Professional triathlete Timothy O’Donnell made history on Oct. 12 when he had the fastest finish ever for an American at the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.
Despite coming in second, O’Donnell covered the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run in seven hours, 59 minutes and 40 seconds, his — and the U.S.’s — first sub-eight hour performance.
Prior to O’Donnell’s finish, the U.S. had not had a podium finisher at the event since 2016.
O’Donnell, who has been competing in triathlons for about 17 years, says he is still learning about what works and what doesn’t work for his performance after every race.
“Every year, I’m becoming a new athlete,” O’Donnell tells CNBC Make It. “I’m 39 and I just had my best performance at Kona and the best performance for an American ever, so you are always looking at other ways to become a better athlete.”
O’Donnell cites nutrition as a key component of his training routine, and in addition to practice and conditioning, he uses “biohacks.”
For example, O’Donnell uses a hyperbaric chamber for recovery after really hard training days. The technique has also gained a following among NFL players and celebrities over recent years — Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles uses one, for example, as does self help guru Tony Robbins. Inside the chamber, air pressure is increased to three times higher than normal, pumping high levels of pure oxygen into the lungs. According to the Mayo Clinic, the technique helps to fight bacteria in the body and promote healing, but there are also risks associated with the treatment.
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