Triathlete and coach Sharone Aharon faced some obstacles en route to completing his first Ironman.
First of all, he’d never done any type of multisport event. He didn’t own a bike. His longest run was about 20 minutes, done as part of his training for the Israeli Secret Service. The first time he got into the pool, he swam 200 yards—then went to the locker room and threw up.
Still, 10 months later, he finished the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and full 26.2-mile marathon at Ironman KONA.
As Aharon explained to me on this week’s episode of #WeGotGoals, getting there required a combination of confidence and naïveté.
“I didn’t have a doubt in my mind that I would make it,” he says. “Look at little kids—when they fall down, they don’t think, ‘OK, I will not ever try again.’ I think that’s what happened. I was this little kid who found a toy and dedicated his entire being to that.”
Plenty of challenges—he calls them “mosquitos,” because they sting but aren’t serious—popped up along the way. Still, so many things fell into place. He immediately got a sponsor, a client who supported his goals despite his lack of a track record. Even the fact that he was able to get into Kona in the first place was unusual and remarkable, he notes.
All this validated what seemed like an out-of-the blue decision at the time—but eventually led to to an entirely new career. “It just came up from within, from the core of my being,” he says. “I can’t explain it.”
“But at this point, it’s part of the way I coach my athletes, how to really engage with their emotions and their goals, and how to combine them together to produce great training and great racing.”
Over the 20 years since that first race, Aharon’s helped thousands of athletes achieve similar ambitious goals through Well-Fit, a triathlon training program he launched in 1998. In 2009, he built a bricks-and-mortar facility. There, at 1700 W. Hubbard St., athletes can strength train (alone or in group classes), swim in Endless Pools, ride bike trainers, and run on treadmills as they train for marathons, triathlons, and other endurance events.
“We took an individual sport and we made it a team sport, and we do that at Well-Fit all the time,” he says. “We have a team of people all competing individually, but because they work together, they actually achieve greater success.”
Well-Fit does have an elite team, members of which tend to finish races on the podium. But you don’t have to be an experienced athlete to take advantage of all the facility offers, Aharon says. You just need a dedication and a willingness to invest in yourself.
At first, “the notion was that Well-Fit is only for fast people. So I said, no … we are making people fast. That’s what we can do. What we realized is that people who come here and get the most benefit are people who care about their results,” he says.
How do you go from merely aspiring toward better performances to making them happen? In our chat, Aharon spills a few clues:
- Don’t skip the tough stuff. Endurance athletes often think long, slow distance will get them through a race. But the top performers stay in touch with high-intensity efforts and serious strength training, too. “We do need to use those high-end muscle fibers and energy systems,” he says. Also, don’t shy away from obstacles like wind or rain during training. Unless it’s truly dangerous to be outside, embracing the elements will only prepare you for what you may face on race day.
- “Surrender to the training plan,” he says. But don’t make it a cookie-cutter one; if you can, invest in a personalized plan and a coach who knows your life, then put your trust in that system. Don’t overthink your strategy or your workouts—just show up and do them. That said, a coach can help you fine-tune if your life starts to go haywire. During times of personal or professional stress, adjusting your plan to do less may be the best way to perform well without breaking down your body, he notes.
- Embrace cutting-edge technology. Novel methods and elements keep you mentally and physically engaged. Well-Fit has a brand-new bike room, complete with individual touch screens. Athletes can tap into group classes, choose from hundreds of pre-programmed workouts, or even just stream Netflix. And in a super-cool development, they’ve installed one of the few altitude rooms in the country, which simulates what it’s like to train in the thin mountain air. Athletes who log just one to two high-intensity sessions there per week have been winning races, setting personal bests, and recovering more quickly so they can do it all over again, he notes. “You train less, and you gain more. Who doesn’t want that?” he says.
In fact, Aharon’s next goal—besides carving out more time for his own training—is to make his style of altitude training more widespread and accessible everywhere. Seeing others’ success on the program only fuels him to reach higher in business and in the sport.
Listen to Sharone Aharon’s episode of the #WeGotGoals podcast for more tidbits on performing your best, and check out the Well-Fit website for more about altitude training options—and all of the group’s other plans and perks.
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