Triathlete Profile: Matt Russell

Understanding how to balance life with triathlon training, family and job responsibilities is the key to being successful in your triathlon journey.

We are showcasing beginner and seasoned triathletes so you can see how they do it!

Meet Matt:

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  1. How long have you been doing triathlons?
    This season marks my second year on the triathlon scene. I began last season as a challenge to myself. I knew nothing about biking, except riding around the neighborhood, little about swimming, as I competed as a child and adolescent on a swim team, and had competed in a few 5K running events.

    I joined our local Triathlon Club, and would love to give a shout out to them, Midwest Xtreme Tri Club, out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa! GO GREEN! They provided support, answered questions, and had training sessions that we participate in as well. My kids, family and friends also were very supportive. I found that posting my workouts on Facebook or Daily Mile was a good way for me to keep track of my progress..and get postive reinforcment from everyone – which is always helpful when training get’s you down.

  2. How do you balance workouts with family/job responsibilities?
    As a single dad, fully employed, and busy person in general…training can become difficult to fit in. This is the reason that I have chosen to begin with training for Sprint Triathlons. I can usually get my workouts in approximately an hour or less depending on the event I am training for, which makes it ideal for my busy schedule. I try to get two workouts in for each event each week. That give me a day to rest or catch up if I missed a day.

    Sometimes I run or bike while my kids are at their sport practices and other times I am up at the break of dawn heading to the pool or getting ready to head out for a run. I try to schedule out what I want to get accomplished and if I get behind or miss a day, I try to double up with an AM and PM workout or combine them into a Brick. I also don’t get down on myself if I just can’t get a workout in. I just look ahead and continue try my best!

    I know that my schedule is busy and I overbook myself, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I enjoy performing at our local theatre, teaching at a local university, working in my regular job, and spending quality time with my kids – and don’t want to give any of it up – so I must be creative and willing to workout early or late – and adapt to all that life throws at you.

  3. Do you have a favorite triathlon moment (event or training)?
    It is interesting – this question – because I thought it might be finishing my first triathlon, or high-fiving my daughter and son as I crossed the finish line and beating my personal goal, or perhaps even the farmer providing an air-pump for a fellow competitor that had a flat tire three-fourths of the way through the bike portion. These were all very memorable – each one…but the one that sticks in my mind was after I finished my third and final triathlon last season.

    I was awaiting the arrival of a great friend with his family. This friend of mine, contacted me earlier in the summer complimenting me on how I was working hard and competing in these triathlons. We had grown apart a bit, due to our family needs and the distance we were apart – but when he said this to me, I saw it as an opportunity to re-connect. I was quite direct – and said something kind of like this, “Why aren’t you doing these things!? You swam for a National Championship swim team in high school and the swim is always what hold people back! So what’s your excuse?” We talked…I shared the workouts I was using, and he jumped on board. He was honest with himself, and knew he had a long way to go, but didn’t give up. He perservered and I am extremely proud of him. Even while writing this, I get emotional, because I feel like I have made a real difference in his life.

    Back to my favorite moment – We were waiting for him to completed his run portion of the triathlon and we were waiting for him to arrive. I noticed his blue shirt as he turned the corner and began his way toward the finish. Sweating…panting…but doing it! We all cheered him on. His children, yelling “Go Dad!” His father yelling, “Get’em Bud.” His mother and wife looking on proudly, “Way to go John!”

    I was very proud of my friend John. He finished – nearly reaching his personal goal in his first triathlon! Seems like this should have been his moment…but what I’ve learned is that the triathon, the training, the work and sweat that we all put in, is about committment, to family, friends, and yourself!

  4. What is the best advice you can give a newbie?
    Just give it a Tri! (hopefully that isn’t trademarked or copywritten, if so…I am not sure who to give credit to, but thanks!)

    Make a plan that fits your life. There are plans out there for free and ones you can purchase, whatever you do, piece one together that will fit your lifestyle. Work – Life – Balance. Life can be kids, training, friendships, a spouse, and other hobbies so make a plan that allows you to get what you need!

    Stick to the plan, but know that things come up! Don’t get down on yourself, just get back up on the horse, or bike, and keep riding!

  5. What is your favorite workout?
    I enjoy getting in a mini triathlon on a Saturday or Sunday. 250 yard swim, 5 – 7 miles bike, and 1 -2 miles run. Gives me a great feeling of accomplishment. I can work on my transitions and get each event in.

    I also love a good kickboxing class. Great for core strength and getting some frustration out!

  6. What’s next for you?
    I’m currently signed up for two sprint triathlons this season…will be signing up for at least one other one in the fall. I am debating about jumping up to an olympic distance this fall, but it depends on the summer and how I feel about the training time that I can put in. Work, life, balance you know!

    I continue to read about ways to improve my stroke, or quicken my times, and enjoy reading different people’s stories and perspectives as they, too, train, and compete in triathlons. has done a nice job of keep things simple yet informative with numerous resouces to find more indepth information.

    By the way – My friend John – says he can beat me out of the water – I am right on his heels though…so he better watch his back. 🙂

Interested in telling readers how YOU balance YOUR life with triathlons? Email us with the subject line “Triathlete Profile” and let us know! We would love to hear from newbies as well as seasoned veterans. Your words just might inspire someone to get off the couch and to the starting line!

read1 Recommended Resources:


Swim: – Get the low-down on gear, workouts and read tips for training and events.

Bike: – Learn how to structure bike workouts, find safety tips and read recommendations on great bike gear.

Run: – Get the ultimate skinny on running sneakers, running gear, safety tips and much more.

There are Newbies Starting Triathlons Every Day. Today Just Happens to be YOUR Day!