So you were on the swim team in high school, you run the occasional 10K and you like to bike with the kids. Think you've got enough motivation to train for all three in a single event?

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It's no wonder triathletes are so well-respected: It can be hard enough for potential athletes to muster the motivation to master one sport, let alone three. And since triathletes must train for all three events in order to be successful competitors, that means a lot of time dedicated to preparation.

Often, the fact that triathlons do force athletes to prepare for multiple sports makes it easier for them to stay motivated. Rather than simply running or cycling every single day, triathletes split their efforts three ways. They're still logging hours of workouts to get into top physical shape, but they're doing it a lot less monotonously. Plus, when you consider athletes like marathon runners occasionally swap in sprints for distance running to push their bodies to cross into new physical frontiers, it makes sense from a workout perspective to mix things up. Tired of cycling? Take a few laps in the pool so leg muscles become accustomed to that sort of exertion as well. Running route getting old? Blaze a new trail through the woods and go easier on the pups.

If diversity alone doesn't do the trick, another motivational strategy is to get a coach or training buddy -- someone who holds the triathlete accountable. Even non-participants can help: If kids have trouble keeping up with their triathlon-training father, for example, they can hop on their bikes and get in some exercise of their own while spending quality time with dad.

Other ways to stay motivated include setting goals and designating rewards for reaching them. A triathlete can set up a schedule of increasingly competitive workouts and training exercises, with customizable rewards for each midway goal that's met. Maybe reaching a new level of preparedness means a fancy pair of running shoes or a better-quality bike, although it could just as easily be as simple as a gold star marking the day's success.

Music is a great motivator, too. Triathletes can load an MP3 player with lots of tunes that pump them up and encourage them when they hit the wall. Encouraging music also helps build confidence and psyche up the athlete before the big event.

And speaking of visualization, triathletes can exploit this trick in a ton of ways. Maybe a morning of cycling means a slice of pizza for lunch, some early morning pavement pounding means an afternoon dip in the pool, or some time on the treadmill means swapping out a dreaded chore for something less tedious. Movies like "Chariots of Fire" can give triathletes some inspiration, as can the many books that tell stirring tales of athletic achievement. Perhaps all the workouts are for a charity triathlon -- knowing that other people will benefit from training efforts should help any triathlete stay motivated!

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