While many agree that physical activity is crucial to living a long and health life, for some going beyond daily exercise and entering into a more competitive, high endurance physical lifestyle is what keeps them on top – both in the aesthetic practice and out of the aesthetic practice. Dr. Robert Shumway, MD, FACS of Shumway Cosmetic Surgery in La Jolla, CA recently competed in IRONMAN an endurance competition representing the most extreme level of human exertion that includes swimming, biking and running. In this interview with Aesthetic Insider, Dr. Shumway explains IRONMAN, and how his endevors in physical personal development help him stay at the top of his game when it comes to being a career cosmetic surgeon and managing a busy and successful practice. www.shumwaymd.com

What is IRONMAN?
The Birthplace of “Triathlon” is my hometown – Mission Bay, San Diego, California. It began on Wednesday, September 25, 1974 and was sponsored by the San Diego Track Club.  The 1978 term “IRONMAN” is a trademarked endurance competition representing the most extreme level of human physical exertion conceivable over a period of less than 17 hours while racing against other incredibly well-trained, highly motivated and very determined athletes in swimming, biking and running….. sequenced in that order.  Actually, the very first IRONMAN was not at Kona, but was on the island of Oahu on February 18, 1978.  It was simply a private competition between 15 world-class athletes who represented the three different sports (Swimmers, Cyclists, and Runners) to determine who the “real” IRONMAN was among those top athletes.  Out of the 15 who started the 140.6 mile race, only 12 were able to finish.  The first person to earn the title of IRONMAN was Gordon Haller (US Navy Communications Specialist) and the runner-up was John Dunbar (US Navy Seal).  The first IRONWOMAN in 1979 was Boston champion cyclist Lyn Lemaire.  Today, the sport has grown to gargantuan and worldwide proportions with IRONMAN completions taking place across the globe with the annual world IRONMAN championships occurring on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Dr. Robert Shumway emerges from The Ocean Triathlon.
Dr. Robert Shumway emerges from The Ocean Triathlon.

How Many Miles Make Up An IRONMAN Contest?
A Full IRONMAN is always 140.6 total miles: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and a 26.2 mile Marathon run. I compete only in the Full IRONMAN competitions.   However, I am currently in training for swimming the Catalina Channel (22 miles) and the English Channel (21 miles).  Additionally, I am working on Ultra-Marathon runs of 100 miles and training to climb all of the highest peaks of our 7 continents (Kilimanjaro, Denali, Aconcagua, Vinson Massif, Mawson Peak, Mount Elbrus, and Everest).  But my ultimate physical/mental goal is to be selected and compete in the three-day 320 mile ULTRAMAN Triathlon completions on Oahu (always on Thanksgiving Weekend).

What Is The Typical Altitude?
It all depends on the location. I have competed in many, many different triathlon and IRONMAN venues from sea level to high mountain passes over 8400 feet in elevation including various terrains and environs such as oceans, bays, harbors, rivers, lakes, mountains, deserts, cities and forests, etc.

What Is Your Age?
I am currently 60 years young (2016), but any well-prepared, healthy human being who is over 18 years of age may now enter the IRONMAN events.

r. Robert Shumway "On the Bike & Charging Hard!"
Dr. Robert Shumway “On the Bike & Charging Hard!”

How Did You Get Involved In IRONMAN And Other Athletic/Completion Contests?
Well, I have always been extremely active in sports (played them all) and I was raised in an open rural Southern California climate within a large family of ALL boys.  Genetically, I come from a long line of rather hearty Western pioneers, athletes, BYU & USC Track coaches, trainers, surgeons, soldiers, and even tennis and decathlon champions.  Even now, our six children are immersed in many different sports like track, karate, motocross, softball, basketball, long-distance running, snow ski and snowboard, water ski, trampoline, mountain-climbing, skydiving, SCUBA, surfing, you name it.  As a youth, I swam competitively on several swim teams and on the high school swim team.  I was always fast so I was a football halfback and ran track and cross-county in high school for BYU.  However, I actually entered the triathlon scene quite late in life.  While in my 50’s, I started competing in San Diego Sprint Triathlons and before I knew it, I was hooked.  The Sprints soon became Olympic and International distances along with Marathons and then eventually Full IRONMAN events.  I skipped the 70.3 Half IRONMAN events entirely……..too busy, I guess.

What Type Of Athletic Gear Do You Need For Such A Competition?
Oh, lots of stuff!  I possess an awesome carbon-fiber triathlon road bike, special clip-in cycle racing shoes, several state-of-the-art triathlon wetsuits, all types of real slick water goggles, really cool full-protection bike helmets, a dozen pairs of nice running shoes, several different sport timepieces,  on-athlete metabolic calculators, couple of Camelbacks, competition belts including salt, sugar, protein and fluid restoration devices.  The list goes on, but getting started in the tri-sport need not be so intensely complicated.

How Do You Train For Such A Competitive Feat?
I never stop training.  NEVER!  I train every day and sometimes ALL day on the weekends and holidays.  I train in the middle of the night, I train during the heat of the day and I often exercise right after a meal.  I even train isometrically while at work, sitting at a desk.  The key to success is not to waste time.  We all get the same 24 hours per day, every day, but what are we doing with our very own, special, 24 hour gift?  A good question to ask is: How much sleep do YOU really need in order to be healthy and happy?  I work-out at 24 Hour Fitness facility because they never close.  I frequent the place, daily, at odd hours.  I lift weights, run on their machines, cycle on their stationary bikes, swim their pools (2-3 miles or more) and then I swim the ocean, race my own bike, run outside and finish the work-out at our home gym.  Also, lots of constant stretching and continuous physical therapy is so important too. Then, it’s complete rest the day before a race.  Call it crazy but come early race day morning I can “trust” my training……every time, without fail.  Do you remember the Boy Scout motto?  BE PREPARED.  Yup, I’m an Eagle Scout (1974).

What Other Pre-Planning Do You Do?
High altitude and cold water competitions require lots of planning and prior acclamation time before just diving in! So acclimating the body to high altitude and cold water prior to any competition is extremely important.  Also, I greatly enjoy the blessings of Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy (BHRT) and I encourage all of my “over 40” Cosmetic Surgery patients to learn about BHRT.  It is truly amazing what people can accomplish on BHRT!  After careful and thorough medical evaluations and follow-ups regarding their physical and medical condition, including all appropriate lab work, many of my Cosmetic Surgery patients become living testaments of the advantages of mixing Cosmetic Surgery with BHRT. It is one of the biggest and longest lasting trends in the Cosmetic Surgery industry.

Do Other Athletics Interest You And What Do you Do To Maintain Endurance?
I really love all sports, but the ultimate maintenance of endurance is living the IRONMAN 24/7.  With the family, I will often run, bike, swim, SCUBA, skydive, ride motorcycles, hike, camp, travel, etc. I eat healthy, act healthy, live healthy. I live and feed my body to the very best of my abilities. I have never smoked, tasted alcohol or used illicit drugs.  I have no idea what even coffee or tea tastes like?

Dr. Robert Shumway near the end of The VINEMAN 140.6 miles.

Is Your Family As Active As You?
Believe me, there’s never a dull moment! The kids know my slogan. “Dear Family: No exercise, No food”………… we never miss a meal!

Does This Type Of Activity Translate Into Your Career As A Cosmetic Surgeon?
Yes, most assuredly. This type of activity is simply a continuation of my everyday life.  It takes a great deal of physical and mental strength and effort to be a really busy and successful Cosmetic Surgeon.  My surgical and medical training at DUKE, with its crazy grueling years and years of every other night “in-hospital call,” helped teach and train me that I really could do just about anything.  As a young man, my two year LDS mission to Northern England also taught me the value of hard work and definitely helped prepare me for a career in medicine.  Our active family life of six children with the many challenges of earth-life (including leukemic death, autism, near-drowning) is enough to prepare anyone for an IRONMAN.  In the “long run” (no pun intended), it’s all about health and happiness – BALANCE.

Do You Encourage Or Train With Any Fellow Physicians?
No, they don’t have the “time” and they would just slow me down!  LOL!!  However, I do enjoy training my AACS (American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery) Fellows in the fine art of Cosmetic Surgery.

Do You Know Anyone Who Has Competed In An IRONWOMAN Contest?
Actually YES! My fellow competitors. Triathalon  has become a very competitive activity for women and I would encourage all ladies who want to participate to “Go For It! It truly is an amazing competition that goes far beyond physical endurance and is available to everyone.

Is There Anything You Wish To Add?
Absolutely. How does one stay a preverbal IRONMAN?  Life itself is an IRONMAN and daily effort to live a good life is required.  I set daily, weekly and monthly goals and make sure that I hit those goals. I hold myself accountable to them, in a very measurable way.  If you are so determined, you will literally watch yourself change and improve. Remember a goal not written is only a wish. Anyone can be an IRONMAN!  It is a matter of choice. Indeed, our lives will be measured not by our abilities, but by our choices. I made my choices at a very young age and feel that I am continuing to enjoy the fruits of my labor….. every day!

Dr. Robert A. Shumway, MD, FACS is the Director of SHUMWAY COSMETIC SURGERY, located for over two decades on the Scripps Memorial Hospital campus in La Jolla, California. He is President of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (AACS), and Past-President of both the California Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (CACS) and the American Society of Cosmetic Breast Surgery (ASCBS).  Dr. Shumway is a current Trustee of the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) and of the California Academy of Cosmetic Surgery Foundation (CACSF), and a Fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, American College of Surgeons, American Society for Laser Medicine & Surgery, California Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, American Academy of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, American Society of Cosmetic Breast Surgery and American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.  Dr. Shumway also maintains Membership in the American Medical Association, American Society of Liposuction Surgery, American Academy of Anti-Aging, California Society of Facial Plastic Surgery, California Medical Association, San Diego County Medical Society, Scripps Memorial Hospitals and he is Faculty for the Mexican Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.  Dr. Shumway is a long-time editor of the American Journal of Cosmetic Surgery (AJCS) and he is Past-Chairman of the American Society of Liposuction Surgery (ASLS). To learn more visit: www.shumwaymd.com or call (858) 587-2640.



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