Thursday, December 6, 2012

12 Tools for Your Triathlon Toolbox - #9 Training Partners

I got my start in the sport of triathlon ten years ago with Team in Training.  Being part of a Team to train and fundraise with was a fantastic way to get initiated in to the sport!  I made tons of friends, learned so much from the coaches and fundraised for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Crossing the finish line at the 2003 St.Anthony’s Triathlon meant a whole lot more than just finishing my first triathlon.  It meant working hard to reach a goal, enjoying it with friends and making a small difference in someone’s life who could not compete in the sport due to their illness.

As I continued my involvement in the sport by competing in longer distance races, I learned the importance of having solid training partners, especially for bike rides.  It’s tough to face a 65 – 100+ miler on your own, especially when you need to complete rides like this on a regular basis to get ready for an Ironman triathlon or other long distance event.

Over the years, I’ve relied on several fellow triathletes and cyclists to join me on rides.  I’ve treasured my training partners over the years.  Here are some of the qualities they possess:

·        Timeliness
·        PMA (Positive Mental Attitude)
·        Seriousness
·        Preparedness
·        Honesty
·        Ego in Check
·        No Sandbagging
·        Good Citizenship

Take this short quiz to find out how you rank on the “Coach Mari Fridenmaker Training Partner Compatibility Scale”:

1.)  When you decide to meet for a “Wheels Down at 7:30am” ride, do you…
a.      Arrive at 7:05am, get everything ready and show up at the starting area at 7:25am?
b.     Arrive at 7:25, quickly get everything together and hope you are good to roll out at 7:30am?
c.      Pull in the parking lot at 7:35 wondering if you are in the wrong place?

2.)  When you come to ride with your Training Partner, do you…
a.      Always have enough fluid and nutrition for the duration of the ride and even a little bit extra?
b.     Arrive with just enough to get you through the ride?
c.      Show up to the ride, then remember you left all your bottles and nutrition sitting on the kitchen counter?

3.)  How do you greet your Training Partner when meeting him/her at the ride?
a.      “Hey buddy!  You look strong today.  I’m feeling great and can’t wait to ride!  Let’s go!”
b.     “hey.  ready?”
c.      “Hey.  I didn’t get any sleep last night because my date kept me up all night…talking.  Then, I was late for work.  My boss kept me in yet another meaningless meeting until 5:15pm.  I feel like crap and my ride is going to suck.  Should we just go for pizza instead?”

4.)  When you meet your Training Partner for a mid-week recovery ride and you know he/she is a little bit slower than you, what do you do?
a.      Ride at his/her pace without letting him/her know you are taking it easy. 
b.     Ride ahead of him/her, but close enough where he/she can see you.
c.      Go “balls to the wall” and *maybe* see him/her back at the parking lot.

5.)  When approaching a stop sign while riding in town during a busy part of the day with your Training Partner, what do you do?
a.      Stop.  Unclip.  Look both ways.  Proceed when traffic is clear.
b.     Slow down.  Stay clipped in.  Look both ways.  Proceed.
c.      Ride so fast through the stop sign that the cop can’t catch you to give you a ticket…only for him to eventually catch up to you to call the ambulance.
If you answered mostly with an “a”, you are an excellent Training Partner.  If you answered mostly with a “b”, you’ve got a few ways to improve.  If you answered mostly with a “c”, please return your Blue Iron Coaching cycling jersey immediately!

In this sport in which we spend a lot of time training, having solid training partners is invaluable!  I’ve had tons of awesome training buddies over the years…too many to mention.  These people have contributed to the joy I have received from the sport.  I hope you all cherish your training partners and serve as one yourself!

Happy Training and Racing!  

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