Love him or hate him, American long-distance star, Sam Long, always make an effort to be transparent by showcasing the mental challenges that play a part in the life of a professional triathlete.
The 27-year-old, from Boulder, burst on to the scene as a brash young professional, his first IRONMAN 70.3 victories coming in 2019. A second-place finish at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships in 2021 looking like it would provide the stepping stone to future success.
However, over the past two years, Long has struggled to consistently compete with the best in the world, and build on strong performances such as third at the PTO US Open last year on the biggest stages.
Since switching coaches from Ryan Bolton to Dr Dan Plews, Long has finish fourth at Clash Miami and seventh at IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside. Solid results for many, but a significant distance away from the levels that Long has shown he can compete at – and certainly what he aspires to.
In his most recent YouTube video, Long shares his reflections on the race in California, and how he plans to improve.
“My worst finish for a long time”
Reflecting on the race in Oceanside, Long shared that he had received a lot of feedback from fans and followers after his performance, with some more positive than others.
“You know, it’s funny, I’ve gotten a mixed response, it seems a lot of encouragement and a lot of people saying “head up” or “be positive”. Then there are others, who tell me I’m just a “B Rate” professional.
“Here’s the thing, I don’t need people to tell me that stuff, because I’m not going there to get a seventh place finish, I’m going there to do better than that and I’ll be completely honest with you, that’s my worst finish for a long time in a middle-distance race.”
Whilst race performances may not have been going his way recently, it has only been five months since Long stood on top of a podium at IRONMAN 70.3 Indian Wells, and as a result he is already qualified for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Finland in August.
However, with the race in Lahti set to draw a deep field of quality athletes, Long will have his work cut out over the next four months if he is to replicate his 2021 performance. Curiously, Long has opted to not race the PTO European Tour in Ibiza, and will instead match up against Lionel Sanders at IRONMAN 70.3 St. George. Will we see a similar match up to last time around between the pair?!
“My mindset has changed”
Whatever his next race ends up being, Long is aware that he will need to step up his game if he is to compete for the podium. In his YouTube video, he details how his mindset has gone full circle over the past few months and how despite wanting to be able to separate his happiness from race results, he is still hungry to win.
“It’s interesting, my mindset has shifted a lot this year. I used to live and die by winning and I worked a lot on being happy and finding my self-worth whilst being content in my life without necessarily having to get the absolute best results.
“Then, the flip-side to that is I still know I need to perform and if I don’t then it just doesn’t cut it. I’m demanding I get more out of myself and I’m demanding I do better.”
Whilst the process, especially with a new coach and a baby on the way, is likely to be a long one, the American will have plenty of opportunities to prove himself over a season that stretches deep into the winter months. Hopefully, the Sam Long of old will make his way back to the start line in due course.