Lessons From The Iron Cowboy

Last week, we had the distinct honor of hosting The Iron Cowboy, James Lawrence, for a seminar here at Halevy Life. Lawrence is the only person to ever run 50 Ironman Triathlons in 50 days, in all 50 states.

An Ironman Triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run in that order and without a break—it is no cakewalk.

Just take a moment to wrap you mind around not only the physical and mental demands to do that, but the logistical demands it takes to organize 50 triathlons in a row across the entire country as well. This is the very definition of redefining impossible.

Having accomplished this, Lawrence has a distinct perspective on the body, mind, and life. A list of all the little gems and quotes that struck me would extend far beyond the bottom of this page, so here are just a couple of little lessons that resonated with me, and how they might relate to health & fitness.

What is your why?

Coincidentally, this is a question I’ve written about in the past. Do you know what your “why” is? Can you pin down your reasons for doing something, for acting a certainly way, for wanting to achieve a lofty dream that to some, might seem impossible? All motivation, in both fitness and life, comes from this simple question. Your why is your guiding force behind all your actions.

How obsessed are you about the journey you’re on?

Let’s face it, some of us would call Lawrence crazy for putting his body and mind through such rigors for 50 days; most people need a few days to even recover fully from just a marathon. Now, think about adding another 114.4 miles on top of that every day for a month-and-a-half.

It also takes a fanatical commitment to even organize those Triathlons in all 50 states. But that’s how obsessed Lawrence was about this journey.

What are you obsessed with? They can certainly be sustainable and healthy, like an obsession with self-improvement in the gym. Without the right amount of obsession in place, when the going gets rough, it’s hard to stay on the journey to whatever goals you set out for yourself.

The main takeaway here: get obsessed with your WHY. That desire to get better will find its way into your health & fitness and drive continuous improvement, even when the going gets tough, because…

…10% of life is what happens, and 90% is how you react to it and change your perspective

We have far more control of our lives than we think.

Let’s say that you had a rough day at work, and felt so discouraged by the day’s events that you can’t bring yourself to workout. All you want to do is go home.

Events, like whatever happened during the workday, are just that—events. They are neither good or bad. The only reason they seem that way is because you’ve attached meaning to them. The moment you stop feeling sorry for yourself, the sooner you begin to take ownership of your life and how your perspective changes as a result.

If 90% of life is your perspective of it and how you react to it…

…if you want something different, do something different.

Seems obvious, but you’d be surprised at how much of our day-to-day lives are routine and the same. It’s almost as if we’ve been programmed to do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. If I just continue creating these spreadsheets day in and day out, I’ll get a raise. If I just go to the gym for 20 minutes a day, I’ll lose 10 pounds eventually. If I continue with the status quo, will I get the status quo back, or will I get something different?

If your workouts don’t change, your progress will stagnate. When your progress stagnates, those goals that reflect something different enough from your current state won’t come any closer to fruition.

You can do 3 sets of 10 with 10 pounds on the biceps curl forever. You can walk on the treadmill at the same pace for 40 minutes every day. But don’t expect anything different if you don’t change your approach.

In Summary…

Hopefully, these lessons encouraged you to take a look at yourself in the (figurative) mirror, and to evaluate your body, mind, and life as it relates to health and beyond. Find out what motivates you. Get obsessed with that. Understand that you have more control of your life than you think, and do something different to produce extraordinary results.

by Jeremy Lau

Jeremy Lau is a Senior Staff Coach and Metabolic Lab Manager at Halevy Life.

Jeremy graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering and received his Master’s in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. In addition to his academic accolades, Jeremy is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).

Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Jeremy completed a coaching internship at Cressey Sports Performance, where he coached both amateur and professional athletes, among whom were many professional MLB baseball players.

As an athlete, Jeremy has played baseball competitively for most of his life.