CRASH. DISLOCATE SHOULDER. RECOVER. RECHARGE. REFOCUS. RETURN. WIN. TWICE. CRASH. BREAK HAND. RECOVER. REPEAT. IT’S THE ATTITUDE THAT MAKES YOU SECOND TO NONE.
Daniela Ryf “THE PAIN GAVE MY BODY EXTRA ENERGY” Ryf on being stung by a jellyfish at Ironman Hawaii up. It wasn’t long before I felt like not giving it my all. I felt bad all the time.” Ryf suffered for almost a year and a half before doctors finally diagnosed small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO (excessive bacteria in the small intestine). With the right diagnosis, she was back to form within a matter of months. “In that year and a half, I had to learn that I couldn’t just crowbar my way through everything. The patience I learnt at that time now helps both in training and in the races themselves.” She continues, “I enjoy training really hard a lot more now, because I remember how bad it was not being able to put my foot to the floor the way I wanted.” Being behind gives you control October 15, 2017, Ironman Hawaii For the world’s top endurance athletes, the Ironman World Championship isn’t just an opportunity to go head to head in a show of power, but also a chance to demonstrate their mental strength. Lucy Charles, Ryf’s fiercest rival that year, knew that. The young Brit set an incredible time in the 3.86km swim – Ryf’s weakest area – missing the 18-year-old record of 48m 43s by just five seconds. Furthermore, Charles went on to extend her lead in the cycling – Ryf’s strongest area. At halfway, the Swiss triathlete was six minutes behind. She needed to turn up the heat. “Your position at the split time doesn’t matter – the important thing is crossing the finish line first,” Ryf explains. This applies to any long-distance exercise, but it’s especially true in Ironman where, she says, “the race only really gets going five or six hours in”. But how to stay cool when you’ve lost ground to your rival? “It’s easier for the hunter to stay cool than the hunted,” Ryf opines. “After all, it’s the hunter who’s in control of the situation. The hunted is threatened from behind, whereas the hunter has a carrot dangling on a stick in front of them. The hunter can calmly observe, study and take aim at the hunted ahead of them. The hunted has to maintain their pace and hope they don’t suffer a slump in form. So the hunter can decide when they want to give it their all and overtake.” And that’s exactly what Ryf did in Hawaii in 2017. Over the course of the final 40km of the cycle, she turned up the heat and went into the lead, then she proceeded to extend her advantage during the run. She crossed the finish line with tears in her eyes, almost nine minutes ahead of Lucy Charles. What slows you down now will make you faster in the future March 2017, training session, Gran Canaria Ryf was preparing for a season in which she hoped to surpass herself. It was still early in the year, but she already sensed that feeling she loved so much: the relaxedness of perfectly honed muscles and concentrated energy in her arms and legs. That morning, swim training was on the agenda. Regardless of the tempo of her swimming, Ryf barrelled her way through rough water. Suddenly, a twinge between her shoulders shattered her concentration. She’d torn a muscle. She could barely turn her head the next morning and had to take a complete break for 10 days. How the hell would she be ready for her first challenge of the season, Ironman South Africa? “The injury completely ruined my preparations,” Ryf recalls. Instead of being able to train harder every day, she was condemned to immobility. “I didn’t even feel I was an athlete any more,” she explains. But as the days passed, her thinking changed: she would no longer set her targets by the stopwatch or through clocking up kilometres; instead, she would do it by marking her THE RED BULLETIN 37