The Simple Act of Training
If you do triathlons you have got to love the training. In terms of hours, that is how you spend most of your time. The actual racing is a fairly small percentage of the hours you put in every year. For me, when I retired, it meant I stopped racing but I still continue train. Certainly, I do not put in the number of hours I used to but it’s fairly close. I am sure many would ask WHY?? How can you train without a goal in mind? What gets you out the door?
Well, here’s the answer: I love to swim, bike and run. That is why I began racing triathlon in the first place. It was the exploration of the world and to see how fast I could be. Movement is my therapy, how I express myself and is a whole lot of fun.
We live in a time where there are apps, gadgets and measurements for everything. We mustn’t forget that going out on a ride or run without measuring every aspect of your power output, pedal stroke and efficiency does not mean you didn’t gain fitness or get faster. It’s true, my bikes have a power meter and my watch tells me my mile splits on my runs. However, most often, I do not pay too much attention to the numbers. I am enjoying my surroundings, noticing new things on a road I have ridden a thousand times or letting the environment dictate the intervals by going hard on the hills and cruising (i.e., chatting with friends) on the flats.
As we move into another year of training and racing, I challenge you to re-introduce yourself to the exploration aspect of triathlon and embracing the most important aspect of training: consistency. Days build on months build on years. Consistency is the most significant measure of all. Sure, you are going to have training sessions where you monitor your power during intervals or make sure you hit paces on the track or in the pool, but those workouts are not the bulk of what you do every week. Get out there, and when you can, enjoy exploring our (your) world. I believe this simplicity breeds longevity in our sport. And, in the end, you will get faster too. Happy Training friends!
Emily was a competitive swimmer from the age of 8 all the way through college. She swam for the University of Michigan becoming an Honorable Mention All American and two time Olympic Trials Qualifier in the 100m breaststroke. After graduation she moved to Chicago and got a “real job”, leaving her athletics career behind. In 2004, she found herself on the start line of the Chicago Triathlon. As an athlete all her life, Emily welcomed sport back into her life wholeheartedly and competed as an amateur for five years. She earned her professional license after finishing 2nd overall amateur at the 2009 Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon.
After 10 years of Chicago winters, Emily and her husband Andy had the opportunity to relocate to Napa, California. Emily relished the opportunity to train full time while continuing to coach swimmers and triathletes. Every year, Emily continued to improve; finishes just outside the top ten eventually turned top five and podium finishes against strong fields. In her final season as a professional Emily finished the year with a 5th place finish at the ITU Long Distance World Championships. In November 2016 she completed her first Ironman, finishing in a respectable 9:25.
Emily improved throughout her career, recording her strongest seasons at 38 and 39 years of age. Consistency, patience and a love of the process were the pillars of her training approach. All her life, Emily has fully immersed herself in athletics--it is her true passion. This commitment fueled her steady and consistent improvement during her professional career. Nothing happens overnight, the work you do week in and week out will pay dividends in the months and years to come--the key is to stick with it and enjoy what you are doing!