Q&A with World #1 Ranked Triathlete, Katie Zaferes
Q&A with World #1 Ranked Triathlete, Katie Zaferes
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Q&A with World #1 Ranked Triathlete, Katie Zaferes


AfterShokz: Give us a quick introduction! 

Katie: Hello! I’m Katie, and I’m currently ranked #1 in the world in the World Triathlon Series (ITU draft-legal triathlon). I’m 30 years old, call Santa Cruz, CA home, but home is also Hampstead, MD, where I grew up. I went to Syracuse University, where I ran Division I and graduated with my Physical Education teaching degree. I’m married to Tommy Zaferes who often trains with me as well as takes awesome photos. I started this triathlon journey in 2012, and it has changed my life in the best of ways! 

AfterShokz: What sports did you play growing up, and when did you get into triathlon? 

Katie: I was involved in a multitude of sports growing up: gymnastics, dance, soccer, lacrosse, swimming, softball, and basketball. However, I would say that my main sports were soccer, swimming, lacrosse, and towards the end of high school, I started running. 

AfterShokz: How do you manage your training along with travel and races around the world? 

Katie: Since we race all over the world, we aren’t home very often. My coach typically chooses where we will train based on the race schedule to mitigate the amount of travel we do. As we’re getting ready to go on a trip, training remains more or less the same. Sometimes I choose my flights based off when they depart or arrive so that I can fit in training on one end or the other. Then, once we arrive somewhere, the first day or so is usually quite mellow so I can get used to the time change. I’ll base training times on when I am racing or trying to get used to the new time zone. For instance, if I think I’m going to be tired in the afternoon and want a nap, I plan training during that time to make sure that I stay awake. 

AfterShokz: Can you tell us what International Triathlon Union (ITU) is, what the racing is like, and how you’ve had so much success in the series? 

Katie: ITU style racing is a draft legal, sprint or Olympic distance triathlon races. It’s the triathlon event that’s in the Olympics. The racing is fast, technical, and spectator friendly. I’ve had a lot of success in the series for many different reasons. One of the biggest reasons is my consistency. I owe a lot of that to having the same coach for the past five years and believing in his training program while also being surrounded by awesome training partners. Also, I’ve worked extremely hard in all three disciplines so that I am strong in each and don’t need the race play out in any particular way for me to do well. In addition to all the physical work I’ve put in training-wise, I’ve spent a lot of time training my brain and working on the mental aspects, which has not only influenced my success in triathlon but has had a remarkable impact on my life in general. 

AfterShokz: Be honest, what’s your least favourite part of a triathlon? And your favourite part? 

Katie: It’s funny because I think I’ve gone full triathlete and honestly, my favourite part of the race is dependent on the day, the race and my mood. My least favourite to train for is the swim. I get bored swimming in a pool but love open water. Cycling is awesome because you can go so far in a short amount of time and it is also the one that’s challenged me the most and the one I feel most proud of when I look at my improvement. Running I love because it’s so easy to do. You don’t need much equipment, and you can get started from anywhere! 

AfterShokz: You’ve had a ton of great performances, but what is your favourite memory racing triathlon? 

Katie: The one that is most fresh in my mind is WTS Bermuda. It was a race that I wanted to execute after falling short of some process goals in the race the year before. Also, both my parents and my husband Tommy’s parents, along with two aunts, were at the race. I had, of course, done a lot of training beforehand, but also spent a lot of time visualizing the race and watching the race from the year before to best prepare myself. I executed the race and won with enough time to have a moment with my family before crossing the finish line. Being able to share that performance and race with them just made it incredibly special to me. 

AfterShokz: Do you have any other hobbies that you enjoy outside of the triathlon world?    

Katie: Outside of triathlon, I enjoy writing. I like to journal, plan and everywhere I go I write six postcards — five of which I send to various people and one that I write to myself and send home. I also like writing rhyming poems. Besides that, I enjoy napping and relaxing in beautiful places and taking in what surrounds me. 

AfterShokz: What is your all-time favourite pump-up jam? What kind of music do you generally listen to during training? 

Katie: My all-time favourite pump-up jam is This is Me from The Greatest Showman Soundtrack. I love the anthem, and it always makes me feel powerful and confident. Generally, I listen to quite the mix of music from The Greatest Showman soundtrack, Christian music, rap, and Imagine Dragons. It’s dependent on mood and most of the time I have my music on shuffle so that they all get mixed together. 

AfterShokz: Who inspires you, and why?  

Katie: I get inspired by everyone who is chasing their goals without letting perceived limitations (age, weight, physical/emotional/mental traits, discomfort) get in the way. I love watching people get out there and get after it! 

AfterShokz: Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about signing up for their first triathlon?  

Katie: First of all, say yes to the thought and sign up! Some of my most amazing experiences in life have been a result of saying yes to things even if I was a bit unsure or uncomfortable. Secondly, write out goals that have nothing to do with place or outcome. For instance, some of my goals going into a race is to get out fast in the swim to the first buoy, attack the transition, and take in my nutrition (and decide where on the course might be the best place to do that). And lastly and most importantly, have fun, enjoy the races and of course take in the community and experience around you, but also do it for you! 

AfterShokz: What’s next for you, Katie?  

Katie: Next up, I am heading to Flagstaff, AZ to train for the next five weeks. Our first opportunity to qualify for the Olympics is at the Tokyo Test Event on August 15th, so I’ll continue my preparation for that!