Friday, June 12, 2009

Marc Rubin's Amazing Journey to Triathlon

Need some training inspiration? Read Marc Rubin's incredible story:

I am a forty one-year-old attorney with 3 kids and a loving wife. I am obsessed with the sport of triathlon - specifically qualifying for Kona and the Ironman World Championship. To that end, I have to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles. To qualify, depending on the Ironman qualifier, I have to finish in the top seven to ten in my age group. To be sure, I have to complete 140.6 miles in just under 10-hours.

On March 7, 2009, I completed Ironman New Zealand in 9:55. In so doing, I qualified for the Ironman World Championships. This is my story.

At 41, I am having more fun in athletics than I've ever had. Having lost more than 150 pounds (take a look at the picture at the bottom of this page), I am on the fringes of being an elite triathlete. I now weigh 168 pounds and have just 6 percent body fat. I was named an All-American for my performance during 2007. I try to make healthy decisions now about what I do and what I eat.

You are probably asking how is that relevant to me or why do I care about your obsessions? One reason is that so many people told me that my goals were unrealistic and not possible. Are others limiting your visions? Your goals? I bet if you think about it you will find that they are. That makes how I destroyed my limitations relevant. My website is all about making healthy lifestyle changes by making good choices while setting and achieving our goals.

First, it is important to note that I was not always heavy. I earned eight varsity letters in high school and played football and baseball in college. Following college, my weight began to creep up - maybe ten pounds a year. However, following law school and while studying for the Arizona Bar Exam, I gained another sixty pounds.

On New Year's Day 2003, I sat by the trail that snakes its way up what was then known as Squaw Peak feeling like I was about to die. Weighing 325 pounds at the time, I also felt frustrated that I could not complete the hike with my wife, Suzanne, and our two sons, Nathan, then 4, and Joel. My family descended and went home.

I saw the disappointment in Nathan's eyes, I recalled. I sat at home devastated. I felt sorry for myself for a couple of days. It was like how in the hell did you get yourself in this mess? You've really done it now.

It is easy to see now how I got in that mess. My diet was replete with everything that is wrong with the American Diet. I was addicted to sugar and processed foods. I was drinking up to ten carbonated Coke products a day. I drank so many in fact that I actually became allergic to the caffeine.

Anyway, the hiking incident jogged my memory of my childhood. Growing up with a father who constantly faced health problems, rarely was I active with him. My father suffered from a debilitating hip injury, heart disease, and fought a prolonged battle with cancer.

I could now clearly see the generational pattern I was replicating. In the past I had lost weight, then promptly gained it back and more. I felt pathetic and lost.

Not long after this humiliating Squaw Peak retreat, a friend called to invite me to lunch.

I said great, I like to eat so I'll go to lunch.

The lunch turned out to be a major turning point in my life. I was stunned to see that this friend has lost nearly 70 pounds since the last time I had seen him. My friend had been under the care of Sofie Fontis, a weight loss doctor at Scottsdale-based Chiro-Med.

I told him that I would love to see her. Then he said, fine, because I've paid for you to see her. She taught me how to eat right, and the weight started coming off. Like ice melting, the pounds began to slowly disappear.

As they did, I began to feel reinforced by hearing positive comments on how I looked. The good feelings I felt began to snowball, motivating me to stay on my weight loss regime. I was hell-bent to stay on course. In six months I lost 40 pounds.

These forty pounds were the hardest pounds to lose because people actually tried to sabotage my efforts with comments like you look fine or reward yourself, etc.

Once I got down to 275, I became more active in the gym. Before then I was just walking every day. Once in the gym I got a trainer, she helped me regain my fitness and taught me about stretching.

In October 2003, a bit trimmer, I entered the sprint event at the SOMA triathlon. Amazingly, I crossed the finish line and I was hooked.

But then the nagging injuries began; old baseball and football injuries began acting up. A third-degree shoulder separation had ended my baseball career at Wake Forest, while a nagging torn knee tendon plagued me as a linebacker at SMU in the late 1980s. Also, bad form and an overly aggressive event schedule had me taking one step forward and two steps back for he next nine months.

Relief came at Endurance Rehab, a Scottsdale physical therapy company.

I work with Nate Koch, he's a big part of my story, he put me back together. I had tons of unresolved injuries from college. We worked on running mechanics; I had never been a runner. Now I was running 50 miles a week. I was going to get hurt. He made me more structurally sound.

I went from not being able to walk around the block to competing and completing Ironman Arizona in 2005.

It was stupidity! I went 14:37 my first year to 11:36 in 2006.

Following that adventure, I began to work with three time Ironman Champion Melissa Spooner. Melissa taught me how to eat and the principles that she taught me are the backbone of my diet today. In addition to diet, Melissa has helped me evolve as an endurance athlete.

In September 2008, I made a major change and switched coaches. I am now working with Hillary Biscay ( Hillary is another Ironman Champion (Wisconsin '08) and a true warrior. I love Hillary's approach to the sport and the fact that she loves the SMASHFEST. There is no one that I would rather work with than Hillary. She is accessible and I think she truly understands what I need as an athlete.

I train with an exceptional group of people. They are great athletes but better people. I would not trade my group at Tri-Scottsdale which operates out of Gainey Village Health Club and Spa for any other group anywhere. They have become my family.

Speaking of family, I owe so much to Lewis Elliot ( Lewis like Melissa and Hillary is also a professional triathlete and he has taught me the nuts and bolts about racing and pushing your body to the next level. I was not lucky enough to have a brother but if I did I would want him to be just like Lewis.

After going 10:10:59 at Ironman AZ 2007 I am working toward a 10-hour tri and the elusive Kona spot. In June 2007, I competed in IM Couer d' Alene. My training regimen for Coeur d'Alene- and the June 3 Escape From Alcatraz-consisted of riding 350 miles a week on the bike, 60 to 70 miles running and more than 13 miles in the water. Unfortunately, I came up just short finishing in 10:27. Ironman Florida 2007 was supposed to be my next shot. Unfortunately, I broke my collarbone racing in Dallas so I did not get that opportunity. Similarly, I was hit by a car training for Ironman Arizona and separated my shoulder.

Foolishly, despite the fact that I was not ready, I took another shot at Ironman Couer d' Alene in June 2008 . The rust showed and stomach problems led to my first DNF. I trained the rest of the summer to go under 9:40 at Ironman Arizona. Unfortunately, I did not have the day that I needed and finished in 10:30.

My training with Hillary continues and we both believe that I can go sub 9:45 in 2009. In 2009, I am competing in four Ironman races *New Zealand, Germany, Hawaii, and Arizona.

Now, my diet is based on the concepts I learned from Melissa and the principles in The Cure for Heart Disease by Dr. Dwight Lundell. This book demonstrates the benefits of a high protein low fat low carbohydrate diet. (If you have an interest in the book, please email me at

Look, CHANGE IS HARD. In fact, I tried and failed several other times to lose weight. Everyday millions of people decide to make a lifestyle change. And everyday, just like me, millions of people fail to achieve their goal. It is popularly believed that in 1953 researchers polled the graduating class of Yale University and found that 3% of the graduates practiced goal setting and had a set of clearly defined written goals.

In 1973 researchers went back and visited the class of '53 and found that the 3% of the graduates who had the clear and written goals had amassed a fortune worth more than the other 97% combined. This is powerful evidence that goal setting is a proven process in creating and defining success.

If you really want change to happen then you need to write it down. However, in addition to writing it down, I believe it is paramount that any goal that you set is a SMART goal.

SMART goals have four defining characteristics. They are:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Realistic
T = Timely


Goals must reflect what YOU want to happen. Notice the emphasis on YOU. Change for anyone other than yourself has a limited chance of success. Thus, if your spouse wants you to stop smoking but you have not bought in to that then the chance for success is limited. The goal should be to the point. Do not beat around the bush. If weight loss is the goal then rather than saying I want to look better say I want to lose 35 pounds. By emphasizing what you want to happen you will focus and define what it is you are going to do.

Specific is the nuts and bolts of what you are going to do. It answers the What, Why, and How questions.

WHAT are you going to do? Use action words such as lose, stop, start, etc. WHY is the reason that you want to change a behavior. It asks why is this change important to do at this time? What do you want to ultimately accomplish? HOW are you going to do it?

Ensure the goals you set is very specific, clear and easy. Instead of setting a goal go to the gym or be healthier, set a specific goal to walk 2.5 miles at a challenging pace.


If it can’t be measured then how will you know if you have achieved it? The goal you set becomes your metric by which you will measure your success. In essence, the goal statement is a measure for your success; if the goal is accomplished, there is a success.


Goals that are extremely ambitious or difficult you probably won't commit to doing. Although you may start out with a rush of energy and determination your subconscious will keep reminding you of this fact and will try to derail your effort. A goal can be a step in the direction of change. For instance, if you aim to lose 100 lbs that may be more than your subconscious can handle. But, by setting a goal to loose 2 pounds a week you can keep your subconscious interested. And when you've achieved that, aiming to lose further pounds will be a possibility


Do not confuse Realistic with a piece of cake. Realistic, in this case, means within your abilities. It further implies that the skills needed to make a change are available. If they are not available it does not mean the goal is doomed. Rather, it means an intermediary step of attaining those necessary skills is required.

If the skill are not available then devise a plan to get the skills necessary to achieve your goal . In my case, when I decided I wanted to lose weight and become a triathlete I had to take a hard look at my skill sets. I had flat feet, and every time I started to train I got hurt. Thus, I could not become an Ironman until my muscles and joints, etc. were ready. Therefore, I had to take an intermediary step and develop those skills before I could set a goal of becoming an Ironman.

Your goals should be such that they can be attained with some effort! If they are too difficult then you set the stage for failure. If they are too easy you send a message that you are not capable to your subconscious.


Remember your goal is your measure of success. Thus, always set a timeframe for achieving your goal. For example, I will lose 20 pounds by the end of January 2008. An ending point gives you a timeline to work within.

Setbacks can occur if you do not set a timeframe. If you don't set a time, the commitment is too vague. Without an endpoint, there's no urgency to start taking action now.

Writing down my goals and making these goals SMART has enabled me to make life saving changes to my behavior. As a direct result of doing this I have lost over 150 pounds and I am now within ten minutes of my goal to qualify for the Ironman World Championship. I use this skill in all aspects of my personal and professional life. Try this on a simple goal and see if it works for you.

-Marc Rubin

1 comment:

  1. In order to achieve any goal, one must think positively. Then be realistic with your goals by writing down steps that you can do within a given time frame. Be dedicated and don't let distractions worn you down.

    Goal Setting Tips