Growing as a Triathlete


Posted by Coach John Murray

I had a wonderful conversation with an athlete earlier this week. I have worked with her on and off for three seasons and we have both grown in our coach-athlete relationship. Each season she learns a bit more about me and my coaching and I learn more things about her as an athlete.

She was telling me about a recent race and describing her mood just prior to the start of the swim. She explained in a rather nonchalant way how she was focused on her plan and how she felt good about how she would execute the plan. As I listened I was smiling inside because of the growth in her that I was witnessing. Absent were the comments regarding worry, or not feeling ready, or self-doubt. Instead, an excited and confident athlete shared a great story of her performance.

Her story of that race day continued with her goggles fogging up and her vision being affected to the point that she couldn’t see the course. She described (with a smile) how she stopped swimming and cleared the foggy goggles. As she was clearing, the strap of the goggles came apart and she had to fix them. None of this phased her. She did what she had to do and kept going. A couple other things did not go 100% as planned but she just kept moving along.

When she was finished with the story, I told her how I saw a completely different athlete today than when we first started.

As a coach of adult triathletes I see all different types of personalities on race day. My hope is that most of them will eventually come to the place where they are truly finding the joy in their journey. I agree that many factors play into how we feel on race day. Although the perfect race may not come that often, how we react to the “imperfections” in our race tells the real growth in us as triathletes.

As we approach each race or even training session, I hope that we are moving towards that same attitude - being happy just to be out there, knowing that there is a good chance the perfect race won't be today, but reacting in a way that isn't deflating and self-defeating.

There are countless stories of how athletes have really grown out of the worst race days ever. I certainly don’t wish anyone a bad race but I do hope that you are growing as a triathlete!

Coach John Murray is a USA Triathlon Level II certified Coach, An ASCA Level II certified Coach and a USAT certified Race Director. John has over 25 years of coaching competitive swimmers and Masters Clubs and has completed over 70 triathlons including 2 Ironmans. John has produced the Portofino Tri Series since 2011 - a super sprint triathlon race series that has been the first triathlon for hundreds of athletes from all over the country. John is also a US Veteran having served in the US Navy as a Hospital Corpsman (FMF) and is also a Registered Nurse. He is a current Board Member for Pensacola Sports and co-founder and President of Team MPI. He can be reached at


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