Daniel Koch: From prep standout at St. John to Ironman

NEW YORK – He was a star athlete in high school. Now, Daniel Koch is conquering new and brutal athletic challenges.

The St. John Central product is a successful businessmen in New York City. While not investing time in the real estate business, Koch is investing it in athletic training.

Koch was a three-sport star with the Fighting Irish. As a senior, he helped SJC go 9-1 in football while earning the school’s lone OHSAA playoff berth. He then finished third in the D-III state wrestling tournament while capping his brilliant career with a sixth-place finish in the state track meet as a member of the Irish 4X400 relay squad.

After graduation, he became a member of the Ohio State wrestling team before entering the business world with his twin brother, Derek, a state champion wrestler at St. John’s.

The twins moved from Ohio to New York City in 2002, making it big in the hopsitality business first, and now, real estate. So much so, they had their own TV show – “Playing with Fire” which aired on the E! Network.

While the twins are still major players in the real estate business, a change in lifestyle has led Daniel to a new and demanding physical challenge. He is now an Ironman in the works.

“After I decided to give up drinking in April of 2016, I found myself with a lot more time on my hands. A lot more time to reflect on my past, to focus on my future but most importantly to become a better version of myself in the present,” Koch said. “It all started one afternoon when I went for a long run and it came to me that I should run the NYC Marathon later that year. After having to drag myself the last six miles across the finish line that day, I was not only humbled by the journey but knew I could do better if I were to continue running.

“So I did… and I went on to run three more marathons within the next year getting faster and faster with each race. I discovered this whole new world of life out there and eventually it would lead me to the sport of Ironman,” he added. “And for the past two years, it has given me a new purpose, a new passion and a new perspective on life. If I can inspire you, well then, I’ve done my job.”

Koch’s impressive athletic success has carried over into Ironman training. He has taken to it like duck to water. So much so, the 36-year-old is ranked in the top 250 in the world out of some 20,000 athletes in his age classification (35-39).

Such results don’t come about without passionate and intense work. Koch’s training routine borders on insanity.

“Since hiring a full-time coach (James Petersen) and joining his Professional Sports Team (Nor’easter Elite) in December, I train a minimum twice a day, everyday. I’ve had only “one real day off” in th last 98 days since joining. My schedule is race specific. Right now, I am focused on Ironman 70.3 aka Half-Ironman. I will usually train once in the morning and once in the evening after work, everyday,” Koch noted. “On the weekends, during long sessions, I’ll train back-to-back sessions known as brick workouts. I’ll ride on my bike trainer for 3-plus hours (60 miles) and then run off the bike on my treadmill for a quick six miles directly afterwards. This set up is in my apartment which makes it convenient. Triathlon athletes refer to it as “the pain cave.”

“I swim at the YMCA next to my office five times a week with a minimum two-mile swim per session. My indoor cycling is also 5 days a week with a lot of maximum aerobic power intervals calculated into that totaling close to 150 miles. My running is also five days a week with a track session and long runs included topping 40 miles per week on average,” he continued. “I also do strength training and yoga in between to stay flexible. It’s also equally important to stay on top of my nutrition and recovery with getting enough sleep every night to perform the next day. I’ve learned that Ironman is taking it one day at a time and staying consistent with your work day after day, year after year — this is where the gains are made. If you want to compete, like me, then success will not happen over night – committing long term is the only way. I’m invested 100% and that’s how I’ve always done things – full go or no go.”

The Martins Ferry native is a month away from his next Ironman event. He, however, has bigger goals in mind.

“My goal this year is to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Nice, France in September 2019 and to compete in my first full Ironman in Arizona in November, giving me a chance to qualify for Kona 2020 (which is the main goal,” Koch said. “My training will ramp up 50% come September. I am dedicating this to Grandma Jo and Grandpa Dobrovich who’ve inspired me to live as long and beautifully as they both have.”


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