A Triathlete’s Team

This week marks the opening of my 2014 season in Clermont Florida with The Draft Legal Challenge. Preparing for a race makes it clear how necessary it is for a triathlete to have a support team in place in order to be successful. As my triathlon career has continued to grow, so too has my support team. I am thankful to everyone who plays a part in allowing me to do what I do.

1. Friends and family.

Friends and family are the most important piece of the puzzle in being successful as a triathlete. I joked with Bryna as she was leaving town before me this week that I would have no one to do my laundry and pack my bags for me to travel. It is true she is a huge piece of the puzzle that allows me to be successful and for this I am thankful. From simple messages of good luck and congratulations, to advice on tactics and financial assistance, my friends and family are the backbone that keep me going. Behind every successful athlete are caring friends and family that have helped get them there.

2. Coach Brian Stover.

The smartest decision I have made as a triathlete was to invest in coach Brian at accelerate3. Since starting with Brian in September of last year, I have made huge progress in all areas of being a successful athlete. Not only have I significantly improved my physical fitness, I have also become a much smarter and well rounded athlete. My job as an athlete becomes so much easier when I get to the start line and have full belief in my training. As I prepare to toe the line in Clermont this week, I feel confident that I have prepared the best I possibly could in the weeks leading up to the race. If getting a coach is something you are tossing up between, I highly recommend finding someone who knows what they are talking about and is a good fit for you. It is a decision you will not regret.

3. Team Every Man Jack.

Clermont will mark my first race in Every Man Jack colors. For this, I am very excited. Team EMJ has been a huge help in getting me to the line in Clermont. I am excited to be able to stay with my friend, and EMJ team mate Kevin Denny in Florida. This is the kind of thing a team should be about, supporting and helping each other in training and racing. I am thankful to have found a team of a great group of guys that do exactly that. Not only that, team EMJ is backed by some awesome sponsors that allow me to train and race my best. Specialized, GU, Louis Garneau, Rudy Project, Cytomax, Saucony, and Roka have provided me with some of the best equipment in order to race fast and look good while doing it. Finally, with all my training and racing, I need a way to stay smelling good. EMJ is the key. They make great shower, shave and body products that I can not recommend enough. They have been kind enough to offer me a discount code to all my supporters. Take advantage of this great offer and receive 25% off your entire first order at www.everymanjack.com by entering coupon code THORP25 at checkout.

When to Skip a Workout..

I was asked a very interesting question during the week. What is the thing that stresses you out most in life? After thinking about it for a while, my answer was… missing a workout. It’s funny that something so insignificant came to me as the thing that stresses me out the most in life, but it is true. Missing a workout is stressful. If I have a plan, I want to stick to it, and anything that gets in my way is a huge inconvenience and is setting me back from achieving my goals.

With that being said, this week tested my stress levels. It is rare that I ever get sick, but this week I just couldn’t fight it off. I was left questioning whether I should push on through my training plan or take a day or two off to make sure I recovered properly. Eventually I decided I was going to push on and a little illness wasn’t going to slow me down. After putting my running clothes on, I headed out the door and ran down my street. Then I turned around and ran right back home. It took me starting my workout to realize that there was no point in continuing. The risks of costing myself more time to recover far outweighed any benefit I was going to get from that session. Those are the decisions you have to make as an athlete, and sometimes you have to pull the pin and recover before pushing your body again.

Thankfully by Sunday I had taken a couple of days off and was feeling pretty good about my health and ready to tackle my long ride. I had a day trip to Indiana planned to see my Alma Mater, SDSU play tennis in Valporaiso so I decided I’d sleep in and make sure I had fully recovered before riding when I got home that afternoon. Given the way my 2014 has started you can probably guess that our car broke down, my phone was run over, and we were stranded for the night in Middlebury Indiana. I was so annoyed that I was going to miss another workout. Bryna is used to me obsessing over my workouts, after noticing my frustrations, she took it with a smile and said “life happens.” It’s true, life does happen and maybe this was a sign that I needed another day off to fully recover from my illness.

This past week was a big mental test for me. After a slow start to 2014 and only 2 weeks until my first race of the season getting sick was the last thing I wanted. After some reflection I have come to realize that sometimes you do have to miss workouts and the smartest athletes realize this and don’t try to push their bodies too hard when they shouldn’t. Life does happen, sometimes you have to embrace it, recover, and live to fight another day.

Why do triathletes post their workouts online?

Why do triathletes feel the need to post their workouts online? I have never seen athletes in higher profile sports post stats from their practice. Never have I seen a basketball player post something about scoring 50 points at practice, or a quarterback post about completing 24/27 passes in practice. It seems it is fairly isolated to triathlon and I can’t put my finger on why. As with everything, there are reasons for and against. This is what I came up with.

Reasons for posting your workout results online.

  1. Sharing good quality workouts with others so they can use them.
  2. Back door brag. This is a perfectly feasible explanation. Just admit to it being a brag.
  3. Showing legitimate improvement compared to a past workout. This may be the best reason to post the results of a workout. If you are getting better, good for you. You have every right to be proud of yourself.

Reasons against posting your workout results online.

  1. Giving a brief snapshot of your overall training doesn’t tell anyone anything about the big picture and how this one workout fits in.
  2. There is never a good reason to post the results of an aerobic session. If you are running 6min/mile you may be an Olympian or not know what aerobic means and be doing your training more harm than good.
  3. No one outside of triathlon or swimming, biking and running has any idea what your training numbers mean.
  4. Those that do know what your numbers mean are not going to be impressed anyway.
  5. If you are bragging, it is hard to tell what you are bragging about.
  6. There is nothing on the line during a workout; it doesn’t mean much to anyone except you in your quest to get better for a time when it does count.
  7. You are risking an unfollow from the one and only @therealstarky. Nobody wants that.

There is a time and a place for everything. Strava has filled the niche of people wanting to compete during their training. If you are feeling the need to share your workout success with the world on facebook and twitter, this might be the place for you to turn.

I’d love to hear what everyone thinks on this matter by voting below.

I will share the results on my twitter page, @jamesthorp23 in the follow weeks. Stay tuned.

My Top 10 Tips for Winter Triathlon Training (5-1)

With winter storms sweeping through the USA, my top 5 tips for winter triathlon training are just in time. Follow these top tips to ensure a safe and effective finish to you winter triathlon training season.

5. Learn where you can and can’t run.

It is important to be able to tell if the ground is going to be slippery. If there is ice or slippery snow in your way, you will need to run around that area or walk cautiously over it. If in doubt, walk. After a few weeks of running in the winter weather you will become quite good at knowing where you can and cannot run safely.

4. Ensure you have a good set up to ride the trainer.

In order to enhance your time on the trainer you need to make sure you have a good setup. Invest in some good fans to ensure you have good airflow and are able to keep your temperature down. You will probably need more than one. The more airflow the better. Make sure you have something to help you pass the time. Netflix, a movie or music are must haves.

3. Take a hat and gloves with you to the pool.

There is nothing worse than hopping out of the pool and walking to your car in freezing weather while you are still wet. Bundle up to ensure you don’t get too cold and your wet hair doesn’t freeze.

2. Dress to be seen.

As the days become shorter in winter and the weather worsens it becomes more difficult for others to see you. Wear brightly colored clothing and train with lights on your bike or clipped to your clothing to ensure you are seen and are safe.

saucony lightA USB light such as this one from Saucony is easy to clip to your clothes and is a great way to be seen in the dark of winter.

1. Enjoy winter.

There will likely come a time where you wish it was a little cooler for your rides or runs. This is the time. Running in fresh snow can be one of the most beautiful things for an endurance athlete. Don’t forget to enjoy it every now and then 🙂

My Top 10 Tips for Winter Triathlon Training (10-6)

Living and training in South Dakota and NW Ohio means I have been around the block dealing with some terrible training conditions in the winter. One run stands out in which I had to pull my hat down to cover my entire face when a blizzard struck in the middle of one of my longer training runs in South Dakota.Triathlon training in the winter can be tough, but do not despair. Here are my top 10 tips to ensure your winter triathlon training is fun, safe and effective.

10. Learn to love your trainer or rollers.

It’s inevitable; there will be days or even months where you will have to ride inside. Embrace it. There are no stoplights to stop at and no dangerous drivers to run you off the road. Learn to enjoy it and be thankful for the ability to train in the comfort of your own home.

9. Mix up your training.

If you find yourself struggling for motivation in the winter, be sure to mix up your training. Something as simple as a silly clothing item might inspire you to get up and get to work.

8. Find an indoor track or treadmill to run harder sessions.

Avoid risking an accident or injury by running hard inside and avoiding the dangerous roads.

7. Measure your runs outside by time and not distance.

While avoiding the snow and ice, it is important to measure your run by time and not distance. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, to ensure you are taking caution where it is needed. Secondly, you have to work harder running through ice and snow than you do running on a track or a dry road. Therefore, even if you don’t reach your goal mileage for your run, you are working just as hard as you would be otherwise for the same amount of time.

6. Dress accordingly when you are running outside.

Make sure you check the weather before you head out the door. It may not seem like there is a difference between 20F and 0F, but there is. The colder and the windier the weather, the more layers you need. Invest in good gloves and a hat and consider a neck warmer to protect your face on those really cold days.

DryLete Neck Warmer

Saucony Neck Warmer

Be safe out on those winter roads and stay tuned for my top 5 tips for successful triathlon training in the winter.