Crush Your Limits Interview with Iron Cowboy James Lawrence | 122

MORI 122 | Crush Your Limits

Have you ever felt pushed to your limits, whether it be physically, financially, emotionally, etc?

I had the rare privilege of interviewing the “Iron Cowboy”, Ironman James Lawrence who broke several Ironman records, including 50 triathlons in 50 states in 50 days. Check out these tremendous lessons that he learned that also applies to entrepreneurs, or any human, for that matter!

James Lawrence Bio:

James is a husband, proud father of 5 children, and an athlete. He’s held two Guinness World Records in 70.3 and 140.6 triathlon racing, dominated the 2012 World Record, smashing it by 10 races, winning 2 titles, placing 2nd in five others, and racing 30 races in 11 different countries. In an effort to raise money for childhood obesity and empower people to take control of their own lives, he decided to do more by doing 50 triathlons (140.6 total miles) in all 50 U.S states in just 50 days…and did it! That’s racing over 70,000 miles in just 50 days!!! Check out his site for more details on James.

Chris Miles Bio:

Chris Miles, the “Cash Flow Expert,” is a leading authority on how to quickly free up and create cash flow for thousands of his clients, entrepreneurs, and others internationally! He’s an author, speaker, and radio host that has been featured in US News, CNN Money, Bankrate, Entrepreneur on Fire, and has spoken to thousands getting them fast financial results.

Listen to the podcast here


Crush Your Limits Interview with Iron Cowboy James Lawrence

As a reminder, be sure to check out our website, If you’ve got requests for shows you’d love to hear or question you’d love to have me answer, shoot me an email at We’ll see if we can bring that up and create lots of value for all of you. I’m excited to have a special guest on. He is right in my backyard. This guy is in Utah. James Lawrence is here.

I saw James speak even though I did hear about his story with the huge challenge he did with doing 50 triathlons in 50 days. I’ve done four full marathons. I’m about to do a half marathon in a little bit here, but still, it blew my mind. His story and the things he had to overcome to do that amazed me. I was wowed by the story. It even brought me to tears, which does take a little bit of a story to do. It’s incredible. I’m glad to have James Lawrence on here.

James, welcome.

Thanks so much for having me. I didn’t mean to make you cry, but if that was a good thing, then I’m happy to have done it.

It’s an incredible story of perseverance, will, and overcoming great odds. I love it. I’m curious. I know you’re called the Iron Cowboy. Where did you get that name? Where did that come from?

It came from a race back in 2011. IRONMAN is not a good spectator-friendly sport. I try to involve my kids. I got five of them. I try to involve them in everything that I do. As a playful gesture, I wore a cowboy hat in one race so that they would see me coming and so they didn’t miss me. It stuck. Everybody loved it. It became this thing that made me recognizable out there. You want to come up with something that’s a little bit unique and different when you’re trying to raise money for charity and non-profit. It was a thing and a brand that stuck. I have it forever.

Were you originally a cowboy up in Canada where you grew up?

No, I’m originally from Calgary, which is known as the cow town. I’m the furthest thing from a cowboy. I’m a city kid. I don’t particularly like to get down and dirty.

Tell us a little bit. In your story, you said you hadn’t always been a marathoner or a triathlete. What possessed you to even want to do that?

MORI 122 | Crush Your Limits
Crush Your Limits: The key to making that plan perfect is execution.

I grew up wrestling. I did a lot of different sports but gravitated towards freestyle wrestling. I’m still a competitive guy. Going to the gym for the sake of going to the gym wasn’t doing it for me. I was challenged to do a little bit of running with my wife. It was hard for me. Looking back on it, I probably should have quit, but I’m glad I didn’t.

We get into situations where things are hard and it’s uncomfortable for us so we take a different route. The ego got in the way. My wife called me pathetic and I took that as a challenge. I dove in head first with running and marathoning, which evolved into a sprint triathlon. Eventually, it turned into Half and then Full IRONMANs. Several years later, we’ve got a few world records and the accomplishment of 50 IRONMANs in 50 consecutive days through all 50 states.

Tell us some of the records you had broken even previous to that.

I allowed things to happen organically as my body and my mind evolved over time. I took it step-by-step. I broke the world record for the most Half IRONMANs in a single year that was all official events. I did 22 Half IRONMANs in 30 weeks. I then went on to do 30 Full IRONMANs through 11 countries in 1 calendar year, which were all official events. I hold the record for the most Half IRONMANs and Full IRONMANs in a calendar year.

For some people that don’t have the reference and don’t know what a Full IRONMAN is, tell us the distance of each of these and what you’re doing.

It’s a total of 140.6 miles broken up into swimming, biking, and running. The swim is 2.4 miles and then the bike is 112 miles. After you do that, you get off your bike and run your standard marathon distance, which is 26.2 miles of running.

That is pretty crazy. Typically, how long does it usually take you to run all that?

Your fastest professionals are doing it in about eight hours. You have seventeen hours to complete this. My fastest is right around ten hours. During the 50 IRONMANs that were consecutive, I was averaging between 12 and 14 hours.

A perfect plan is an evolving plan. Click To Tweet

I know how bad I feel after a 26.2. It’s not fun. Even to do a Full IRONMAN is a pretty amazing feat in and of itself, and then you started doing that consecutively.

People that do marathons are 1% of the population and the people that do IRONMANs are an even smaller percentage. That’s what I do. We coach a team. We have Team Iron Cowboy. A lot of people want to try an IRONMAN and get ready for them, but don’t know how to do it. We bridge that knowledge gap for them. A lot of people come to us because of what I’ve done and the knowledge and experience that I have. They’re impressed with the feat.

For example, IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene happened and I had five athletes doing it all for the very first time. Without fail, the athlete always comes back and says, “I knew you were nuts before, but now I know you’re not human.” That’s because they do one IRONMAN and they can’t comprehend waking up the next day and doing that again, let alone for 49 more consecutive days. It’s interesting for me, too, to be in a position where we accomplished it when we were told it would be impossible. To be on the other side of it, I can see why people were saying that and why they thought it would be impossible. My wife and I look back and we’re still not sure to this day how we pulled that off.

You’ve taken the twelve-plus hours and then you’re trying to do 50 triathlons in 50 days in 50 states. Even 50 triathlons in 50 days is a challenge enough, but then to try to make sure you hit every state is incredible.

The logistics of that were as equally as impressive as the physical and mental feat. There are many components outside of the actual physical accomplishment to make it happen.

You said you spent months doing the planning and the logistics to make it work.

It was not just months. I spent a couple of years trying to put it all together and make sure that it all would work. Even then, once you start, your perfect plan that you’ve written down on paper maybe isn’t going according to plan. That’s how most entrepreneurs misstep. They’ll write out a perfect plan, and then as soon as things don’t go according to plan, they throw it out the window. They forget that nothing goes according to plan and that you need to be creative. You need to be patient. You need to be able to pivot in most situations because nothing’s going to go according to plan.

The flip side of that coin with entrepreneurs that are trying to do something is they plan themselves to fail. What I mean by that is they keep writing down the perfect plan and tweaking the plan. They forget that a perfect plan is an evolving plan. Without taking action on what they perceive as a perfect plan, it’s never going to happen. Once you have a plan, it doesn’t have to be perfect.

MORI 122 | Crush Your Limits
Crush Your Limits: You need to be able to pivot in most situations because nothing’s going to go according to plan.

The key to making that plan perfect is execution. People will plan themselves to fail because they don’t take the first step. They don’t think their plan is fully executable. Any plan, even the best of plans, is going to change, pivot, and evolve over time. If you have even half a plan, the best thing you can do is to start to execute it and put it into motion.

Our friend, Greg Reid, in one of his books, interviewed Daniel Cathy who’s the CEO of Chick-Fil-A. The advice he gave always stuck with me. He says, “Don’t plan.” It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever have a plan, but his thing was to make sure you have a good, solid vision. Maybe it is a five-year vision, whatever that vision is, of what you’re trying to accomplish. Plan on the first steps, but then be willing to roll with the punches. You’ll see if there’s an opportunity that comes along that you’re willing to adjust to it and not be so stuck to your plan that you plan for failure instead of success.

I love what you said. You said a plan for a five-year big-picture plan. What people try to do is they try to accelerate a big plan too quickly. They’ll set a giant goal, whether it’s in business, athletics, or whatever it may be. When they don’t achieve their entire vision in the first six months of operation, they quiver back out because things got hard.

With big goals, the biggest mistake people make is they don’t associate a proper timeframe with it. Setting huge goals is awesome, but you’re setting yourself up for failure if you set the timeframe on that goal too quickly. If you achieve your goal beforehand or before anticipated, that’s awesome. To not achieve a big goal in what your mind thinks it should have achieved, you need to adjust, and that’s setting yourself up for failure. With big goals, you need to have appropriate timeframes associated with them.

Did you have a doubt about the 50 days’ timeframe?

No. It was a journey ten years in the making. I did the Half IRONMAN world record, which prepared me physically and mentally. I also did the Full IRONMAN world record. When you do 30 Full IRONMANs in one year, and I know it seems completely irrational when I say this, but the next logical step for me was to do 50 consecutive. From where I was sitting, in my perspective, that was the next logical step.

In 2010 when I did the Half IRONMAN world record, had I said instead that I was going to do 50 IRONMANs in 50 days, then that would have been a ridiculous timeframe for my goal to do it in that year. I had to do the halves, fulls, and everything first in order for that 50-day timeframe to be realistic. It’s still an insane challenge, but the goal to do it in 50 days was very realistic. It wouldn’t have been realistic to do it five years earlier.

I agree. I love that. I know some people will get a big vision to have such a big plan for what they want to do, but many don’t start because it’s so big. It’s so outside of where they could even see. I noticed that in my life. The most success I’ve seen in many of the things I’ve been able to accomplish is once I can see it, then I can achieve it. Until that time, if I can’t see it in my mind, it doesn’t happen. That’s the way with most people. They can speak it and talk about it all they want, but it’s not something that they can say, “I’ve accomplished this. I’ve done this. For the next step, I can now do this.” It’s gradual. We don’t just leap for it and hope that we make it in one shot.

The biggest mistake people make with big goals is they don't associate a proper timeframe with it. Click To Tweet

The best example I can think of that is when we do coaching. We teach people how to get ready and eventually become an IRONMAN. What happens often is someone will come to us and say, “I want to be an IRONMAN.” We say, “We’re going to prepare you methodically for this goal.” They’re like, “That’s great. I’m ready. I’ll do what you say.”

We have 6 months or 1 year to prepare. We give them the first workout and it’s challenging for them. They get completely overwhelmed. They say, “If I can’t do this workout, there’s no way I can do an IRONMAN. The IRONMAN is 6 months to 1 year away.” I always have to back the client up and say, “We have the big goal. It’s an IRONMAN. Let’s forget about the fact that an IRONMAN is a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike, and a 26-mile run. Let’s take that off the table. Let’s look at today’s workout and today’s checklist. Let’s do everything we can to accomplish today’s checklist. If we do that and do all of the checklists every day this week, we’re going to be ready for next week. If we do them all this week, we’re going to be ready for next month.”

What happens is if we trust the process that we’ve laid out in front of us and surround ourselves with the right people, 6 months or 1 year from now, if we’ve done all of our smaller checklists, that big goal and that big vision is going to come together. We always have to keep in mind what the big goal is, but we need to put all of our focus and attention on the small tasks on the small checklist.

I say it all the time. Greatness is not achieved overnight. It’s by doing small things consistently over a long period of time. Those small things consistently over a long period of time are those checklists. It’s the workout. As soon as I get my clients to shift their mindset and focus to the objective and the small task, then by the time we get to the race, they’re race-ready. They accomplish it. They feel immense satisfaction in accomplishing something big. It was only accomplished because of breaking things down to the smallest of tasks and then staying focused and present on those tasks.

You remind me of a mantra I came up with when I heard a concept like this before. I call it, “Dream big, but think small.” It’s fine to dream big, but most people would dream big and try to think big, and then they don’t accomplish anything. If you dream big and then you think small, these little consistent steps that get you there, you’re much more likely to accomplish it that way than you are in other ways. There is a lot of training. There’s mental as well as physical preparation. I’ve seen this be true in all cases.

I would give you an example. In 2013, in the ideal vision that I had, I wrote out, “Speaking once or twice a week.” If I could even speak once a week, that was pretty huge. I was like, “If I can speak and present, twice a month, that’d be awesome.” In 2015, I looked back and thought, “That’s weird because I spoke 184 times in 2015.” I’m then like, “If I only spoke a couple of times a month, that must’ve sucked.” That was horrible. Your mind will shift with it. I know this is true in business as well as physical training too. How much would you say that mindset is an important piece of what you do and how you train people?

Mindset is everything. For me, in athletics and with my athletes, I ask them to put themselves into situations in training all the time so that they have an opportunity to quit or to push themselves to another level. You’re not going to wake up and race morning having not practiced the mental side of things. You’re not going to show up and be able to do it. We practice that all the time.

 Mindset and perception of mindset are also very unique. Your goal was to speak twice a month or twice a week, and then you look back and you far exceeded that. I remember when I was much younger and had an entrepreneurial mind. I was like, “If I could make $60,000 a year, that’s all I’ll ever need.” I look at my payroll and my payroll is over $60,000. Not only am I making more than that, but I’m also blessing people’s lives with what I thought I was wanting to attain. It’s interesting how the mind and perception work. I always had that goal if I could make $60,000 a year and have my outgoing payroll for my business be that and much more. It’s interesting to see how the mind evolves and creates things.

MORI 122 | Crush Your Limits
Crush Your Limits: It really comes down to what conscious choice we’re willing to make to where we put our focus.

It’s true. I remember the days when I used to think $100,000 meant rich. Nowadays, I’m like, “I can barely take care of my family with that.”

There are many different levels wherever you live in the country where opportunity is great. We have incredible opportunities to grow and amass significant amounts of wealth. We’ve touched on it briefly. It comes down to being creative, being able to pivot, and doing those small things consistently.

This is probably one of the last questions I have for you. I know you run the 50/50/50. As you were doing that, was it about IRONMAN number 30 that you got to a place where you hit a wall and you were about to give up? Is that correct?

Yeah. There were a lot of walls, but number 30 was a significant wall. It was the moment where I had to decide if this was something that I was truly committed to and something that I believe that I could accomplish. I made a conscious decision about where to put my focus and attention. It’s amazing. Once you shift or have a mindset of where you’re going to put your attention, the energy comes back to you tenfold.

As soon as I shifted my mindset from not focusing on the negativity, the things that were going wrong, or everything that was hurting and I shifted it to the strength, power, explosiveness, fundraising, all of the good things that my crew was doing, and everything that was good, there was a massive impact on myself and my crew. We started to gain momentum. It comes down to what conscious choice we are willing to make when we put our focus and our attention. It was amazing for us to see as I evolved and as my team evolved once we made some key changes in perspective and choices. It was a cool experience to have.

What was the thing you had to say to yourself to keep you moving forward even though your body was screaming no?

I didn’t say one thing, per se, to keep me going. I went over everything that I had committed to, what I said I was going to do, what my word meant, and what I was willing to sacrifice at that moment. Nobody would’ve cared if I was the guy that said I was going to do 50 and I did 30. Even though 30 would have been a fantastic physical feat and accomplishment, I still would have been the guy that said he was going to do 50 and failed. I almost had to re-evaluate what I was doing at that moment and take it to another level. It comes down to choices. I say 10% of life is what happens to us and 90% of life is how we choose to react to it.

At that moment, I had an opportunity to choose to react to feeling sorry for myself or dig deep, make some key sacrifices, and push forward. That’s when my mind and my body came into alignment. It is in those moments when people are right on the edge and they’re scared. They’re terrified of leaping off the edge and finding out what they’re made of.

If you're scared, that's an awesome place to be. Click To Tweet

It was in that moment, 30 through 50, that my mind and my body came into alignment to where I was able to execute at a higher level. When we were completely defeated by 30, we took it to another level when 50 was supposed to be impossible. We got faster in 30 through 50 and achieved something that nobody thought we could even come close to.

It reminds me of a scientific law called the law of perturbation. I don’t know if you’ve heard that or was referred to you or not.

I don’t even know what word you said, so no.

It perturbs. You were perturbed. What they found was electricity or whatever passes the cell. They noticed that if they kept turning it up, it caused the cell to shake. They would think to kill it off, but they noticed if they held it there and let it go for a while to the point where it was at the breaking point, eventually, it would evolve. It would be able to take on that new sense of energy.

If you ever watched the movie X-Men and they turned that senator into a mutant by changing his cellular structure, it’s the same concept. That’s pretty much what they noticed. As human beings, we tend to evolve. When we’re at that breaking point, that’s when we can accept and hit a new high, so to speak, or new threshold.

I grew up in the ‘80s, so I call it my Hulk Hogan moment. I don’t know if you ever watched WWE wrestling. It was when he would get beat up, and all of a sudden, he would start shaking and convulsing. They would keep hitting him and it no longer had any effect on him. He would, ultimately, in the next several minutes, have reverberated and turned into this other person that has another level. We know how the story ends. He does a leg drop and pins his opponent.

It’s having that Hulk Hogan moment where you’re completely getting beat down and you have this energy that overpowers you. The fact that he makes a decision at that moment that is like, “I’m no longer going to get beat upon. I’m going to shake my entire body to overpower whatever is happening,” eventually, he overcomes his opponent. That came into my head. I grew up watching wrestling. It’s trash now, but back in the day, it was some pretty good stuff.

It was very inspirational. It’s one of the best. He ends up on Rocky, so you know it’s awesome. I appreciate your time here. Are there any final words you would give to entrepreneurs? Based on the things that you’ve gone through, those that might be struggling where they feel like maybe they’re hitting their limits or they deal with lots of naysayers that don’t believe they can achieve their dreams, what would you say to them?

MORI 122 | Crush Your Limits
Crush Your Limits: Keep grinding because if you’re up against there right now, that means you’re really close to that tipping point and greatness is hopefully right around the corner.

If you’re up against that wall and you’re in that situation where things are grinding, this is the time to push through and go to another level. More often than not, people in this situation choose to quit over pushing through. It’s like on day 30 when my mind and my body came into alignment. We were right at that tipping point to something great. Keep grinding. If you’re up against it, that means you’re close to that tipping point, and greatness is hopefully right around the corner. If you’re scared, that’s an awesome place to be because of better use on the other side of fear. As soon as you climb over that summit of the mountain, it’s time to go home.

If they want to either follow you or they want to have you speak, what would you recommend? How would they get a hold of you or how do they follow your stuff?

If you go to, you can send me a message there. I’m also very active and run my own social media. It’s and Both of those are great ways to follow me. We’ve got a book coming out that tells the whole story. We’ve also got a documentary coming out. That’s going to, hopefully, get people excited about the book.

If you ever have that bucket list and you want to do an IRONMAN, a marathon, a 10K, or anything, if you go to, you can enroll in our program. It’s super affordable. You’ve got full access to me, my coaching staff, and the guys that coached me to get me ready to do these incredible things. It’s the best deal out there in the training space. Your bang for your buck is pretty incredible. will point you to all these spaces. Go to if you want to do anything race-wise. My social media is /IronCowboyJames.

Thank you so much for your time. It’s been awesome. This was great stuff. I know it’s very valuable for myself as well as for those that are reading. Thank you so much.

Thanks. Have a great rest of the week.

You too. To everybody else, thank you for joining us. Have a wonderful, prosperous week. We’ll talk to you soon.


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