Remember when we knew nothing about heart rate training, cadence, stroke count and such nonsense? When going for a run meant going for a run, and had nothing to do with intervals or tempo or taper? Do you remember those days? I don't. I've got no memory of them anymore than I can recall an existence before TiVo or e-mail.
Since I got quote-unquote serious about this whole triathlon lifestyle malarkey, my life has been a series of non-stop measurements. Heart rate this, lactate that, aerobic, anaerobic, VO2 max and glycogen stores. Truth be told, I don't even know what a glycogen store is or where I'd go to find one.
Whatever it is, I'm sure it needs to be measured and monitored and scrutinized, because that's what we do in triathlon. We take one step forward, then study it from all angles in all ways to determine if we can take a more efficient step in a more effective way to bridge that gap of three feet in one trillionth of a second faster.
Maybe if I had lighter shoes or more wind resistant shorts. Perhaps if I lost a little weight or invested in some plastic surgery to make my body more closely resemble one of those swanky Cervelo frames. Maybe that'll help.
After all, over the course of 140.6 miles, that one trillionth of a second adds up to a whole bunch of one trillionths. And maybe that's the difference between finishing in 1028th place and 1029th.
In the realm of life experiences, apparently that's really important to people like me. Though when I read this I can't quite figure out a reason why. In fact, it makes me sound like a bit of a boob.
I probably even begin to come across as a stereotypical Type A personality. But I swear to you, I'm Type B. Type B, I say! I was born low-maintenance and laid back and, dagnabbit, that's how I'll continue to live my life even if I have to make endless lists to remind myself.
Sure, somewhere along the way I replaced my unstructured workouts for a regimented training program. And, yes, perhaps I do know the exact number of granules of powdered potion I need to ingest every hour in order to maximize my endurance. Is that so wrong? Hey, at least I don't keep a continuous daily log of every detail of every workout. Actually, I take that back.
OK, maybe I am a bit controlling, but I reckon that's par for the course. Because whether we want to admit it or not, triathlon is all about structure. It is a sport customized for us folks who like a bit of controlled behavior in our lives.
Maybe you start off as the laid back Type B-er that I once claimed to be, but once you finish your first sprint distance race and then decide to tackle an Olympic distance, soon you'll be training for a 70.3, and then…
Next thing you know you're running deeper into the rabbit hole of multi-sport where the amount of regimented activity is directly proportional to the number of kilometers in your next race.
Us triathletes, we love our structure. We love to continually try to shimmy our Type B personalities into a Type A hole. With a racing and training season that can last most of the year, we have learned to become one with our sports addiction. We don't just race triathlons, we are triathletes. It is our identity. We are engulfed in a triathlon life.
Yet with this demanding lifestyle, we can easily teeter on the edge of Obsessive Compulsive Training Disorder. The pressures of living a balanced life can get overwhelming and so it is up to each of us to set our own personal limits. Like Don Henley told us many years ago, this could be heaven or this could be hell…we are all just prisoners here of our own device.
So with the hopes of avoiding the inevitable self-destruction, we must admit that there comes a moment in life when every triathlete has to realize that enough's enough. No matter how hard you focus, there comes a point in time when there cannot possibly be any more Type A to squeeze out of the proverbial tube of triathlon toothpaste.
I like to call that time "the off-season."
Unfortunately for many passionate triathletes, the off-season is oftentimes easier said than done. While we are out on a five hour mid-winter tempo ride, we talk about how great it is to finally relax, yet somehow completely miss the irony of the situation.
So here we are, having just closed the books on another wonderfully eventful year packed to the gills with the stress and self-induced pressure of the triathlon training lifestyle. We're just a Super Bowl bucket of hot wings away from planning out a new racing season.
Our Type A is rarin' to go, to breeze through the off-season like its transition training. But I'm here to remind you that it's not that time yet. We've got to step away from the circus mirror and take a more realistic look at relaxation.
We need to remember that it is just as important to let the mind recover as it is to let the body recover. While in the off-season, let's try not to work ourselves into a tizzy over tweaking this and rejiggering that. The off-season is about refreshing and reinvigorating. It's about taking time "off". Which is probably why they call it the off-season.
I'm not saying to avoid the bike, run or swim at all costs, I'm just suggesting that it might do the body good to relax a little. Maybe even stuff that daily workout log into the back of the bedside drawer.
If you wake up in the morning and don't feel like exercising at all, why not take a break. Do some yoga. Play with the kids. Go for a walk. Have a chocolate glazed donut if you really want. See if I care.
Feel nervous that a weekend on the ski slopes might ruin your hopes of getting a PR in next season's big race? Last one to the lift line is a rotten egg.
As committed triathletes, we are living a triathlon life, yet what better time than the off-season to remember that this "triathlon life" encompasses two worlds in its two words. There's "triathlon," and trust me, we all will have more than enough time to do that again this year. But there is also "life." During the off-season maybe we should try to channel our energy toward the pleasures of life.
So hows about we put the VO2 maxed tri-addict aside for a little bit and embrace the Type B personality we once had back when Thursday nights actually meant something on TV. Soon enough, we'll all be shopping for lactate at the Glycogen Store anyway. ###
Jeff Matlow is the owner of imATHLETE.com
The best athletes embody the virtue of non-competition. Not that they don't love to compete, but they do it in the spirit of play. - Lao-tzu
You race triathlons. You RACE triathlons. Why do you do it? Do you do it for the love of the sport or do you do it because you have something to prove? It is important to thoughtfully examine your motivations when gearing up for your season. What defines success in a race? In any race there are hundreds, if not thousands of other racers on the course, and there is also the clock. Are these the determinants of success? If you do not finish in a certain time or in a certain place, have you failed? If your definition of success or failure depends on external circumstances, then you have already lost. Success is not waiting at an arbitrary line 15 or 30 or 70.3 or 140.6 miles away; success is inside of you and depends entirely on your point of view. By understanding the factors that make every triathlete a champion you can make every race a success. From there, the only journey ahead is the journey from your head to your heart.
When I first got into this sport, I became obsessed with times and stats and placings and rankings very quickly. I competed in my first half Ironman in Oceanside last year and crossed the finish line filled with joy. My attitude changed the second I was told of the tiny margin by which I missed qualifying for the World Championships. My entire outlook on the day was thrashed. What had changed? My definition of success had changed. I could no longer enjoy the spirit of competition or living in the moment; success now hinged on achieving some external, superficial recognition. I stopped living in the moment and thereby turned what had been a success into a failure.
What happens when the race just doesn't go your way? That is where we get to dig deeper and find the best part of ourselves. Wendy Ingraham, Ironman champion, used those experiences in her career to grow as an athlete, and a person. "Several times I have set out in an Ironman and the pace just did not show up at the starting line. Rather than calling it a day or ' saving the race for another day', I like to pay it forward that day. I give my passion to another racer to help make their day." The ability to adapt and find passion in adverse situations is one quality of a truly successful triathlete.
So what qualities must all triathletes possess for success? Organization, patience and consistency are some of the watchwords that come to mind when speaking about a successful triathlete. Above all, though, is passion. An average triathlete with passion for the sport will outperform a gifted one without passion. The successful triathlete is the one whose ordinary moments are filled with passion. Every stroke in the pool or turn of the cranks must be performed with passion. Bring passion into your ordinary moments and maybe they won't seem so ordinary. If finishing a Half Ironman in five hours or less is your goal, you are opening yourself up to the possibility of failure. Is your achievement any less for finishing in 5:01? If you truly find passion in every stroke, in every second on the bike, with every step, you will be a winner without even looking at the clock. It is the person whose thoughts, goals and actions are all squared up that is the winner. By living in the moment throughout the entire race, you will enjoy a series of moments, regardless of the outcome. This is what you trained for; the race is the time to enjoy it.
Ingraham, always known for her smile and boundless enthusiasm on the course, sums it up this way: "By giving your passion and energy to another racer, you are guaranteed to make a new friend. In the end, it will make your day filled with passion."
The finish line is just a piece of tape that will be there waiting for us. Success is not at that finish line; it is inside of each of us.
LA Tri Club
Written by: Herbert Krabel
Date: Fri Dec 07 2007
With global domination in mind, the LA Tri club has grown quite nicely over the last few years. We talked to their president Paul Hekimian.
ST: Paul, how old and how large is the LA Tri club?
Paul: The LA Tri Club is going on its 8th year. We have grown to ~1,500 members and continue to grow steadily, and will continue to do so until we reach global domination. ?
ST: Do you consider the LA Tri club primarily a racing club?
Paul: No, that’s only part of what we are about. Our mantra is "swim. bike. run. play." The play means that we put a strong emphasis on the social side.... FOR MORE VISIT SLOWTWITCH.COM
It's been a long time coming (and it's still not where we want it to be â€¦more on that later), but we're pleased to welcome you to the new home of the LA Tri Club!
It goes without saying that the LA Tri Club wouldn't exist without the internet.Â Our website is the glue that ties all 1,500 or so members together.Â Race calendars, training calendars, RSVP's, member profiles, email, library, etc. all provide access to the information needed to have a top-notch club where our members are able to stay not only connected, by highly engaged with one another.Â Similar to that beater car that you got rid of after college, the former LATC website outlived its' useful life.Â Not only did the old website run on an antiquated platform ("Cold Fusion" for you techies out there!), but it also became unwieldy to navigateâ€¦in fact it never really was very easy to navigate.Â Essentially, our website was the equivalent to a 1980's era right-hand drive diesel Mercedes, while the rest of the world has moved onto a hybrid Prius.Â Maybe that's not the greatest analogy, but you get the pointâ€¦
With the launch of the new LA Tri Club website, we have attempted to address the basics, like upgrading the platform, or foundation.Â This new and improved foundation will provide the launch pad from which we can build even more robust features in the future.Â We have also made it easier to navigate â€“ a drastic improvement from our previous website.Â Among the other features are:
- Site redesign - New look and feel!
Searchable emailâ€¦yes, finally!Â Next time you need to know where to get your wetsuit repaired, try searching our email archive first, rather than emailing to the club!
Enhanced ecommerce site (launching soon!)
Enhanced photo site
New training and newbies content section, with links to useful tools and information!!
Bike and running route database
Member profile that doesn't cut off text!
Links that aren't broken!
Ok, before you get overly excited, and before we (LATC Board) pat ourselves on the back, realize that there is still work to be done.Â We've created a new framework, but in some cases the content is perhaps a bit thin and well be adding to the content in the near-term.Â Note also that, as with many new websites, you may encounter bugs.Â In the event you do, please help us exterminate them by sending an email to LATCBugs@LATriClub.com with the details of what you encountered, a copy of the URL that you were on when you encountered the bug, what computer / operating system / browser you are using.
In case you are wondering what will happen to all of the content you've added on the existing website (member spotlight, library article, race plans, race results, etc.), rest assured that that data has been migrated to the new site.Â Should you run into an issue, please send to LATCBugs@LATriClub.com.Â
Finally, as indicated above, there are many new features that we'd like to add to this site.Â Unfortunately our vision is larger than our available resources â€“ both financial, and time â€“ and we won't be able to add all the cool bells and whistles as quickly as we'd like, but rest assured that we have a list of cool features that we will continue to roll into the site after this initial launch.Â Please direct any enhancements you'd like to see to LATCSite@LATriClub.com with a description of the enhancement.Â It may very well already be on our list of future enhancements, but you never know.Â We can't think of everything, so we welcome your input!
Thanks for everyone who has had a hand in the development of our new website!Â Itâ€™s been somewhat overwhelming, made even more overwhelming by those darn limited resources (yep, time and $$) to make it happen.Â Thanks also to our web developers â€“ Belay Development (www.BelayDevelopment.com) led by all around nice guy Chris Lohman for working with us patiently and professionally to build this new website.
Thanks to everyone for your continued support of the LA Tri Club.Â Welcome Home!
LA Tri Club BoardPaul, Brian, Liz, Mike, Gary, and Larry