May 9, 2014
Today’s Rest Day Book Review is of: I’m Here to Win (2011) by Chris McCormack with Tim Vandehey, 288 pages.
Chris McCormack (who goes by the nickname Macca) is an Australian professional triathlete – he won the Kona World Championships in 2007 and 2010, and Ironman Australia many times. He also has a long list of other wins at other distances as well, prior to before switching to Ironman distance races.
The biggest criticism I hear about Macca is that he has an ego (to use polite language). And I will admit that he definitely does. He explains that the title of the book comes from a famous interview he did where he stated he was “here to win” before racing his first Ironman World Championship…you know…the one where he ended up DNFing on after cramping on the run. But in his defense, he basically admits he has an ego, and defends it as stating he is a professional, and his job is on the line. Basically, he’s not in this to have fun and accomplish a goal of finishing like many age groupers (hey – that’s me!), and winning is serious business. Although it’s not the most warm and fuzzy philosophy, I do get it.
Now, to be fair, he also talks about his failures pretty honestly and with few rationalizations or excuses, which is somewhat redemptive. The only other criticism I have of the book is that there’s no solid narrative and it kinda jumps around. But, he’s a professional athlete, not an author, and so that criticism should be aimed at Tim Vandehey, I guess. But still, it is his book.
One interesting part of the book was that he talked a lot about boxing and being a big fan of Muhammad Ali. Seriously. He talks about how he learned lessons from boxing and Ali that he applies to triathlon. I’m not sure I totally follow or agree, and it got a little repetitive, but it was…interesting.
Personally one of my favorite aspects of the book is how much time he spends talking about race strategy and mental games. That is, he doesn’t just advocate going faster and working harder, but being smart about your racing. This is similar to the Endurance Nation which I like. The mind games he plays are more for professional athletes – he would say stuff in interviews that he knew other athletes would hear just to mess with them. But it was kind of fascinating. I also really enjoyed the chapter he included on nutrition. He does a good job of giving some of the basics of nutrition. He talks about how he was tested by a lab and found their recommendations for what he should eat during the race to be inadequate for the race. Based partly on this, he’s somewhat flexible about what he eats. I found it reassuring that he doesn’t claim you have to be rigid about what you eat or how many calories you take in. As you know, I follow a similar philosophy.
For those interested, he does give a 16-week “skeleton” training plan, but this isn’t a book that’s designed to give you a formal plan.
Overall, totally a good read. Just be ready for his ego
Ps. – Macca write a column for Triathlete Magazine called Macca’s Musing, which you can read here.