Ahhhh, the life of a professional triathlete… get up and do what you love everyday and get cool gear, right?
There’s so much more than that – that’s why we interviewed professional triathlete Heath Thurston.
Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I am 33 years old and have been a pro for about 4-5 years. I Grew up in Payson Utah which is a small town about 50 miles south of Salt Lake City. I was an extremely out going child, my mother actually put me into swimming in the hopes to wear me out a bit. That only lasted about a week where I actually fell asleep in the car on the ride home. I started swimming when I was 5 years old. I would have started earlier but I had tubes in my ears and couldn’t get in the water. My whole family swam, I had one brother and three sisters and we were the swimming family in our small town. Because we lived at the pool almost. My mother was the coach for the high school swim team and the leagues in the summer as well so I lived in the water from the age of 5 on. Swimming also came extremely natural to me, most sports did. I did many other sports growing up but swimming was the one I really excelled in. I started right off on the swim team with the older kids, No Lessons needed. I was a very visual learner so I had picked it up easily while watching my other siblings at practice all the time. So sports and swimming is just about all I new all my life. I remember watching the 88 Olympics and watching Matt Biondi swim Butterfly and thought man that is what I want to do. I swam very competitively all through high school and was ranked nationally and was on the 1995 Utah Zone’s Team. I placed 2nd in State Swimming in the 500 freestyles two years in a row and 3rd and 4th in the 200 freestyle, my Jr. and Sr. year of high school. After I graduated I was very burnt out and needed and took a break. I actually didn’t have a lot of hunger to swim in college at the time because I had been swimming most of my life, even though I had numerous colleges wanting me to swim for them. I got my first road bike and did my first triathlon in 2001. I hadn’t swam in years, I had been kinda running because I had done the St George marathon a few times which were not very fast and hurt really bad. I had only been on my bike a few times before my first race but I was hooked even though when I got off the bike I wasn’t even sure my legs were even there still but I was able to slug through the run.
Then in 2004 I got really serious with my training and by 2006 I was able to qualify and get my Pro/elite card to race in that field. My wife and I have our own coaching business. I do a lot of private swim lessons and coach a lot of local trathlete’s here in Utah.
Who or what inspired you to start racing
Not sure that anything really inspired me or got me into racing. Racing and training was just what I did from such an early age that it just came natural to me and its what I liked and did. I was never good at school so I knew for a long time that I wanted to do something in the sporting arena and be some sort of Pro athlete.
How many hours a week do you train?
Right now I train about 12-18 hours a week. During my higher intense months and weeks I will get up to about 22-28 hours a week. It is a little different for me as a pro because I have a family and kids so training sometimes gets sacrificed for other things.
What do you wish more people knew about being a professional triathlete?