Shaping an “Ultra” mind | by Allyson Reedy | photos by Farrah Jobling

The Ultra Mindset: An Endurance Champion’s 8 Core Principles for Success in Business, Sports and Life

Posted on Mon, Jun 1, 2015

From careers to parenting, ultra-runner says resilience, attitude foster success

Travis Macy

Travis Macy has summited glacial peaks, run 100-mile races through deserts, and won the grueling Leadville Leadman race – all without any professional training. So how does this Evergreen resident get his body to accomplish such amazing feats? With his head. In his new book, The Ultra Mindset: An Endurance Champion’s 8 Core Principles for Success in Business, Sports and Life, Macy divulges his secrets, which can be as helpful for the everyday trials and tribulations of parenting as they are to getting through ultramarathons.

H&W: You’re a self-described average guy. How did an average guy become so successful at such brutal physical challenges?

Macy: I strongly believe that pretty much anyone can do pretty much anything.  Most significant accomplishments are the result of consistent hard work over time plus a resilient, positive mindset.  I’ve spent a lot of time training for endurance races, and I’ve also spent a lot of time working hard on my mindset and resilience.

H&W: Can you give us a quick rundown of what the Ultra Mindset is?

Macy: What I call the Ultra Mindset is a set of eight principles that can be used to grow and reach goals in parenting, work, relationships, fitness and just about any other area of life.  One concept is to be a wannabe. Get close to the people you want to be like. By identifying people you would like to emulate, you can find examples of people who are reaching goals similar to your own. Utilize the synergy and push each other.

Another concept is that the stories you tell yourself make all the difference. Negative stories must be rewritten and replaced with better ones. These can be nothing more than positive mantras — “I am getting stronger with each step” — that can be cued up in your mind to replace the negative ones — “I can’t take another step.”  Recognize your negative stories for what they are — just stories and nothing more.

H&W: You have two young kids (Wyatt, 4, and Lila, 2). How does the Ultra Mindset help with parenting?

Macy: Any parent knows that raising children is truly an exhausting, ultra-distance event.  Like most parents, I get tired and impatient at times, like when I’m getting up in the middle of the night or managing tired toddlers who are breaking down in the afternoon.  For me, the Ultra Mindset is absolutely essential at these times.

Viewing your challenges as positive, essential elements of building a winning mindset is so important.  When the going gets tough, tell yourself: “This is good mental training.”  Remember that self-control can be trained, just like any other muscle.

H&W: It’s so easy to get derailed when raising young children. Any tips for pursuing your dreams while still being an involved parent?

Macy: The best thing you can do for your child is to lead by example. Personally, I want to be able to tell my kids that I have dreams and that I pursued those dreams because of them. Because I want to show them how important it is to go for something big, and to show them just how to do it.  I want them to see that I fail all the time, but I keep hammering away, looking for new and creative solutions. I want them to see that the only real failure is passing through life on cruise control while spending your time doing something you don’t really care about.

It can be hard, though, to pursue big dreams when day-to-day challenges can be so exhausting. I’ve learned to cut back on TV and social media, be more present with my kids when I’m with them, and to only focus on what is truly important to me. My wife and I have a mantra: “Need less; do more!” It works!

Ultra Mindset

Travis Macy

H&W: You write about how your own father (recognized ultra-runner Mark Macy) is the reason for your interest in endurance sports. How did your relationship with him jumpstart the Ultra Mindset?

Macy: My dad never pushed me toward endurance sports. I just loved being out there with him, which in turn created the love of the sport within me. I’d watch him train and race and try to keep up. He’d say things like: “Hang tough, Bud. Don’t stop on the climb. It’s all good mental training.”  I figured at the time that all little kids were out in the woods biking and running and working on mental toughness, but I have since realized that’s not always the case.  These early experiences made a huge difference for me.

My dad’s dedication made such a huge impact on me, and my advice to parents is to teach your kids to be resilient by exemplifying it, by talking about it and by working on it yourself.

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