Sunday, March 24, 2013

Du or Du Not, There Is No Tri

Possibly the most cliched of all the sci-fi triathlon quotes, and one proudly bruited about by the more hydrophobic amongst us. 

Ah yes,the duathlon, where the only water is in cups at the turnaround. Where, I daresay, most of us prefer it.

Which brings me to the obligatory rant; why is it so hard to get people to come to duathlons?  Listening to triathletes in the shop, in transition and on the start-line, it's clear that  the swim hardly fills most with joy. The prevailing opinion seems to be the race only starts when ones' feet hit the beach. So why the duathlon is the "poor cousin"  (I'll only do the du) I have no idea.

That's not what compelled me to put proverbial pen to proverbial paper today. Rather it was what draws age-groupers to triathlon. This was prompted by a flood of runners getting into the sport recently. There were so many bikes at the running club this morning I was starting to feel like I was on Cyclesmith duty!  

The last convert to the dark-side was a good friend of mine and an excellent runner. Two things came up in a recent conversation recently. The first was he told me that against his better nature, he really enjoyed his swim the other day.  One only hopes that his innate swimming technique is better than his innate  runnning technique which before his coach got hold of him, was best described as a frog in a blender. Apologies to South African spin bowler Paul Adams, the original sporting frog-in-a-blender.

Anyway, you get the idea.

The second thing was that a race we'd been to recently was the one local race he'd been to the most. Ten times I think.  This struck a chord with me as I've been to this race eight times in ten years and it got me to thinking.

In the same way your training goes (or should go!) through microcycles, mesocycles and macrocycles, one's running also cycles through microcycles, mesocycles and macrocycles.  The micro- and mesocycles are the cycles of getting up earlier on Saturday and Sunday to go running than one does M-F to go to work and cyclical seasonal ups and downs. 

The macrocycle is the steady annual heartbeat of the racing calendar.   In Nova Scotia it goes something like this.  March - Back to Basics 8 miler and The Moose.  Then Boston; running it for the lucky few, following them on-line for the rest of us.  Then Bluenose and the Cabot Trail Relay in May, Johnny Miles in June, Natal Day 6 miler in August, Rum Runners in September and then the three maritime marathons in October: Valley Harvest, PEI and Moncton.  Then a couple of months in hibernation before starting to train up in December to start the cycle all over again!

For some people there is comfort in this rhythm.  If it's June, it's time for a trip to New Glasgow for Johnny Miles.  I'm not sure I've ever been to New Glasgow (except for stopping for gas) at any other time.  Sometimes, it can take you by surprise; when I voluntolded to time The Moose Run this year, my first reaction was, frankly, "It's time to time The Moose Run?  Didn't I just do that?"

For some, after a while this rhythm can start to get a bit stale, and I think that's what's happening here.  For some. there's a stink of ennui about the whole "if it's Thanksgiving, it's time for Valley Harvest" thing.

Triathlon can give you a whole new perspective on your racing and training whilst keeping us true to what makes us tick in the first place.  Spiritually, a triathlon is very much like running. Sure, there'll be a winner, but it's unlikely to be you.  Did you even see the winner in Boston?  Thought not.  However, you'll still get to take away a time for that Sprint or Olympic (or whatever), a time you can use to benchmark your progress through the sport; just as your first 10K time (or whatever) did. As runners, we are  also predisposed to spending hours outside (we aren't your average gym-rats), possibly in miserable weather. Plus, we already have the lycra tights and merino wool undershirts, so we have that side of cycling nailed too!  

It also opens up a whole new calendar. now you can go to Guysborough for perhaps my favorite race in Nova Scotia (but a place I've only been to on race-day - a cruel mistake I hope to rectify one day soon).

If you don't feel like running, you can do a triathlon.  Didn't get the time in the pool?  Duathlon. Or a couple of running races.  My favourite unintended consequence is dealing with injuries.  It's been rare over the last, well too many years to count, that I've been too injured to do anything. Can't run; ride. Can't ride?  Run.  Then there's always the pool.

So there you have it.  I suspect the local triathlon scene will have to steel itself for a podium shake-up soon. There are some strong runners out there, many of them sub-three marathoners, who've been hitting the pool and getting serious about their cycling and just longing not to go to New Glasgow in June!

Don't say I didn't warn you.


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