What is your athlete persona?

Two athletes smiling after a training session
April 3, 2023

Will Murray


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You have many walks of life. You are perhaps a parent, certainly child to your parents, a colleague, an athlete. Each of these walks of life offers you the opportunity to think about your persona—how you want to present yourself to the world.

Each athlete has a persona, presence, a manifestation of the athlete as a human being in the world. Which leads to you. You are an athlete, and also a human being. So, what kind of athlete persona do you want to have?

At the one and only Ironman New York City in 2018, the winner of the female 50-54 age group, Carmen Grosse, waited at the finish line to welcome in her competitors in the same age group, congratulate them, encourage them about their performance and check on their well-being. She had won her age group by nearly one hour, yet hung around to be a one-woman welcoming committee. That’s a very classy persona indeed.

When you think of yourself as an athlete, you can make a conscious decision what athlete persona you want. A triathlon coach and former professional triathlete in the Boulder area decided that he wanted to be very competitive and also be known as one of the nicest guys in the sport. This was his conscious decision.

So he decided which behaviors he would consistently engage in to demonstrate this persona. Competitive: he showed up early to workouts, executed his workouts as directed and consistently, did his bodywork and watched his nutrition. He raced with ferocity and determination and purpose. Nice: he always greeted his competitors, helped age group athletes getting set up in transition, smiled and thanked the volunteers, smiled back at the spectators, and always thanked the race director.

You decide for yourself. How do you want to come across in your training sessions, before, during and after races, at home and with your friends? It’s your choice.

The secret to all this is simple. You don’t actually have to be your desired persona. You just have to act that way. If you really mean it, your actions will come across authentic and genuine. And we all know that practice leads to perfect. Keep doing those things in line with your persona, in all your walks of life, and it will become yours.

Mental Skills Performance Coach Will Murray often hears triathletes saying that the sport is at least 50% mental and 50% physical, but he has come to notice that athletes spend very little (if any) time doing mental training. Fortunately, it’s easy and fast to train-up your mind to help you achieve your triathlon goals. He’s been lucky enough to bring mental conditioning techniques to first-time athletes and Olympians, kids and seniors, triathletes who want to finish the race, and those who are gunning to win.

Will is a USAT Certified Coach, holds a practitioner’s certificate and more than 100 hours of advanced training in Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a certified administrator of the Reconsolidation of Traumatic Memories Protocol. Will is co-author, with Craig Howie, of The Four Pillars of Triathlon:  Vital Mental Skills for Endurance Athletes and Uncle: The Definitive Guide for Becoming the World’s Best Aunt or Uncle.

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