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Off-road Pro triathlete Lesley Paterson On Finishing The Season Strong, Facing Fears, and Breakthroughs.


Lesley Paterson’s 2015 season “challenges” from injuries and illness were significant and she handled them like a true Pro would indeed. After a season of travel and racing around the globe, she is training at home in San Diego in preparation to race the 2015 XTERRA World Championships in Maui, on November 1st. She reported doing regular swim workouts with her coach on her Vasa Swim Erg. “I’m now on a month of Vasa blitz to get me back good in the water.”

We recently caught up with Les and asked a few questions. Her answers will inspire and motivate.

You’ve had to cope with unexpected illness and injury in 2015. Now you’re back at it, diligently preparing for XTERRA Worlds. How are you approaching this end of the season race?

Lesley Paterson: “After 20 years of racing at an international level, I can now say that I’ve finally figured out the end-of-season potpourri of emotion. You see, ALL races are really celebrations of the hard work we’ve put in. Sure, they may not be the cherry-on-top type of moment, but shit….it’s still proof of some things… proof we worked our asses off. Proof we’re still in with a chance. Proof we’re still able to do something many people can’t. Proof we have a passion. Proof we are here through choice. Proof we really ARE all in this together.

As we near the end of the 2015 season, I’m actually excited to race my final big “A” race (XTERRA Worlds, Maui, Nov 1) – but the excitement isn’t about thoughts of being a World Champion, or even getting on the podium, it’s about a mindset that keeps the fire burning. Here are my fire starters for end of season “A races”:

  • I want to feel excited.
  • I want to be able to push without feeling blocked or empty.
  • I want to feel connected to the effort, rather than a niggle, the heat, or expectation.
  • I want to be hungry to go hard.
  • I want to finish feeling I gave it everything.
  • I want to be thankful of the nature and the support.

If this leads to a win, a hard earned 3rd, or a top ten gutting-it-out mental-toughness-kinda-day, all are perfectly fine if I experienced the feelings above. Never forget that triathlon is an individual time trial. Your race is only ever about you and your experience.

So go ahead, one last time, race like no one else gives a shit.”

How can physical training help power emotional breakthroughs?

LP: “Effort and Attitude are the only elements I can control in EVERY situation. I make a decision to control my attitude about every situation I’m in. I just live there. With these effort and attitude as performance benchmarks, I am always in control of the outcome. I can therefore decide not to fail. I went through everything as a youngster. I was in Scotland and played rugby. There were 250 boys—and me. I was the only girl rugby player in the whole of Scotland. They would laugh at me. It was hard to deal with. I find the magic in being out of my comfort zone. This is where we develop and harden the competitive spirit. For me, the swim was where I needed the biggest breakthrough.”

What are people afraid of? Not just in the water, but in life.

LP: “People are afraid of being judged as not being good enough. This can reveal itself as avoiding challenging situations, of being scared to ‘lay it all on the line’ or simply not letting others see the ‘real’ you. Showing a weakness is not a bad thing. It’s a unifying thing that binds people’s experience and brings them closer together. The best thing we can share with others is empathy. Think of your weaknesses as a gift. Face it, share it with others and they will do the same. Now that takes strength.”

For more information about Lesley and her breakthrough in swimming resulting from using a Vasa Swim Erg with her coach, check out this post: Vasa Sponsors 3-Time Off-Road Triathlon World Champion Lesley Paterson

Lesley Paterson is a little Scottish lassie who packs a mean punch! As a three-time World Champion in off-road Triathlon and as a coach, Lesley understands how to use physical training to make emotional breakthroughs. Visit her website: Braveheart Coaching.