Jason Pohl, professional triathlete
Life often demands a lot out of us in the pursuit of our goals and dreams. There is often a point in time in the pursuit of a goal or achievement where it all feels too much. You may feel like throwing in the towel or giving up on the goal. The people around you may not understand the internal battle you are going through. You may be struggling with self-doubt, thoughts of quitting, the pain of the process, or the ultimate question of: “is this really worth it?”. I would ask: would the goal you are trying to achieve have as much meaning without the struggle?
Without struggle, there is no growth. Success comes from hard work and perseverance. No matter the goal or what you are trying to achieve, honour your process. Whether it is an athletic goal, performance goal, health goal, financial goal, career goal, it makes little difference. Appreciate the process and learn from the wins and the losses. You are who you are today because of both. I want to share my story of what I have endured over the course of the past 12-months. My hope is that it will inspire you to not give up on your dreams and goals; that you will continue to persist on whatever you have set out to accomplish.
My name is Jason Pohl, and I am a professional triathlete that specializes in long course triathlon, also known as the “Ironman” distance (3.8km swim, 180km bike, 42.2km run). In my profession, each time I race, I put my livelihood on the line. Racing to win, racing for prize earnings and points as well as sponsorships. Knowing the risks of the sport and the high speeds we race at, there is an extraordinary amount of pressure at different times.
Over the course of this past year, I was able to hit a couple top 5 performances including a 4th place finish at Ironman Coeur d Alene in a world-class professional field. I also raced at the 2022 Ironman World Championships in St. George, Utah and ended up 21st in the world. This was my first Ironman World Championship race as a professional. On the surface, it would appear everything was going great. But, behind the scenes it has been a different story. Since my 4th place finish last summer at Ironman Coeur d’Alene I have experienced many challenges and setbacks. I suffered two concussions, a blown out hip flexor, and was hit by a car while cycling. I had had multiple bike crashes including one that caused me to miss a race, the other was 1.5 days before a race that lead to my hip seizing up during the race. I had a total of 5 DNF’s (did not finish) because of hip issues as well as two older injuries to my achillies tendons that resulted in tears in each of them.
Most recently, I raced at Ironman Mont Tremblant, Quebec. My team and I were confident that I could go for the win. I overcame everything listed above and thought I had all of my injuries managed well. I focused on my 4 years of hard work, development, persistence, and sacrifice to\ get to the level needed to become an Ironman Champion. This has been my goal since pursuing this career as a professional triathlete. I was fit and mentally ready. As the race progressed, especially on the later part on the bike, my right achillies started to become very painful. I pushed through the bike and made it to the run, unfortunately by that time the pain was immense, and my leg completely stopped functioning. I had to end my race 5km into the run with my inability to walk. This was a heart breaking for me. All the hope, hard work, and dedication to pursue a win, completely gone.
To be vulnerable, it’s been a very challenging chapter; mentally, physically, and financially with all the DNF’s. Each time it happens, it is heartbreaking all over again. Confidence gets shot down and then I must rebuild myself back up. This is where all the thoughts and self-doubt come in. I have asked myself many times; “Is this all worth it?” or “do I pursue something else?”.
Ultimately, I am not giving up on my goals and dreams. I take full responsibility for these circumstances. I need to pursue more opinions by medical professionals and get the proper treatment for my achillies tendons so that I am 100% healthy and functioning.
Currently, I am taking a step back to finally get the proper team to help me overcome my achillies and hip injuries. It will take a lot of hard work and dedication, but once I am healthy and functioning properly, I will keep fighting for my dream of becoming an Ironman Champion. I am hopeful this can happen within the next year!
This past year I have seen some success, but I have also experienced many heartbreaks, setbacks, difficulties, and a lot of self-doubt. It’s been a rough journey to say the least. However, it is not about how we fall (because there will always be times when we fall in achieving our goals); it is about how we persevere and bounce back. Be proud of the work you have put into what you are trying to achieve and trust that life’s wisdom has put you in a place exactly where you need to be to grow. You can achieve your dreams if you stay persistent.