Health and wellbeing are a huge part of the alumni community and some of our alumni are personally involved in brand new challenges and events. Ghassane Bouhia, is here to tell us about the Ironman Challenge, and how he prepared for this exciting event working out, setting nutrition and lifestyle changes while improving his mindset, strong will and spiritual approach for the competition.
Ghassane, you recently completed the Ironman on 22 September 2018. Where was it held and what was the challenge?
I’ve just finished my third ironman- Ironman Emilia Romagna. It was held in Italy in Cervia. A beautiful city on the Adriatic coast.
Ironman is a triathlon race that starts with a 3.8km swim followed by 180km bike followed by a marathon (42km run)
How did you prepare mentally beforehand?
To complete the Ironman you need to be in a good shape for a training program that takes around 6 months. I train every day, sometimes I would run in the early morning and do my indoor biking in the evening. Sustaining such a training program every day and every week, builds a strong mindset, focus and discipline.
How did your relationship with food change?
During my training program I eat as much as I want as I burn more calories than I eat.
Did you see it as fuel and follow an eating plan?
I make sure I keep hydrated during the week. I try not to have too much sugary food to train my body to burn more fat for energy and less carbs.
Did you ever contemplate you would not complete the ironman? What moves you forward?
There is a mantra that I keep repeating to myself during the day. It says “Trust your training”
If you have put the time and effort and respected the training program you will complete the Ironman. I don’t let the doubts mess up my day by repeating the mantra.
What was your focus throughout?
During the day I focus on one activity at a time. At the start of the race, my only objective is to finish the swimming part. I don’t think about the fact that I still have to bike and run afterward. It would make me too tired just by thinking about it. Same goes for biking. I try to enjoy the ride. And then comes the run. I don’t tell myself I have a marathon to go. Usually the run portion is made of 4 loops. I go one loop at a time and think of one loop at a time.
Do you feel stronger spiritually from doing it?
Ironman has helped me in my professional and personal life. It has given me the strengths to go beyond the obstacles of everyday life. When I have a stressful meeting to attend, I think of how I jumped in the sea to swim 3.8km with the waves and the jellyfish and the competitors throwing their arms and legs at you and tell myself that I found the courage to go through that, so there is no reason for me not to go through any challenge.
How do you recuperate on the toll the iron man takes from your body over the months that follow?
You sleep more, you eat more because you lost so much weight and you call back your friends that you haven’t seen since you started training for Ironman.
Does the high still follow after it do you have to deal with a low?
The high follow for a while and you feel invincible and then you get the post Ironman blues. To make it go away you have to find your next challenge.
Why keep doing the iron man?
It gives me great discipline and focus. My life has gotten more organized since I started training for my first Ironman 3 years ago.
How does your decision to do the Ironman have on your family?
Finding a balance is quite difficult. I try to do my training early morning but I still have to do my long runs and biking sessions on the weekend. It is a compromise. I do think that Ironman made me a better family man as I make sure that I spend more quality time with my family.
What does it feel like to be part of the Ironman community?
It feels great to be part of such a great challenge
How has this improved your ability to focus in your life?
Training is like meditation. You train your body and your mind to focus on one thing. This translates into life and gives you a better focus
How have you applied the same mental agility to your EDBA?
Training for an Ironman is all about getting organized. Same goes for the EDBA. It is a great challenge but the only way to achieve it is through putting every day the time, efforts and focus to cross the finish line.
On balancing life, work and spirituality what wellness advice would you like to share?
Everybody needs a challenge. It can be participating in a 5 or 10k race. As long as you train for a goal and make it happen you get the high and a boost in your life. Give yourself an achievable goal and stick to the plan. Next time you won’t be scared to go for a bigger challenge.
Rowing across the Atlantic ocean. One day. Who knows?!
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