Jim Lubinski ’03 left the rat race to become a professional triathlete

Jim Lubinski ’03 left the rat race to become a professional triathlete

by John Torsiello

About a half dozen years ago Jim Lubinski ran away from the 9-to-5 job routine and hasn’t stopped running since.

The 2003 Fairfield graduate decided to leave the traditional business career he tried after retiring from professional hockey in 2004. He jumped feet- and head-first into the physically and mentally demanding world of triathlons. “I was working for Enterprise Rent-A-Car and then for a pharmaceutical company and decided,” Lubinski related, saying that he thought it was “time to grow up. This mentality lasted for a year. In 2008 I was over the idea of living a life that was giving me minimal satisfaction. I realized I wasn’t happy just working the 9-to-5. I needed something more.” So he signed up for Ironman Arizona, which took place in December 2008. “I had some personal issues that sidetracked me and caused me to lose focus on my training.I went into the race not knowing what to expect. I ended up finishing Ironman Arizona in 10:01, which is a good time for an undertrained first-time Ironman.” After the race, Lubinski came to the realization that if he put his mind to it he might be able to excel at triathlons, which combine long distance running, bicycling, and swimming. “I focused on my triathlon training. I was surprised to see the huge gains I was making in swimming, biking, and running.” Lubinski had overall wins at a few smaller races in California, and then went on to win Overall Amateur titles at the Vineman (Sonoma County, Calif.) 70.3-mile event (in 4 hours, 11 minutes), and take second place at the Boise (Idaho) 70.3 (4:15). With those finishes in two prestigious and competitive races, Lubinski qualified as a professional triathlete.

The current season is Lubinski’s fourth racing as a pro and second racing as a full-time professional. In the three previous seasons he has racked up numerous Overall Top-10 finishes, represented Team USA at the Long Course World Championships in Perth, Australia; qualified to compete in the 70.3 World Championships in Henderson, Nev.; and traveled the world to race in various venues at the Ironman (112-mile bike ride, 2.4-mile swim, and 26.2-mile run) and 70.3-mile distances.

He has numerous corporate sponsors this season, and is now a U.S.A. triathlon certified coach and a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer.

“As a professional triathlete, I treat my training as you would any full-time job. My life is dedicated to swimming, biking, running, and strength training (30-plus hours a week), but it also must include rest and recovery. I use my body as my tool. If I neglect sleep and recovery I do not allow myself to get the most out of my performance day in and day out.”

Treating his body poorly and having late nights out are not an option, Lubinski explained.
“It is extremely easy to get sidetracked as a professional athlete because there is always something else to do. You must be content resting, taking naps, eating healthy, and living a rather low-key lifestyle. You learn how to say no pretty quick. If you can’t say no to certain things or events, your days are numbered as a pro.”

Before devoting his energies to triathlons, Lubinski was an accomplished hockey player. After high school he played Junior “A” hockey in Bismarck, N.D., which earned him a scholarship to Fairfield University. He entered Fairfield as a 21-year-old freshman, and after four years playing for the Stags he decided to give professional hockey a try. He played for several clubs, winding up in Winston-Salem, N.C.

“I had a pretty good season with a good amount of points and a good amount of penalty minutes. But I also had a good amount of stitches and fake teeth. I had put a lot of miles on my car from the constant moving from team to team. After the 2004 season I decided it was time to hang ’em up. I packed up my car and moved to Los Angeles.”

Late in 2012, Lubinski started another endeavor — his own radio podcast.

“I have always been a big fan of Howard Stern and Adam Carolla, and have always been attracted to radio,” he said. He hosts the podcast, which is called “Jim and the Other Guy.”

“You never know who the co-host is going to be, whether it is a fellow pro triathlete, nutritionist, a CEO, or ice hockey player.” Since January 2013, Lubinski has recorded 28 episodes, with listeners in over 35 countries.

“There is nothing on the market quite like my show,” he said. “I believe it gained quick success because of the quality content we provide, the consistency of our new episodes (three or four per week), and my ability to keep the content light and comedic, while still conveying great information to the listener.”
The podcasts are available through i-Tunes, at www.jimlubinski.com, as is his blog, which gives detailed, well-written, and amusing accounts of his races and the ups and downs of training.

Fairfield University played a pivotal role in his success, Lubinski said. “The liberal arts education, as well as the strong supportive community Fairfield cultivated, gave me the confidence to try my hand at and accomplish whatever I put my mind to. I have ingrained aspects of my Fairfield education into my training, coaching, and broadcasting.”

Lubinski, who majored in political science, said his Fairfield hockey teammates remain “as close as brothers.” He also stays in touch with other friends and acquaintances he made at the University, attending alumni events in the Los Angeles area, and “chewing the fat with fellow Stags.”

“The biggest value Fairfield taught me was to believe in myself,” Lubinski said. “Without the support of the tight-knit Fairfield community, whether it was professors, students, or staff, I would not have the confidence to take risks or become as successful as I have become.”