We Love this article written by PETER KADZIELAWSKI at teamusa.org! We can definitely relate to many of these qualities, can you?
1. They treat their training as seriously as they would their job.
Although training for an IRONMAN triathlon does not require the same time commitment as a full-time job, it does take the same attitude and respect. You have to be proactive, consistent and reliable. Think of it as a long-term project that will take anywhere from several months up to a year to accomplish. Your work ethic will be reflected on race day. You want that bonus at the end of the year, aka IRONMAN finisher medal, so you can’t just coast your way through the year. There is a reason why Type A personalities excel in this sport.
2. They focus on quality over quantity.
Training for 140.6-mile triathlon can be very overwhelming and although you must get a good amount of volume in, it is not just about going long all the time. Remember, like anything else in life, sometimes you want to work smarter, not harder. Make sure you have a good balance of shorter sessions with emphasis on intensity and technique as well as your long workouts.
3. They know when it’s more beneficial to skip a workout.
The accumulation of the days, weeks and months of training can take a toll on you. Sometimes there are days when you have to stay late at work or get stuck on a delayed train and when you get home late, you are tired, not to mention the three intense weeks of training you just went through. You are really dreading this 6-mile tempo run you still have to fit in before going to sleep. Your kids are going to sleep in about a half hour and if you don’t hang out with them now then you won’t get to see them at all. Guess what? In this situation you might decide to skip your run. Bravo! You will be much better off. Considering you also have a swim the next morning, it is much more beneficial to get a good night sleep and kick butt at the pool the next day. Rather than not seeing your kids, running, crashing for a few hours and then going through the motions at the pool the next morning, and barely surviving your work day half asleep.
4. They balance out extreme training bouts with special recovery sessions.
The ultra-distance triathlon is an extreme sport. No matter how intelligent your approach to training is you are still putting your body through extreme stress and exertion. Finding ways to counterbalance your extreme training sessions will not only help your body to absorb the workout, but it will also help prevent an overuse injury. Simple stretching comes to mind, but there are other ways to help you recover as well. Foam rolling, massage, ice baths, inversions are all ways that can help you recover faster and prevent injury. One of our favorites is yoga — Yin yoga to be exact. It applies moderate stress to the connective tissues, the tendons, fascia and ligaments with the aim of increasing circulation in the joints and improving flexibility. It is also very relaxing because you stay in poses from three to five minutes each.
5. They rely on proper nutrition for improvement in fitness.
Real unprocessed foods will not only help you achieve your ideal race body weight, but they will truly nourish and fuel you from day to day. This includes lots of fresh veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, etc. If you do eat meat, choose hormone-free, grass-fed, free-range sources. They do not eat food like products created in a lab. Each meal is an opportunity to help you become more fit so make sure you’re making the right choices. Think of your training as taking two steps forward, and if you eat processed, artificial foods, you’re now taking a step back. If you eat clean, real, whole food sources created by nature, you are taking another step forward. Now which is the way to make progress faster?
6. They do not neglect sleep.
This goes along with No. 5 on this list. There are three major components to becoming a better athlete: training, nutrition and recovery or sleep. Sleep is when your body recovers and repairs. If beginner triathletes cut anything short it is usually sleep. It is very admirable not to skip workouts, but the workout will not be as effective if you don’t recover properly. The goal is to get as close to seven hours of sleep each night to recover properly.
7. They get their social life fix by training with partners or in groups.
Who doesn’t like to join in on the fun by attending a happy hour, a birthday party or watching a game at their favorite bar? If you can get it done without effecting No. 5 or 6 on this list then go for it. Any time you go out, there is potential that you will be out late especially if there’s alcohol involved. Even a slight hangover can set you up for a difficult training day or even a week. So if you’re a social butterfly, find friends to train with as there are many tri clubs or local groups of athletes who have formed small communities exactly for this reason. You are not the first one with this issue: seek out others with similar goals and support each other.
8. They inspire others.
As an IRONMAN triathlete you experience and learn so much every single day. It would be a shame not to share your passion and experiences with others, especially those who one day would like to achieve the same. Successful triathletes share their passion and encourage others rather than putting themselves on a pedestal. In turn they get a support team of special individuals who will always respect and support them.
9. They find a reason greater than themselves to stay motivated.
This is a very individual sport that can be very selfish. Most of the time, it’s all about the athlete. Finding a charity to raise awareness for a specific cause can really help the athlete make a positive impact on others while also focusing on themselves. And when you don’t feel like getting up on that freezing and dark morning in the middle of January to go to the pool, knowing that you are doing this to support others in need will sure help you get out of bed.