The four-time iron-distance champ talks setbacks, successes, and her quirky mental toughness hack.

As a triathlete, Lisa Roberts has experienced it all: the high highs, like multiple Ironman wins and course records; the low lows, including injuries and even professional embarrassment last November when she accepted a public warning for an anti-doping rule violation after using an asthma inhaler containing a prohibited substance in a race. (She was not suspended and has since obtained formal permission to use the inhaler.) But through it all, Roberts, 39, has displayed her trademark resiliency—and plenty of patience. Here’s what gets her through the ups and downs.

“After the USADA ordeal, I went through a period of anger, depression, and anxiety. I struggled to find the point in training anymore with this stigma of ‘cheater’ hanging over me. If anything, I hope my experience will make other athletes question the medications prescribed to them. I have to focus on the positives that could come from that experience, otherwise it is very frustrating and embarrassing for me.”

“When I was 11, my dad broke his neck and became quadriplegic during a pool party we were having for our softball team’s championship win. Despite all circumstances to the contrary, he persevered. And that comes through in the training and racing I do. Even though my dad has passed away, he continues to be my driving force when the going gets tough.”

“Honestly, I’m far from the most athletically gifted or talented person out there. But I try to make up for it in pure grit and determination. My strength is my tenacity and sheer stubbornness to never give up.”

“Sometimes I purposefully put myself in stressful circumstances just to practice mental toughness. Like, I’ll choose the obvious wrong line at the grocery store and stand there, calm and focused, while the other lines flow through.”

“The ultimate lesson I’ve learned [in] this sport is patience. Whether you’re 100-percent healthy, recovering from injury, just starting out, or have years of experience, patience and trust in the process is key.”

Lisa’s Faves

Races
The one-two punch of Triathlon Alpe d’Huez and Embrunman; I’m not a fan of flat courses
Place to train
My hometown of Tucson, Arizona
Training partners
Leanda Cave and my Trisutto teammates
Post-race meal
Burger, fries, and a milkshake
Piece of gear
Timex Ironman GPS watch; I love the simplicity of it
Holiday
Thanksgiving because it’s a big family day, and it’s close to my birthday!
Band
Imagine Dragons