James Griffitts, a freshman studying health science, said he has grown stronger and more motivated as a result of pushing himself in his life.

At the age of 18, Griffitts wanted to do the Ironman Triathlon. The Ironman consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26-mile run.

“Every year, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, hosts the triathlon, and I watched the race many times, and the race always inspired me, like no other race ever has,” he said. “So, I was turning 18 in 2012 and decided to challenge myself and do the race the following year.”

Griffitts said the year leading up to the triathlon was one of the best years because the training was difficult and made him set a strict schedule and stick to it. He said he gave up his car for a time and used his bike and his legs to travel from place to place.

“Not having a car in the winter was sometimes rough, but I learned a lot and was able to see results as I sacrificed warmth and comfort for the betterment of my required training,” Griffitts said.

He completed the Ironman in 2012 in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. He said completing such a challenge helped him grow tremendously.

“I like challenges, and I like to push myself physically and mentally,” Griffitts said. “When I do those things, that is what truly makes me happy, and it makes me feel good about myself. It boosts my self-confidence, and I feel that I perform better in all other aspects when I have something that I’m training for.”

Kelli Griffitts, James Griffitts’ mother, said that when he was training, it was like he was living on his bike. She said he would just hop on his bike and ride, regardless of the time of day or what season it was.

She said there is a gym a couple miles from their home, and there was a blizzard outside, but James and his friend decided to run to the gym and ran through a couple inches of snow and a head wind to get there.

Griffitts said that when he got to BYU-Idaho, he learned about the school’s ROTC program, and he decided the program would be a challenge for him and decided to join.

“With the ROTC program, there is a physical fitness program, and every semester, there are three tests within the program,” he said. “It consists of two minutes of sit-ups, two minutes of pushups and a two-mile run, and you do those things to the best of your ability.”

He said the three aspects of the fitness program drew him into doing the ROTC. He said he is a competitive guy and wanted to beat everybody else in the class.

“This is exactly what I wanted to do because it forces me to train five days a week doing cross training and cardio and to set a rigorous schedule and be mentally strong enough to stick to it and hold myself accountable,” Griffitts said.

He said this is the first semester that he has done ROTC, but he has enjoyed the program so much that he is now in the process of signing with the National Guard.

“Everything that I do, I try to put my heart into it, no matter what it is,” Griffitts said. “When I did triathlons, I became engulfed with training to do better than a majority of the competitors. When I did the ROTC fitness test, I ended up winning. It is the mental aspect of life that has always driven me.”