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Arrogant athletes

No, I'm not talking about the NHL lockout, NFL touchdown dances, or NBA antics. This is a rant about the technique-obsessed everyday exerciser.

Forgive the Romper Room reference, but maybe I'm just more of a Do-Bee than Mr. Don't Bee. I can talk much more extensively about my background in running, but I'm finding that one of the first hurdles to triathlon training is the off-putting way that the sport is filled with drill, schedule, and good form dictators.

Oh, it's present in the running community don't get me wrong. But one of the beautiful things--there are many negatives--about the spread and popularity of running has become the lack of attitude about back of the packers mixing with elites. There are still many who insist that the folks completing a 6.5 hour marathon aren't really "racing." But the snob factor is the minority. And a newbie will find far more training programs geared to completing than qualifying for Boston these days. Chalk it up to the assumption that veterans know what they're doing?

The competing-versus-completing duality is a perhaps a bit more present in triathlon, it seems. The assumption I'm finding is that if you're slow and attempting to finish it is a temporary condition, not a permanent one. You will eventually want to get fast...right? Books like Slow, Fat Triathlete aside...or even Matt Fitzgerald's excellent introductions to the sport...or the attitude of role models like Raymond Britt who say just go do it...there are a lot of triathletes who will overwhelm you with opinions about how you need a coach. You need the repetition of drills. You need good form. You need good technique. You need aerodynamics. You need speed.

It could be that the sport lacks a penguin-like waddle hero who demonstrates the triumphs of the slow guy...running has a lot more written about the character of performing it. Triathlon, despite epic races like Ironman, has far less poetic verse at its disposal about the daunting task. A marathon is symbolic. Legend even. It's the stuff of ancient Greece. Ironman may be approaching that status, but the larger sport doesn't have the democratic attitude that you get when you hear that about the 300 lb guy who lost weight while raising money for cancer research.

I'm an information junkie and love to see how others approach a topic even if I disagree. And what triathlon is teaching me, so far, is to shut my mouth and do my work. It's full of "don't lift your elbow so much" advice and "will this wheelset make me faster" and how many times per week should I be doing one-leg pedal drills before my 40 mile ride. Or should it be a 50 mile ride? Who is a good coach?

I started to express my opinion of low-volume, self-coached, get the workout done minimalism and have decided better. If asked directly, that's different. But, indirectly, I'm not going to say what not to do. If it works for you, awesome. That's the lesson here is that we're all different. If it doesn't work for you, throw it out. And if it feels natural, it probably is. Do that. Am I saying you can train any which way you want? No. A helpful knowledge of the basics is useful, if only to know the rules you're breaking.

Entering into this new world, I've been nervous about my little sport-hybrid. Throwing some slick tires on it and calling it a day. I'm sure to be in the minority if I showed up without aerobars, for instance. Then yesterday I read about a guy who biked 1500 miles from Florida to northern Michigan on my exact model of bike. I'm sure someone told him he shouldn't. Bad idea. But you know what, he did. And I kinda admire him for it.


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