The Academic Triathlete: Applying Triathlon Training Principles to Guide Academic Success

Curr Pharm Teach Learn. 2021 Jul;13(7):743-748. doi: 10.1016/j.cptl.2021.03.021. Epub 2021 Apr 7.


Introduction: Academic faculty are evaluated on their service, teaching, and research performance with the reward of tenure, promotion, and self-fulfillment. Triathletes spend numerous hours building their swim, bike, and run endurance in aspiration of crossing the finish line on race day. Given the workload required for academic and triathlon success, effective time and task management is essential. In this commentary, the authors posit that academic faculty can effectively structure their day-to-day "training" to achieve their career ambitions similarly to how a triathlete structures their training plan in preparation for a race.

Perspective: Triathlon requires mastery of three disciplines - swimming, biking, and running - each of which requires specific training approaches, skills, and techniques. Likewise, the service, teaching, and research pillars of academia involve planning, development, and application of diverse knowledge, skills, and techniques. The authors apply the fundamental aspects and lessons learned of triathlon training to the planning and execution of faculty academic work.

Implications: Through the adaptation of a triathlete training framework to an academic position, the reader will be prepared to cross the finish line and realize their career goals as an academic triathlete.

Keywords: Behavioral economics; Faculty development; Self-awareness; Time management.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Success*
  • Bicycling
  • Humans
  • Physical Endurance
  • Running*
  • Swimming