Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Race More?

 Recharge with Milk Wasaga Beach Triathlon Finish-line - Photo

I was about to embark on writing a blog straight-up, about the benefits of racing more, for triathletes. I was and still am of the belief that many problems and challenges that the modern triathlete encounters, in races, particularly longer distance triathlon races, could be over-come in part, by racing more.

Then, two things happened:

1. I attended a local social event in my area where over 30 triathletes, many of whom I knew personally, were in attendance. As some know, I work as a Race/Event Announcer almost every weekend at triathlons, running and cycling races. As I stood there in the room filled with triathletes, I realized that I had not seen any of these athletes, with the exception of one, at a race all year!

2. The following day, I asked the question, "Why doesn't the modern triathlete race more?" on my Facebook page. There were an enormous number of responses - some very detailed and informative. You can see the thread of responses here. It's a good read.

Both of these previous points, caused me to re-think things a bit.

From reading the Facebook thread, it's clear that these days, time and costs are the key things that limit the number of races that triathletes do each year. There is no question that races are getting more expensive - for obvious reasons: The costs to put these races on have gone up substantially. As for the time issue, if you look at the largest age-groups in the sport, most active, modern triathletes are right in the middle of their key child-rearing years with 1, 2, 3 or more young kids at home, and also at a time in their careers, when time-on for work, is at it's highest. Add all that up and, and it makes sense why, the modern triathlete races less now, than a previous wave of triathletes did 10+ years ago.

I still believe that many triathletes, particularly newer athletes, in the sport for four years or less, would benefit greatly from more frequent racing. I am backed up on that point by some of the leading local coaches, who also feel the same way, but are pushed back on this, by the athletes they coach. Knowing this, and reading the responses on my Facebook posting, one wonders where the cart and horse are with this. Many athletes want to get better. They want to go faster. A proven way of doing this is to race more frequently (within reason, of course).

Which leads me to what is the definition of a race? My sense is that for many modern triathletes , their definition of a  "race" is a big production + long distance triathlon = expensive.  However, not all races have such big production, and there are certainly many shorter race options (and are hopefully less expensive). Despite what athletes think, these outings can be very helpful and valuable experiences in their overall development.

Also there are "other" racing options - standalone, running, cycling, and swimming events, that again, can be if you look around, not terribly expensive and time efficient. As an example, many local cycling clubs, offer weekly time-trial races, that for club members cost from nothing to a few dollars (with club membership). While not a triathlon race, these standalone races in individual sports can provide great feedback, and serve as outstanding training efforts for the triathlete. Some of these are mid-week, and because of their short and brief nature, can take up less time, than a "normal" triathlon training session.

What do you think? What is your definition of a "race"? Knowing that racing more, will make you better/faster, is that something that you would commit to?

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