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Ironman champ joins Fit Nation team
June 16th, 2012
08:00 AM ET

Ironman champ joins Fit Nation team

Editor's note: Chrissie Wellington is a four-time World Ironman champion. Her autobiography, "A Life Without Limits," is available on Amazon.

It is an absolute privilege and an honor to be able to introduce myself as a guest coach of CNN’s 2012 Team Fit Nation Tri Challenge.

My warmest and heartfelt congratulations go out to the extremely Lucky Seven who have been chosen to embark on the special, exhilarating and incredibly empowering journey from beginner triathlete to the finish line of the Nautica Malibu Triathlon on September 16, 2012.

With just over three months to go until race day, the countdown is well and truly on, and the team has already taken part in a week-long training camp in Hawaii. Truly a baptism of volcanic fire!

Every Tri Challenge member has committed to try and reach this new, ambitious goal, and I will help them get there, offering regular guidance, advice, support and encouragement to enable them to realize their dreams.

Of course, no challenges are ever easy! We all have our own personal barriers, be they mental or physical. We are all nervous about trying new things, testing ourselves, taking risks and giving ourselves bigger mountains to climb. We all worry about the "what if"s.

But really the only limits are those that exist in your mind.

Ironman champ: Train your brain, then your body

Four years ago I was asked whether I would ever do an Ironman. My response? "No way, you must be completely mad to do something like that!"

But once I had done the shorter distance races I realized that maybe the Ironman mountain wasn’t so big after all. I gained confidence in myself, and with the support of my coach and training partners, I seized this new, exciting challenge with both hands.

But imagine if I had never gone back on my word: If I hadn’t changed "I can’t" to "I can", if I hadn’t dared to push myself harder, and - most importantly - what if I hadn’t had people to support, encourage, mentor and make me believe in ME? I would never be sitting here as a four-time Ironman world champion.

Setting a goal

It takes a huge amount of courage to try a new sport and set a new goal, and so the first thing to say is "Congratulations!" - not only to the Fit Nation Team, but to everyone who has taken a leap into the unknown.

The first thing to do when you set yourself a goal is to make it real. Write it on a piece of paper, tell your friends, post on social media sites, forums, etc.

“I WILL complete my first triathlon!”

And recall and remember what initially motivated you. Was it the physical challenge, the thrill of competition, raising money for a cause, to be a role model, to improve your health, meet new people, learn new skills ... as a drunken bet?!

You will need to recall your goals and motivations during the tough times. Share this goal and your motivations with friends, family, work colleagues and anyone else who cares to listen.

It will be important to be able to lean on them all for support as you embark on this wonderful new adventure.

Training

Triathlon is a fantastic sport, but for a novice it can also be quite daunting. Remember though, that every athlete - even Olympic medalists and world champions - was once a beginner.

Entering the race and making it tangible gives the CNN team members something to aim for, and helps them shape and focus their training. Yes training, that all important vehicle for enabling them to realize their dreams.

I would advise anyone, professional or amateur, to see training in a holistic sense - it's not just about swim, bike and run. It is about training my body to be the best it can be. That means strength and conditioning, nutrition and hydration, massage rest, recovery and sleep, as well as honing the important weapon of all: "The mind."

As I help guide the CNN Fit Nation Lucky 7 through the different components of training, and ensure they have the armor they need to fulfill their race day goal, I hope everyone reading this will also be able to take away some tips, advice and information that they can apply to their own sporting journeys.

Overcoming obstacles

My own experience tells me that anyone can defy expectations of what is possible.

I had a bad bike crash two weeks before the World Ironman Championships in Kona last October. I sustained some serious injuries, both superficial wounds and internal damage. During that race I dug to the very depths of my soul and truly pushed, beyond any limit I thought existed, to win my fourth world title.

I have no doubt that Team Fit Nation members can overcome any obstacles in their path and fulfill their dreams of becoming triathlon finishers - and inspire everyone else out there to do the same.

So, without further ado, replace “I can’t" with "I can!.” Take a deep breath and let the training begin!

The adventure of a lifetime starts here.


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.