Hi Phuong Thanh, how do you feel after winning the triathlon world championship?
It can be said that this is one of the memorable races for me, because being here is my own joy and honor. The race has a lot of challenges and I myself had a difficult time, I thought I would give up. But when I received everyone’s support, I had more strength to continue conquering the challenge.
SwissUltra is the most extreme triathlon in the world, how did you conquer it?
It’s important that you don’t let the distance of the triathlon scare you. Difficult things should be considered difficult and not more than that. I have a clear plan, with 38km swimming, I set out to complete it in about 21-24 hours and the result is 23 hours. Of the three sports, cycling is not my forte. I set a goal of 270 km/day (30 laps of 9 km). Thus, it will take me 6.67 days to run 1,800 km. However, the prolonged heavy rain in Switzerland made it impossible for me to cycle as planned, taking a total of 7.5 days for the bike.
Switching to conquering 422 km of running, my initial plan would be to run 85 – 105 km/day. In fact, I only ran 85 km, which is roughly double the marathon/day. My average playing time a day falls between 18 – 20 hours.
The numbers and distances she just mentioned, anyone who listens can feel “stunned”. Are you putting yourself in danger by participating in this race?
This award is very difficult, but it does not mean life-threatening. Each participating athlete (athlete) must demonstrate his or her past training and competition, as well as current health status. In addition, athletes must understand themselves, which limits can be broken and which cannot.
The race itself is a challenge, but that’s only half the hurdle. The biggest barrier lies within ourselves. Are you willing to prioritize training, spend all your holidays on this race? Are you willing to tell your friends, family and colleagues that this is important to you and need their understanding and support? If you want to, you’ll have to find a way.
How have you arranged your life and work, how do you plan to practice?
In life, we don’t have it all at once. That’s why I need to prioritize. From November 2021, work and practice are my two priorities. I practice 17 hours a week, usually early in the morning to go to work, sometimes in the evening. Looking at my training schedule is really not too different, compared to professional athletes, it is very small. In the tournament, I see many athletes who are parents, full-time workers. If they want to conquer the challenge, they will arrange the time and priority for it. Anyone who thinks he can do it is always right. But if you give your goals reasons (money to buy tickets, stay in hotels, etc.), then you better not think about it. If you want to do it, you have to find a way, and it depends entirely on whether you are willing to pursue it or not.
What does sport mean to you?
Honestly, I’m not a sports person. I don’t think of myself as strong or gifted. It happened to come and become a part of my life because I have desire, curiosity, desire to conquer new challenges.
Sports in general and extreme tournaments in particular give me experiences. Each difficult challenge will give us many valuable lessons for life. It will not only be confined to the field of sports, but I think these lessons will convey to the community positive messages, for them to find their own challenges. I hope through these experiences can motivate and encourage people to feel that nothing is really impossible.
When conquering a new challenge, how do you think?
Every time I conquer a new challenge, I have the opportunity to break through my limits, step up to new heights, a necessary element in life. When I live, I always strive, strive to move forward. In fact, only 2016 was I completely focused on the race to conquer 4 deserts. Since 2017, I have returned to work and set a goal to continue to conquer difficult and challenging races to bring Vietnam’s mark to the world. It’s not 100% of my life. It is just an experience for me to draw lessons for life, understand myself and see how important and meaningful the decisions I make when I am about to fall, deadlocked.
When I did the difficult things and went back to my normal life, it was clear that the things that seemed so difficult before were no longer difficult. It gives me the opportunity to practice good skills and virtues without support. Each time, a best version of me is born. It was just the best version of the moment. Every year the best version of me changes, gradually I will break down the barriers set by myself.
She is a person who has been an inspiration to many young people in Vietnam, especially women. So who inspired you?
When participating in races, I always feel very happy because I know that I will meet a lot of people who inspire me. In this tournament, the other female participants gave me many new feelings and thoughts. A German female athlete in her 50s but has a very good cycling ability, even more than a man. Ms. Nadine Zacharias (French) despite being over 60 years old and a former breast cancer patient also conquered the harsh race. She became the first person in the over-60s group to complete the super-triathlon. Her will, bravery and resilience are what I have witnessed with my own eyes. For newcomers over the age of 30, I am very impressed. The other male athletes are also brilliant and amazing. They are living witnesses to the message that nothing is impossible and age is just a number. No one is too late or too old to achieve their dreams.
At her age, there are still a lot of women who want to retire to the rear, build and take care of their families. How are you?
Everyone will have a choice where they find the meaning and joy of life. I still wish and prioritize new experiences to break through myself further and further, to bring the imprint of Vietnam further and further away. And share those experiences to encourage and motivate everyone to have their own breakthroughs, aspirations and determination to pursue.
I think everyone can choose to break their own limits. A little bit every day, a little bit every year. From my experience in this race, I can confirm that age is just a number. There are many U.40s, even over 60s, conquering extremely terrible distances. Dreams and ambitions are not limited by circumstances, age or gender.
The important thing here is that feminism does not mean not stepping back, playing the role of the back, taking care of the family. Feminism here is having the right to make choices for her life and to be supported and supported by everyone.
If you could choose a title for yourself, how would you like to be remembered?
What’s important to me is not having a title or being remembered by people. If so, I hope people can remember me with inspirational messages and actions: It’s never too late to try, to break out of your comfort zone and discover new things. Of course, I’m not encouraging people to run deserts or take part in extreme distances. Life is full of choices that will help you access the best version of yourself. Do something new, pursue a deeper interest, or gradually cultivate a challenge and find a way to conquer it. That will take people to new horizons and make life more interesting.
I always wonder how I will become the best version of myself this year. When I do those little things, I feel very happy and excited. My motto is every year pushing myself to new heights, going further with a more challenging and novel race to be the best version of myself, the #1 version of myself.
Therefore, SwissUltra 2022 is not my last race!
Thank you for this conversation!