• The secret behind the success of the two-time IRONMAN champion Daniela Ryf is finding the right balance.

    Daniela Ryf – The key to success.

    The two-time IRONMAN champion reveals her formula for success.

    Text: Marcel Schlegel | Photos: Tobias Kuberski

Success begins before the competition.

But how do you motivate yourself when you have run out of energy? In key moments, how do you go that extra little distance that makes the difference? What is the key to success? Daniela Ryf definitely knows it. There is never a competition in which the exceptional triathlete does not start as a favourite. “Success does not come from the competition but rather from training”, says the world’s currently best female triathlete. “Success comes from perfect preparation. Success needs perfection.” This also includes selecting the right equipment. That is why the Swiss athlete relies on the V-Class. She uses the spacious sedan as a mobile changing zone.

Success comes from strength. Strength comes from training. Daniela Ryf from Switzerland knows this formula only too well.

The IRONMAN champion knows the secret to success.

Ryf is 30 years old and has been a professional athlete since 2007. She won the IRONMAN 70.3 world championship in 2014 and 2015. She was also unbeatable in the last two years in the legendary Hawaiian IRONMAN, the most grueling race in the world.

“Success is a puzzle whose pieces everyone has to find and put together themselves”, says the Swiss world champion. “In the end, finding the right balance is the key to success.”

In the beginning, Daniela Ryf was often slightly too ambitious and did not give her body time to recover. Since then, the 30-year-old has come to understand that “the more, the better” is not always the right way.

1. Ambition needs relaxation.

“In order to be successful you must be ambitious”, says Daniela Ryf. “You have to want to improve, otherwise you never make progress.” Yet pursuing a goal too single-mindedly is a sure way to fail. “Relaxation is also important, otherwise you inhibit yourself”, knows the Swiss athlete. Ambition and relaxation are not mutually exclusive but rather a matter of balance.

2. Discipline also means diversity.

In the course of her career, Daniela Ryf has learned that hard training alone does not make you successful. “The more, the better is not always the right approach”, says the two-time champion from 2015 and 2016. 'You also need phases of change and recovery.” Everyone has to discover for themselves just what is good for them, knows the 30-year-old.

Ryf herself takes breaks to rest and recover in her V-Class after a competition. “If your mind is exhausted then your body cannot perform to its limits. Only people who find the balance between discipline and training phases and downtime, who enjoy what they do, remain mentally strong and happy.”

3. The right environment.

No one is an island. Especially when times are tough, you need an environment that supports you and keeps you on course. There are those moments where you feel as though things are not moving forwards”, says Daniela Ryf.

“This is when my family supports me and my coach, in particular.” The legendary Australian trainer, Brett Sutton, has coached the world-class triathlete since 2014. “I can trust him and his advice. He puts me back on track when I try to do too much.”

4. Look back.

Doubts are part of the package and Daniela Ryf knows more than enough about them. “You have to learn to distance yourself from these doubts.” If you fall into a mental slump or have problems motivating yourself there is worthwhile to look back. She then asks herself certain questions: “Why did I start, what were my goals and where am I now?” Looking back is the best way to see how far you have developed. “This can motivate you and then it is time to define your goals and pursue them”, says Ryf. “Success does not always mean winning. Success can also mean taking the steps that are right for you.” But one thing always applies: “Goals are essential. You need a reason why you do what you do.”

If you believe that you are not making progress then sometimes it is worth looking back. Then you notice how far you have progressed, says the multiple IRONMAN champion, Daniela Ryf.
You can only succeed over the long term when the mental and the physical combine. This applies for life and also for demanding sports, says the triathlete Daniela Ryf.

5. Listen to your heart and your mind.

Mental strength or physical condition – what is more important? “Both, 50-50”, answers Daniela Ryf. Sometimes physical fitness and sometimes mental insurance are what get you to the finish. “Only when you know that you have worked hard and are prepared, you do have the confidence and do not lose your belief in yourself even in difficult phases.”

6. Accept the unchangeable.

”You cannot always influence your own personal success puzzle. Sometimes you are simply missing the pieces. Then you have to be patient. There are some things that you cannot influence such as when you have suffered a sporting injury”, says Daniela Ryf.

“It is important to accept this and make the best out of your situation”, says the two-time IRONMAN champion. “Sometimes you simply need a lot of patience.”