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Timothy O'Donnell - Ironman Champion on Heart Attacks & Sport

Updated: Oct 10, 2022

Timothy O'Donnell - Ironman Champion on Heart Attacks & Sport

Episode 144: Timothy O'Donnell - World Champion Triathlete

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Timothy O’Donnell is one of the world’s most successful and experienced American long-course triathletes.

As a professional, he has earned 50+ podium finishes including over 22 wins at major events throughout the world. Along with the ITU Long Distance World Champion (2009) title, his other wins include nine Ironman 70.3 victories, two IRONMAN wins, and six Armed Forces National Championships.

One of only 4, and the only American to go under 8 hours at the Kona IM World Championships. But more than that, he is the man who at the ripe age of 40 had a near-fatal heart attack on the Miami speedway race course, in March of 2021 and still finished the race in 11th.

And just over a year later he was back racing, and not only racing he is on the podiums at both Ironmans and 70.3s and has his eyes set on another Kona Ironman world championship where he has been on the podium several times. In fact, the last time he raced in 2019, the last time the race was on, he finished 2nd and went sub 8.

We discuss Tim's near-fatal Heart attack then move onto discussing his prep and predictions for Kona Ironman.


3:57 - Interview with Timothy O'Donnell begins

I was probably about two-thirds through the bike…when it basically happened ...

11:31 - The Heart Attack - What Happened in Challenge Miami - 80% block in his Led "called the widow maker" - Pain in the chest and lockjaw - Leaving the party - Just suffering - Tim wasn't aware of how bad it was - There was one point that Tim, thought it was is this the point of dying? Tim continued on in the race, though commentators noted he seemed to be struggling. He crossed the finish line in 11th with a time of 2:44:57.

trying to get my mind in a space where I could focus on racing ...

13:16 - Building his mental confidence back up and training hard, Timothy discusses the journey back to racing.

17:08 - Greg and TO chat through the Des Moines Ironman and how he felt going into the race and throughout the course.

23:39 - When is it a heart attack ... and when is it fatigue? The mental tools have been added to TO's kit and he is ready for Kona.

26:40 - You're always trying to improve as an athlete. Greg and Timothy discuss his changes in nutrition since the heart attack and his prep for training and racing. Ketones have helped TO in athletic performance, imrpoved cognition and focus, and his general health. Tim mentions Delta G - click here to access their website (non-sponsored)

35:08 - Greg and TO share their views son Kona - starting with The Women's race. Who's going to podium?

37:21 - Kat Matthews was recently injured in an accident while training for Kona.

41:10 - Timothy explains how he'd like the race at Kona to unfold. There's an old guard of experienced Kona competitors that know how to perform well, but as TO explains, often it's the Island that defeats, not another athlete. So what is it about the Kona energy?

47:02 - Having a massive 'why' going into Kona, TO has done everything to get himself ready. It's all about belief from this point.

50:40 - Tim's affirmations during a race.

52:23 - What's after Kona?

54:56 - Interview ends.


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