03/27/2019 15:18 EDT | Updated 05/02/2019 14:59 EDT

Work Hard, Train Hard

The Toyota Camry inspires a drive like no other. Sporty stance, exceptional handling, and available 301 HP injects excitement and power into each drive, so you get the most out of every road. In partnership with Toyota Canada, we connected with inspiring Canadians who have unexpectedly captivating hobbies, illuminating the incredible synergies between career and hobby, and how they can inform and elevate one another.

Meet Mikael Staer Nathan, graphic designer and triathlete.

To say Staer Nathan is a busy man is an understatement, but the graphic designer and triathlete would argue he has a healthy work-life balance.

That's because he considers his hobby, which involves 180 kilometer bikes rides, 42 kilometer runs and four kilometer swims, an incredibly rewarding part of his life. It was during an exchange at a Copenhagen design school that Staer Nathan discovered and fell in love with triathlon. Today, he balances both disciplines at a high level but admits it hasn't been easy.

"I've cried a couple times," he says, adding that he eventually found that balance through trial and error, and guidance from his trusted circle of friends and family.

Surround yourself with supportive people

If you're dead set on training for a triathlon, you're going to need all the help you can get so it's important to surround yourself with people you trust and can lean on.

Staer Nathan credits much of his success to his inner circle. His demanding life means he often looks to them for advice, encouragement or just a friendly ear because no one should go at it alone. In fact, if it wasn't for his girlfriend, he might have quit the sport long ago.

Speaking to Triathlon Magazine, he recalled a devastating time in his career when he didn't finish the St. Andrews Half Iron, despite being in the best shape of his life. "I was crying at the end and I met my girlfriend half way through the race course and I was like, 'I'm done, finished' and she said to me, 'you have to talk to someone because this doesn't make sense.'"

Prioritize your time

Keeping a strict schedule isn't always fun but it's how Staer Nathan manages his incredibly busy lifestyle that often involves international travel. He blocks time off for work-related tasks and training and rarely goes off course. He sees planning as an important skill to have, both as a designer and as an athlete.

"Both a triathlon and being a designer share a similar process – i.e., planning and thinking ahead, while also being able to react in the moment in terms of problem solving."

Change your mindset

After a bad training session or a disappointing showing at a race, Staer Nathan doesn't have the luxury of a day off to wallow. He has to be in a good mental state to face his day job and that's why he's learned to let negative thoughts go.

"I don't become fixated on a bad swim because I don't have time to and I couldn't not do either one of my interests because they are each so much a part of me. One allows me to exercise my mind, the other my body, but they complement each other and make me a more well-rounded person."Mikael Staer Nathan

Many runners recommend choosing a couple power words or phrases to repeat when you start feeling defeated. The more you repeat these positive affirmations the faster you can shut off the negative energy out.

Seek professional help if you're struggling

Mental toughness is half the battle for anyone training for a triathlon or any elite sport. What Staer Nathan has learned through his own journey is that not everyone possesses the same level of mental toughness and there's no shame in getting help.

One of the best pieces of advice he got was from his girlfriend, who recommended he speak to a sport psychologist when she saw him struggling mentally. It's a topic he keeps coming back to because of how impactful it was for him.

"Sport is not just training the body," he wrote in his personal blog. "Training the mind is just as important."

Seeking professional help doesn't have to be a scary or overwhelming experience. "That is the funny thing with psychology – often, it is not some grand paradigm shift that makes things better, but rather, a small and simple change in approach."

Find a hobby that unexpectedly captivates you, just like the 2019 Toyota Camry.