You, too, can be an Ironman

“It is nothing else than a self challenge,” said Rainer Tischler.

Why would a seemingly reasonable middle-aged gent who had never cycled on a race bike before, didn’t know how to swim freestyle and had never run more than 10km want to spend the better part of nine months training for this grueling test of endurance? At the age of 44 then, he finished the Ironman triathlon (3.8km of swim, 180km bike ride and 42km run) in Langkawi in 15 hours.

When I asked, “What made it all possible?” “Where there is a will, there is a way,” he replied without hesitation. “Once I say something, I can discipline myself to achieve something.”

The German and Liechtenstein national was a corporate hotshot before he retired at age 47, whose passion was to work with organizations and individuals to help them grow in applying some basic principles learnt during his work and private life. He also brilliantly relates sports to business.*


It’s not just all talk and no walk. He practises what he preach. In the late Stephen R. Covey’s (author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change) words, “…to learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know.”

Tischler, who had a major motorcycle accident back in the old days, hurt his eye and also had to undergo a knee surgery. It turned out that participating in an Ironman triathlon was his greatest comeback. The experience revived his ‘can do anything’ confidence.

Moral of the story – “Yes, you can.” Anyone can do an Ironman. It’s a matter of discipline.

“Most people don’t know what it is. It’s a race against your own self. It’s proving something to yourself that you can do it. I want to prove that I can, and that I can do it in nine months.”

This herculean task has an inherent danger and requires serious effort. It’s proven that it can be done, provided you begin training in earnest. A right mindset has, of course, been the prerequisite. “It’s definitely a mind game. People hardly go beyond 60% of what they are capable of.”

In truth the hardest part is not the day of the race but the preparation up to it. We are talking about getting in Ironman shape. Rainer trained 6 days a week, roughly around 25 hours. The rigorous training consists of doing laps in his private pool, cardio training in the gym, running around the Gita Bayu neighbourhood where he used to live and outdoor cycling at Putrajaya. You certainly need to be fully committed.

Most people don’t know what it is. It’s a race against your own self. It’s proving something to yourself that you can do it. I want to prove that I can, and that I can do it in nine months.

Nutrition also plays an incredibly vital role. And according to Tischler, you shouldn’t change your nutrition intake at the last minute or you might screw up on race day.

Besides discipline and strong will, the cost factor is a crucial key to contemplate over. Each entrant pays a fee of US$500, non-refundable. Assuming you don’t live in Langkawi, in which case most participants aren’t, you would need to consider the travel costs as well. And prior to the race, you’d have to be equipped with a universe of gears such as a racing bike, helmet, swim goggles, tech tee and so forth.

All these, just for the rush you’re about to feel when crossing the finish line and the four precious words – “YOU are an Ironman!”

“It’s fun. I enjoyed it.” 


Sports & Business 

  • Personal goals, status quo assessment, gap analysis, combined with a realistic plan with achievable sub-goals.
  • Disciplined behaviours (actions) that became good habits (positive results).
  • Constant re-evaluation of status quo against plan with appropriate adjustments.
  • Input/Support and advice from competent advisors and friends.
  • Positive reinforcement from achieving sub-goals, friends.


Photography Wilfred Yap