Jessi Stensland was no stranger to competition. She grew up as a competitive swimmer and continued to race through college.
However, she needed more of a challenge than just swimming. One day, she signed up for a local triathlon. Discovering interest in the sport, she decided to learn better technique to improve her performance.
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In New Jersey, there weren't any triathlon camps. So she flew to San Diego to participate in a tri camp and fell in love with the sport—and the city. She packed up, moved west, and started competing full-time.
"I hadn't reached my potential as an athlete," Stensland said. "It was a challenge for me. I turned pro merely for the challenge."
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What changed for Stensland from a regular competitor to professional triathlete? Not much. That said, her advice is fairly simple.
First, surround yourself with people who are also professional triathletes. She found a group that gave her the support she needed to go the distance. She was open to their advice.
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"Surround yourself with the best and be open to learning," Stensland said. "Take their advice and use it."
"You need to give yourself 100 percent of responsibility," Stensland said. "No one is out there training for you."
At the end of the day, you get to decide how you want to train. If you have the mind and determination to be pro, then you need to commit and train. You make your own choices. You can get a coach to guide you, but at the end of the day you have to do the work.
"If you're motivated, it will be a lot easier to take your competition to the next level," Stensland said.