Top Triathlete in the World: What it Takes with Katie Zaferes

Katie Zaferes – #1 Triathlete

What does it take to be ranked the #1 International Triathlon Union triathlete in the world? In this episode we talk with Katie Zaferes, 2016 Olympic triathlon participant for Team USA and currently competing professionally in triathlons around the world as the top ranked triathlete.

Photo by Tommy Zaferes

Katie shares with us her athletic background from running cross-country in High School and college to becoming a professional triathlete. She discusses her mental preparation for competition and how she approaches her nutrition when travelling to so many different locations around the world.

Women’s Triathlete of the Year

In the ITU World Triathlon Series, Katie finished her 2017 season ranked 3rd in the world and her 2018 season ranked #2.  So far in the 2019 season, Katie leads the world with a #1 ranking, sweeping the first three events of the series with victories in Abu Dhabi, Bermuda and Yokohama.  Approaching the 2020 Olympic Games, Katie has set her sights high, seeking to bring home a medal to the United States.

In recognition of Katie’s ascent, USA Triathlon named her its 2017 and 2018 “Women’s Triathlete of the Year.”

Questions Katie is asked:

2:54 First Four:

  1. How old are you?
  2. Where were you born?
  3. Where do you live now?
  4. What is your favorite race distance?

4:46 What were your successes in High School?

5:52 What distances did you compete in when you were in college?

7:25 How did you get recruited by the USA Triathlon’s college recruitment program?

8:40 When did cycling come into your life?

9:51 What are the differences between the International Triathlon Union and IronMan?

11:53 How does drafting work with the ITU vs. IronMan?

13:15 Does the distance vary from course to course?

14:07 How do you deal with the pressure of being ranked #1?

16:22 What are you doing between now and your next race to prepare mentally and physically?

18:52 How much of your time as a professional athlete is filled with sponsor obligations?

19:57 Where is your next race?

20:21 What are you doing to prepare for an Olympic medal?

23:21 What are the distances and format for the Olympics compared to the ITU?

25:14 Do you travel with other competitors and teammates?

26:49 What does a typical training week look like and how do you deal with injuries?

29:16 How do you improve your efficiency?

30:04 How many races are you planning to do in 2019?

30:50 How many events in Super League?

31:44 Is it fun to do different types of events?

32:12 Do you have one or two focus races this year?

33:51 How does qualifying for the Olympics fit in with all the other races you’re doing?

35:14 How do you manage your nutrition when your traveling to international locations?

37:50 I doping an issue with triathletes?

38:58 What is the testing like?

43:01 Final Kick Round:

  1. What is your favorite local training run or outing (location, starting point, parking, distance, terrain and safety issues)?
  2. Favorite book(s), video or resource?
  3. Who or what would you like to have featured on the Run To The Top podcast?

Quotes by Katie:

“I like to go really hard on the swim and particularly the bike so people CAN’T draft, and that if it is a group that it’s a small group that’s all working together rather than people just hanging on for the ride.”

“Now I focus a lot more on the process. I never go into a race with the focus to win. Of course, that’s A goal and it’s always in the back of my mind, but it’s not the one that I rehearse in my head. It’s breaking it down: Swim, Bike, Run, and Transitions, all of it and having 7-10 specific goals going into each race.”

“What has helped me be a consistent athlete is that I really trust in my coach and the process and I see that what we’ve been doing has been working.”

“My diet is basically just a well-rounded diet in that I just eat a little bit of everything and I’m fine with eating some treats sprinkled in there.”

“ I feel confident that most of the athletes I’m with are competing clean. I’m obviously a clean athlete and doing well in the sport so it shows that you be clean and be at the top.”

Take a Listen on Your Next Run


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Mentioned in this podcast:

Run To The Top Winners Circle Facebook Community

RunnersConnect Facebook page

HempDaddy’s Homepage

Carbona Homepage

International Triathlon Union


Super League Triathlon

Wilder Ranch State Park Santa Cruz

Nisene Marks State Park Aptos CA

Book: Let Your Mind Run by Deena Kastor

Video: Brené Brown – The Call To Courage

Katie’s Coach, Joel Filliol

Triathlon Live TV

Follow Katie on:



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