Video: Tim O’Donnell’s New Mental Approach to Racing

"As a person, Mark's [Allen, his coach] biggest complaint about me is that I'm too nice."

“As a person, Mark’s [Allen, his coach] biggest complaint about me is that I’m too nice. He always tells me you have to get that nice guy out of you on race day.” American Tim O’Donnell chats about his mental approach to racing.

More from our interview with O’Donnell, which we did after watching his one-week out strength session: Do you have any superstitions surrounding this race?

O’Donnell: I have a few things. One of them is that I don’t swim in the ocean before race day. And the other thing is I don’t travel—Rinny [his wife, three-time Ironman world champion] usually comes out earlier than I do—and I stopped doing that the two years that I’ve done both of those things, 2011 and 2014, were my disaster years, so I figure they may be nothing, but it’s not worth the risk. Talk a little bit about the workout today, the strength workout, and why are you doing strength workouts leading up to the race?

O’Donnell: Today is my last longer training day. I rode about three hours and 15 minutes with a 30-minute run off the bike. I rode up to the turnaround and back. That was all aerobic, kind of my last long aerobic day. Now at the end of the day, it’s my last strength session. I’m here at the Four Seasons with my strength coach Erin Carson from back home in Boulder at Rally Sport. It’s just our last chance to get a little more muscle improvement and turn everything on. We’ll do some heavy lifts, not as heavy as we normally do, and in shorter reps, maybe sets of 5, and really the goal is just to activate and get feeling good and wake everything up after that long plane ride. What do you love about the sport, this race, and the Ironman World Championships?
O’Donnell: I’ve always been one that loves to challenge myself, and that’s why I fell in love with triathlon and particularly Ironman racing—even more so coming to Kona for the Ironman World Championships. I’ve had the chance to do some cool stuff in my life, with my naval career and things like that, and I haven’t found any other way to challenge myself as an entire person as I have with racing Ironman triathlon. It really is the ultimate test of yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It really all comes together on race day, especially when you’re battling the conditions here in Kona. It’s how I test myself and push myself to the limits.