It’s Easy To Do An Ironman

It’s Easy To Do An Ironman......

Wait a second Mr and Mrs Ironman! It CAN be easy to do an Ironman. Let me explain :

What’s harder, running a 5km or a marathon? Doing a sprint triathlon or an Ironman? Instinctually, people always say the longer event. But I didn’t ask what’s longer, I asked what’s harder.  Is it harder to win the Olympic Marathon or the Olympic 5000m? As a kid, I did push-up competitions against my twin brother – I would regularly do 40-50 sloppy low-quality push-ups. It was no surprise that when I did a bench press test in high school gym class I struggled to do 10 full depth reps of just the bar (no added weight)!

By valuing quantity over quality we are prioritizing short-term gain over long-term gain.

I am not sure as to why many of us have become obsessed with doing more and more, sacrificing quality for quantity. It’s not uncommon to hear some lawyers or CEO’s glorify their 80 hour work weeks. Albeit instinctually impressive, I don’t think we should be so quick to applaud. Quantity can be easy. It’s simply showing up. Clocking in, clocking out. Sure there’s some effort, but often it’s lackadaisical, lazy, and poorer quality. Wait, are you implying running a marathon is easy?! Well actually yes. Well, actually no; but IT CAN BE.

Don’t get me wrong, running a marathon can be extremely difficult, in fact, it should be, but so should a 5km. Oftentimes, I see runners simply running longer because it’s the easier choice; it’s the more comfortable choice. It’s easier to simply run longer than it is to commit to running with quality. Committing to quality is difficult. It takes times, it takes more of a commitment, it challenges us more deeply. It’s overriding our natural desire to bang out a sloppy 10 pull-ups, instead of doing 4 reps with a full range of motion. It’s committing to sitting less, doing yoga, doing drills, doing speed workouts, foam rolling, focusing on your diet, on your sleep, on your rehab, on your annoying toe crunch exercises, rather than simply running the iconic 100kms a week. You tell me what’s harder?!

In the therapy world, quantity over quality is an epidemic. Countless injuries are attributed to the “too-much-too-soon” principle. Maybe we let our egos take over to prioritize what’s easy to measure (pace, distance, lbs) over what’s hard to measure (quality, efficiency, feelings). No one is posting an Instagram video of themselves successfully doing the short-foot exercise for the first time, but I see a lot of marathon finish line pictures. I don’t see many “I can activate my transversus abdominus” bumper stickers, but I do see a lot of “Ironman” and “42.2” bumper stickers.

To summarize, there’s nothing wrong with doing an Ironman, Marathon, or Ultra Marathon but please understand that when someone commits to giving their very best, doing quality work, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a 5km, a marathon, a poem or a novel, or working an 80 hour work week or a 20 hour week. At The Movement Co., we love the following mantra:

“Move Well; then, Move Often.”


Thanks for reading!

Dr. Garrett