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10 Gems of Wisdom for the Triathlete

By Anne A. Wilson | May 25, 2016, 12:01 p.m. (ET)

runnerWhat do the world’s greatest minds have to say about triathlon training and racing? You’d be surprised. Tucked in the nips and folds of the world’s most oft-quoted verses is a treasure trove of endurance racing advice. As an author and a triathlon coach, I’m compelled to borrow from some of the greatest thinkers of all time when providing guidance for my athletes. So, without further ado, I offer ten nuggets of triathlon advice, steeped in the wisdom of the ages.


“You lack the season of all natures, sleep.” — Shakespeare (1564-1616), author and playwright, from Macbeth

One of the most important facets of your triathlon training regimen is adequate rest. Of course, Shakespeare would get this right.


“It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.” — Confucius (551-479 BC), philosopher

For sure, Confucius would have been an IRONMAN had he been born 2,500 years later.


“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.” — Walter Elliot (1888-1958), Scottish politician

This is the endurance racing mindset in a nutshell. Taking tiny bites of the elephant…


“If you are going through hell, keep going.” — Winston S. Churchill (1874 – 1965), former British prime minister

You have got to love Mr. Churchill. When you hit mile twenty in an IRONMAN run, keep this one in mind.


“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” — A. A. Milne (1882-1956), author, Winnie the Pooh

It’s understandable that triathletes want to be fast now. But the thing is, it takes time and consistent training. Do this: Lay the proper foundation in your base training, and you’ll get where you want to go.


“Courage is not having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don't have the strength.” — Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), 26th President of the United States

Another IRONMAN born a century too soon.


“Failure is often that early morning hour of darkness, which precedes the dawning of the day of success.” — Leigh Mitchell Hodges (1876-1954), journalist and poet

I think this describes every triathlon I’ve ever entered.


“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” — Maya Angelou (1928-2014), author, poet, civil rights activist

Triathletes, this is how we roll.


“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you… Never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” — Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896), American abolitionist and author

We all know how badly we’d like to stop at mile ninety on the bike.


“If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.” — Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), author, poet, philosopher

Had a bad race? Learn from it and move on. 

Anne A. WilsonAnne A. Wilson lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband and two children. She swam collegiately at the United States Naval Academy then served nine years active duty as a navy helicopter pilot. She began competing in triathlons in college and has raced across the country and around the world in all distances since 1988. Today, she and her husband own Camelback Coaching, a full-service triathlon coaching company based in Scottsdale, Arizona. This is her 13th year of full-time triathlon coaching, where she specializes in swim coaching. When she's not on the pool deck, she's busy writing. “Hover” is her debut novel and her second novel “Clear to Lift” is due out July 2016. Connect with Anne at her website

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the practices of USA Triathlon. Before starting any new diet or exercise program, you should check with your physician and/or coach.