, was that the famous pirate race, where he lost?

Mirinda
Yep that’s it!

Sam
I love that story, he was so focus on you, tell the story what happened there?

Mirinda
Yeah. I didn’t know about this until off the woods. I guess he was so focused — he’s fired for the race, he’s so ready, he break those records and , the race record in St. Crowley such and old…

Sam
You were there, he knew you were there.

Mirinda
That definitely was it. He crossed the finish line and realized that he only had one lens in his sun glasses, and so he was like looking around it must have popped out at the finish line and then she looking back through photos and on the back he had one lens so he basically — for the whole race one lens in the glass and without a lens at all, and he didn’t realize that was the case until after he finished the race and so he became that part of St. Crowley.

Sam
Because he was so focused, yeah! That’s a great story, and I think just for anyone who just listening, there’s so many –but triathlon is such a great adventure, and no matter what happens if you would have won any World Championships would’ve met Tim, the journey would’ve all been worth it. Just all around an inspiring story I think everyone’s going to get a lot of this. Thanks for joining us today Mirinda and Triathlon Research listener, thank you also for joining us.

Mirinda Carfrae and Siri Lindley will be at our Spring Camp in Boulder, Colorado from 5 – 9th of May, so if you are interested on that, you can go to our website triathlonresearch.org and find out all the information on how to join that camp. One final point I wanted to make about that camp is, if you’re intimidated training with the World Champion, she’s going to be absolutely — Siri promises me absolutely demolished from St. George, right?

Mirinda
Absolutely! I’m racing to St. George the weekend before that and It was actually my week off. I’m very good at taking my off time serious,so…

Sam
So while Mirinda will be there too and some nice workout with the people in the camp and demonstrating she’s not there to make you feel slow and more importantly the camp is very focus on technique and learning discipline individual tension from Sir and her team of coaches on you and your form and each discipline strength training with your secret weapon –strength trainer, and all the things that Mirinda does in her gym in Boulder, Colorado that she does being to become a World Champion, you going to do and see over the across the weeks so open groups all age groups, all levels.

Our main criteria is you speak on one of our coaches before we — see if you’re a good fit for the camp and that just not to screen you for ability, but more for passion for the sport and make sure that you’re all going to reach your goals, because we don’t want you to make big investment on the camp and it’s not going to fit what you’re trying to achieve on the sport.

The goal don’t need to become World championship, they just need to be big and something that you’re passionate about, so we just wanted to emphasize that. Mirinda would love to meet you no matter what your age or ability level is in the sport because we know that there’s a large community involved,all different talents and abilities, and all of your journey is important not just those were chasing her in Kona.

Thank you for listening, and we look forward to another episode soon. We’ll try and get Siri Lindley on here shortly, and Suzanne Atkinson has many more interviews and episode coming up, so you will hear her again soon. Thank you and have a great day!

Hi its Mark Allen 6 time triathlon world champion. I hope you enjoyed today’s show, I recently participated in a triathlon research boulder summer camp and I spent time with athletes on the final day of the camp teaching them how to quiet their mind on race day to realize their full potential. To get a free copy of my new book the Art of Competition leave a review on iTunes and we will send you the book. All you have to do is email a copy of your review to [email protected] and triathlon research will send you the book.

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