Monday, February 18, 2013

Why I Came Back to Triathlon Training

As a high school triathlete, I had a huge choice put on my shoulders going into college: to compete in NCAA athletics or strictly train as a triathlete. Because of the draft-legal ITU format, I knew I had to be an excellent runner above everything else to be competitive to win races at the world level. Therefore, I decided to run NCAA Division I cross country in college. I knew running experience would get me to that next level for triathlon. With careful thought, I decided to go to Northern Colorado because I loved the coach’s use of cross training (and I received a full-tuition scholarship). I thought everything was falling into place perfectly. Unfortunately, college running was getting in the way of my triathlon training. I was unable to go to worlds due to my cross country schedule, and it was becoming increasingly harder to get an adequate amount of cross training in to succeed in swimming and biking. In addition, I was also getting beat down by the running because I didn't have the cross training behind me. On the other hand, I was finally seeing great success in my running. By the end of the outdoor track season, I ran a 37:08 PR in the 10,000m at conference. That race really lit the fire under me, and it really got me excited about running and racing.

As the summer hit, I found out that I had a stress fracture in my tibia. There goes my triathlon season. I found out my body wasn’t producing enough estrogen, causing bone weakness and, in turn, a stress fracture. After 4 weeks of rest, and 4 weeks of build, I was finally able to run again in the middle of July. I set my sights on a race in mid-August before starting cross country up again. A couple weeks later, I got a phone call from USA Triathlon. They needed an extra athlete to compete in a team race in Sweden. I told them that I hadn’t been training for long, but they understood and had no expectations for me at the race. I knew this was the perfect opportunity to get back to racing. Unfortunately, I would have had to miss the first week of cross country season (team camp). I asked my coach if I could take this opportunity, and he unfortunately said no without hesitation. This really hit me hard. I knew this opportunity would propel me to be a better athlete and give me experience to reach my goals, but I didn’t want to let down the rest of my team. In the end, I decided to give up my track and cross country scholarship to race in Europe and train triathlon full time.

Due to my short progression of training before the races, I did not finish as well as I would have liked; however, the knowledge I gained will carry me through to the next level. My experience in Europe is indispensable to my development as an elite athlete. I learned a lot from the two races I was at, and I have been training vigorously since then, working to get to the next level to compete with the best athletes in the world.

I know I made the right choice by forgoing my track scholarship. Although I really miss training with my cross country team, my triathlon training has been more focused than it ever has been. I am swimming with a swim team 5 times a week and running and biking harder and further than I ever have before.In fact, my running has progressed so much more than it did when I was actually training as a NCAA athlete. Crazy how things work out. I can tell I am getting better every day, and I am eager to prove myself this race reason. I know I have stepped up, and I am excited to show off my hard work.

Next stop: Sarasota Pan American Cup

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