Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The long road (Knowledge for the Newbie) pt. 1 - the Village

Since I'm tired (and I'm sure you are all VERY tired) of posting about my ailments and the hope that I'll be able to make a comeback for 2015, I think this week would be a good time to start something new, for the new people out there. Of course if you aren't new that doesn't mean there isn't something to learn (or refresh yourself on) here, but the target audience is for the fresh.

Things this post is at least marginally better than...

So you want to be a triathlete do you? The road is long, and depending on what your aspirations are it can be both narrow and lonely. These are some things that, to me, are (or have become) necessary for everyone who wants to take it a step beyond "one and done." These kinds of things never get old to me because they seem to change as times go by. Things I find majorly important now I may not have even been mentioned a few years ago... time bruises all heels or something like that.

1.) Pick your village wisely.
It takes a village to raise an idiot, and a triathlete. I just went on about the loneliness of the path, and now I'm telling you that you need a group around you, your village, and you need to be smart about who is there. Get rid of the bums, crooks and naysayers... this is like Simcity and you don't need Godzilla or Pollution ruining what you've worked for. My village looks kind of like this.

- A Supportive Family & Friends (And Significant Other) are one of the most important pieces to the puzzle. If everyone hates the fact that you go out for a ride on Saturday mornings, or that you eat healthy, or that you don't go out and party every weekend then it's going to be tough to support your lifestyle choices. I have a friend who's wife is vehemently against him riding although he loves it and you know what, he doesn't ride near as much as he would if it were a supportive environment. Life is compromises, but man... that would be tough.

- A knowledgeable Doctor. This is one of those that I probably wouldn't have listed a few years ago but now am paying the price for my hubris. As we get older I think this becomes even more crucial, as your youth can cover up a LOT of mistakes that as we age we start paying the price for. Now, here's the rub... there is a difference between Knowledgeable doctors and doctors who are knowledgeable about Athletes. You can't take your top fuel drag car to the local mechanic... it's not that he isn't a good mechanic or that he doesn't know what the parts on the car are, it's that he likely doesn't have the specialization to know exactly how to get things running optimally. For instance in blood work, a lot of "normal" levels for the American population are either too low or too high for a body that's doing well over the "exercise 30 minutes 3x a week." Yes, doctors are expensive, but... and take it from me from firsthand knowledge... it's better to stay on top of these things BEFORE you NEED to go to the doctor.

- A Coach who is both a friend and a drill instructor. At some point most of us move to the point where we need some bit more individual direction than can be had from cookie cutter training plans. Your coach (in my opinion) has to be a sort of modern day bard, both a soothsayer and a hard ass, able to tell the difference when you are being whiney or when you are at your mental (or physical) end. Of course your coach is limited by how honest with them (and yourself) you are, so it can easily become a very personal relationship. Choose your coach wisely.

- A skilled fitter. When it comes to aero bike, the frame does matter, but not nearly as much as how you are sitting on the frame matters. The Kona Bike course record was set on a decidedly un-aero frame (even at the time) yet, power aside (which was likely nearly inhuman levels) the position was still good and so a lot of sins could be overlooked (especially for a strong rider) There are some true abominations of a "Bike Fit" out there. It's important to have a fitter who knows that fit isn't static, and who isn't going to give you the "initial setup" and then send you on your way forever. Triathletes have it very tough (even worse than Time Trialists) because we must straddle the line between getting as aggressive as we can while still being able to get off the bike and run when we hit T2.

- A group of like minded athletes. Be it a Team, (I may be biased, but I think the Cobb Mobb is pretty excellent) mentor group ( has some going right now actually) Masters swim class, or just some local guys at the park who meet for a group ride/run... it's these guys that will help keep you grounded and feeling like you are at least somewhat sane and/or normal. (Or they'll  at least give you a measuring stick of how insane you are.) A lot of training will be done alone, so when you get the chance to make a social thing, all the better!

That's a good start to your village. Hopefully I can have some more good stuff next week.

Thanks so much for reading!

- Christopher Morelock

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