Lessons of Iron War: Mind Over Matter, or: How the Mind Can Change the Body

At a press conference held two days before the 1989  Ironman, a reporter asked the several top male contenders seated together behind a long table in a conference room at the Kona Surf Hotel what it would take to win the race. Everyone ducked the question—everyone except Dave Scott, six-time winner of the event.

“Eight ten,” he said.

Scott’s answered drew whistles and raised eyebrows among the journalists seated in folding chairs facing the athletes’ table. After all, Scott’s three-year-old course record was 8:28.

Two days later, Dave Scott went out and completed Ironman in 8:10—and lost to Mark Allen, who clocked an 8:09 after having gone no faster than 8:34 in six previous unsuccessful attempts to win the race.

At one point, my quest to explain Iron War brought me to Ypsilanti, Mich., where Stephen McGregor runs the exercise science laboratory at Eastern Michigan University. McGregor’s research focus is the running stride. He uses accelerometers and abstruse mathematical tools to shed light on how the strides of superior runners differ from those of lesser runners, and how the stride changes as running performance improves.

Read the full article “Lessons of Iron War: The Mind Can Change the Body” on Triathlete magazine’s website.

Download a pdf of the first chapter of Iron War!