The Triathlete Mindset: What Sets Us Apart

What makes a triathlete different?

It goes without saying that triathlon has carved a very special place in the world of sports across the globe over recent years. It started out as a relatively new sport in the early eighties, when only a few people knew what the sport entailed. Now, it has grown in numbers and stature over the last 3 decades or so. Enough to rightfully now place itself on the world stage as a major sport.

When you combine three of the Olympic Games’ most popular sports in swimming, cycling and running, you know you are onto a winner.

The “Triathlete” was thus born and enter a new sports individual who is now not content with just competing in one sport, but prefers to practice the art of combining three different sporting codes. Because, why? One sport is simply not enough!


Why are Triathletes and their mind-sets considered to be different?

Triathletes tend to be perfectionists.

That is part of the reason we train and race so hard. No one person will ever truly master the sport of triathlon. There is always something they can improve upon. Even the most perfectly executed race plan might have an “if I had only done that, I could’ve achieved this”. Triathletes continually strive for perfection. Having 3 sporting codes to combine and master makes it that much more of a challenge.

Triathletes can be a little pedantic at times

The more you practice the sport of triathlon and the longer you continue to do it for, the more accustomed you become to being pedantic at times. If you stop and end your training run at 9.9km on the GPS for example, who of you will not run around in circles until you complete the full 10km?

Our training and racing mannerisms may differ from each other but inherently they border on being a little pedantic at times. When you have 3 disciplines to prepare for, it’s no wonder the grey matter works on overtime as we strive for that near perfection when it comes to the swim, bike and run disciplines

Triathletes are generally accustomed to good time management

When there are three disciplines to train for and fit in with a normal lifestyle (work/family etc.), you have to be good at time management. Even those perceived as being dis-organised, manage their time better than most non-triathletes. You have no choice.

Triathletes are willing to experiment and try something new

You only need to go to a race expo to see just how enthusiastic a triathlete can be when they see new gadgets on offer. Anything and everything that has the potential to make them faster and more efficient, they are willing to try. This bodes well for an industry known to be at the forefront of innovation. It does not really matter to a triathlete whether they are at the sharp end of the field or coming in as a back-marker. If there is something new to be seen and tested, that could make a difference in their performance levels, they tend to make the best test “guinea-pigs”.


Triathletes are willing to push the personal boundaries when it comes to both physical and mental capacity.

Whether you are a total newbie plugging away at sprint distances or a veteran that is vastly experienced at the longer distances, you might find yourself in a place where you begin to doubt your own ability and wonder whether you can go on and finish. Somehow, from somewhere, you find that inner strength to push beyond what you thought were your limits. This most often comes out at race events, where you are having the worst possible day. This ability to push yourself beyond that limit carries through into your personal lives and work environments. Triathletes in general turn out to be some of the more successful people when it comes to a healthy balance of family and profession.


Spot the Triathlete

  • Wears the brightly coloured GPS watch to an evening formal social event or corporate executive meeting.
  • Can be seen in compression wear A LOT of the time. Compression full-length tights with a pair of shorts over is seen as standard street wear by some
  • Wears an Aero Helmet for an easy recovery ride that averages less than 30km/h
  • Will not travel without a transition bag on their backs
  • The hard-core will get THE tattoo. Even those that don’t like tattoos have thought about getting it at some stage of their triathlon careers
  • Will not do a swim set with a plain non-branded swim cap on. The swim cap used for their swim set has to have “meaning” to it so expect them to wear the race cap received at the last event they competed in or their go-to triathlon clothing brand.
  • Eats a lot ALL the time. 2nd and 3rd helpings are considered to be totally normal. One helping, on the other hand, is often seen as sacrilegious to the triathlon fraternity
  • They are willing to take a screen-shot of the GPS watch after a good session banked and post it on social media for all their training mates to see
  • Will use their wetsuit at an open water swim training session even when the water is warm and considered hot. The wetsuit “on” is a standard operating procedure for any swimming taking place outdoors
  • Have enough race war stories to tell that will keep them talking for hours on end. Even the total newbie can dissect their sprint race and almost turn it into a novel.

Read more: Quirks of a Triathlete


If you are or have always wanted to be different, then take up the sport of triathlon. You will most certainly be in the company of some great people.