Updated: Dec 24, 2019
There is still a way to make a small living in triathlon if one is prepared to be disciplined in one’s training and racing schedule.
With the proliferation of new races worldwide I find it quite concerning the amount of underperforming newcomers who ask about coaching, but then talk about sponsors and fulfilling a travel schedule that looks like a world cruise ship tour so they can ‘get to Kona’.
That’s all before the standard ‘I can’t afford to get a proper coach’ – despite the coach having a proven track record of delivering exactly what their goals are.
Many are disappointed when instead of producing a magic wand, I suggest they focus on improving their performance to be good enough to earn a pay cheque in the first place.
Living out of a suitcase in an airline transit area, competing at races that you are not good enough to be at is the worst possible way to move forward if one’s goals are to be good.
If you have serious flaws in one or two of the triathlon disciplines – ‘joining the circuit’ for 12 months will leave you right back where you started. No money and no improvement.
Over the past 12 months we have seen the meteoric rise up the professional ladder of one of my Pro’s. They left a well paid corporate job to follow their dream and I’m proud to say followed a different path to the majority of the inquiries we deal with.
Realising rather quickly that being ‘good’ was more important than the holiday circuit, they got an excellent coach and paid not to go to races but training camps to improve her weaknesses.
With improving performances they had the opportunity to get sponsored products – but instead followed their coach’s advice:
“Do not take on inferior products – it will cost you performance and money!”
Losing two minutes over 180km because you’re endorsing slower equipment can be the difference between a win or a fourth. They again wanted what is best for performance. Not to be able to say ‘I have a sponsor’!
Such long term thinking has paid off very handsomely. They are now the current holder of several Ironman 70.3 distances and Ironman European races. For those who were at this level two years ago, the improvement is not luck.
Taking The Plunge
It is not to say everyone can make the huge leap they have, but I can identify many others who with professional attitudes have made the step from very good age groupers to real “pros”.
The greatest of them is the legend called, Chrissie Wellington. She took a one week trial and then gambled her savings on coaching and camps that would make her the best she could be. She was going to the top or back to a ‘real job’. No grey area.
For those considering making the jump, please understand it is totally different when you’re racing for a pay check to pay the bills each month. The pressure of racing without a safety net is not for everyone. Though I’m happy to give some free advice for those looking to make the transition from good amateur to hard bitten pro.
It takes time. I ask people joining SISU Racing for three seasons to be the best they can be. If you come into the pro ranks with the ‘I’ll give it one year’ mindset I can help you right now. Stick to your day job.
Invest in quality coaching and in training to improve and develop all three disciplines. Weaknesses that you can get away with as a good amateur will be brutally exploited when you run into the real thing.
Pick races that you can access easily and economically. Ensure after a race you are always able to return to base and get on with the most important agenda – training to make you better.
A professional, long term approach will get you to where you want to go much faster than you’d think.
Sisu Racing Triathlon Coach