I actually pilfered the title from a short blurb in Triathlete about Kate Major’s decision to do some short races close to her home in Queensland. She said the races were a good opportunity to race close to home, but there was also a very quick mention that she was using the races to prepare for her upcoming Ironman. While this got only a passing note, I think that perhaps more attention ought to have been paid to this decision. Of course, I’m also likely biased, since I want to believe that my own decision is a good one. I’m still always surprised that people actually read what I write here, but given that it seems to happen, I thought I might share the reasoning behind the race schedule I have posted. “Why on earth are there five Olympic-distance races on that schedule?” you may be asking. Or you may be thinking, “he really is a glutton for punishment!” As for the latter, that probably is a fair assessment, but then again, I think it’s probably true of just about every triathlete. So let’s instead focus on answering the former question. Why exactly are half of my races set to be Olympic distance races, a distance that is quite far removed from that where I seem to have found the most success recently.
For part of the answer, let’s hop into our wayback machine and journey back to the good ole days of triathlon, the late 80’s and early 90’s. Anyone who’s old enough to have worn offensively colored speedos in a race can tell you all about these glory days. But that’s not really what I want to talk about. I want to talk, more specifically, about the ratio of pros to races with prize money. Basically, unlike today, you had more races with good money than you had pros to compete in them. A lot more. So what did people do? They raced. And they raced a lot. And they raced all distances. If there was a race, and it had prize money, people raced it. And I think, generally speaking, it did them a lot of good.
I think there are a couple factors at play. Without getting too much into physiology, I think racing across multiple distances in complementary. In layman’s terms, if you are used to racing really hard and fast, then racing at a lower pace (even for a long amount of time) seems quite easy by comparison. And on the flip side, if you are used to racing all day, then racing faster, but for a shorter amount of time, can seem much more manageable. Of course, the reality is a physiological answer about aerobic base and threshold and all that stuff, but that’s really above my pay grade. This summer is about experimenting and also about having fun.
Simply put, I am racing all these short races because I think it will make me a better triathlete. Not just a better Ironman racer, but better as a whole. A better swimmer, biker, and runner. Physically and mentally, I think that I will come away from these races better equipped to race at any distance, and that’s the reason I’m doing them. If you spend all your time focused on one format or one distance, I think you get stale. You forget how to race fast, or you forget how to race long, or you forget how to just go out and race. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m just racing.