Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 28 - Will McGough - SWIM BIKE BONK - Part 3 of 3

Yeah, I'm kind of wondering did you expect, and again, you talked about this in the book, but I'm curious, on a deeper dive, did you expect the whole journey to be kind of as emotional as it ended up being, the various times through training, leading up to the race, the race itself, all the emotions that you kind of, I’ll say suffered through but experienced; did you anticipate that or was that kind of a surprise to you?
Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 28 - Will McGough - SWIM BIKE BONK - Part 3 of 3

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JESSE: Yeah, I'm kind of wondering did you expect, and again, you talked about this in the book, but I'm curious, on a deeper dive, did you expect the whole journey to be kind of as emotional as it ended up being, the various times through training, leading up to the race, the race itself, all the emotions that you kind of, I’ll say suffered through but experienced; did you anticipate that or was that kind of a surprise to you? WILL: I didn't you know, I didn't because when you look at it from the outside, you think it's just like, okay, I mean, it's just like an athletic event. Okay, maybe you'll have some emotions of just nervousness or excitement or whatever. But what I was surprised is when you're experiencing such physical agony is I'll describe it, where your mind takes you and what you think it's almost like your life is flashing before your eyes. I mean, that's a little dramatic, but it's like, things would come into my head that I would picture friends, I would picture your family. I would have these kind of like deep emotional conversations with myself as a result of this physical agony. And grinding that out was something that you know, it's almost like meditative. I've always kind of, you know, you're walking on a treadmill, you let your mind go and kind of goes through all the problems you're having. Well, okay, walking on a treadmill, that could be hard, I guess. But that's nothing compared to going on 100 mile bike ride, right? So, when you get into these situations, and you're really now like at the bottom of your barrel, what your mind and emotions come up with was really surprising. But what I was also surprised about is how quickly your mind can cure your body. You can be like head down at a stoplight one second, and then work through that in your mind and coming back to this extreme confidence or determination or whatever. You know, turning that corner again, how quickly your mental state will affect your physical state. So, in terms of that, I was surprised because I just thought it was more straightforward of like, okay you train and if you train hard enough and you're in good enough shape, you're going to be able to do it. But when you're talking about a distance this long, it's just inevitable that something is going to come up. Whether it's a cramp or a nagging or just in my case, being completely unprepared. So, stuff’s coming out of - field all the time that you didn't know about, because I never made it in my training, the full distances. I never I think the furthest I ran was 14 miles, once. So, I was nowhere close so you're in the unknown. And so, that really surprised me just how your mental, how deep mentally you can go in terms of your suffering or what you're perceiving, thinking about. Even some of the deepest, darkest things just because you're being ripped down, you're being totally torn down as an individual. And my God that was an experience, that was interesting. Yeah. You feel that way? JESSE: Yeah, no. Like my first 70.3 experience, I had kind of similar snafus as you did with the race. I had a flat tire before the race even started, and luckily the bike technicians lent me an entirely different wheel because I have a kind of wheel that you can't replace, it’s a tubular. So, the tire is the tube, you can't just replace it, it's glued on. So, he had to lend me an entirely different wheel so that my - got messed up. And I like got tunnel vision. My vision was literally going black for the last like five miles of the run, ended up in the medical tent in the end. I was just like, just so out of it so emotional. And I kept just being like, I didn't-- My goal was to qualify for as a professional. I think I ended up maybe like four hours 40 minutes for that first one. I really need to be around like four 15 so not even close, and I kept just being like, this is dumb, why am I doing this after as I'm sitting in the medical tent. And my coach always says, especially when it comes to big decisions do not make any big decisions right after a race, you're always way too emotional because you're so drained physically. You think you're maybe in the right state of mind to make a decision, but you simply aren't. You're not capable of making big decisions at that point in time because of the toll your body's taken physically, mentally, spiritually. See, I've certainly been through the wringer a number of times, which is why I haven't had the desire to do a full because I know how hard I push myself through the halves. I’m like I might die on the full like-- Yeah, so that's why I backed down. WILL: I wish I could offer some perspective. I have no perspective to offer, I've never done the shorter one. But they seem more intense because it's all about speed and like yeah, crazy all you got because you know the distance it's really the speed with what you do the distance, not necessarily. And your approach is much different than mine and this was a big separator between a lot of people and myself because my goal as much as it annoyed, I think the serious racers like yourself I was just-- My whole goal from the very beginning was like let me just see if I can finish. It was never about a certain time, it was never about, oh, I want to impress people with this or that. It was just like, let me see if I can survive this, you know. And that was, so that's, I think, a big distinction because you're now like emptying the tank, whereas I'm just trying to drag myself as far as I go right. So, that-- JESSE: Yeah, there's definitely a class difference there. And I don't mean that in a derogatory way, but there are people that, hey, let's just finish, if I improve on my time, that's great. And then there are you know, I spend most of my time with the people that are like, hey, I want to ?? 6:03>, hey, I want to win this race. There's definitely a different attitude. I think it takes both kinds to make a race. I don't think you should have felt too alone just because I think the vast majority of the field is more hey, let's finish this race. It's a monument in and of itself to finish it, let alone in three months, dummy. WILL: Yeah, that's actually what I found. A lot of the old timers or I guess like the people that really love the sports were actually kind of annoyed by people's perspective of just wanting to finish. They thought that was sort of, I don't know, watering down is maybe the wrong word, that could be their perspective. I don't know if I would say that. But they just thought that it's like, no I'm here because I love to swim, to bike, and to run. And you're here because you're trying to prove something to yourself or because you're trying to do a memorial to someone or whatever the case may be. In the book I talk about a lot of different motivations people have. But I just found, it was interesting as the sport has grown, there's sort of this now, maybe it's dramatic to say, a conflict, but not really, because people were kind of annoyed at me and my presence. Even if I was not like, hey, I'm trying to do this on a short timeframe even when I just said, I'm just here, I want to see what it's about and see if I can do it. They were like, okay well, move along, join the club. It was kind of like, why this, this is what I love to do. And I kind of understand that if there was something I, you know, writing I'm very passionate about that. If someone's like, Oh, I want to be a travel writer, I just want to see what it's like, I'm like, dude this is my career. This is my thing, like back off. So, I can understand that perspective, and I don't know where you fall on that. I mean, obviously more participation in the sport for whatever reason is probably good for the sport overall. But I know Ironman has really taken over because from an outsider before I came in, you living in Hawaii, obviously you hear about Ironman a lot, but I don't really know. I couldn't tell you any other triathlon circles ?? 8:02> sure that Ironman is not the only one, but it's become the most famous and the most, as they would say iconic. So, yeah. JESSE: Yeah, no, it definitely dominates. There are essentially two scenes. There's the long course scene which is often, half Ironman, Ironman, as Ironman buys up all the races that are long course and brands them and then there is ITU, which is International Triathlon Union and it is a draft legal format for the professionals. So, you can group up on the bike and draft in packs. So, it is a more aggressive, tactical style of racing, and then it is basically a quarter of the length of an Ironman. So, yeah, there's two separate worlds. If you want to be in the drafting world, you have to be a very good swimmer. Because if you don't get onto the bike in good position, your day is done. WILL: Yeah, fair enough. Your lost in the pack. Yeah. JESSE: Yeah. So, I'm kind of wondering if because of how emotional training is and the race and everything, do you feel like that has changed you at all as a person? Do you feel any different, are learning can have lasting effects aside from lingering soreness, maybe? WILL: Yeah, I do, man. I appreciate you reading the book, one of the things that I was just interested was for people like yourself to read it, people who are really passionate about this, because I know I'm a dick, I know, I'm coming at this like this is your baby, and I'm like, some new guy coming in. And of course throughout the book, like I'm doing my thing and being competitive and poking fun when that happens trying to be light hearted about it. But you know, over the course of my experience I didn't really expect it but I did learn a lot of things. You know what, I have a ton of respect for triathletes now. I was sort of at the end of the book, talking to one of my buddies about this idea of like perseverance, like is just such a huge human trait to have, right, to be able to. Because in life like again, not to get too like broad, but I mean, we're talking about this breakdowns that you go through emotionally. You really have to dig deep and if you want this, you have to go and like, nobody's going to help you and it has to all come within. And with something like the Ironman or any triathlon, there are going to be hurdles, there are going to be walls, you're going to bonk, you're going to screw up your nutrition, you're going to get to flat tires, before the race even starts. You're going to have saddle soreness, you're going to have digestive problems, like all of these things I've experienced and you have ?? 10:41> about in great detail. So, there's so many reasons to quit along the way, and nobody's going to blame you. Nobody in the-- that I experienced was like, oh, wow, well-- I mean, most people were like, every time I would tell them about some of these ailments, it'd be like hell, dude, why the hell are you doing this? Like of course you're gonna have that. And so, I don't know, I'm a writer, I like to philosophize a little bit. And I think that idea of just persevering, even when it's just like, everything is telling you this is dumb or you shouldn't be doing this. But it's like, well, it doesn't matter because I want it and I can do it, you know. And that power of belief, I think is so important. And I really saw that in a lot of competitors who maybe didn't have a business being there, or I didn't think they should be there, or people told them, they shouldn't be there. And that was a big drive for people proving to themselves and others that they could do it. And I take that mentality into other aspects of life, because whether it's your career or whatever it is, there's going to be roadblocks and reasons to quit. And if you're going to quit, then you're not going to finish, right. And then what was all that for? So, I take that mentality away that idea of perseverance and that idea that no matter what comes up in front of you, you have a choice, right? And no matter how big that wall is, you always have that choice whether to climb it or not, and it's up to you whether you take it. And those who climate finish and those who don't, they don't you know. So, that was for me, I think. JESSE: Yeah. So, one of the things I was wondering is who should actually read the book? I mean, are you trying to educate average Joe about it? Should triathletes read it? And I think if you give it to a triathlete, you should be like make it through the first half like try not to get too offended the first half. But I mean, who are you after with this book? Who should actually pick it up? WILL: Well, I mean, okay, I look at this project as something okay, like Bill Bryson did with the app trail, right. I'm a hiker, when I read that book, I was so annoyed with him like for a lot of it because it was like, all right, man, you are just completely kind of disrespecting something I love to do. You're coming at this like so naive. It doesn't even seem like you're trying to understand, right. But then when I got to the end of the book, I loved it. I was like man, this is so cool. He's trying to capture something I experience and, okay, it's not for him. And that really introduced a lot of people both like avid hikers and just non-hikers to the app trail. Now that's like a huge thing. I'm not comparing myself to Bill Bryson, he's super successful. I'm just saying when I look at it, I'm like, I think anybody can read it. I tried to write it as approachable as possible. And it's just like, here's my story and here it is. And if you want to learn what a triathlon and Ironman's all about, and it's growing so much now that I think that everybody, even if they're not into the sport, they know someone who is. So, maybe this can give them kind of an understanding of what people are going through, and just sort of that like every man underdog kind of idea. And for people like you, just some perspective on your own self and your own sport, not recognition in that sense, but someone is taking the time to kind of understand what you do and learn about it and suffer through it along with you and just kinda dig into it. And I tried to make it as light hearted as I can because that's my personality. But I don't think there any steak knives in there where I'm really driving it in your guy's heart and being like you guys are stupid or wrong for doing this. It's just sort of me coming in as an outsider, making light of what I see and trying to suffer through it along with you. So, I hope it's for everybody. I mean, but only you guys will judge that. I mean, you still wanted to have me on an interview after you read it, which is, I guess a good sign. You didn't take the opportunity to like, ?? 14:44> at me, so that’s good. JESSE: Well, I can talk to just about anybody. I mean, even if I'm like, this guy really get on my nerves. I'm like, all right, let's give him-- No, no-- No, I think the book is enjoyable. I do before I ask you where we can get the book, I do everybody, so this season, which is this year of the podcast, I ask everybody the same question. It's going to be a little bit different for you. Maybe you'll give a little bit different perspective, but I asked everyone after a hard workout, or could be a race, in your case, you only have one. So, we'll say after a hard workout. If you only get to choose one food for recovery, what do you choose? WILL: Wow. Okay. So, one of the most disappointing things about this for me was that a lot of times, not every time, but a lot of times after big workouts, you keep picturing in your mind, at least for me, I was like, I'm picturing a beer the size of a trash can, like get me through this. I can't wait to be done, this is no-- But your body kind of like rejects that. Like you get into this spot where you think like you're imagining this cold beer all the time, and then you get there at the end of the workout and it's in your hand and it just doesn't taste very good. So, that was kind of disappointing. I thought that was really cruel about this sport is that like motivation of food the whole time, but by the time you've had like 10 goos, and three Clif Bars, you're kind of, and the Gatorade, you're kind of like... But for me, man, I'm pretty standard, dude. I'm a chicken and mashed potatoes kind of guy or chicken and baked potatoes. So, a lot of my workouts were just you know, after that I would eat very plain and simple, either mostly chicken breasts with some baked potatoes. And for me, that's like protein and carbs, super good, really easy to cook. You just put it in the oven and forget about it for a while. And so that's what I usually went with. I had all these visions of you know, after the attempt at the Ironman what I was going to eat and... But as you guys will read about and you've read about by the time it was over, I couldn't even eat. So, it was so disappointing, man. I just really, that was actually-- thanks for bringing it up. Actually, that was the most discouraging part of the whole thing was like really, my-- this is cruel. All that and now I can't even have my final feast, come on, that's-- Yeah, so chicken and potatoes, buddy. Yeah. JESSE: Chicken and potatoes. All right. Well as we're recording this, this isn't out yet but it will be as soon as you are if you're watching this, it is available. Where can people pick up the book and read about your adventure? WILL: So, the book should be at bookstores across the country, Barnes and Noble, etc. But obviously, welcome to 2019, the easiest way is to just jump online Swim, Bike, Bonk, Will McGough, you'll find it on Amazon and a bunch of different retailers and you can buy the book that way. And I hope that if it annoys you or you get pleasure out of it or whatever, you just want to talk shop hit me up. You can find my email, I’m pretty approachable so love to talk about the book sometime if you're interested. JESSE: And you are low on social media profiles as I am as well. But if people want to find you, WILL: Yeah my company is Wake and Wander, if type that in, you'll find it. Yeah, Will McGough is my name, I'm on you know Facebook and stuff like that. And is my email which you can also find on the internet. So, I'm a low profile in terms of how much I post, but you can find me on there. JESSE: Sounds good. Thanks for coming on today, Will. WILL: Jesse, thank you so much, buddy. Appreciate it. JESSE: Take care. Go to Part 1 Go to Part 2

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