In October 2014 Lew Hollander intended to be the oldest triathlete to finish an IRONMAN. I was going to try it in Hawai’i. According to his words, the brutal wind of that sunny Saturday in Kona, something that he had never seen before in his 23 participations in that event, was a barrier too demanding to reach the dreamed finish line in less than 17h00′ which the organization marks. It was the first time in more than 2000 races of all kinds that Lew had to be forced to quit.
After just over a month, in Florida, the smile of the American was again in his face: after 14h57’39” Hollander got the record he was looking for: to finish the IRONMAN with ‘only’ 84 years of age.
Until a few centuries ago the life expectancy in Europe was thirty years, enough time for, as affirmed Eduardo Punset, “to learn to survive and to finish the evolutionary purpose of reproducing”. Few years were those to look to the future and think of happiness as something to achieve in life.
That in these moments the longevity has gained ground is translated in that one can arrive in the life to explore other lands, like for example the sports one. And this is shown by the Japanese Hidekichi Miyazaki, who is 103 years old and is still competing in the 100 meters after a start in athletics when he was 92.
According to experts in genetics, the first person who will live more than 150 years has already been born and even some research suggests that we could be lived up to 400 years. Time will tell.
What is certain is that from that book of 23,000 pages that is human DNA, we are constantly learning for its application to athletes. There are already centers in which, through the analysis of DNA, they are guided to continue with the type of training and nutrition most suited to their genetic characteristics.
And for some, in genetics is the answer to any chance of success at the sport. In that sequence of 23,000 genes it would hide if a person could become an Olympic champion or not.
But not all think so because there are those who say that the key to achieving any goal lies in the will, in perseverance. Guillermo Campitelli and Fernand Gobet with their “Theory of 10,000 hours” are some of the most outstanding defenders of the idea that training is the most powerful variable. Thus, in the conclusions of their research the two scientists affirm that to achieve sporting excellence, 10,000 hours of well-planned training are necessary.
The reality is that the kind of athletes who achieve the highest performance level is so varied: probably both the geneticists and the persistent, have some reason with their research.
Today the records keep beating. To this contributes that the science applied to the sport makes possible to know better the functioning of the athlete’s body during their preparation and with this new training plans are applied improving the previous ones in the quality of their contributions. At the same time daily customized nutrition plans are prepared for athletes according to their objectives, physiological characteristics and the moment of the season, leading them to perform at their highest level. Of course, these positive contributions of training and nutrition affect the plans of both the professionals and the amateurs.
About eight years ago Inés H. had never tried triathlon and not even swimming, but her dream was to finish the IRONMAN in Lanzarote at her 50 years of age. The members of her triathlon club were unanimously betting that she would not be able to make her dream come true.
What they did not know is that the true limits of a person are in many occasions in the mental barriers that each one marks. Anyone who wants to devote enough energy investment to achieve their goals can achieve them. And that’s exactly what Inés did: a few months after that (unsuccessful) bet of her teammates, she finished smiling the IRONMAN of Lanzarote (one of the most demanding of the world circuit) swimming 3800m, pedaling 180km around the island and ending with a marathon in Puerto del Carmen.
Various research show that to achieve happiness it is essential to enjoy a lifestyle with which to make sense of each day. And that was the real power of Inés to finish her first IRONMAN, all the ones that every year she has completed so far since then and all the numerous races that she has successfully completed after that moment back in 2011. In addition, each time she crosses the finish line she does it as usual: smiling. Seeing her you can understand that the limits are far beyond what you can imagine, that you only need to get involved with passion to achieve a goal. In short, believing in yourself is the greatest power you have.