"The Training Diaries" is a monthly series of posts by Zachary Britton, a DC Tri Club member who was a participant in the New Triathlete Program in 2007 and is currently attempting to qualify for the Olympics. Read the previous entry.
I moved up to Massachusetts to live with Ethan Brown. Ethan is trying to qualify for the 2012 Olympics. I am living with Ethan because Jesse Kropelnicki, my new coach, has coached him for the past two years. Training with a coach’s athlete is a quick way to learn what is expected. More cynically, training with Ethan allows me to get the inside scoop on Jesse. I need to know what his weaknesses are as a coach. When I do, I limit the number of blind spots in my training.
Why I Chose Jesse
I chose Jesse for several reasons. First, he is methodical. Sport is dynamic but controlling the variables is key to learning what works. Second, he is receptive to having a long-term vision. It is easy to hammer athletes and produce short-term gains, but I truly believe getting to the top takes years of consistent and intelligent training and racing.
Lastly, I chose Jesse to train with Ethan. Having a training partner is helpful. A training partner can push you. Also, a training partner can teach you. It is helpful to see how other athletes make it work.
I wanted to quickly describe one part of training and racing that is tough—managing relationships. Basically, there are few people who "get it." My close circle is small. Everyone has an opinion. And I care little about what those outside of my circle think. It's tough, but I have to manage people.
With certain people, this means that triathlon is discussed in a way that does not invite opinion. With certain people I say, "I am going to do X." If I were to phrase things differently it might appear as though I am looking for advice. Advice creates chatter and chatter creates uncertainty. I simply cannot afford to have doubts.
For example, I love my parents dearly, but I limit the amount that I discuss triathlon with them. The reason I limit discussions is that my parents are risk adverse. My bet-the-farm-type-attitude has never jived well with them. And like everyone else I generally care about what my parents think. I want their approval. So I manage my relationship with them.
That said a brutally honest person whose expertise I trust is invaluable. I keep him close. It makes me better. I don’t want to be insulated from the truth.
For example, at one point I wrongly assumed that injuries were par for the course. Certain people set me straight, however. "You're a fuckwit if you think things are working," was something I needed to hear.
It forced me to face reality. My approach had failed. I sought to find my shortcomings. My nutrition was off. My recovery was haphazard. My swim stroke was inefficient.
Having holes poked into my approach allowed me to systematically address my weaknesses. I fixed my nutrition. I fixed my recovery. And I improved my swim stroke. In short, I became a stronger athlete.