This study explored the motivation and persistence factors for non-professional athletes who decided after the age of 40 to begin training for an IRONMAN distance triathlon. The qualitative methodology of grounded theory (Strauss & Corbin, 1998) was used in conceptualizing and implementing the research. In-depth interviews were conducted with 10 individuals in the Southwest region of the United States. Data was coded in accordance with grounded theory methods. Motivation themes that emerged from the data centered around either initiating training for triathlon as an approach toward a specific goal or outcome, or beginning triathlon as a way to cope with personal difficulties. Obstacles to motivation also emerged, such as finances and time, injury, fear and doubt, and interpersonal difficulties. Persistence themes emerged that centered around either taking active steps to help continue training and relying on internal traits or characteristics to promote persistence. Data are discussed in terms of how these individuals adopt triathlon as a part of their lifestyle and identity, and how they come to persist in training beyond IRONMAN.
- Exploring the motives, experiences, and transformations of non-professional IRONMAN athletes