Seven Habits of Highly Successful Triathletes

Seven Habits of Highly Successful Triathletes

Seven Habits of Highly Successful Triathletes

  • Training
  • Psychology
  • Racing

A long time ago, during the ‘80s, in a galaxy far, far away, I read a book titled The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.  This book changed the way I managed my personal and professional life.  I still use many of the concepts in that book.  In fact, I still use the hardcopy day timer that Covey developed to go along with his Seven Habits (yes, I actually write in a calendar even though I have a Google calendar).  Writing in my daytimer the other day got me thinking about successful triathletes.  So, here are my seven habits of highly successful triathletes.

  1. They know what they know – and what they don’t know

Successful triathletes understand that their knowledge of the sport is incomplete.  They understand that they don’t know everything.  They seek out triathlon knowledge in books, from coaches and fellow athletes and others who know more. They develop a network of experts and become a student of the sport.

  1. They have a plan and stick to it….

Successful triathletes have a training plan and a racing plan.  Their training plan may come from a coach or from an online site or from a book or from a plan of their own making.  Their plan encompasses their entire training year and highlights their 1 or 2 goal races.  Their plan has them peaking for their goal races.  They listen to their coach and stick to the training plan.

Successful triathletes also have a race plan for their 1 or 2 goal races.  Their race plan closely matches their performance accomplished during training.  Their race plan outlines how they will race – pacing strategy, nutrition strategy, and hydration strategy.  They stick to their race plan.

  1. ….Until the plan needs to change – then they have a contingency plan

Successful triathletes are resilient, flexible and adaptable.  When life interferes with their training plan, they adapt and modify the plan.  They don’t try to make up missed workouts or give up on the training plan.  They adapt and move on, never looking back only looking forward to their goals.

Successful triathletes understand that race day rarely goes according to plan.  Thus, they have thought out and practiced in training contingency plans in case the race doesn’t go according to plan.  “What if I get a flat?”  “What if I get 2 flats?” “What if my nutrition plan isn’t working?” “What if it’s raining?”  “What if it’s windy?”  “What if it’s raining and windy?”  “What do I do if my heart monitor quits working?”  And on and on.

  1. They focus on what matters most

Successful triathletes balance family, work and training time.  They understand their priorities and allocate time accordingly.

They focus their training time on their weakest sport.  They train their weakness and race their strength.  They spend some training time on ‘pre-habilitation’, injury prevention, recovery and nutrition.

  1. They focus on what they can control

Successful triathletes understand what they can control and what they cannot control.  They can control which workouts get done.  They can control the intensity of their workouts.  They can control their thoughts and maintain a positive outlook.  Ultimately, they understand the one thing they have complete control over is their attitude.

  1. They quiet their minds

Successful triathletes can quiet their minds and focus on the task at hand.  They can turn off their brains.  I believe it was Dave Scott who said he can’t remember his best races.  We all have a little voice in our head talking to us.  We have conversations with ourselves.  Successful triathletes learn to turn off those voices and like the Nike commercial says, “Just Do It”.  When the alarm goes off for that 5 a.m. swim, they don’t have a debate with themselves about whether or not to get out of bed.  They don’t think, they just jump out of bed and get to swim practice.  When they have a bad swim in a race, they don’t focus on the bad swim while on the bike.  They focus on the task at hand, what they have to do right now to have their best race possible.

  1. They stay positive

Successful triathletes keep a positive mind-set at all times.  They focus on their goals and motivations which helps them to maintain a positive attitude.  They learn to replace negative thoughts with positive self-talk.

Adopt these habits and make them a part of your triathlon lifestyle.  If you have any questions or thoughts, just send an email to

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