How She Does It All: PM Triathlete Lesley Paterson

Being a professional triathlete is an accomplishment—it’s a sport made up of three other sports—but add another job on top of that and now you’re just making us look lazy. Paul Mitchell triathlete Lesley Paterson does it all.

You’re definitely a busy bee. Can you tell us about your morning routine? How do you get out the door quickly and beautifully?

I can’t say it’s beautiful but it certainly is quick! At 5 a.m., with 30 minutes to get up, get dressed, eat, prepare my food for the day and drive 3 miles to my pool, I have to get ready in a hurry. I often do back-to-back swim sessions, so my real morning starts at 7:30 a.m. I always use  Color Protect® Daily Shampoo and Daily Conditioner. On training days, there’s no makeup—just skin moisturizer and plenty of sunscreen. A triathlete spends a lot of time out in the elements, so it’s important to lather up with sunscreen, rain or shine. Then it’s off to the next training session.

We hear you actually got your athletic start in rugby! What’s harder: a rugby match or an XTERRA triathlon?

That’s a great question! Well, rugby was certainly violent. Getting tackled, hit, bruised and constantly knocked to the ground in the freezing rain and mud was pretty brutal. The training and racing for XTERRA isn’t too different, except it’s the environment hitting you. The swim start is like being thrown into a washing machine with people kicking, punching and slapping you before it settles down. The bike ride is a constant battle to stay upright and trying to limit the damage when you do fall. I’ve certainly broken more bones and hurt myself more doing XTERRA, plus I’m exposed to the elements for 4-6 hours a day so I’d have to say off-road triathlons are harder!

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Since your hair has to go from water to air to underneath a helmet, what’s your go-to hairstyle for a triathlon?

A ponytail with MITCH® Steady Grip® (don’t judge!) to stop the flyaways from getting in my eyes or caught on my helmet. It’s quite the art getting long hair stuffed into a helmet and to stay firmly in place when you take off the helmet and start running. This routine works for me. Most bike helmets aren’t designed for girl’s ponytails, so you have to get creative!  

You’re not only a competitor, but also a coach. What’s your advice for people that have hit a wall when it comes to their training? How do you motivate yourself and others to keep going?

We all face this at some point, from first-timers to seasoned pros. My hubby is a sports psychologist, so he’s helped me with this. Most people’s brains have higher motivation to tackle challenges early in the morning. Because doing exercise requires a lot of self-control, your brain will be more able to overcome the urge to procrastinate early in the morning. So get it done before you have chance to talk yourself out of it.

A second strategy is to really think about your "why." Write down five reasons why you started. For each reason, write one sentence about what you’re doing to nurture this reason. I do this exercise every year to remind myself to have well-rounded goals and not get too hung up on specific performance goals.

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And somehow in your busy schedule, you also find the time to work in independent films. What’s your secret? How do you find the time to do it all?

I liken my film life as the yin to my sport life’s yang. I need the creative outlet to help balance the monotony of training. With my producing/writing partner Ian Stokell, we try to set aside a few hours a day to keep the wheels turning. When a project takes off, I try to get all my training and coaching done before 11 a.m. so I can spend the next 8 hours on working on the film. So how do I do it all? I’m incredibly driven and exhausted most of the time!

When you need to dress it up for film festivals and what not, how do you glam up your look?

I think I scrub up pretty well. I wash and double condition my hair and blow-dry with a diffuser to get some volume. I never wear much makeup, so a little bit of mascara, lippy and my fave Bare Minerals® foundation is all I need in the face department. I’m pretty short (5’2") so a nice pair of heels make me feel more grown up and help me feel glam especially when combined with a tight dress. I get this all done in about 45 minutes. Boom.

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