Before you watch Johnny’s interview with Paul Martin, here’s what you should know about Paul…
In 2005, Paul Martin finished the Ironman 89th out of nearly 2000 athletes. Consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike, and a 26-mile run, his was an incredible display that any triathlete would be immensely proud of. Paul did it on one leg.
Setting the world record for leg amputees that same event, that Ironman was the moment when he said “everything came together” for him. It was the culmination of years of intense training after the tragic loss of his left leg in a car accident. Although it may have been the highlight of his athletic career up to that point, it perhaps wasn’t his most important. That came many years before, as a 28-year old runner.
“I ran the New York City Marathon three years after I lost my leg and that was so incredibly fulfilling – that was so amazing to me, I just bawled my eyes out because I was so excited that I just ran a marathon on one leg,” he says. “And I never, ever, ever, got that happy getting paid by my company, by my job [at the time]. You know, so it wasn’t about money that made me happy, it was about the big accomplishments that mean something that will stick with me the rest of my life that drive me to do whatever it is that I’m going to do. And at that point, I knew when I crossed the finish line that I was destined to be a disabled athlete.”
The transition from working man to running man didn’t come easily, however. He needed to quit a stable career and focus his energy on becoming a fulltime, professional athlete. But despite the uncertainties that laid ahead, it only took a little perspective from his grandmother to convince him he needed to follow his heart.
“My dad didn’t advise me to quit my job, but my grandmother who was 80-whatever she was at the time, said, ‘You don’t want to be my age, Paul, and say What if, so go and do it,” he says. “So I was sold – that was the only advice I needed.”
Today, armed with a mantra of, “attitude over adversity,” Paul continues to compete, gives keynote presentations on the topic, and has written about his life, both before and after his accident. It’s his focused optimism that gets him through to the next event and inspires others, on and off the course.
“Anytime you find yourself in a position where things are a little bit tough, you should be pretty damn happy that you have the opportunity to work hard because you’re going to be better off on the other end because of it,” he says. “And if you find yourself in some tragic situation like, God forbid, losing your leg, look for what you can get out of it, not for what’s taken from you – what’s going for you that’s good. That’s how I like to look at things.”
Download audio MP3 file (Right-click and choose “Save Target As…” or “Save File As…”)