“There’s an entry level for everyone…Unless you’ve got doctor’s orders, you’ve got to start with something. Don’t let your head tell you, you can’t.”
Dave Ruby is a fierce athlete with an impressive drive and an even more impressive attitude. At age 59 and having competed in and conquered Triathlons all over the world, he is certainly a force to be reckoned with.
To give you some perspective, Dave Ruby has raced in Ironman and Xterra Triathlon Championship Competitions on 6 continents and has earned World and National Champion titles in addition to claiming multiple first place wins.
While his accomplishments are staggering, Ruby sets his focus on the enjoyment of his lifestyle and the benefits of cultivating a healthy body and mind. We interviewed him to find out how he manages his training and stays physically and mentally dialed in. After all, before he was Dave Ruby the Triathlete, he was a surfer, cyclist, and regular LA Fitness gym-goer.
To show you that the willingness to put in the work, and the enjoyment of that work, can take you from ordinary to extraordinary, allow us to take you into the life of Triathlete, Dave Ruby.
Where Ruby’s Fitness Journey Began
Before he started competing in Triathlons, Ruby enjoyed running, surfing, and cycling. One year, he decided he would enter his first Ironman run. As he ran, his body protested, and his mind told him this was something he should never do again. He has competed every year since.
We asked Ruby what many of you are probably thinking now. What got you back out there after that first punishing experience?
He responded that he learned to listen to the aches and pains in his body and take breaks to recover. Yes, that first experience was physically and mentally taxing, but caring for his body is what made the difference. It probably also helps that he is surrounded by others who also love the active lifestyle. In fact, his wife also happens to be a Triathlon champion!
The Transition to Competitive Training
Transitioning from training for the sake of living a healthy lifestyle, to competitive training for advanced challenges like Triathlons, was another turning point. Ruby reminds us that this isn’t an overnight change and that the body gets faster and more fit the more you continue to workoutwork out and test your limits.
There seems to be no active intention to give a little more to each training session because he genuinely enjoys the process. Race day is, in his mind, another (but more challenging) workout. We think this is likely the key to it all. The mindset doesn’t sit in the idea that this is just hard work; it revels in the process and enjoys the moment.
It’s true that for Ruby, sometimes it’s about setting a personal record and seeing himself outperform his prior abilities, but his favorite thing about competing is actually the travel and comradery! He enjoys the landscapes, the wildlife, and the people wherever he goes.
“I absolutely love traveling to far off places, seeing a new part of the world, [and experiencing] the heart of the area,” says Ruby. You are sure to find him “wandering like a local and experiencing the heart and soul of the cultures” when he’s not competing.
Preparing for Competition Day
All year long, Ruby keeps a base in terms of physical activity. “I put in 5 to 6-mile bike rides to train and do a lot of off-road bike rides,” he says. “While I’m out there, I look for wildlife, and enjoy it too. I enjoy the work. I strength train 3 to 4 times a week at the gym and swim,” he explains. Essentially, he strengthens the swimming, running, and cycling muscles so that they are conditioned for the type of work they need to do in competition.
His mental preparation looks a little different. There’s really no preparation beforehand because “running is a form of meditation” in and of itself, he says; “you get into a zone.” Perhaps the only thing he does differently, is the way he focuses his mental state before competition. He recognizes that “I’m out there to do the best I can for that day. A win isn’t a guarantee, anything can happen” (like a mechanical issue, an injury, etc.). He acknowledges the lack of control over certain environmental, mechanical, and chance-based circumstances and can simply focus on giving the best he has to offer.
It’s also important not to overdo your preparation before a big race, he notes. “You’re better off going into a race 10% undertrained than 1% over trained,” Ruby says, and we completely agree.
If you’re skeptical of your own ability to live an active lifestyle or accomplish a challenge you’ve set your eyes on, Ruby reminds us that “there’s an entry level for everyone.” Everyone’s starting point will be different and even the best athletes were beginners at some point.
“Unless you’ve got doctor’s orders, you’ve got to start with something,” says Ruby. “If you think you can’t do it, that’s an excuse. If it’s doctor’s orders that’s different, but don’t let your head tell you that you can’t.”
In the end, whether you are a serious athlete, you exercise for your health, or you’ve struggled to get started, what you can take away from Ruby’s story is this:
- Everyone starts somewhere so don’t be afraid to take the first step
- Choose an activity you get enjoyment from and look forward to
- Surround yourself with people who share the same passion for living an active lifestyle
- Come to terms with the possibility that anything can happen to mentally prepare for big challenges
- Don’t let your head tell you that you can’t accomplish something big
To hear straight from the man himself, listen to Episode 35 of our Podcast and listen to our discussion with Dave Ruby. Do you have an inspirational story you’d like to share with us? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured in an upcoming post!
For length, and clarity, minor edits – none of which alter the original or intended meaning – have been made to the quotes provided.