Jerry Kyckelhahn, is far from a life-long athlete. Compared to the athletes of today, Jerry got a delayed start into triathlon, a delay of about 50 years. His experiences and late entry into sports ultimately led to a Pan American Continental Master’s championship in track sprints and finally to a USAT long course triathlon national championship. But his focus has never been on winning but rather on participation and health and fitness. He has written many previous local and national articles most of which have addressed how to have fun in triathlon and biking.
Over the Hump
Deciding to do a triathlon is a commitment. Some people just decide to do it and never think about training. Others come from a swimming, biking or running background and just fall into the sport.
By Jerry Kyckelhahn
Author of Chasing Caterpillars
Deciding to do a triathlon is a commitment. Some people just decide to do it and never think about training. Others come from a swimming, biking or running background and just fall into the sport. Whether you just decided to go ahead and do a triathlon or you set up a training schedule and prepared for one, the day you completed a triathlon, you became, or become, a triathlete.
But then, as triathlon begins to enter the bloodstream, the metamorphosis begins. There is a difference between being a diploma’d triathlete, having completed a first triathlon, and what I might best describe as a certified, or certifiable, trimaniac. To cross into the world of the trimaniac, one must cross over the hump. It is the point at which the roadies on their carbon, drop-bar steeds, ride by and say “Wuffo you running after you just finished the bike?” It is the point at which the body craves the sweet desert of a swim after you just ran a training run of 10 kilometers. It is the point at which a workout feels incomplete having only done one sport.
It is the point at which pain can be good or bad, and you know the difference. Good pain is screaming in the muscles and you know that the body will begin to repair and fortify the muscles used as you sleep that night and into the next day. Bad pain is the feeling of bones and connective tissue entering into the first phases of strain or tear. Bad pain is the feel of the onslaught plantar fasciitis and its sentence to pool running. Or the attack of IT band syndrome repeatedly. The trimaniac balances on the wall of separation between not enough and too much, and walks away from the workouts with a knowing smile.
I work with a lot of newer triathletes and this emergence is a subtle, yet noticeable, progression in their training. It is difficult for people new to the sport to comprehend doing two sports in a single training session. Yet I watch the seasoned triathletes and it would be unnatural not to do two events, particularly on weekend training. Reflecting on my own experience, I noted that as I prepared for longer events, it became essential to train in two events on a single day, but often the two events were not linked back to back. It was only later that I realized that I had begun to end every bike ride with a transition run, to end many runs with a swim. While these two sport sessions are seldom in the swim/bike/run order, it doesn’t matter; the day was not complete without two, even if one was on a trainer, or through electronic stimulation.
Triathlon is not three sports. Triathlon is a single sport consisting of a three-phase coordinated dance with a brief pause between the movements to change costumes. The performance on the bike is inexorably linked to the effort and enjoyment of the swim, and likewise the run is dependent on the first two sonnets. To view triathlon as three different sports is to miss the feel of the opera entirely. It is only when one combines the entire flow of the event, from first plunge into the water to the final triumphant dash through the finishing arch that one can feel the beauty of the sport.
And so, while the experienced triathlete may know and understand the concept of the ebb and flow of the dance, it is for the Beginner Triathlete that I advise to absorb the whole beauty of triathlon. Feel the body as it responds to the changes in fluidity, movement and cadence as you proceed between the phases, and find the enjoyment in the responses as you harness your potential. And know that in order to achieve he ultimate satisfaction from triathlon, it is not merely recommended, it is essential that your training adopt training that encompasses more than one sport. A transition run goes from the ultimate in pain to the sacrifice of a trimaniac, and the rewards are both in performance and in enjoyment. The swim after a run becomes a triumph over toe cramps and a cool water bath soothing muscles tired from the run.
Training takes on more enjoyment, not less. But why do I need to discuss this? You already know, or you will as you begin to seek the truth of the crazies, and why they run on tired legs after a hard bike ride. Welcome!
About the book “Chasing Caterpillars”
The book, “Chasing Caterpillars”, speaks to those persons who are standing on the edge, thinking about doing a triathlon, or even training for one, but still hesitant to take the plunge. It is a light, fun and motivating book designed to entice newcomers or wannabe’s to go ahead and just do it. The book relates the life experience of the author with the adventures and misadventures that befall the new triathlete. It particularly relates to those of the over 50 age group that have serious doubts. Fear not-- so says the book!
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