Last month I shared with you a narrative of my experience at the USA Triathlon Duathlon Nationals in Saint Paul, Minnesota, this past June. It was, for me, a tough course. I was not concerned about my time, but I really did want to finish, “happily and healthily,” as I like to say. And I did, as I have done in most of the 240-plus races I have been fortunate to have competed in since I started multisport racing back in 1983. I also pointed out that because of the weather in the New York Metropolitan area where I live, I only got in six weeks of regular training, riding the bike outdoors instead of being on the run-of-the-mill indoor bike trainer that I had been on all spring. And I made it to the finish line, happily and healthily as I like to say, anyway.
Now, am I recommending short training for any kind of racing? Certainly not, and I am already thinking about getting a better indoor training bike so that I can get serious about training earlier next spring — snow, rain or shine. But I did make it, and I felt quite good, mentally and physically, afterward. So I got to thinking. Just exactly how did I make it twice around that bike course that everyone described as tough (and it was), on only six weeks of real training? Well, here are my thoughts on that one.
First, and most important, I set the right goal: simply to finish happily and healthily, regardless of my time. Second, I do have quite a bit of experience in all kinds of races, up to and including three IRONMAN finishes (although they were many years ago). Indeed, experience counts. Third, I did everything I could to diminish my anxiety. The day before the race, I did the big hill on the bike course. That was absolutely critical for me, to know for sure that I could do it, that I wouldn’t have to get off the bike and walk, and that my heart rate would stay within a reasonable limit (which it did). If you are in a similar situation and the course is new to you, and you can’t ride it before the race, then at least drive it if possible.
Fourth, I had all of my “stuff” in order. I packed using my check-list. Fifth, I arrived at transition early. I set everything up carefully. Sixth, it being a Nationals, of course I was all registered the day before. But if you are doing a local race that provides for packet pick-up before race day, if you can manage it by all means do it. Seventh, some races, especially Nationals (and of course Worlds) have restrictions on what you can and cannot bring into transition. Knowing the rules and abiding by them eliminates another potential source of anxiety.
Finally, one of my long-time mottos has been handed down to us from the writing of the great philosopher of running in the 1970s and 80s, Dr. George Sheehan. “Being the best,” George said, “is being the best George Sheehan I can be.” Thanks, George. It was a privilege to have known you, and that saying has one of my principal guides for my whole career in multi-sport racing.
This series of thoughts and recommendations about multisport racing by Dr. Steve Jonas is, over time, drawn in part from his book, "101 Ideas and Insights for Triathletes and Duathletes" (Monterey, CA: Healthy Learning/Coaches Choice, 2011), from which text is used with permission. The book can be purchased here and is available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com.
Steve’s most recent multisport book is "Duathlon Training and Racing for Ordinary Mortals®: Getting Started and Staying with It" (Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press/FalconGuides, 2012), available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.
His first book on multisport racing, "Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals®" 2nd Ed. (New York: WW Norton, 2006) also can be found at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Dr. Jonas recently was featured in World Class Magazine. Click here to read the article.