Sarah Haskins, 31, shows no sign of slowing down. On July 14, 2012, she won the Life Time Fitness Minneapolis Triathlon – beating the course record by 8 seconds and making this her 25th win in her 8-year career as a professional triathlete. This year, Haskins has a total of 11 races on her schedule – and has won 5 of the 7 in which she has already competed.
“I appreciate every win, and cannot ever take any win for granted,” she said.
Haskins completed her first Olympic distance triathlon just after graduating from college. She had a strong background in swimming and running, and wanted to try a sport that combined the two. Fortunately, Haskins was able to pick up on the cycling quickly, and was racing at the professional level one year after her first race.
“I remember watching the Sydney Olympics – when the triathlon made its first appearance – and secretly thinking that I could be there one day. In 2008, I competed in Beijing. Qualifying for the Olympics had been a dream of mine since I was a little girl, and to make that dream a reality was really special. I ended up finishing 11th and gave it all I had on that day.”
Haskins barely missed the 2012 London Olympics and ended up in the alternate position. “If I ever get the opportunity to make it to an Olympic start line again, I will be hungry to earn a medal for the USA,” she said.
From the time she turned pro, Haskins started networking and working with some great sponsors. She has an agent who has helped her with contacts, but often its people she’s met at races who are interested in sponsoring athletes.
“I have found it’s important to be able to give back to your sponsors and help to promote their company. My sponsors take care of me, and I feel it’s important to take care of them as well. I do not feel it’s right to accept a sponsorship unless I am 100% behind the product,” she said.
Haskins trains with her husband, Nate, who also happens to be her coach. Nate coaches three other athletes as well.
“Having my husband as my coach has helped me tremendously over the past three years in that he knows me better than any other coach I have had. He knows when to back off in training and when to keep pushing. Over time, I have learned more and more about my body and how to progress in training. I have been so fortunate to be sponsored by so many great companies that really take care of their athletes and are 100% supportive,” Haskins said.
So far, Haskins has competed in only Olympic distance triathlons (both draft-legal and non-drafting), but in the next couple of years, she’d like to progress to the 70.3 distance.
As a professional athlete, the triathlon is Haskins’ full-time job, with a routine segmented into hours of time for training and for other duties. She spends approximately 25 hours a week training, and another 5 hours working on stretching/massage/chiropractic appointments. Haskins also spends
10-12 hours a week doing administrative tasks, such as booking flights and responding to emails. Despite this demanding schedule, Haskins finds time to coach her dad and her brother, who both recently began participating in triathlons.
When it comes to the mental side of training, Haskins reports that mental fortitude is just as important as physical training.
“Often, when it comes time for the race, mental factors can play more of a role than physical factors. It’s important to keep a positive attitude, even when illness and injury arise throughout the course of the season,” she said.
During competition, Haskins tries to stay focused on the “now” and not think too far ahead in the race. If something happens in a race, like a poor swim or a wrong turn on the bike, she’ll focus on getting back on track rather than getting down on herself.
“Never give up in a race until you cross that finish line!” she exclaimed.
Note: Just as we were going to press, Haskins had another epic win. Her post on Facebook:
“Very pleased to finish with my 4th win at the Life Time Fitness Triathlon Series—Race to the Toyota Cup Chicago Triathlon. Was not easy in the pouring rain and so glad I did not get too beat up crashing into T2. Thank you for all the support!”
– Sarah Haskins