What I Learned on Mile 7 of the Ironman

In 2012, I decided to do something crazy — complete an Ironman race. Notice I said “complete” and not “compete”. There is nothing competitive for me when I’m attempting a 2.4-mile swim followed by an 112-mile bike ride and then a 26.2 mile run, all in one day. I just wanted to finish.


With a race that goes all day (literally), there are a lot of pieces that need to come together for a finish to happen. There are a lot of things that need to be clicking.

This was never more true than the day I did an Ironman. I had trained hard, preparing months on end, and I was zeroed in on this one race.

What you Learn About Yourself When the Tank is Empty

It’s interesting what goes through your mind when you are consistently “exercising” for 14 hours straight. Yes, I am that crazy. You learn a lot about yourself, including how many songs you can whistle in one day. It’s more than you think.

That day on the course, I learned lessons about life, God, and yes — perseverance.

Mile seven on the run will be a mile I never forget. My race plan was to stop running and only walk through every aid station on the run, which happened to be every mile. Walking through would give me a chance to refuel and gather the energy for one more mile.

Suffering didn’t come hard on that day.

Mile seven was no different, but instead of walking through the aid station I stopped to get fuel. By stopped I mean STOPPED. Dead in my tracks. I wasn’t moving forward.

This wasn’t the first time I had stopped on race day. But it would be my last.

Just Keep Moving

Within a split second of stopping, a race volunteer approached me, looked me in my eyes and said:

Just keep moving! Put one foot in front of the other. What do you need? I’ll get you whatever you need — but I want you to keep moving. Do not stop!”

I knew what he was doing. He was not about to let happen to me what had been happening to athletes all day long on the course. He was reminding me of something I had forgotten as my determination became cloudy.

I quickly jaunted back into motion. I told him what I needed as I jogged (read: walked as fast as my tired legs would carry me) out of the aid station and onto mile 8.

I will never forget this story. It parallels the journey you and I are on so closely.

Sometimes I Need Someone to Point Out the Obvious

You and I lose track of the obvious fast. We forget some of the easiest pieces on this journey are found in small pieces of obvious.

They sound like this: “Just keep moving.”

When we get stuck in life, we forget the obvious. I needed someone to point out the obvious to me. What is the obvious for you?

I Need to Take it One Mile at a Time.

The obvious will get us moving again, but it’s perspective that will keep us going. Changing our perspective — remembering life is a marathon and not a sprint, will help us to regain our composure. A marathon requires small but great focus.

Just take it one mile at a time. This is a small focus. Focusing on the person we want to be 2 years from now will point us in the right direction, but it won’t get us moving there. Focusing on what we can change today is what will get us moving.

Notch off one mile at a time. The person you are longing to become, the person God is calling you to be, will happen.

I Had More in Me Than I Thought Possible

Mile 7 was a turning point for me in the race. I learned I had more in me than I thought possible. It took someone else to remind me.

Allow me to be the next person to remind you — you’ve got more in the tank than what you think.

Life is hard. It will come at you from every angle and not be gentle. But with Christ beside you and everyone cheering you on, you’ve got it in you.

I finished an Ironman that day. I became something I had only dreamed of up to that point. But, I will never forget Mile 7. I learned something more valuable than a finish.

Let this journey you are on be the same. It’s worth everything, I promise.

|| This post originially appeared on A Journey Worth Taking, where Ben writes regularly. Grab his FREE eBook Your Story Matters and step into the incredible life God has for you TODAY. ||

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