Mark Allen's Quest To Find Comfortable Jeans
Mark Allen holds the record for the most Ironman wins in history. When he won his last Ironman (the sixth) he was 37 years old, which made him the oldest Ironman victor in history at the time. ESPN has even hailed Mark as the Greatest Endurance Athlete of All Time.
Indeed, Mark is a badass. And when I found out Mark was an avid Mugsy wearer, I had to interview him for the blog. Check out my convo with the man, myth, and legend.
LT: Where did you grow up?
MA: I mostly grew up in Palo Alto, before anyone knew it would become the heart of Silicon Valley.
LT: How did you get into Ironman?
MA: I was a competitive swimmer from the time I was ten years old through college. But I was far from outstanding. Then in the winter of 1982, I saw the Ironman race on TV, and I thought 'I have to complete in this crazy event'. Little did I know that would turn into a fifteen-year career!
LT: For those who don’t know, what is the Ironman?
MA: It’s a race that takes place on the Big Island of Hawaii. It starts with a 2.4 mile open ocean swim, followed by 112 miles of cycling, and the third leg is a marathon run.
LT: I can’t even imagine completing half of one of those legs haha. How do you think your environment growing up affected you as a future athlete?
MA: The biggest impact is that my formative years were during a time and in a place where it was cool to explore awareness and consciousness. That broader perspective ultimately enabled me to become a champion.
Everyone else had given up on my chances of ever winning.
LT: So you see Ironman on TV and decide you have to compete in it. What happens next?
MA: I competed in and lost six Ironman races. Things just didn’t come together those early years, and at that point, everyone else had given up on my chances of ever winning.
LT: After six ‘failures’, why didn’t you quit?
MA: I realized I was trying to beat the other guys rather than use their greatness to help propel me. So I set the goal to finally have my best race ever. If I could do that, it wouldn’t matter how my final placing was because I would know that I did my best and that is the absolute best gift to be able to say you did.
LT: So what happened in race lucky number seven?
MA: I was running side by side the entire race with the favorite, a guy named Dave Scott. He had won six Ironman titles already! With just an hour left in the race, he started to surge. I was barely able to hang on; every fiber of my body was screaming to stop. But then I realized I had to get past the pain and embrace the moment...after all, I was contesting one of the greatest athletes in our sport! Suddenly I had complete inner peace, and that summoned this extra power in me. I ended up pulling away from Scott with just over a mile to go and winning by a margin of only 58 seconds. It became the first of my six titles in Hawaii!
It is really hard to find a pair of jeans that actually fits right, looks good and is comfortable. That's why I love Mugsy!
LT: That’s incredible! What would you say was the biggest obstacle you overcame in your career?
MA: The toughest thing for me was getting my internal environment in the right place. I had so many fears and doubts. But I also had great times of just dialing in my training and knowing that as long as I was engaged in the sport for the right reasons it would all work out.
LT: What is your favorite moment of your career?
MA: My final Ironman, when I was 37-years old (which would end up making me the oldest champion at the time) and I had to come from a deficit of 13:30 behind the leader. That race took the most of me on all levels: physical, spiritual, emotional.
LT: What do you do for exercise today?
MA: My go-to is surfing, and I get out in the water almost everyday. In addition to surfing I still run for conditioning and do functional strength work to keep all parts intact!
LT: Who do you admire most in the athletic world?
MA: Muhammad Ali. Athletically he was just incredible. As a person he was deep. Time Magazine put out a commemorative issue about his life. It’s just mesmerizing to read.
LT: What's your life motto and why?
MA: 'Change starts with you.' We all want something better but we tend to look outward to other people to create that change. In reality, it starts with each of us making those changes within ourselves first and foremost. From there anything is possible!
LT: What's your favorite movie and why?
MA: I love The Shawshank Redemption. Who doesn’t love Morgan Freeman right!
Build gradually over time. Whith that you can do great things in any sport.
LT: Haha fair enough! What's the one hack you would give to readers to run, swim, or bike faster?
MA: Build gradually over time. With that you can do great things in any sport.
LT: What's the one hack you would give to readers who want to train for an endurance race?
MA: If you can carve out two days per week to do a long swim, bike or run, that will give you about 80-90% of the fitness you need for an endurance race. Don’t grind yourself into the ground by overtraining and under-sleeping.
LT: Awesome, that's great insight. Switching gears here, what's important to you when it comes to the clothes you wear?
MA: My clothes don’t need to stand out like a spotlight. Everything I wear has to feel as good as it looks and has to be easy to manage. That’s why I love Mugsy--It is really hard to find a pair that actually fits right, looks good and is comfortable. Seriously!
LT: Appreciate the praise, sir! What's your go-to outfit for a night out?
MA: Mugsy Jeans, black T-shirt and one of those super light pullover sweaters. It’s Silicon Valley formal!
Want more Mark?
Luckily for other triathletes everywhere, Mark doesn't compete anymore. Instead he spends his days training triathletes of all levels from all over the world via Mark Allen Coaching. He also speaks at corporate events, sharing his stories to help others pursue their dreams via Mark Allen Speaking.
For more of Mark's insights, you can also check out his two books: The Art of Competition & Fit Soul, Fit Body: 9 Keys To A Healthier, Happier You.