Ok, triathlons are pretty cool. Better yet, endurance racing is cool. Running is cool. Cycling is cool. Swimming is cool. Generally all sports are pretty rad I guess is what I'm trying to say. But I feel there's something to be said about the long vs. short races we have available. There's a lot of people out there racing. And they're all racing different distances and for different reasons. Who are we to judge right?
So, the more and more I talk to people, the more and more I seem to find people obsessed with going long and longer. While this is good and/or great, I find it hard to swallow sometimes when I talk to these people about my own racing. I get the look, "Oh, you've never done an Ironman?" Yea, it's ok, I haven't. I'm ok with that. I will someday. And yes, triathlon training does consume a large portion of my life. Just ask my wife, she'll tell you. When I'm not training, I'm talking about training, or bikes, or shoes or races. It kind of comes with the territory.
But back to this whole long vs. short. I feel there's too much of a big deal and pressure on the long races. Mostly the marathon and Ironman. You know, those take a LOT of training. Everyone knows it. But you know what else takes a lot of training? Going fast. Very fast. As I mentioned the person giving me the "you've never done and Ironman?" look, I always have to bite my tongue, and NOT ask, "you've never felt what it's like to run a mile under 5 minutes?" Or run any part of any triathlon in a sub 7min/mi pace? Or even a road race or in your training?
Basically what I'm getting at is the stigma of 'endurance racing' and that the mecca of all races are the marathon (or ultra marathons) and the Ironman. I know these are amazing goals and aspirations for people to have. There's such a big difference between training to go long and training to go fast. I feel there are too many people so overly obsessed with the going long, and going long right away. Now, I'm not saying it's not totally awesome that you finished an Ironman. Because you sir (or ma'am) have done something only a very select amount of people have done. But why be satisfied with just surviving and making cutoff times? Why not spend a little more time working on your motor and your 'go' machine?
Let's face it, the long days of training take a huge toll on your body, your family and your social life. You can get some similar benefits long term if you're doing some high intensity training vs going out and putting in 3 hours of running.
Ask yourself, if you're a marathoner or Ironman triathlete, what's your fastest 10k, 5k, mile, 400m? If you start calculating based on your marathon time, please try again. Go out and do them. First of all, I'm sure you're faster than you can calculate based on your marathon time. On top of that, I'm sure you can get even faster without hindering your marathon training. In fact, if you spent some time on speed and power, I'd be willing to bet your Ironman and marathon times would reap the benefits as well. Having that aerobic capacity and muscular development will give you the strength to go faster for longer. On top of those big running days, the short and fast will give you another trick in your bag.
I'm not ragging on people who only race the long races. Hell, I wish I had the time and commitment to train like that and kudos to those of you that do. But mostly I want to get those who race long to drop the act of being better than those who race short(er). There's a lot to be said for those who can break and hour in the 40k ride and 40min in the 10k run of an Olympic distance triathlon race. Probably an even more select group of people than those of 'Ironman Finishers'