Many triathletes dream of this: to take part in the Iron Man in Hawaii one day! For 28-year-old Philipp Mock, this dream came true for the second time in 2016. We talked to him about his career as a triathlete. Read here what motivates Philipp and what five tips he gives to other competitive athletes.
Already started twice at the Ironman Hawaii: Philipp Mock from Eschwege.
From 0 to 100: Philipp’s career as a triathlete
Philipp’s great passion was actually handball: As a youth, he trained intensively in the handball team. He came to triathlon rather by chance, when in 2004 in his hometown Eschwege a people’s triathlon was organized, the WerraMan.
Philipp was fascinated and a year later he took part himself, but without any specific training: "After an injury in handball I had bought a racing bike to get fit again". Running was also part of handball training. I could swim well enough to get through 400 meters. So I just signed up there for a new experience."
First triathlon experiences: More fun than hard training
When Philipp looks back on his first triathlon today, he notes: "At that time, the 400-meter swim, 25-kilometer bike ride and 5-kilometer run, which is a common distance for a people’s triathlon, was a huge challenge. I can remember that I was already out of breath after the swim."
Nevertheless: The passion for triathlon had gripped Philipp. At the annual competitions, he set himself the goal of "beating last year’s time", but without thinking too much about training. The most important thing for him was to enjoy the sport, with handball still being the most important for him.
Never lose the fun in sports, even during competitions, that is Philipp’s motto.
Philipp has only been intensively involved in endurance sports since 2010, when he left his hometown and his handball team for study reasons. "In the same year I also did my first Olympic distance in Hamburg, which surprisingly was quite successful without any real training."
This was followed by Philipp’s first participation at the Ironman 2011 in Frankfurt. His resolution at that time: "Reach the finish line with fun."
In general, the fun in sports plays an important role for Philipp. "No matter what sport it is: It is important never to lose the fun, no matter how motivated or how ambitious you are."
Crossing the finish line with fun: Success at Ironman
This attitude also seems to bring Philipp success. His Frankfurt Ironman experience was "top-notch": "I was allowed to get a podium place in the age group right away". And with that, the next big topic suddenly came up: "At the award ceremony, I came into contact with the topic of Hawaii for the first time. Since the qualifying times were not far away and I had actually just started with the sport properly, the goal for the next year was set on that day. Participating in Ironman Hawaii, the biggest race and origin of long-distance triathlon."
Staying on the ball: How Philipp motivates himself in the long term
Under these conditions it was not difficult for Philipp to find the necessary motivation for the training: "I was really burning for my next goal: This was the participation in the Ironman Regensburg 2012, where I wanted to get the qualification for Hawaii."And also there it went for Philipp again super, from the start to the finish: "Fastest amateur, top 10 overall – the dream Hawaii became true."
We are interested in how Philipp actually manages to keep his motivation over such a long period of time. And how does he deal with low blows, which every athlete encounters once in a while?
Defeat? Keep fighting!
No competitive athlete is spared doubts and defeats. When Philipp asks himself in such moments the question "Why am I doing this to myself at all??", then he already knows the answer: "I enjoy sports and love to face new challenges". As long as that’s true for him, he knows "it pays to stay on the ball and put a lot of passion into the sport".
Long breath: As a triathlete, Philipp has to motivate himself over long distances.
In addition to the joy of sports and new challenges, "qualities such as self-discipline and ambition, but also the ability to practice self-criticism are necessary – especially in those moments when set goals are not achieved".
So Philipp himself also had to endure setbacks: He entered Ironman 2016 with the hope of building on his great success of 2012, when he won the 3. Place in the age group had made. He started perfectly prepared and at first everything went according to plan: "After the bike race, I was able to start the marathon with a good feeling, being in the lead in the age group."But then his body went on strike during the transition, the circulation went crazy. Philipp did not reach the goal he had set for himself, the marathon became longer than planned.
"But that’s triathlon," finds Philipp. "Even though my participation in Ironman 2016 was not entirely positive, I was able to take away valuable experience for the future."
In his opinion, athletes should accept that "lows and defeats are just as much a part of sports as victories and beautiful moments. It’s important to accept that and not let it drag you down. And as long as you love what you do and burn for the cause, you are on a good path."
Swim, bike, run: Triathlon is a huge physical challenge.
Did you know?
The term "triathlon" is composed of the Greek expressions treis/tria for "three", and athlos for "competition". The first multi-discipline event under the name triathlon took place in California in 1974, and four years later the first Ironman Triathlon was held in Hawaii: 3.8 km swim, 180 km bike, 42.195 km run.
Since 2000, triathlon has also been an Olympic discipline (short distance or Olympic distance: 1.5 km swim, 40 km bike, 10 km run).
5 motivational tips from a pro
Thanks to his own many years of experience in competitive sports, Philipp also has some useful tips for other athletes:
1. Set intermediate goals
To stay motivated in the long run, Philipp finds it quite "helpful to have a big goal in mind that you’re working toward". But it’s just as important to set smaller interim goals, he says: "These can be very different, such as a single goal in a training session or a competition.".
2. Regularly set yourself new challenges
Boredom during training is poison for your motivation. Philipp’s tip is to keep taking on new challenges: "Then motivation stays high".
3. Try to get better day by day
"But my real goal is to get better every day and to get the most out of my training," explains Philipp. This positive basic attitude can also be adopted in races where not everything went according to plan: "If I can say afterwards that I did everything that was possible on that day, then I can still take something positive from negative results – even if the big goal was missed. Next time it can be completely different again."
Ambition is good, but enjoyment of the competition is even more important!
4. Always get back to the basics
"Unfortunately, when the goals get higher, many forget the real reason they started the sport in the first place," Philipp laments. Back to the roots is therefore his motto: namely to do sport for sport’s sake and to put ambition on the back burner: "Instead of always focusing on times and dates: Just go out and share your passion with others"!"
5. Have fun& stay loose
Philipp’s final advice to all readers of this article who are pursuing athletic goals of their own is to "Live your dream! Go out and enjoy what you’re doing, no matter how high the goals are". In his experience, it’s much easier to achieve goals when you’re relaxed.
Portrait of triathlete Philipp Mock
- 2012: 7. Place Ironman Regensburg overall, fastest amateur, 1. of the age group (AK) 18-24, 3. 1st place Ironman WC Hawaii AK 18-24
- 2014: 14. Place Ironman 70.3 Mallorca overall, best amateur, 1. AK 25-29
- 2015: Fastest Amateur Challenge Fuerteventura Middle Distance, Vice European Champion Ironman 70.3 Wiesbaden AK 25-29
- 2016: 10. Total, 1. AK Ironman 70.3 Budapest, Vice European Champion Ironman 70.3 Wiesbaden AK 25-29, Ironman Hawaii
2017: Time for new sporting goals!
For Philipp Mock, 2017 brings a major change: he no longer competes as an amateur, but now continues his career as a professional triathlete.
And how about you? Are you also highly motivated and have you set new athletic goals for 2017? Then stick to Philipp’s advice: go for it with passion and fun! By the way: your training is guaranteed to be much more fun in a professional-quality jersey – just take a look at our running clothes or cycling products.
We would like to thank Philipp Mock very much for the exciting interview and wish him much success and all the best for his future as a professional triathlete!
Images: Article image; image 1-4; 7: © Philipp Mock; image 5: © iStock/ positivelydigital; image 6: © iStock/ ZamoraA