Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tri Training Basics: A Brief Historiography of Triathlon

I’ve been thinking for awhile about writing a book about the sport of triathlon.  I like to write, and I like triathlon, so from that standpoint, it seems like kind of a no-brainer.  Mitigating against it, though, is the reality that I’m not at all sure that the world needs another triathlon book.  Or website.  Or anything, really.  
Unfortunately, this is the kind of concern that they ingrain into your head at the U.S. Military Academy’s History Department.  You have to ask yourself where you can add something new to the established research of theory of a thing, and if you can’t immediately come up with an answer, you go through and catalogue the existing works in the field.  Said catalogue becomes a historiography, and once you’ve got that in place, hopefully you’ll have a better idea where your specific efforts ought to focus.
So.  Fact is, if you wanna learn to be a triathlete, there are a lot of really good resources that are already out there.  In this modern Internet era, finding information about the sport is as easy and going to Google.  Some of my favorite triathlon websites are:
  1. Trifuel.com – A community forum-based site where folks talk triathlon and triathlon training.
  2. Slowtwitch.com – A newsy site for those who want to follow the professional side of the sport, plus they have occasional, very professional training tips.
  3. TriFind.Com – For finding races in your state or local area.
  4. The Google+ Triathlon Community – Another community, forum-based site.  This is my favorite current site, and it’s full of really talented athletes.
  5. BeginnerTriathlete.com – I don’t read this site all that much, but they publish easy-to-read, easy-to-use training plans.
  6. Triathlon.About.com – I used to write for Triathlon.About.Com.  I have no idea how much traffic the stuff that I wrote generates, but it’s mostly entry-level stuff.  Unfortunately, About.Com is strictly 90s-era Internet; it’s not by any means the easiest site to navigate.
  7. Active.com – Probably most famous as the place where you sign up for races, Active.Com also publishes quite a few articles on training and racing.
There are books, too.  I’ve probably read a half dozen, but the one I liked was the Triathlon Workout Planner by John Mora.  Mora is an accomplished athlete, but he doesn’t make the sport seem mysterious, and when he talks about his own training and his triumphs, he doesn’t make them seem unapproachable.  Instead, he kind of breaks down the reality of the sport in a way that emphasizes finding the right approach for each individual athlete, at whatever distance is appropriate.  That’s important because a lot of endurance athletes take a kind of “more is better” approach to their sport, and that’s fine up to a point, but it can become ridiculous after you get to a certain level of proficiency.  It’s awesome to be able to say that you’re an Ironman, but the reality is that training for an 11+ hour race is simply not appropriate for everyone, even folks with serious talent.  There are a lot of factors that come into plan when deciding what kind of race to target, and the Triathlon Workout Planner does a terrific job of getting into those, and many other, issues.
A lot of the ways I think about the sport of triathlon were formed by reading ideas in the Triathlon Workout Planner, and they’ve served me well.  Take that for what it’s worth.
So.  That is a (very) brief, by-no-means complete overview of the current literature on the sport of Triathlon.  It doesn’t exactly tell me where to start with my own book—or even if I ought to bother writing one—but it’s not a bad little resource if you’re looking to learn more about the sport.
Maybe next week, we’ll come back and do something like this again.

1 comment:

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