Photo of Ironman Champion Mark Allen during the bike phase of the race, courtesy of Mark Allen.
Photo of Ironman Champion Mark Allen during the bike phase of the race, courtesy of Mark Allen.

Ironman Triathlon, with Mark Allen

Photo Courtesy of Mark Allen.
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Photo of Ironman Champion Mark Allen during the bike phase of the race, courtesy of Mark Allen.

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About This Episode

Swim 2.4 miles. Bike 112 miles. Run 26.22 miles. All in one day. Easy, right? On this episode of Playing with Science, hosts Chuck Nice and Gary O’Reilly enter the daunting world of endurance racing as we explore the science behind competing, and succeeding, in the Ironman Triathlon. For those unfamiliar, the Ironman consists of three stages: Swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles, and running 26.22 miles competed in that order, without a break, in roughly 17 hours or less. If it sounds crazy, that’s because it is. 

To understand the psychological and scientific practices to help one succeed at an event like this, we sit down with Samuele Marcora, Director of Research of the School of Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Kent, and Mark Allen, 6x Ironman champion and voted by ESPN as “The Greatest Endurance Athlete of All Time.” 

You’ll learn more about fatigue and why it has been difficult for scientists to figure out a baseline definition. Discover more about the “perception of effort” and how it impacts performance. Samuele tells us about studies that have showed ways to alter the perception of effort in order to increase or decrease performance. You’ll find out how the brain can tire just like the legs, arms, etc. You’ll also learn if you can fatigue your opponent’s brain. We investigate brain training and how self-motivational talks can help physical performance. 

Mark shares his early failures at the Ironman competition. You’ll hear what drew him to the field of endurance. Find out how he cracked the secret to win his first Ironman after failing to win the first 6 times he competed. Mark explains the importance of training and how he altered his training program to be slightly harder than the actual event. Lastly, you’ll hear how Mark deals with the negative voice inside his head. All that, plus, discover the importance of 1-6-21-Infinity and why Mark uses it to describe his career. 

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Ironman Triathlon, with Mark Allen.

In This Episode

  • Host

    Chuck Nice

    Chuck Nice
    Comedian
  • Host

    Gary O'Reilly

    Gary O'Reilly
    Broadcaster, Sports Analyst, former Professional Footballer
  • Guest

    Samuele Marcora

    Samuele Marcora
    Director of Research, School of Sport and Exercise Science - University of Kent
  • Guest

    Mark Allen

    Mark Allen
    6-time Ironman Triathlon World Champion, Voted by ESPN as “The Greatest Endurance Athlete of All Time”

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