Even though Thor is only 21 years old, and Sif 19, the two elite triathlon athletes have already accomplished great results. Thor is the current Danish national triathlon champion and Sif won silver at the youth Olympics, among others. They continue every single day to follow their dreams next to joggling school, work, friends and family. We had the pleasure of asking the badass triathlon siblings some questions about life, training and future dreams.
We also followed Sif and Thor on a full day of training. And let’s just say, their Saturday training program is not your average Saturday on the couch.
Check out the training schedule, all the impressions from the day and read the interview below.
How big a part does sport play in your life?
Sport is a huge part of our lives. We are extremely passionate about sport, and we have many ambitions we want to achieve as well. This demands that we are focused every single day – both when it comes to training and recovery, where sleep and nutrition are essential. In general triathlon is a sport where it requires a huge amount of dedication - both when it comes to training but also in your everyday life.
How was it growing up in a sports family?
Ever since we were kids, we’ve always been physically active and practiced different kinds of sports. We have always associated sports with something fun, and something we did together as a family. When we were younger, we would go running with our mom and dad, or ride our bikes alongside. Sometimes we would also go on bicycle trips near our summer house in Sweden – but the older we got, the more serious we became about sport. Now training is not only fun and games – it is strictly planned after important competitions, in order for us to achieve our goals. This also means that it’s not always just pure pleasure to get through a workout. But today we are luckily driven by more factors than just having fun.
What does an average week look like for you guys?
Sif: An average week consist of 25 hours of training (on the clock). If I have a really tough week the training hours can reach 30 hours a week – an easy week would be around 20 hours. Besides all of this I’m studying too – so my everyday life is extremely busy with training in the morning, school and training again in the afternoon. And then I also have to make room for homework, sponsoring work, friends, and family. So, I don’t have many hours left when the day is finished. But luckily, I’m really good at planning my time, and I can keep my priorities straight. In the end I always manage to figure everything out. But I have to admit that it’s really tough to practice sports at an elite level and at the same time pursue your studies.
Thor: For me an average week consists of 30 hours of training. These hours are divided between 30 kilometers of swimming, 500-600 kilometers of cycling, 80-90 kilometers of running, and then I work out twice a week as well.
I can feel a huge improvement after graduating from high school. I can maintain my focus, workout more and longer, and I can also focus on recovery. On a daily basis I’m lucky to work at SAYSKY’s warehouse, which gives me the perfect work/training balance that makes all of this possible. Unlike Sif, I have more free time next to my daily training. I use this free time together with my friends and family, or I just relax and watch a good movie or a show - but my plan is to apply for a higher education in the Summer of 2021.
How do you think your youth has been different compared to others?
We really believe that we have been taught a lot of things that many of our peers haven’t. We have learned to work hard and be determined, and you can use this mindset in many aspects of life. Our youth has not been filled with a lot of parties and so, because we had to go train Friday evening after school. Sport has always been our top priority, and this mentality is also why we have accomplished so many things at such an early age. To give an example – Sif already won the National Sprint distance championship when she was 16, and Thor won the half Ironman National Championship at the age of 20.
Have you ever felt that you had to make any compromises?
As an elite athlete you will have to miss family get-togethers, parties and so on, but we never regarded this as something we were giving up on. We know that we have chosen this way of living and many good things also come along training and competitions. In our opinion we believe that as an elite athlete, you won’t go anywhere, if you think too much about giving up or missing out on things. It has to be a part of your lifestyle, the person you are, and the person you want to become. If you train for so many hours, you have to love what you do otherwise you will never be the best. Through the sport we have met some of our best friends and Sif also met her boyfriend. These people we don’t want to be without.
What is the most difficult part about being an elite athlete and living a normal life with school, work and so on?
Sif: The hardest part is definitely studying next to training for so many hours a week. I’m a perfectionist and I always want to give it everything I’ve got. But the problem is that it can be pretty difficult to be a triathlon world champion, and the best student at school at the same time – so it’s necessary to let go of some the expectations I have with regards to myself. But the sport is what I want to be the best at, and school is something is see more as a safety net.
Besides this, it can be difficult if people don’t understand what it takes to practice triathlon at an elite level. Unfortunately, I don’t have the same time to nurture my friendships as other people at my age have, and this can be difficult for some to understand.
Thor: At the moment my biggest issue is the finances behind triathlon. It’s an insanely expensive and demanding sport that very few in the world can make a good living from. You have to train 30-40 hours a week – and this is every single week all year round, if you want to be the best. That’s why it’s so difficult to take an education or work a full-time job next to.
What drives you?
What drives us is definitely our goals – we love winning and pushing our boundaries. It’s such a special feeling, when all your hard work pays off in a competition – and it’s this feeling we chase every single day. We love training, and training brings us joy. We couldn’t even imagine a life without being physically active.
How do you deal with off-days?
On off-days we remember why train as hard as we do. We remind ourselves of our goals and ambitions and think back at all the great experiences and races we’ve had through the years. It also really helps to have a great training buddy, who can motivate you to work hard. But of course, it’s still not every single workout that’s just perfect – you can’t avoid having bad days. But if we are feeling really down, we talk to our coach and perhaps turn down the intensity level or length of the workout session that day. It can also help to focus on other things – like technique for instance.
What are your dreams/ambitions?
Sif: My biggest dream is to become world champion and win the Olympics someday. This would be the biggest dream, but in addition, I have many sub-goals that can be motivating in the short run.
Thor: My ambitions for 2021 is to win a bigger international competition such as IRONMAN 70.3, and thereby qualifying for the World Championship. In the long run my ambition is to win Ironman world championship on Hawaii. It’s a place that has always fascinated me and a race dream to win some day.
Follow Sif and Thor towards their dreams on Instagram: