Lorna Hopkin, the Ordinary Ironman, in Hawaii
By Therese Van Ryne | December 22, 2022

Exclusive Interview: “I Sought Physical Pain to Heal from Emotional Trauma and Strengthen My Mind, and I Would Do It Again.”

Two-time World Ironman Champion Lorna Hopkin had to learn to live again after the loss of her son and multiple tragedies that followed. So, she hit the road (quite literally) to find peace, purpose and her tribe.

“If none of the tragedies had happened, then maybe none of the adventures would have happened.”

Hearing two-time Ironman World Champion and Zebra colleague Lorna Hopkin say this when we sat down to catch up recently really caused me to pause and consider my perspective on many things in life.

It’s easy to get caught up in grief and pain…to let it control you – to walk into that hole in the road and get stuck there, as Lorna puts it. But whether you let grief control your life or channel that pain to take back control of your life is your choice. As Lorna will admit, she’s chosen both options since losing her son Leo to SIDS at 5-weeks old in 2015, and there are lessons to be learned from both. 

At first, “I just needed to swim away from it as fast as I could,” she says. So, she literally started swimming, running and cycling to escape the pain she was feeling at home. Training for races became her coping mechanism. 

Lorna Hopkin rides her bike and runs during the Ironman World Championship competition

“As a society, we’ve rewired ourselves to not show emotion. Training gives me a way to release those emotions. It helps me feel in control of my emotional pain,” she explained. “Training is nature’s natural antidepressant.”

But then, in time, she realized that pounding the pavement was no longer about surviving. She wasn’t using swimming to drown out her emotions so much as to stimulate better ones. The grief and pain she was still feeling wasn’t draining her. It was energizing her to live. So, she started to plan her way to happiness – reassessing, and restarting, her journey to healing as she experienced new moments of significant loss from a divorce and the passing of her dad. 

So, if you’re in the mood for a good story that, despite its basis in tragedy, has an incredibly happy ending, grab a cup of tea, cozy under a blanket, and hit play on the latest episode of the Your Edge podcast:


In just 20 short minutes, you’ll learn why Lorna decided to fully feel the pain of her grief in its physical form instead of letting go of herself and getting swallowed up by the sadness. She also shares…

  • Why she calls herself the “Ordinary Ironman” despite the many truly extraordinary things she has done in the last seven years.

  • How she came to compete with elite athletes even though she doesn’t consider herself to be the best athlete herself and had to juggle training with a high-powered job. (Did I mention she has three kids, too?)

  • What she credits with her years of perseverance both physically and emotionally.

  • What she would tell people who say, “I can’t even walk up a flight of stairs. There’s no way I could do what Lorna has done, no matter how much anger, frustration, or sadness I needed to release.” 

  • The one best practice that Lorna believes could help everyone heal from trauma, no matter the circumstances.

  • What advice she would give to those who feel like they can’t carry on with life after a loss. 

  • How she finds time to train and compete while working full time, raising a family, and managing her own needs. (She has some great life balance advice.) 

So, tune in now to find out what life is really like for even the seemingly happiest people on Earth, and how you can transform your pain and vulnerability into strength the next time you’re feeling down. Remember: grief can either leave you with an empty tank or fuel you on endless journeys. It’s your choice.


Lorna Hopkin finishes the Ironman World Championship competition in Hawaii


Lorna sought mental health support through her friends, family and Ironman community throughout her years-long journey. And though it is never easy to ask for help, it is even more difficult to go through life – and process pain and grief – alone. 

So, if you are looking to connect with people who can offer support, or just sit and listen, you might want to start here.

Also ask your employer if they can connect you with people who can help as well. Many companies have employee health and wellness programs you can use to improve your emotional well-being and physical health. For example, Zebra offers an employee assistance program globally to provide employees and their dependents with immediate and confidential help for any work, health, or life concern. Topics include stress, anxiety, parenting advice, family needs, and more. 

Did You Know?

Lorna also raises money for the Lullaby Trust if you would like to join in her effort. She is also competing in the London Marathon in April to raise funds for them: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lorna-hopkin1

Podcast, Inside Zebra Nation, Podcast, Interview,
Therese Van Ryne
Therese Van Ryne

Therese Van Ryne is Senior Director of External Communications for Zebra Technologies. She joined Zebra as part of the acquisition of Motorola Solutions Enterprise business in October 2014. She and her team are laser focused on growing the company’s brand awareness globally aligned with business objectives. Her accomplishments include leading Zebra events with Harvard University and TED as well as the creation of the annual Intelligent Enterprise Index, resulting in positive media coverage, customer engagement and revenue growth.

Prior to Motorola Solutions, Van Ryne worked at SC Johnson where she led corporate communication strategies and drove PR and branding efforts for leading consumer products. One of her top achievements was leading the Windex® placement in the film, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” resulting in a 25% sales increase for the brand.

One of PR News’ 2019 Top Women in PR and Crain's Chicago's 2021 Most Notable Executives in Marketing, Therese also has experience as a journalist, editor and producer, reporting nightly from Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Van Ryne holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications and Journalism from Marquette University and an Executive Leadership Master’s Certificate from Cornell University.

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