What Does it Take to be a Professional Athlete?

Professional Athlete

Andrea Ramos Angarita is a professional triathlete, Tri Australia Foundation Coach and Swim Coach with a degree in Sports Science, currently studying Sports Psychology, and holds her Cert III & IV in Fitness Coaching.

Andrea was a member of the Colombian National Triathlon Team. She was the 2015 National Sprint Distance Champion, 3rd place in the 2015 Triathlon American Cup and top 10 finishes in the Triathlon National Championships, the Triathlon Pan America Cup, Central American and Caribbean Championships and the Triathlon Pam American Championships. Today, she shares her story of what it was life is like as a professional athlete.

Being a professional athlete is not easy. It requires hours of training, structure, tailored nutrition, good guidance, planned recovery and, above of all, the desire and commitment to be the best you can be.

As with any other job, being a professional athlete demands a lot of discipline, and sometimes, even if you are the most disciplined person in the world, it is still not simple.

I became a professional triathlete when I was 25 years old. It was never my intention to be a pro, but my race times and results showed me that I had what it took to mix it with the best triathletes in the world.

I always had a huge advantage in the water as I had been a swimmer since I was 4 years old. Racing was easier if you were in the lead group out of the water. As the years passed, however, I discovered it was not good enough just to be a good swimmer, so I had to make a lot of sacrifices to improve in all of my life decisions, not just the swim, bike and run.

I made the conscious decision to eat better, my rest and recovery time increased. With the help of my online Triathlon Coach I started to train in a smarter way. Some people think you need to train hard every single day, but that is not entirely true. Whilst it is important to give your best at your training sessions, your body also needs to recover. With a triathlon training program that was specifically tailored to my needs and my life, I was able to train hard, recover well, and be at my best for every session and every race.

I was lucky enough to have my parents supporting me and I don’t only mean financially but emotionally as well. Being a professional athlete takes a lot out of you, and if you are not mentally strong enough it will eat you alive. I remember being in a race where I knew I was perfectly prepared,  but I had this little doubt in the back of my mind. That was the moment where my family stepped in and helped me the most. They made me realise that I couldn’t focus on the bad or negative side, but I needed to see all the training and preparation I had done before the race. I had to trust the process. I had to trust my coach. Most importantly, I had to trust myself.

I am not going to lie, it is not easy being a professional athlete. If you choose to put everything you have into your chosen sport, and if you truly believe you can do something, time and discipline will prove you right.

The physical aspects, as important as they are, are not the only thing you need to focus on in sport. As I always say to my athletes, you can train your body as hard as you want, but if you don’t train your mind then you will never reach your full potential. The mind is everything, and you need to train it as hard as you train your body. One of the things that really helped me when I was training was to listen to motivational podcasts, and note down some of the things that my coach would tell me and their other athletes.

There are a lot of things you can do to train and prepare your mind in the same way as you are training and preparing your body. Yoga and meditation are excellent, and surrounding yourself with excellent coaches and like-minded athletes is a positive mental boost.

I currently work at Davey Black Sports Performance as a Melbourne strength and conditioning coach and Davey Black Triathlon Club as a triathlon coach. If you would like to know more about how to reach your sporting potential, you can contact me and I would be happy to talk more about my experience and guide you in the right direction.