This Swedish native lives in Denmark while she is finishing her medicine studies has always been very sporty, practicing xc-skiing, soccer and horseback riding. She came in contact with triathlon in high school. Åsa spent five years traveling and working around the world before going to Denmark to start medicine. At university, she met her triathlete boyfriend who helped her improve her swimming and encouraged her to get back into competing in triathlon's.
Her first professional moment was winning Ironman Sweden surrounded by a crowd lifting her to this huge win, this has guided her passion and focused her energy into becoming a heavily talked about Triathlete.
What do you do? What is your profession?
Professional long distance triathlete. Part-time medical student, on 5th year.
How long have you been a triathlete?
3 years as a pro. 6 years in the sport.
Do you think your education or your career has helped to prepare you mentally for racing?
Definitely! You need focus, dedication, determination and hard work to succeed, both in medical studies and as a doctor, as you do in triathlon.
Have you been an athlete all your life or did you have some sort of epiphany that got you into it?
I have always been an active person, but not in triathlon. I was introduced to triathlon in high school, my gym teacher as a triathlete. I thought she was mad. When I started medical school I was in the same suds group as a triathlete, who convinced me to start training with him. Form there, I realized, I was just as mad as my gym teacher.
What do you do when you're not training or racing?
I try to do some studies, and I catch up with friends and family that I haven't seen in a long time. I love winter and winter activity, so if possible, I want to go skiing in the off-season.
What’s been your worst moment in a race?
The worst moment was the night before a halv distance race in Bilbao, where I got food poisoned. I decided to give it a go anyway, and see how long I would make it.
How did you overcome this?
I accepted the situation, adjusted my expectations on my performance and tock one step at the time and focused only on doing my best and not on the other competitors.
Tell us the main differences you see between physical and mental strength.
The physical strength is easy to train. It is absolute and concrete. You have some certain tools to work with to improve. The mind can sometimes play its own game, and it is hard to train. It is more abstract and I think it is harder to use its full potential.
When you feel you can’t go any further, when you want to give up, what goes through your mind? What does your body tell you and what does your mind come back with?
My body tries to fool my mind that I am pushing as hard, but I am actually going slower. Parts of me starts to convince the other part of me that it is ok to slow down, that it’s doesn’t matter if I loose one spot, that I am doing a good enough job anyway. My mind respond that it isn’t over until it’s over, and that I can only regret not trying harder. I can never regret having done my best. Anything can happen, even on the last kilometer.
How do you normally feel before the start of a race?
Nervous. Anxious. Excited. Sometimes I wish it was a normal training day, and not race day. The next minute I can be really excited about racing, but I always wish I was started already, the time just before the gun goes off is the worst.
In triathlon is it necessary to have inner strength? Be made of iron maybe?
Having the mental set up for a long race is completely crucial whether you will finish first, or barely finish. I have experienced both, and the more Ironman races I do, the more I realize that the mental strength and the mindset determines your performance more than we think. Mental strength is necessary in everything we do, if we want to do it good!
- ÅSA LUNDSTRÖM
2X Ironman Champion