Tri/duathletes sometimes wonder “why am I doing this?” This can happen on a hot day about halfway through the run, on a windy day when you’ve been riding into a stiff headwind for half an hour, or, let’s say, a third of the way into a rather cold-water swim. I’ve had all three experiences, more than once. At the end of my 33rd season in multisport, I thought to share some thoughts on the subject with you, as well as to bring into the discussion, my other sport, downhill skiing.
Winter takes on different weather characteristics in different parts of the Northern Hemisphere (and with climate change will be taking on even more varied aspects). But whatever yours looks like — white, green or in between — it's a good idea to take some down time this time of the year. It might be a week, two weeks or even a month if you’ve raced frequently or have an injury or two that can be healed completely with rest. And whether for injury reasons or not, that’s rest for both your body and your mind.
Periodically (and now is one of those periods), various claims arise from various quarters that regular exercise is a good way to help with weight loss. And further, it is claimed that it is so good a way to lose weight that a person perhaps need not be as concerned as they might be with precisely what they eat (or drink), if only they exercise regularly.
Just a bit over two years ago, I visited this subject on these pages. A recent editorial in another triathlon magazine made me want to return to it. The author was talking about drawing more women into the sport — certainly a laudatory goal — through a new organization. (Of course the USA Triathlon Women’s Committee has been on the case for many years, and my good and longtime friend and colleague Sally Edwards has been at it even longer, with Trek and Danskin, among others). But what struck me in particular about the column was its emphasis on IRONMAN races.
The USA Triathlon Century Club — for USAT members who have done 100 or more triathlons — was established in 2011. I was an inaugural member. The USAT Duathlon Century Club was established in 2014. When that notice came into my email inbox, I went to my detailed race record and counted up my duathlons. Being a non-athlete [except for downhill skiing] when I took up triathlon at age 46, I thought, “well, I indeed would like to keep track of my races.” I had no idea that I would get to the number I have reached so far — 240-plus — but since I have gotten there, it is nice to have that record.
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.
Last year, at just about this time, my column focused on my experience at the USA Triathlon Sprint Duathlon National Championships that were held in St. Paul, Minnesota, as the frame for a presentation on five of my long-time “back-of-the-pack” thoughts. For indeed, last year, as is happening with increasing frequency as I get older and slower, I was dead last (which is just fine with me, as long as I finish). This year it was back once again to St. Paul, but this year’s column will focus on the race itself and my experience in it.
Last year, I published a column in this space on getting started as a regular exerciser. So how about getting started in multisport racing? In many parts of the country we are just now getting to outdoor temperatures and conditions that permit and/or encourage cycling out-of-doors. (Actually I just read that the day before I sat down to write this column on May 11, 2015, four inches of snow had to be cleared off Coors Field in Denver, Colorado, before a baseball game could be played there.)
Talking Tri-/Duathlon for Ordinary Mortals®: A Series, (No. 21, 2015, 4-13) by Dr. Steve Jonas
In many parts of the country we are still waiting for spring to arrive, although in certain other parts, summer seems to be here already. But whatever part we live in, as tri/duathletes, whatever we have done or not done over the winter, we are now getting back into regular exercise. We know that to be a successful tri- or duathlete at any level, we have to train/exercise regularly throughout the season. Many years ago, toward the beginning of my 30-plus years in multisport racing and as a writer on the subject I put together what I call the "Basic Eight of Regular Exercise." They certainly have helped me to keep on truckin', and given some thought, they might help you too.
Talking Tri-/Duathlon for Ordinary Mortals®: A Series, (No. 20, 2015, 3-3) by Dr. Steve Jonas
Spring is coming. Really? If you, like I do, live in a part of the country that has had a very rough winter, especially during the past month of February, you might not actually believe that. Actually, my part of the country, the New York Metropolitan region (I live in Port Jefferson on Long Island), has not had it nearly as bad as other parts, like New England, the Mid-West, and even much of the South. But yes, spring will eventually get here and where you live too, and we will be able to start racing again, first, perhaps in a Du or two, and then on to the Tri’s, or perhaps, like me, you will stay mainly with the Du’s for the season. And so what to do for the upcoming season, in light of the really miserable winter, in terms of the weather, that many of us have had.
February 9, 2015 by Steve Jonas
Talking Tri-/Duathlon for Ordinary Mortals®: A Series, (No. 19, 2015 - 2/2)
Are you (or a friend, child, parent, other loved one who you might refer to the USA Triathlon Blog) thinking about getting started in multisport racing? Or are you (or they) possibly a triathlete who is: getting tired of training in three sports; looking for shorter events that are still a challenge but not as demanding as the usual triathlon; weak in or not thrilled with swimming, desirous of doing multisport events that are less-demanding logistically than triathlon; most comfortable on the bike and perfectly happy to do the bulk of your training on it? Well, these are a bunch of reasons why it might be time to think duathlon.
January 14, 2015 by Dr. Steve Jonas
Talking Tri-/Duathlon for Ordinary Mortals®: A Series (No. 18, Jan. 2015)
This column, starting off the new year, is for those folks who might be thinking about getting into the sport. It’s also for those triathletes who would like some organized thinking about the subject to present to friends and family members who might be thinking about doing so too. To begin with, let’s go over some definitions.
November 17, 2014 by Steve Jonas
Talking Tri-/Duathlon for Ordinary Mortals®: A Series, (No. 17, 2014, 11/17) by Dr. Steve Jonas
Bad seasons come in different forms. One is that you set goals for one or more races and didn’t make them. Or it could be that you went to one or more qualifiers, let’s say for Kona, and didn’t make it. Or perhaps you had your heart set on doing a race that has a lottery for entries (i.e. the New York City Triathlon) and didn’t get in, which cast a pall over your season. Or you had a bad season because your training was interrupted for a variety of reasons, and you didn’t get to do nearly the number of races you had planned. The latter, with one bright spot, characterizes my 2014 season.
by Dr. Steve Jonas
Talking Tri-/Duathlon for Ordinary Mortals®: A Series (No. 16, 2014, 9/25)
I had the privilege of attending this conference and as a speaker as well. We had a top series of presenters (perhaps present company excluded) and I thought this month to share some of their thoughts about our sport, our coaches and coaching with you. For those of you who might not know, USA Triathlon certifies coaches for our sport at three levels with an ongoing certification and required continuing education program. We currently have about 2,200 coaches and everything you might want to learn about them can be found HERE.
Talking Tri-/Duathlon for Ordinary Mortals®: A Series, (No. 15, 2014, 8-6) by Dr. Steve Jonas
This year, as many of you know, the USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships were held in St. Paul, Minn. (a lovely, civilized, city). Great credit to our USA Triathlon Chief Operating Officer Tim Yount, the heart and soul of our organization, National Events Senior Manager Brian D'Amico, who was also the race director, and their great staff for putting on a terrific event under difficult conditions because of then very recent flooding of the Mississippi River that runs through the city.
I did my first race this year on June 22. I am writing about this race specifically because it turned out to have special meaning for me in terms of my health and my approach to multi-sport racing. Except for my very first year in 1983 when, training for my first marathon in December, I happened to find time for two September triathlons along the way, this is the latest I have ever started my season. There are two reasons for that.
Duathlon, our run-bike-run variant of triathlon, first appeared in the mid-1980s under a variety of names: “byathlon,” “run-bike-run,” “cyruthon” (cycle-run), and the name that stuck: “biathlon.” In the early days the most common format was run-bike, followed by run-bike-run and then bike-run. It quickly evolved, however, to an almost exclusive focus on the run-bike-run format. My good friend Daniel Honig, president of the New York Triathlon Club (NYTC, nee the Big Apple Triathlon Club, BATC) was one of its principal early developers, if not the original inventor of the format.
Last February, as I’m sure many of us were, I spent some of my time watching the Winter Olympics. One of the events I came across was the women’s biathlon. I recalled watching a men’s biathlon years ago, but this was a rather different event. In the latter, competitors skied a cross-country course carrying a rifle on their backs. At points they would stop at a target, take shots, accumulate scores, and then proceed on the course. Winners were determined by a combination of skiing speed and shooting accuracy.
On February 22, 2014, The New York Times published an article on champion NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson titled “Jimmie Johnson Does Triathlons, but is He an Athlete?”
And so in this context I thought of the question, “what is an athlete?”
Is it that Johnson happens to do triathlons and works out rigorously in all three sports on a regular basis that makes him an athlete? Or are racecar drivers athletes on their own merits. In the article, Donovan McNabb, a former NFL quarterback (and a pretty good one too), was quoted as saying: “He sits in a car and drives. That doesn’t make you an athlete.” But even though it’s not the same physical skill as throwing a football or swimming, cycling and running fast, he does have to have a physical skill to do what he does - keep a 3000-4000 pound car going at 200+ miles per hour for up to four hours with a bunch of other cars in very close proximity.
My paternal grandfather, Jacob Kyzor, came from the East End of London. Even though Grandpa Jacob’s parents were mid-19th century Jewish emigrants from Russia, he always regarded himself as English. And so I have always regarded myself as one-quarter English. My mother took me to London for the first time in 1950 when I was 13 years old. I lived in London for two years in the 1960s, doing post-doctoral work at the University of London and the London School of Economics. And since then, as I am fond of telling Londoners when I visit, I am lucky enough to have been in London more times than I can remember.