Eric Byrnes is a former MLB outfielder, current MLB Network analyst and IRONMAN triathlete. For the second consecutive year, he is serving as an official National Triathlon Week Ambassador. Below, check out his thoughts about how triathlon and endurance sports have impacted his life.
After an 11-season Major League Baseball career, I was forced to figure out what’s next. I couldn’t swim 25 yards without stopping, the only bike I owned was a beach cruiser and I had never run more than four miles in my life. On a dare, I signed up for my first sprint triathlon, got my [butt] kicked — and fell in love with the sport.
Over the course of the next six years, I completed countless triathlons of all distances, including 11 full-distance IRONMAN races. That somehow led to ultra-running and the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run. Last summer, I completed a “Triathlon Across America” to raise money for the Let Them Play Foundation, swimming 7 miles, biking 2,350 miles and running 850 miles on an epic journey from San Francisco to New Your City. (I’ll be releasing a documentary about that adventure later this year — check out the teaser at letthemplayfoundation.org!)
Most recently, I broke a 47-year-old Guinness World Record for the most golf holes played in 24 hours (420) — which included running 106 miles.
As somebody who had absolutely zero experience in the triathlon or the endurance sports world for much of my adult life, I can tell you that so long as you are willing to put in the work, just about anything is possible. The beautiful thing about triathlon is that it has no age limit, and the sport has nothing to do with how far or fast you go. The only thing that really matters is that you go.
The real competition is with yourself and the overall effort you put into your training and races. Triathlon has changed my life in more ways than I could have ever imagined. The physical benefits are obvious — but to be totally honest, it’s what the sport does for me psychologically that has kept me in the game.
Most importantly, I am forever grateful for the incredible relationships I have been able to build, and the overall go-hard community that continues to inspire me to keep charging.
Hope to see you all on the course — and let’s never forget, the pain lets us know we are still alive!