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The little things that can matter most as a professional triathlete

Matt Hanson, 3 x Ironman Champion, fastest American Ironman time holder and On athlete, shares with us the insights that really matter when you set out to be a professional triathlete on the world stage.

To be successful in professional triathlon is often determined by how well you pay attention to the details – the “little things”.


You cannot just put your head down and throw a bunch of time into training and think that’s enough. You make or break your race and performance by how well you adhere to the details, and so, here are some things to think about that many people starting out miss.



1. People often spend so much time training their body, they neglect their equipment. Dirty drive trains on the bike slow you down significantly. Worn out shoes lead to injuries. Bald tires can be a danger. Paying attention to these details definitely makes a big difference on race day.


2. Use multiple running shoes when training to help avoid injury and use more muscles than you would with one pair alone. I do most of my treadmill runs in the Cloud, my aerobic runs in the Cloudsurfer, and my track and tempo workouts in the Cloudracer/Cloudflash. 


3. More training is not always better! You need to train smart, but also train efficient. Your body needs to recover sometimes too, so having light/easy training days… or complete days off… is essential. 


4. A good nutrition plan for race day will likely help go faster than a shiny new bike. Don’t get me wrong, new bikes are great. But it does you no good to have the best equipment in the world if the engine isn’t working properly. Invest time and energy into developing YOUR personal nutrition plan for race day. Test, learn and find out the food that works best for YOU.



5. On that same note, triathletes eat…a lot! It is not uncommon for some triathletes to be burning more than 1000 calories per hour while training/racing. If you are putting in 10-20 hours per week, that is a lot of extra food you get to enjoy (definitely a great sport for the foodies out there).


6. Triathlons of any distance are a long day. You will be uncomfortable at times and sometimes, you will just plain hurt. At the end of the race it comes down to how bad you want to achieve your goals. I view an Ironman race as a very long warm up to get to the last 10k. You have to make the right decisions all day long to keep in the mix and be in with a chance. However, whoever is able to run with the most heart for the last 10k will win the tight races – and the day. 


7. While triathlon training can be social or solitary, good races are always social. Enjoy it, and take in the celebration as you cross the finish line. Take time to chat with the other competitors after the race. Thank your team and remember the sacrifices that may have been made to get you there. Make sure you thank the volunteers who gave up their time to make sure you had a great experience at the race.

Though it may be a “competition” at the end of the day, you’re all in it together.


Photography by Payton Ruddock - click here to see more of his incredible work.