Dave Clamp

This article was recently featured in Brutal Events Newsletter.

Step out of your comfort zone!


Dave Clamp is someone who knows all about comfort zones and pushing past them. Dave has run over 100 marathons with a best time of 2.35 (Manchester 1997) and done hundreds of other running races over many distances on the roads, fells and cross country.

In Triathlon, Dave has an Ironman best time of 8 hours 59 mins (The Longest Day race 1997) and has completed the distance about 40 times. He has also been GB Team Manager for the Ironman team.

In 1999, Dave started doing longer races, winning his first Double Ironman that year in Holland in 23 hours. In 2002, he came 3rd in the European Championships in 20 hrs 34 mins and 8th in the World Champs in Canada. Dave has completed the Triple Ironman Distance 10 times, coming 5th in the World Championships in 2000. Most recently, Dave came 11th in the World Championships in July 2010. In November 2008, Dave competed in the Deca Ironman for the first time (Click here for Dave’s diary of this amazing event) – the race is a 24 mile swim , 1120 mile bike and 262 mile run. After 131 miles of the run, Dave was in the lead and on course for the world record when injury struck. He eventually finished the race by limping the last 5 marathons…


In 2010 he went to Mexico and completed the Deca in 239 hrs 04 mins and 56 secs. After an excellent swim in which he emerged from the pool in second place, Dave was in the lead by the end of the cycling section. After completing 3 marathons he suffered stomach problems, a badly swollen ankle and hands and was overtaken by Christian Mauduit (France), who went on to win the event. Dave bravely continued in spite of the setbacks and the pain from his foot and kept his nearest competitors at bay with some intelligent pacing and lengthy episodes of running.

Below Dave talks about who inspired him and how we can all improve our race times by moving out of our comfort zones…

During the 25 years since I completed my first Ironman distance race at Roth, I have come to realise that ordinary people can indeed achieve extraordinary things. I’ve also learned that many of the guidelines for success in endurance sport can equally be applied in the work environment or in your personal life. The key concept is to escape the limitations of comfort zones. Which ever area you are operating in (relationships, sport or work), you will achieve the greatest success by pushing the boundaries of your comfort zones and deliberately moving outside them. As Richard Branson says “if you stay in a safe place, you will never know the joy of winning”. To be a good role model, you have to be willing to fail in public. That takes a lot of courage and involves a great leap of faith out of the comfort zone.

A couple of the people who inspired me were Jane Tomlinson and Mark Inglis. They are both ordinary people who have achieved extraordinary things. They looked upon the hardships that life threw at them and used them as motivation to achieve even greater feats. Jane was diagnosed with cancer and was given 6 months to live. She lived another 8 years and in that time ran 5k’s, 10k’s, marathons, the Hawaii Ironman, cycled across America, whilst at the same time raising millions for charity. All this, whilst at the same time, undergoing cancer treatment.

Mark Inglis was a keen kiwi mountaineer, who lost both legs below the knees to frostbite. Most of us would descend into a certain degree of self pity. What did Mark do with false legs…? He climbed Everest. The more difficult the situation, the more you have to move out of the comfort zone, the greater the sense of achievement.

How does all this relate to us multisport people? I was a teacher for twenty years and have been a personal trainer for the last four years. Both jobs have involved me trying to help people to achieve the best for themselves. In triathletes I have observed a common trend. A typical triathlete is better at one sport than the other two. Let’s take for example a good runner, who is quite good at cycling but weaker at swimming. If we take a look at the typical training programme of this athlete, what would we find? I can almost guarantee that he would be spending more time running and the least amount of time swimming, thus fulfilling his own belief on race day that he is a weak swimmer. Which activity would improve his overall triathlon performance by spending more time on it? Swimming of course! By staying within the comfort zone of practising what you are already good at, you will NOT maximise your potential. If something frightens you a bit (ie the swimming), the trick is to regard that as a reason to do it. Embrace the fear and go for it. The same rule applies in all aspects of our lives. I was terrified of giving up a well paid steady income job and knew nothing of the world of self-employment. The rewards of embracing that fear and moving out of the comfort zone have been enormous. I would recommend a book entitled ‘Warrior’ by Geoff Thompson, who inspired me to much of this way of thinking.

Where do you set your goals? At the stars or at mediocrity? If we aim for the stars, we may not get there, but the experience will be exciting and scary. If we aim at mediocrity, what is our potential for achievement? — not very high! So push the boundaries, embrace the difficulties and hardships as part of the programme, escape the comfort zones and enjoy your own extraordinary challenges.

: News

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