5 Basic Principles to Get to Kona World Championships (or just chase your dreams)

Kona World Championships.  The Super Bowl of Triathlon.  It is that race we all dream about, no matter who we are as a triathlete.  Maybe we don’t necessarily dream of racing at it because that’s not everyone’s journey but there is a mystic about the race that you just can’t help fall in love with.  The energy, the passion, the excitement, the pressure, and the caliber of athlete is unfathomable until you actually race it.  No matter who you are as an athlete the island has a way of calling you towards it.

But maybe you are someone who has dreamed of racing in Kona on World Championship day.  Maybe you’ve been close multiple times but never totally there.  Maybe you just want to push yourself to see if it is even possible.  Well let me tell you, it is possible, and it is totally worth it, but you are going to have to work for it.  Qualifying for Kona means you are going up against the best of the best in the sport from Professionals to Age Groupers and let me tell you there are some amazing athletes out there across the board.  However, don’t let that scare you out of trying to do so. 


It isn’t easy to speak to each specific person’s individual chances of nabbing a Kona slot, or even in reality nabbing a podium slot or a personal record on a race, I can’t tell you how often I speak with an athlete for the first time and they ask me “do you think I can be fast?” “What do you think I can realistically do?” and “do you think I can podium?”.  Well until I begin to work with you that’s a really hard question to answer and even when we’ve been working together for a while it can still be hard to answer because there are so many pieces involved with any of these things. 

The journey to the Big Island requires a single-minded focus, sacrifice, commitment and dedication.  As a two-time qualifier (2017 and 2018) and finisher at Kona Ironman World Championships I am going to lay out a few basic principles that I guide my own training and coaching that has helped me to become the athlete that I am.  Now this blog won’t tell you exactly how to qualify from a performance standpoint and it isn’t meant to be a guide in your training but merely a guide in the most important pieces of getting yourself there; five basic principles to help organize your mindset to achieve your dreams of racing on the big island.

-          Commitment

-          Consistency

-          Discipline & Sacrifice

-          Belief

-          Passion


Commitment is different from a wish.  You can say “I would love to do Kona someday”, that is a wish its not a commitment.  A commitment is saying “I will do what it takes to achieve my dream”.  Commitment is saying “I will get there”. 

Commitment comes in all shapes and forms but what it boils down to is not giving up with things start to hurt, not giving up with you are sore, not cutting things short because you are tired or your back aches, it is not giving up with it doesn’t go the way you planned. Commitment is never stopping believing in the actions you are taking and the journey you are on.  Commitment is doing all the little things on top of making sure you are physically ready; it is practicing mental strength, fueling your body for strength, getting plenty of sleep, staying positive, believing in yourself, not staying out late, not skipping workouts, and committing to the entire process.


There are no shortcuts in triathlon especially when you want to compete against the best of the best.  The best coach in the world won’t be able to get you a qualification if you’re not willing to put in the work every single day, and I mean every single day.  You can be committed as you would like but consistency pairs with commitment in that it is about the day-in, day-out commitment to the training as whole.  Your long workouts are not the only ones that matters, it is the day to day workouts (the mid-week) workouts, it is recovery practices, focusing on your nutrition so that you optimize your body for performance and strength, it is about making your training in its full complete nature a priority.

This can be one of the most challenging ones for age groupers because triathlon isn’t our sole priority, most of us have full time jobs, families who need us, and other commitments that take our focus away.  Even so, if you’ve really committed to this goal and you want it as bad as you say you do then you must find a way to make training a priority.  This may be overly direct but if you cannot make the time to train, make the time to meal prep, recover, and do the little things than you need to put this goal to the side until you can.  Now this doesn’t mean that you have to train 20+ hours a week in fact there are plenty of age groupers who are fast, strong, and have qualified for Kona on 10-15 hours a week but it does have to be a priority, you absolutely have to put the time in if you want the results. 

Discipline and Sacrifice                  

This here is the key and it is often where the goal, the plan, and the dream begin to unravel for most people.  Yes, they are willing to be committed even consistent on a regular basis, but they aren’t willing and lack the discipline to make the sacrifices that must be made in order to make it a reality. 

Whether you a natural athlete or not there has to be a level of discipline and sacrifice that comes with the journey.  Again, as previously stated, you have to put the work in if you want to get results.  Getting results and putting the work in day after day and sometimes year after year takes discipline.

You are going to have moments where you want to eat an entire cake or bag of chips, you are going to have moments when everything aches and you don’t want to ride after work, or have a normal weekend where you can stay out late with friends and maybe have one to many drinks.  You will have those moments we all have those moments, but the ones that really want “it” have the discipline and willingness to sacrifice those moments for the goal they are chasing.  They say no to that second drink, or they go home early so that they can be prepped for the next day.  You will have to sacrifice quite a bit and you have to be willing to do that.


On any journey the more you believe in yourself the more likely you are to accomplish what you are setting out to do.  You have to believe, with your heart, soul, and mind, that you are a champion. If you have the mind of a champion, then you will train like a champion which will eventually lead to racing like a champion.  Belief in yourself and the strength you have within you to go after your dreams precedes any action you could take.  If you believe in yourself then you will do what it takes to make that dream come a reality.

Belief in yourself and the journey that you are on not only helps you to train like a champion but it is the basis and the heart of having a strong mental game.  Mindset is very important in triathlon, because what we put ourselves through is brutal, and you can’t have a strong mindset if you don’t believe. 


I like to end with this one, because while it doesn’t seem like it is that important similar to belief in yourself and your journey having deep unrooted passion for the sport and the process makes everything a lot easier.  Passion is something that allows you to feel all the little moments, to be grateful for the experience both good and bad. It allows you to love the process which makes all of the above pieces so much easier.  It is easier to say no, to have discipline, and to sacrifice when you truly and deeply love what you are doing.  Passion reminds you that you are doing something for more than just the race, that you are pursuing something for a greater outcome than just finishing.  Passion allows you to dig deep and find out just how amazing you really are and experience so much of what you are capable of.


While yes this blog post is dedicated more towards the question of “how do I get myself to Kona?” or “I want to qualify for Kona, what does it take?” but in reality each of these basic principles can and should be utilized in whatever dream it is that you are chasing.  You want to be an Ironman? Well the above the main principles you have to follow.  You want to do a triathlon in general? Again, the above are the five pieces you need to follow.  You want to merely just get healthy and lose some weight, follow the above principles.  These are not specifically geared towards qualifying for Kona they are five basic principles that you need to implement into your daily life. The above five principles are so much more than just getting yourself to Kona they are five basic principles for strength and passion in your life!!!



PS. Need help guiding yourself through these principles? Have a goal to get to Kona or maybe just chase your dream of getting a personal best or crossing the finish line? I can hep!!! I am taking on athletes right now and would love to chat with you!!!! CLICK HERE for more information on my (Coach Kayla’s) coaching options.