I think the great thing about triathlon is the challenge of it. People often question whether they’re up for that challenge. I think that’s what draws people to the sport in the first place: trying to answer the unknown for them.
A lot of people I’ve seen come to the sport say, ‘There’s no chance I could ever complete one of these’ and sure enough, I’m talking to them at the finish line and they’re saying, ‘This is addictive.’
It’s just a matter of committing to an event, saying ‘Yes I will’, and going and doing it.
Anybody can be a triathlete.
You do not have to be a lifetime athlete to be a triathlete. People come in all shapes and sizes for all different reasons to do a triathlon.
Primarily most people I’m meeting on triathlon finish lines around the world have come in for health purposes. They’ve said, ‘I was at a point in my life where I’ve looked at myself and thought I need to do something where I am in my life’. They came to lose weight, a lot of them are giving up cigarettes or a certain lifestyle and they really embrace this triathlon lifestyle. For many of them, they came from non-sporting backgrounds. Many of them started off doing fun runs and saw triathlon as the next challenge.
While it looks to be the most physically demanding sport in the world, I think people can relate to those three disciplines and I think they believe the challenge is something that’s attractive and they can do it. Whether you’re a good athlete or not, that’s the beauty of triathlon.
Find a coach you work well with.
I’ve been very, very lucky with the people I work with, but if I were looking for a coach I would look for someone who understands me physically as well as mentally and has good communication. I think great coach-athlete relationships are built over a long period of time. When you see athletes jump from coach to coach, they’ve lost faith in themselves. A lot of times they’re looking for answers in other places. The pros are renowned for that.
The most successful professionals have long-term coaches. When you’re looking for a coach, just make sure you get on well, you communicate well, and they can understand your goals, your objectives, and your psyche as a person as well as your physical strengths. But be part of that process with them. Be the “CEO of your own company.”
Test your limits in training so you can draw on the experience when racing.
When you’re doing those sessions that hurt, take that time to reflect on what’s happening, on what you’re thinking at that time. It’s something I think a lot of people should spend a lot more time focusing on in training.
A lot of the time, when you haven’t gone to the well in training, when you get to that moment in racing, your thought patterns are rushed and you don’t know what to do. If you learn to slow that down and take back control, you’ll find that purity of pain in racing is spectacular. Once you get to control that, it’s awesome. Nothing feels better.
Chris "Macca" McCormack is a four-time triathlon world champion with the biggest winning percentage in the history of the sport. He is a co-founder and partner in Super League Triathlon, CEO of the Bahrain Endurance 13 team, founder and executive director of MX Endurance, and CEO of MANA Sports & Entertainment Group.