By Simon Ward
How not to give a f**k about what other triathletes do or think
As far as triathlon is concerned, I was early to the party.
By the way, that doesn’t make me old.
I just started young.
I can distinctly remember one of my very first triathlon’s, all the way back in 1989.
Walking into the transition zone, which back then was some hurriedly put together scaffolding tubes in a field next to the lake, I remember seeing a guy with an amazing bike.
You’ve probably seen the sort.
He was, lean, tanned and full of confidence….just the opposite of me at the time.
And he had this really expensive, white Kestrel triathlon bike with…..a disc wheel.
Only the top pro’s and athletes who were very good rode a bike like that!
So, naturally, I figured out that this guy was going to beat me.
Looking around T1 a bit more I noticed more lean, tanned and confident athletes. They didnt quite have the same sort of ‘trick” machinery but they sure looked fast.
OK, I was going to come last!
I thought about going straight home but i’d paid £15 to enter the event ( a lot back then and as a tight Yorkshireman I wasn’t going to throw away that much money!), so I got on with my preparations and nervously prepared myself for last place.
Fast forward to the race.
I came out of the water in the top 20% (of 200 or so), passed “Mr Perfect” early in the bike and finished in the top 1/3 of the field.
Despite not being an “uber” runner I passed some of those lean fit guys as well
Not nearly as bad as I anticipated.
I learned some big lessons on that day.
Unless an athlete is a pro having an expensive bike is more likely to mean they have an equally big wallet. Its no reflection of athletic ability. I saw “Mr Perfect” fixing his bike to the rack on his Porsche and later learnt that owned a chain of nursing homes. he just had loads of money
Lean and tanned doesn’t always mean fast. It could mean they just don’t eat much and they had a nice holiday.
The big takeaway for me was this
You shouldn’t give a f**k about what other triathletes do or think
Since I stopped working about what my competitors look like, ride or how they train, life has been so much sweeter.
My time in triathlon has been a journey of exploration.
To find out what I can do and for how long. To discover my limits.
Being a maverick excites me. Doing things differently is cool.
Too many triathletes that i know have their training or racing shaped by what others are doing.
They follow the same training methods, eat the same “stuff” and buy kit because they worry more about what it looks like than what benefits it might have.
Think about the number of riders you know who have deep rim wheels on their bike because they look cool rather than because they offer any aero or performance benefits.
As i celebrate 30 years in the sport as an athlete and coach my advice is this.
There are certain fundamental principles of training and recovery that you cannot disrupt in the same way that we understand the principles of time and gravity.
But aside from that it a big enjoyable experiment.
Who says “you can’t do it that way” or even that “it can’t be done”.
Life is full of people who have proved otherwise.
Do things differently
And, if it doesn’t work out then learn from it and try again.
But above all follow this ancient Yorkshire Principle
Don’t give a f**k about what other triathletes do or think
Simon is a triathlon coach from Leeds which is Yorkshire, England
Its also the home of the Brownlee Brothers.
Simon has been a triathlete since 1987 and a coach since 1995. Currently specialising in coaching triathletes for long distance triathlon events he has helped almost 500 triathletes reach the finish of an ironman.
He is the co-owner and founder of TheTriathlonCoach.com and the SWAT Inner Circle.
He also runs a free Facebook page called TheTriathlonCoach Cafe