from someone who’s “been there”…
1) Consider the sport a hobby until you can generate enough income through it, but treat your hobby dead serious.
2) Generate enough income else how, whether through mooching, coaching (hell, everyone else is doing it!), or by—God forbid—getting a REAL JOB.!!!
3) Solicit financial assistance, whether through sponsorship, mom and dad or your soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend. See #2 above. Make it worth their while and be sure to pay them back or the “ex” thing will be assured.
4) Keep your expenses low. Live in your car. No car? Live in a friend’s car! And eat in.
5) Enter only the races that pay. Stop cherry-picking at events that feed only your ego. See #11 below.
6) Race competitively. Don’t participate when you’re not going to be competitive.
7) Aim to gain experience, despite the two aforementioned recommendations.
8) Bond with other pro triathletes and create a union. Or continue fighting for scraps.
9) Train wisely. See #10 below. Improve your weaknesses, whether they’re in the sport, the wallet or in your head. By the way, they’re not limiters, they’re weaknesses.
10) Hire a competent coach, or, better yet, a SET of competent advisers. (Depending on your goals, I know of about half a dozen or so qualified individuals here in North America, though there may be one or two more; do your research.) If the mean$ aren’t there, strike a deal that’s beneficial to both parties. Two heads are better than one, especially when one of them isn’t yours. Find out who coaches those beating you and then find a better coach.
11) Drop the ego. Ours is a niche sport, known only to us. Our numbers, while growing, are insignificant…just like you. Bite your tongue ’til it bleeds; pry open your ears ’til they bleed.
12) Ask questions and read all you can (but use caution on forums; they’re filled with terrible advice from anonymous and well-known sources). Be a student of the sport. Respect your elders. Reread #11.
13) Understand not just your physiological responses to training but your psychological responses as well. See #10 and #11.
14) The choice to be an “elite” is yours and yours only. It is a CHOICE. If you feel entitled to anything just because you are a pro, you are anything but pro. Look. At the top level triathlon is a job, akin to any other kind of hard physical work, only all other kinds of hard physical work pale in comparison; don’t ever lose sight of this. Read #15.
15) Don’t do this half-ass or your results will be half-chance. Do everything full-ass, as the line in my band’s magnum opus goes. The clock is unforgiving, as is your competition. And thus they should be.
16) Give it time. Stay the course.
17) Know that somewhere out there somebody is out-working you: now, then and then again.
PS: I leave you with some quotes, courtesy of yours truly…
Success isn’t just sweet; it is SWEAT. And the sweatier it is, the sweeter it is.
Inflict pain on yourself when training, so you can inflict it on others when racing.
Train hard and it’ll make you hard…and you’ll be hard to beat. Train too hard and you weren’t training hard enough. Harden up.
Oh, and finally…one should always play fairly when there is no risk of losing.