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To Share or Not to Share

Posted Nov 14 2009 12:00am
I have said it many times, and although I do not need to say it anymore—I love triathlon. I read about it incessantly, whether the source is my most recent issue of Triathlete magazine (for which I ought to just fork over the $35 subscription rate to save myself a few million a year by purchasing it monthly,) my friend's triathlon blogs or, online resources. I love sharing experiences with other athletes whether it be about races, nutrition, gear, etc. While at the YMCA last night, I met a 7-time Lake Placid Ironman who somehow seemingly managed to escape my precision-like Triathlete-Radar for a number of months before identifying him. I use my triathlete radar, or TR™ to meet fellow triathletes and steal, uh, er.. pick up valuable tips to make my training more efficient and my race day performance faster.

Right now, I am particularly fascinated by the psychos who run the Iron distance. As an Ironman hopeful myself, I am trying to gain some insight about how my life will change once I have accomplished one of the most difficult—and arguably—most psychotic tests of human endurance that anyone should legally be allowed to participate in. Will the experience of running my first Ironman allow me to become a mellower human being? Where is the best place to shop for capes? How gigantic should the Ironman logo be that I will have tattooed on my body in the week immediately following the race? How do I subtly drop the fact that I just ran an Ironman into casual conversation with friends—or anyone else who will listen—in an unassuming way?

My radar has been well honed these past two years. I am learning the subtle signals that triathletes possess that make them easily identifiable. It has nothing to do with their physiognomy. You can not detect great cardiovascular fitness by looking at someone. There have been many so called "clydesdales:" racers of a larger physical stature and weight, that have run nimbly by me, smiling along the way, as I struggle futilely for my lean frame to keep pace. You can sometimes spot a triathlete by the exercises they engage in on a reoccurring basis. For instance, triathletes tend to spend a inordinate amount of time in pools during the winter months—especially athletes that live in colder climates. I have often looked over in the lane next to me and asked someone what they are training for. Invariably, it is a triathlon. So often though, it is the gear that someone is wearing that is a dead giveaway. If I look down at someone's kicks and see them sporting Yankz (laces generally worn by triathletes that require no tying—saving them an enormous 20 seconds on the transition from the bike to the run.) The dead giveaway with this particular 7-time Ironman was his 2008 Lake Placid Ironman hat. No one would ever dare wear that hat without actually having participated.

For the most part, I find triathletes pretty eager to "talk shop." We like to share experiences, and my new Ironman friend was just as eager to share race day stories, so long as I would listen. But I have to wonder: just how much are they telling me? I mean, I have a three friends that I train with regularly. Unbelievably, I do not compete in the same age-group with any of them. We all read articles, test nutrition needs, implement new training methods and discuss our gains—if any—when we get together. Of course, this makes me wonder... how much do I really want to share? Okay, I know. I always want to set a PR every time I go out there. I am not out there competing against anyone else but myself. Yeah right! Even though none of my closest training partners are in my age group, you can bet that it is a matter of pride for all of us to cross that finish line first. In some regards, the rest of the field does not even matter as long as we were the first in the group of athletes that we train with to finish.

It starts during training. A casual 30 minute bike ride at a moderate pace ends up turning into a time trial stage at the Tour de France. You've been there, whether it is in triathlon, or another sport. You've been involved in a situation similar to playing a friendly pickup game of basketball that one person suddenly turns into game seven of the NBA files. My personal favorite is when you are out on a group-training run and everyone takes turns being the one just one inch ahead of everyone else to gain some sort of psychological advantage. Before you know it, you are running a minute faster per mile. Maybe this is a good thing. Anything I learn about nutrition and training that works for me, I share. In return, I have improved my swimming and nutrition as a result of tips from fellow triathletes. So, do I share, or keep some things back to have a competitive advantage? Get real—I share. In the end, I have learned that I am really only competitive with myself. It is not like I am competing for a podium spot or a cash prize.

So, in the true nature of sharing, I am going to pass along a little speed workout that my friend my Vanessa Taylor shared with me (that was shared with her from someone else.) Vanessa is a just qualified for the Boston Marathon. Here are Vanessa's exact words of motivation to me:

And the Good Lord spoke and said "Thou shalt run the gauntlet."

And though doth protest, go forth and run it.

And there will be much rejoicing, so long as there is stretching thereafter.


Run 2 miles as a warm up.

Then 1600 (under 7:10)

Rest/Recover for a minute

Then 800 (under 3:45)

Rest/Recover for a minute

Then 400 (under 1:45)

Rest/Recover for a minute

Then 200 (under :45)

Rest/Recover for a minute

Then 100 (under :18)

Run 2 miles as a cool-down.


Have fun training, and don't forget to pay it forward,


Mark


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