Survey Results: Which of these 5 types of triathletes are you?

Which of these 5 types of triathletes are you?

Which of these 5 types of triathletes are you?I recently surveyed over 1,200 triathletes from around the globe and the results were very clear on how differently people prepare and focus for the season and set their ambitions.

There were 5 categories that quickly emerged from all the responses:

1. Doubtful

When asked about their big goals for the year, they respond with profound doubt and struggle to define any specific goal. This group consistently use phrases like “not sure I can”, or “might be too much” when describing their goals of wanting to sign up for races or start training for specific distances. They don’t have clear goals, they are generally doubtful about the season, their abilities, their physical limitations, and their commitment. Yet they still are actively involved in training and racing triathlons.

2. Hesitant

A slight step up from the Doubtfuls, this group is optimistic about their outcomes but lacks determination with goals of ‘I hope to do a sprint’ or ‘I’m hoping to do better than last year’.  They know what they’d like to do this season, but lack the conviction and confidence to see it through. Holding on to hesitancy only brings low energy and drive, fuels a lack of confidence, and adds significant indecision and lack of focus.

3. Undefined

Surprisingly, this was the largest group. They are more positively directed yet still have undefined goals. Statements such as “I want to do a few races”, “My main goal is to have fun” and “I really just want to avoid injury”. While staying injury free is important and takes smart training to achieve it, a big goal should be an energizing, exciting and positively-motivating focus of your triathlon life.

4. Incomplete

More clear and committed, the Incompletes typically know what they’d like to achieve yet still have some ambiguity. They know what they want to do but lack an extra edge to make it crystal clear in their mind and super focused in their actions to get there. Comments like “I want to finish an Olympic distance” and “Beat my previous time in a Half Ironman” provide a significant improvement in focus and would greatly benefit from even more specific description on what can be measureable. ‘Finish is top 5% of age group’, ‘improve time by 10%’, for example.

5. Clear and focused

This last group stood out loud and clear from the others in their commitment, focus and excited energy for their year ahead. They know what they want with such sharp language and clarity of mind it is obvious they are not just going through the motions. “Complete my first sprint in 1:20”, “Improve my transition time by 2 minutes and achieve a personal best in the swim and run by 10%”. Their Big Goal is specific, well-defined, measurable and best of all, their answers exuded excitement, drive and energy even if it wasn’t known if they would achieve it or not (but the likelihood of success increases exponentially with the right mindset).

What is the difference between a triathlete that constantly pushes him/herself to attempt longer distances, achieve top rankings in their age group and continuously break personal records, and one that struggles through training and races ? It’s focus, belief and knowing WHY you want to achieve the things you do. Plus, having a powerful and personal vision in your mind, and already seeing and feeling what it will be like to actually do it makes all the difference. It doesn’t mean you have to be the best triathlete in the field, but the desire to be the best you can be is the same for all. A key factor is having goals that fuel you everyday in everything you do.

No matter what level of triathlon experience you have now, you can begin today to become more Clear and Focused about your goals.

Having a clearly articulated, motivating goal is the greatest lesson you can take from this list. You may be doubtful, hesitant, undefined or incomplete at this point, but the simple act of putting specific, measurable and motivating elements into your Big Goal immediately gives you more excitement and energy to go after it day after day.  And when you do this, I know how much fun you’re going to have working towards achieving each and every one of your goals.

Determine which category of triathlete you are now and together we can build from there until you are the Master of Your Inner Game. Did I mention this is going to be Your Best Year Ever?!

To unlocking your potential and exceeding expectations.

Coach Chris

Leave a comment and let the other readers know which group you fall into and what you could do to move up the ladder and become more Clear and Focused…and more excited about your triathlon season.

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Leave A Reply (11 comments so far)


  1. Joe Contreras
    6 years ago

    I enjoyed reading this Chris! I agree, clearly defined goals will bring my efforts more into focus and make things more interesting because I specifically know what I want to do and how it will be achieved. I am slowly working on my goal list; I did my first tri recently and I didn’t have anything to compare it to so I settled for just enjoying the moment, which isn’t too bad for a first tri. My second tri is coming up and while I don’t have clearly defined goals as in group 5, I do have some vague goals; improve my run, transition, and bike times. I guess I could make them more specific: complete my run at 9:50 pace, complete my transistions in less than 2 minutes, and complete the bike in over 18 mph.
    There!


  2. Coach Chris
    6 years ago

    Hi Joe – sounds like you’re off to a good start! Just make sure you consider the course you’re racing when setting race day goals. Hilly vs flat? Open water vs pool? These factors will influence your time and pace. You’ll learn more with each race but measurable goals will definitely improve your training focus and enthusiasm for giving it your best. Keep us posted!! – Chris


  3. Michelle Ashwell
    6 years ago

    Interesting reading. I am most definitely stuck as number 1 (doubtful) even though I have been doing tri for 3 years and have successfully completed 2 Ironmen and should be more confident and decisive by now! I have no fixed goals or aspirations and really should be beyond “please God, just get me to the finish line at some point”! If you are number 1, do you have to pass through the other phases to reach number 5?! Is it a progress journey where you change your thinking and outlook and reach the next level or can you go direct from 1-4 or 5 with some thoughtful planning?!


  4. Coach Chris
    6 years ago

    Hi Michelle,

    Great question! You don’t need to go through each step at all. With some thoughtful planning you can definitely clearly define what success means to you and do it in a way that excites, inspires or simply gives you a boost and something to look forward to. At the same time, there might be a version of a ‘progress journey’ that needs to happen internally. To go from “Please God…” to strong conviction and self-belief might take some time….but it also can be very quick too by being open minded and willing to change some past perspectives that might be holding you back. Change your thinking, your outlook and your experience can change immediately. A final thought — and reminder — is that a well-defined goal is simply a target you aspire for and work towards. Falling in love with the process and journey along the way…and perhaps discovering more about yourself and your (surprisingly greater) abilities is where the real experience happens, and where the real joy of sport and life is found.


  5. Michelle Ashwell
    6 years ago

    Many thanks for taking the time to reply with such a thorough response Chris. I do believe I am at the stage where I am ready to challenge those negative self beliefs I have as I have proved to myself that I can achieve more than I thought I was capable of so just need to start thinking about some well defined goals. Have definitely been stuck in a rut this season so would be great to enjoy the journey again!


  6. scott m gardner
    6 years ago

    I know what I want to accomplish this year: I am doing a sprint this coming Saturday (Race on the Base: Los Alamitos, CA) and want to finish the OranageMan 70.3 on September 25, 2012. I am a cyclist and know I can handle the bike part. I have confidence that I can train for the swim part. It is the run (or in my case walk) that I have concerns. I am disabled, have an artificial hip, and cannot run. Until I started to train for the Sprint, I have not done any distance walking since my accident six years ago. I am currently up to the 5K distance, but my gait is unbalanced and walking hurts.

    The sprint is my ‘proof of concept’ and starting point. I want to finish, and not at the bottom of my age group. The 1/2 Ironman is a big challenge. Right now my walk pace is 15:30, and I would like to get it 13:00. I am starting Physical Therapy for gait training and flexibility next week. Other than that, I just want to finish.


  7. Scott Bolen
    6 years ago

    My goal is to improve my time, age group, and overall placing in each local race this year. Since I am 47 and have been doing triathlons for a decade, I cannot do the same as in the past and expect to achieve my goal. Additionally, my kids tournaments not yet scheduled are a greater priority and will impact training to some degree but not be an excuse. Due to my age I have added yoga to my routine as well as more cross fit in the off season to prepare for greater training intensity. Training with those better than I with awareness of my limits and need for greater recovery will enable me to maximize my potential and give me the best chance to achieve my goals.


  8. Coach Chris
    6 years ago

    Hi Scott – it’s very inspiring to hear your goals and aspirations! It sounds like you’re taking a smart approach and building on your foundation to get strong and balanced. Keep putting in that work, progressing at the right pace to gradually raise your thresholds and I’m sure you’ll be pleased with your results. Let us know how you get on! – Chris


  9. Coach Chris
    6 years ago

    Hey Scott – you’ve made some great decisions to infuse your training with yoga and cross fit. You’ll definitely feel and see improvement in many facets with that as foundation for your triathlon training and recovery. You may not have all the natural abilities as you did when you were younger but with smart training you can definitely maximize your potential and achieve those goals. Have fun while doing it to!! -Chris


  10. Chris Land
    6 years ago

    I guess I fit around the incomplete category because I will be embarking on my 2nd Ironman attempt on June 24th and my goal is to meet each time cutoff, especially the swim, and then finish in time! I did not make the swim cutoff the first time I attempted this same Ironman due to health issues (asthma) and have worked very hard to come up with a better management plan with the help of a great doctor. I have read and reread your workbook and just relistened to the videos to keep me inspired because as time gets closer I get more nervous and doubtful but the dreams and goals are the same!


  11. Coach Chris
    6 years ago

    Great to hear you’re not giving up and taking another crack at it Chris! Also sounds like you’ve taken a smart approach which definitely will pay off. Remember that those doubts and nerves are the result of the story you’re telling yourself – your thoughts create emotions. Even though you can’t guarantee the result you want, you are MUCH BETTER OFF telling yourself an empowering story of strength, stamina and success. You increase your odds dramatically when you show up ready to go; not ‘fearing/hoping not to fail’. You might want to check out the other book Race Faster NOW! with loads of strategies on preparing mentally for race day including super practical exercises to work through your thinking and to remove all doubt for a massive confidence boost at the start line. Good luck and keep me posted!

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