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Hines Ward learning humility in Ironman training

Hines Ward AP

Hines Ward is used to training, and he’s used to competing.

What he can’t get used to is the inevitability of losing.

The former Steelers wideout has struggled with that concept, as he prepares for the Ironman Triathlon.

“The realization is having never done it before, I can’t go in thinking I’m going to go out and win the Ironman,” Ward said, via Karen Price of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “That’s the battle I have, . . . I have to know what my body’s capable of doing and I have to run my pace. I can’t run a pace that’s someone else’s or I won’t make it at the end.”

By the time the race in Kona, Hawaii begins in October, he will have been in serious training for nearly a year.

Even for an elite athlete, the challenge of swimming 2.4 miles in the Pacific Ocean, biking 112 miles and then running 26.2 miles is a different kind of challenge than playing football or “Dancing with the Stars.”

Ward has been training with eight-time Ironman champion Paula Newby-Fraser, who had to teach him how to ride a road bike with clip-in pedals, and teaching him the correct strokes in a pool to give him a chance.

“I think he thought it might be a bit of a challenge, but he had no idea how hard it was going to be, . . .” Newby-Fraser said. “He gets incredibly frustrated. He melts down with frustration just because he wants to be good at it and wants to perform. He’s having to balance the reality of where he is with where he wants to be. When things don’t go exactly right he gets so mad.”

Ward has gradually built up from shorter races, and he did a half-Ironman last week. He trains three hours a day, six days a week, logging on average 150 miles combined per week. As a result, he’s dropped 30 pounds since he started training, down to 195.

“I love challenges, and this will by far be my toughest challenge,” Ward said. “It’s just me versus myself on the course. You have to continue to push through the pain and hopefully after 140 miles I can cross the finish line and what great satisfaction it will be to hear, ‘Hines Ward, you’re an Ironman.’ When that day comes, if I can cross that finish line, that will probably be one of my greatest accomplishments throughout my life.”

For a guy who has accomplished so much already, that’s saying something.

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24 Responses to “Hines Ward learning humility in Ironman training”
  1. skinsfan91 says: Jun 16, 2013 11:30 AM

    If he’s in that kind of shape. He could probably help some team out on the gridiron. Not that he’d want to.

  2. butthatmakestoomuchsense says: Jun 16, 2013 11:39 AM

    Ward is a phenomenal athlete. He played QB, RB, and WR at the University of Georgia, and when the Steelers drafted him people thought they’d be getting the next Kordell Stewart.

    Instead, Ward worked his tail off, reinvented himself, and became the next Andre Reed- the toughest and most fearless WR in the game.

  3. jamezz23 says: Jun 16, 2013 11:59 AM

    To even finish something like this would be an accomplishment no matter who you are, pro athlete or not. Hines Ward should worry about just finishing rather than his placing since I think this would probably be his first one he is competing in.

  4. floriosbigtoe says: Jun 16, 2013 12:10 PM

    No way he finishes.

  5. classyjacklambert says: Jun 16, 2013 12:26 PM

    I’m training to do a regular triathlon, which is Nothing compared to the ironman and I’ll be really happy if I finish. Good luck Hines!

  6. brickman24 says: Jun 16, 2013 12:47 PM

    Way to put yourself out there Hines. Ironman is an event unlike anything he has ever attempted before. Hines is already a winner for committing himself to such an enormous challenge. It will be interesting to see the outcome. Best of luck to you brother!

  7. stlunatik says: Jun 16, 2013 12:53 PM

    Good for you Hines. Wish you were still on the field

  8. acmepackers says: Jun 16, 2013 1:12 PM

    Having completed a full Ironman before (not Kona), I hate that famous people can just “walk on” at Kona without having to qualify like the rest of us.

  9. cuda1234 says: Jun 16, 2013 2:09 PM

    He’s training with a chick?

  10. patsfan13 says: Jun 16, 2013 2:35 PM

    Good luck Hines. Remember to twist your foot to get out of the pedal clamp. I just got the system and skinned my knee pretty good when I could disengage my feet fast enough. Again, good luck.

  11. runtheball says: Jun 16, 2013 3:18 PM

    Hines Ward and humility those are two things I thought I would never hear together. Wines could win the Ironman, it is a shame nobody is giving him a chance.

  12. snakesmileyface says: Jun 16, 2013 3:40 PM

    1. “He’s training with a chick?” PNF is maybe the greatest female Iron-distance triathlete of all time. There are very few men on the planet that could hang with her right now, and she’s been retired for several years.

    2. There is no way in the world that Hines Ward could win any Ironman, especially the World Championship race, which is the one he’s signed up for. Was he a great football player and a great athlete? No question, but Iron distance races are a completely different animal and there are only a handful of people alive that can even dream of winning one of them.

    All it takes is a look at the split times for each of the events at a given race and a realization that these times are accomplished back to back with no rest between events to understand just how fast the top level people are in that sport.

    Just finishing an Ironman is an incredible accomplishment.

  13. billharford31 says: Jun 16, 2013 4:43 PM

    “Training with a chick?” LMAO… That has to be the stupidest comment I’ve read in this site. That “chick” would kick your a$$ in any sporting event. A full Ironman is the TOP challenge ever

  14. cometkazie says: Jun 16, 2013 4:56 PM

    How many former pro athletes have qualified for the Ironman?

    Why would Ward not be required to qualify? Doesn’t say much for the competition if he doesn’t.

    My 2¢

  15. folkcrusader says: Jun 16, 2013 6:05 PM

    Whines Hard competing an Iron Man? More power to him but most likely he’ll give up once he realizes he’s going to finish with the amateurs.

  16. followme2boston says: Jun 16, 2013 6:13 PM

    Having run a marathon before, an ironman is another animal completely. It is so much training. I seriously don’t know if three hours a day is enough time, plus only 150 miles a week is not really a lot. I rum35 miles a week now and I am no where near ready to run an ironman. I know he is building up to it and will have some folks pacing him, but I am thinking 16 hours minimum finish time if at all.

  17. grizzlybear54 says: Jun 16, 2013 6:49 PM

    -Having completed a full Ironman before (not Kona), I hate that famous people can just “walk on” at Kona without having to qualify like the rest of us.

    Currently training for my first in your state (Madison). I don’t mind the celebrities getting in. That race has publicity slots that you can apply to as well. The sport needs all the marketing and notoriety it can receive. It makes it better for everyone else. That’s why I didn’t mind when Armstrong started doing them as well.

  18. grizzlybear54 says: Jun 16, 2013 6:52 PM

    Having run a marathon before, an ironman is another animal completely. It is so much training. I seriously don’t know if three hours a day is enough time, plus only 150 miles a week is not really a lot. I rum35 miles a week now and I am no where near ready to run an ironman. I know he is building up to it and will have some folks pacing him, but I am thinking 16 hours minimum finish time if at all.

    3 hours a day is enough. He has a professional coach. Given his age and weight, I think he will finish 13-15 hours range

  19. mackcarrington says: Jun 16, 2013 7:03 PM

    I can’t believe he is going into the Ironman with that defeatist attitude. You’ve been a winner Hines. You must know that to be a winner, you must think like a winner.

  20. nomadpat says: Jun 16, 2013 8:27 PM

    I’ve biked 100 miles…but I can’t imagine adding swimming and a marathon on top of it. Best of luck – just finishing would be awesome

  21. mykaeljj says: Jun 16, 2013 10:30 PM

    I hated Hines as a player, but I respected the hell out of him. Whether its football, dancing, or even cooking he has shown that he is a great competitor. So I am not surprised to see him challenging himself once again. I’m sure he will not embarrass himself, and I wish him all the luck in the world. He is a great ambassador of the NFL in his afterlife. Maybe Chad Johnson should hook up with him and learn how to get along after an NFL career. And this is coming from a Cowboy fan

  22. sbchampsagain says: Jun 17, 2013 1:16 PM

    Given the age of the steelers he should consider an NFL comeback instead… Polamalu is 33, Burris is 35 and Ward is 37. He’d fit in just fine with all those other old guys!

  23. rockinrodie says: Jun 17, 2013 4:42 PM

    These endurance “athletes” are a different breed. Remember the cross country kids in high school? They couldn’t throw or catch a ball, but could run for hours. Big damn deal. Hines may have thought this was a good idea at first, but now he knows he’s out of his element. If he gives up on this no one will think any less of him. Hell Hines, attempt ballet or classical guitar if you’re in need of a hobby.

  24. nutsacker says: Jun 17, 2013 11:33 PM

    Hines Ward made a career out of pushing off and blocking in the back. Neither one of these skills will help him in Ironman.

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