James “Iron Cowboy” Lawrence (a nickname he got because he often raced wearing a cowboy hat) gained fame in 2015 for competing in 50 Ironmans in 50 consecutive days in 50 states to raise awareness for childhood obesity. Since his new book, Iron Cowboy, details the daily agony of that experience, we asked for his tips for surviving even the most painful workouts.

Pain tip 1:

“When the pain becomes intolerable, I get through the moment by surviving to the next second. Once I do that, I try to survive another 60 seconds—I call these power minutes. The great thing about pain is that with pain comes struggle, and with struggle comes learning, and from learning comes growth.”

Pain tip 2:

“In my experience, most people quit when their bodies begin telling them to. But once we reach that built-in stopping point, we have at least 60% more to give. That’s why you learn the art of managing the pain and taking comfort in knowing that this is a new pain I have today—the pain I had yesterday is gone.”

Pain tip 3:

“Having one ‘why’ isn’t good enough. You need to have a whole bagful of whys. Whys keep you going and give you a reason to take the next step. For me, reconnecting with my family was enough, but if you’re going for 50 days and your first why isn’t big enough, you’ll stop.”