In all honesty, 2017 was a make-it or break-it year for me. After a challenging 2016 season, I began the year with some fairly clear performance goals. These correlated to a legitimate break-even analysis: given the investment I wanted to make, I knew I needed a certain income from prize money or sponsors to financially break-even. Contrary to some perceptions of professional athletes in general, in triathlon, with the exception of the top 3-5%, most Elite triathletes on the ITU circuit have rather meager, unstable incomes. While I am not doing it for the money, (and I don’t think many of my colleagues are either), we do need to make a living. Otherwise, triathlon just becomes a hobby.
Overall, the results were largely positive finishing the season 18th in the World Triathlon Series Ranking, 3rd in the European ranking, with 2x World Cup podiums and 10x Top ten performances at European & World levels. This exceeded my break-even analysis allowing me to continue my professional career. The progression was not linear, nor entirely consistent throughout the season. On the whole, though, I was much more in control of my races.
Learning to focus on my process, rather than on the outcome was something that made a big difference this year. This may seem somewhat contradictory after explaining that I started off the season with such precise objectives. I believe goal-setting is important to establish a direction, but once the aim is set, all energy and attention must go into the daily process of making it happen.
And let’s be honest, the process is the hard part! Actually doing the daily actions required to put you out of your comfort zone is difficult. It’s the not-so-glamorous daily grind. It’s the morning 5km swims. It’s the drag yourself out the door, third-workout-of-the-day evening runs. It’s the 10th hill repeat when you thought your quads exploded on the last one. If anything, setting goals is the easy part. Thinking about holding that blue finish line tape above your head, champagne showers, happy hugs with family and friends. Coincidentally, the media and federations love to talk about goals and results the most, and it takes conscious effort to keep my attention on my own process.
Alongside learning to the trust the process came the realization that it will never get easier. In other words, trust the never-ending process. I know this is not a very sexy motto, but as I said before, to get the glory, we must endure the mundane. My profession simply allows me to experience pushing my own boundaries, fears and limits and this is precisely what brings me satisfaction.
Thanks for reading and I wish you all a healthy holiday season!
To the external eye, a training camp can seem like a sunny holiday for athlete's to work on their tan while working out. From an athletes’ perspective, going on a training camp is akin to going into the office to focus and get work done before a big presentation. Finding an ideal location with adequate infrastructure for triathlon training, safe roads, geographic accessibility, suitable climate, and so forth is never easy. However, I discovered Banyoles, Spain last year leading into the Olympic Games and it is my place of choice again this year.
I am proud to announce that I have teamed up with Agenda Sports & Elements as a Triathlon ambassador. Agenda is a leading sport agency in Spain and they work with a reliable network of providers to offer tailor-made packages including everything from accommodations, transport, sports facilities, plus help with amenities like physio and medical services.
The last 14 days can be summed up as: 5 plane rides, 2 countries, 3 races – a sprint, super-sprint and Olympic distance - countless bowls of rice, a 4th place and 9th place finish. Here is the race recap from my Asia tour.
If the two images below can characterize my past two race - the World Cup in New Plymouth, New Zealand and World Triathlon Series in Gold Coast, Australia - then I am reminded of two simple truths: daily intentional work can lead to big results, but if there is no struggle, there is no progress. Here is the race recap.
New Plymouth World Cup
1) What is it like to train with your significant other?
Hello dear readers, welcome to 2017 and my first post of the new year! In my previous blog, I outlined my decision to join the Triathlon Squad based in Poway, California. After nearly two months training with the squad in what is affectionately known as ‘Powadise’, here is a friendly reminder to myself: recognizing a need for change is the easy part, fully implementing and sustaining changes requires a lot more effort.
This is not surprising news. Just like Newton’s first law, people seem to have a natural tendency for inertia. Athletes, in particular, are specifically trained to be creatures of habit trying to convert certain movement patterns into muscle memory. This means altering or reversing some of these routines tends to be - consciously or subconsciously - uncomfortable. Thus, to fully embrace a new process and new way of training requires a daily commitment to being uncomfortable.
For example, I am really focusing on breathing earlier in the swim with a deep hand entry. This has been particularly hard for me to overcome, in part because doing so goes against a movement pattern I’ve perhaps repeated hundreds and hundreds of times over the years. Despite my mind screaming to breathe earlier with every stroke, coupled with the coach’s verbal pool side reminders, changing this bad habit has been - and continues to be - a struggle to execute correctly. When any change is required, it will be hard regardless, but here are some strategies I’ve tried to employ to accelerate the change process:
If there has one thing I have learned to be true during my 28 years on this planet, it is indeed that as Charles Swindoll said, "life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it." Some lessons you have to learn the hard way, but those events can be an excellent catalyst for change. And I am ready for a change. Thus, I am excited to announce that I will be joining The Triathlon Squad coached by elite coach Paulo Sousa and based in Poway just outside of San Diego, California.
A few triathlete friends recently asked for my advice about buying a triathlon watch with heart rate monitor. One thing is clear, whether you are a beginner or advanced triathlete, a waterproof fitness tracker equipped for swimming, biking and running is an indispensable training tool for you and your coach to track progress. While I have my own experience using fitness watches, I've asked guest blogger Jason Oh, who follows the trends and news on upcoming fitness wearable technologies, to answer the question for us. Since he doesn't represent any brands, here below are his unbiased recommendations:
It may come as no surprise to anyone who followed the results that I was very disappointed with my performances in the first two races this season: the World Triathlon Series (WTS) Abu Dhabi on March 5 and the World Cup in Mooloolaba one week later. I apologize for the delayed blog, and the truth is, I didn’t feel like writing about it. But, this blog is about sharing the journey and process – the good, the bad and the ugly. Nonetheless, I’m not one for excuses, nor dwelling on the negative, so I’ll keep this brief: