Friday, November 4, 2011

Early Morning Triathlete Experiences

It strikes me as funny how some people always want to get into a pissing match with you regarding your training (time, distance, power) and groups.  This morning I was running (before masters swim practice) and had an Ironman knit cap on.  To be completely honest - I didn't even remember it said "Ironman".  I grabbed it because it had my two top requirements for a run at 31 F: 1) it was clean 2) it is a warm hat.

It's too damn early...
Out on the trail (remember, it's 4:10 am - even the freakin' coyotes are asleep) a guy runs up to me where the trails merge.  I'm not talkative at 4:10am.  Ever.  Hi.  (I wave.)  I'm doing intervals.  I won't get in your way.  Go ahead.  You ever do Ironman?  Yes.  I'm gonna do Ironman Wisconsin next year.  Cool, fun race. Wanna go with me on this interval?  No thank you, this is an easy run for me.  Come on.  Let's see what you've got.  This is recovery for me.  I need to stick to my plan.  I did a tough session last night.  Oh,  not in shape?  (Now I'm getting pissed.  Get the hell away from me dude.  I want to listen to the wind in the trees and not your yapper at 4am.)  We run all the way back to the parking lot.  He was telling me all about his "master plan" for Ironman and how he knows "so much" about Ironman.  (This came with more and more breaks in his speech.)  We get back to the car and he puts his hands on his head. "That was a hard interval."  I look at my HRM - 137 heart rate at 8:30/mile pace.  Hmm.  He tells me who his coach is (a well known pro who charges about $600/month).  I tell him good luck with his training and before I can close my car door - he is telling me how he is going to qualify for Kona in his first Ironman.  I wish him luck again.  Want to go to breakfast?  Thank you, but I'm going swimming now.  WHAT?! (he exclaims) I'm going to swim with a masters swimming group.  Where do you swim?  Oh, I don't need to swim masters - I swam in HS.  I swim "my" (his words) Olympic distance mile in 28:32.  (This dude looks about 38 and I don't have the heart to tell him it was .9 miles for the OLY.)  I told him that I was a coach and had a lot of athletes in IM Moo last year and if he wanted he could train with us.  Oh, I always stick to my training plan.

A guy... (later this morning)
I'm leaving a business establishment and run into someone I met in triathlon circles I am in.  Guy doesn't recognize me.  No problem - he looks at me and says - I know you from somewhere.  I say I'm "x's" friend.  We met two years ago at his party.  Oh right.  He then asks me if I'm coaching.  Yes I am.  Cool, maybe I'll call you to look at my swim stroke.  I don't swim with a masters group because I'm faster than all of them.  (ALL MASTERS GROUPS!  -->Inner monologue)  Oh, I see.  I'm a better athlete than all these people coming out of "that" club.  Sometimes training on your own is more productive.  I always train alone.  Nobody can hang with me.  I'm a 26 minute swim in an open water mile. (Oh dear Barbara, here we go again.) Solid swim.  I told him about the swim group I am part of.  Oh... I'm faster than everyone there.  (No you aren't... I'm faster than you and in there I'm not the fastest. --> inner monologue again)  Do you do CompuTrainer?  No, I have really high watts and I want to stick to my plan.  (ugh!) I explain how in CompuTrainer classes everyone rides to their FTP.  Oh... well, I'll just go too fast.  Besides, I'm focusing on my running.  Cool.  I run alone because nobody can hold my pace.  (Uh, oh.)  Yeah, I run 9:40s for a 10k - SUSTAINED.  Ah, well done.  You're on the road.  Good luck in your preparation.

OK... I get it.  You're competitive.  Wonderful.  You know what?  Everyone has something to work on.  EVERYONE.  I honestly hope you do great, stay healthy and enjoy the time.  Just don't go around comparing yourself to everyone else - You are a unique person.  (I totally sound like my mom here.)  I coach xx people currently - NOT ONE of them is alike.

Focus on YOUR numbers.  What were YOUR watts per kilogram in the CompuTrainer class last night?  What was your heart rate?  What pace did you hold the 10x 100 freestyle on today @1:30 interval?  What did you hold per mile on your long run? you enjoy your life?  That is the real question.  If you didn't enjoy being out there then it doesn't matter what you did.  How was the camaraderie during and after practice?  Did you look at the weight room floor and have your entire lane sing "Dude Looks like a Lady" when a guy who looks like Fabio meets Lindsay Lohan (with a 3:00 shadow and rumpled shirt from sleeping on the couch) walks by the pool window to flex in the two way mirror?  (really)  How many folks did you high five and encourage today?  Did you laugh in your workout? 

No matter who the athlete is... my conversation is always about improving THEIR number.  They are the ONE focus.  I don't compare them.  How fast can I get this athlete (and their unique challenges) faster, stronger, thinner, more endurance, etc.?

Talk to people (maybe after 6am).  Just leave out the numbers.


  1. Great Post, BOB! Two people in the same day what are the odds?


  2. Hi Steve - yeah... this was something special.

    Every athlete has their own failures and successes. I have to work on a lot, so I keep my mouth shut unless I'm asked. Everyone is an expert these days.