What It’s Like To Be A Professional Triathlete

  • By Jené Shaw
  • Published Jul 29, 2013
  • Updated Jul 21, 2015 at 3:36 PM UTC
Illustrations by Leigh Guldig.

On the lifestyle:

“The beauty of the sport is most everyone competes because of their enthusiasm for swimming, biking and running; camaraderie is on display in every race, which is special. I worry about athletes not breaking out of their own selfish bubble where they have a very narrow view of the world. The spirit of triathlon is one of friendship, belonging and passion, and I never want to see that dissipate.”

“I’ve been lucky that I’m in a position to not stress too much. It probably gets to a point where if it’s not going well, you should grow up. It doesn’t feel like a real job. You look at swimmers who only perform until 22, track athletes get to 30. If you look at the age in triathlon now, there’s at least a decade being added on.”

“It’s very obvious that it’s a really selfish sport. I look around at people who don’t have kids and how they balance their day is different. The need to support a family creates a lot of motivation. When you go off to a race and you want to support them, you have to make it work. It’s now just not going to a race to have a holiday in Thailand—you go to Thailand with a purpose. When you realize as an athlete what you’re there for—to make a living, to sell product, to help evolve products and grow the sport—you become more content and realize what your role is and it’s not just a selfish pursuit anymore.”

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FILED UNDER: Features / InsideTri

Jené Shaw

Jené Shaw

Jené Shaw is a contributor for Triathlete magazine, a six-time Ironman finisher and a USAT Level 1 certified coach

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