It’s The Company You Keep


Posted by Coach Mark Sortino

If you’re lucky enough to have discovered the importance of surrounding yourself with people who are supportive and healthy for you in your life, then the power of what I’m about to write should make total sense to you. Sport, as in life, has an incredibly emotional and mental component that can be influenced by those around us. Surrounding yourself with positive and encouraging people in your sport can be the difference between finding joy for a lifetime or quitting after one try.


Beginner Athlete. If you are new to endurance sports, ask yourself a few questions: Do you have a positive and supportive teacher or coach? Do you train with a fun and encouraging group? Do you feel comfortable joining your group when you know you have the least amount of experience? If you answered “no” to any of these, then you ought to consider separating yourself from those people.

Intermediate Athlete. So you’ve been training and racing for a year or more and are ready to take the next step. Ask yourself these questions: Have you enjoyed your journey so far with your training partners? Have you maintained a supportive and encouraging group of friends and family? Are your dreams of improving being taken seriously by friends and family? Does your Coach support those dreams? If you answered “no” to any of these, then you ought to consider separating yourself from those people.

Advanced or Professional Athlete.You’ve reached the upper echelons of elite status in your sport. Ask yourself these questions: Have personal relationships with family been beneficial to your training and racing? Are your training partners fun, encouraging and generally rooting for you? Do your relationships with others reduce your stress (or at least not add to it)? Is your Coach right for you? If you answered “no” to any of these, then you ought to consider separating yourself from those people.


In life, if you are continually surrounded by toxic and negative people, your daily existence will be filled with stress and negativity. Regardless of whether they are family or friends, it’s best you reduce time with those people or even completely separate yourself from them. This applies to sport as well. I cannot overstate the importance of surrounding yourself with supportive and positive people that are rooting for you and your dreams. Take it from me who has experienced both extremes - it makes a difference in your performance. But more importantly, it makes a difference in your enjoyment of sport and by association, life.


Coach Mark Sortino is a USA Triathlon Level III Coach, USA Cycling Level II Coach, USAT Paratriathlon Certified Coach, F.I.S.T. certified bike fitter and certified USAT Race Director who is also the co-founder and CEO of Team MPI. Mark has been the Head Coach of Team USA Paratriathlon since 2012 and has coached Paralympic Triathletes and Cyclist, Ironman 70.3 and Ironman World Championship qualifiers along with National and World Champion ITU Paratriathletes. Mark is also a US Veteran having served 20 years in the US Navy as a Naval Flight Officer and is graduate of the US Naval Academy. Contact him at

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