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By Jason Pohl, Professional Ironman Triathlete

In the high-performance world, stepping outside of your comfort zone is where true growth and opportunity lies. Leaving the known and venturing into the unknown is like leaving a safe harbour and going into the abyss. 

I experienced a lot of success in my time as an amateur triathlete. I was on the podium in my age group for most races and many times placing top overall athlete amongst all of the competitors. Along with my dedication to training and racing, I built a successful wealth management career. Although I loved my career, deep down I knew I had untapped potential in my athletic career. I have always had a dream of becoming a world-champion. In 2017, I took a leap and left the comfort of both my success as an amateur athlete and my career with a steady income to follow that dream. I stepped into a world unknown to me as a professional athlete. 

A longest distance Triathlon, commonly referred to as an “Ironman” event, consists of a 3.8km swim, 180km bike & 42.2km run. In my first professional race I was dead last out of the swim and placed 32 out of 50 professional male athletes overall. To be quite frank, I was embarrassed! I had never been exposed to that kind of failure before and being a professional, the intensity of the defeat was magnified. I jumped into the deep end and had no choice but to figure things out. This is how I challenge myself and step outside my comfort zone. How do you step out of that comfort zone, the known world, and evolve into something greater?

The sport of triathlon is evolving. More and more Olympic athletes, professional cyclists and runners are flocking to triathlon. This shift in the industry means I have to respond and innovate as an athlete. I need to challenge myself and grow in order to obtain my goal of being an Ironman champion. I need to adapt to be ahead of this evolving industry.

I started swimming with groups that challenged me, so much so that often times I couldn’t keep up. I am training harder on the bike and challenging myself to ride with stronger riders and do harder, more advanced workouts. I added in more strength training. I am learning from professional runners to increase my run efficiency and speed. I hired multiple coaches for different aspects of the sport including one of the best triathlon coaches in the world. And I dedicate more time to training and development than ever before. 

It’s been a 3-year struggle for me as a professional triathlete. Through the struggle I was persistent and through all of my efforts I recently placed 4th overall at Ironman Coeur d Alene, Idaho and claimed my spot to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Next year I will compete in this world championship race against the top 55 male pros from around the world. I will be one step closer to my dream of becoming an Ironman champion. 

To be one of the best, you have to continually innovate and be comfortable being outside of your comfort zone. Studies have shown that when you step out of your comfort zone you are; more courageous, more willing to take risks, more open to trying new things, more present in the moment, more opportunity driven, and closer to your authentic self.

I want to acknowledge and thank Scovan Engineering for the impact they are creating in the industry and for their amazing support of my professional athletic career. 

Originally published in Scovan’s IGNITE Vol. 3