Writing this week’s blog about my “Favorite Piece of Triathlon Gear” has taken me in a lot of different directions. I’ve spent ample amounts of time pondering what to write about. I thought, maybe my most important piece of equipment would be my bike – I can’t really live without that, maybe its some funky gadget like my bike speedometer which I truly couldn’t live without either as its helped guide my pacing and effort during those long rides out in the country, or maybe its the endless sticks of body glide that keep me from dealing with some very painful chaffing issues…but the more I think about it, the one piece of “gear” that I truly can’t live without really isn’t a piece of gear at all, plain and simple it’s my triathlon training partner. No matter how I try to tackle this topic, I just can’t discount how important it has been for me to have a great training partner every step of the way. Together, he’s guided my journey from absolute triathlon beginner who didn’t own a bike six months ago to someone who just came off of his first successful Olympic triathlon and will soon attempt to complete his first Half Iron-Man.
The great thing about thing about this piece of “gear” was that while we both have the same goal, 2011 Pacific Crest Half Iron-Man, we’ve gone about it in slightly different but equally supportive and complimentary ways. My training partner is amazing; he’s super meticulous, detail oriented, diligent and has amazing foresight. I’m however, more of the mindset of let’s just get out there and go for a ride and see what happens. Fortunately, we’ve been able to compliment each other’s style and I think teach each other something valuable along the way. I’ve learned from him to be more disciplined about my training, eating, etc. On the flipside, I believe that I’ve been able to push him at times harder than he would have pushed himself if we weren’t training together. While you can train for your particular race on your own, its amazing how much more fun and productive training with a partner or a group can be.
If you’re just beginning your triathlon pursuits, you have probably experienced the following dilemmas…First, what the heck am I doing? Second, where do I turn for information to start this process and what the heck is a brick workout? Third, who the heck can I train with to help keep me going when its cold and rainy outside and the last thing I want to do is jump in the pool? Lastly, ummm help!?!? I have asked myself all of these questions and thankfully I’ve been able to find guidance from my training partner, who fortunately for me, has done a few triathlons but by no means are we considered to be super advanced triathletes. For that matter, I don’t believe that you even need to be a super athlete to enjoy this sport.
When I first began looking into trying this triathlon thing on, one of my other buddies whose completed many tri’s and is a very experienced bicyclist gave me a great piece of advice, he said, “its not necessarily about the end goal, those races come and go quicker than you can imagine, but it’s the journey and transformation that you take mentally and physically that become the best part of being a triathlete. If you work hard and stay focused, you will without a doubt enjoy some of the best times of your life training with your friends.” And you know what, he was right. Finding an individual or a group of people who you can rely on to help guide you through this crazy triathlon journey is by far the most important piece of “gear” that I could ever have.
My transformation from beginner triathlete to someone who now knows a thing or two was greatly guided by the encouragement of my particular support system as I mentioned previously. However, if you’re interested in becoming a triathlete and you haven’t had your friends harassing you for the past 5 years to just go out and “buy a bike” but you want to give triathlons a try, I’d highly suggest looking into the many great triathlon clubs that your area has to offer. A simple internet search for Portland can steer you to the likes of Athletes Lounge, The Portland Triathlon Club, All-Star Fitness, ironheads, etc. Also, websites and books that I’ve also used for guidance include www.beginnertriathlete.com, www.triathlete.com, The Triathletes Training Bible and the Complete Triathlon Book have proven priceless for me as well.
No matter where you are in the process, if you’re interested in becoming a triathlete, the most important piece of “gear” you can have is a great support team. From your training partners at the gym to your support system at home, find your team, and get after it!