Monday, February 20, 2012

About Tri Types

Triathletes, for the most part, have Type A personalities...

"A type A individual is ambitious, aggressive, business-like, controlling, highly competitive, preoccupied with his or her status, time conscious, arrogant and tightly wound.  People with Type A personalities are often high-achieving workaholics who multi-task, push themselves with deadlines, and hate both delays and ambivalence."   This general identification of a Type A personality has been around since 1950 when Cardiologist Marvin Friedman finished a 10 year study conducted with healthy males between the ages of 35-59... long, long before the sport of triathlon ever came along.  It is amazing how accurate this applies to the majority of those in our sport, at least to the majority of triathletes I have come in contact with through the years seem to fit this profile.

We are all ambitious, somewhat aggressive, perfectly business-like, highly controlling and extremely competitive.  I can't form an opinion regarding the social status thing because I, personally don't see this.  Our time is very valuable and although most of us would not care to admit, we are arrogant.  Yes, we are.  The tightly wound part, I have to confess that I'm not.  At this point in my life all the tightness has been unwound and am pretty loose.

Just spend a moment with any triathlete and you'll see how high-achieving workaholics we are, at least when it comes to our sport.  Multi-tasker?  How else could we tackle three disciplines at once?  Deadliness drive us and yes to the hating delays and ambivalence.  We have no time for that.

We all have a specific, well thought out, extremely well plan idea of what we want to do, where we want to go and how we want to get there.  These are called our training plans.  You couldn't attempt to finish a triathlon, of any distance, without this.  It's just not going to happen.

Where we may differ is in the way we train.  Each and everyone of us is unique in this area.  There are no "one type fits all" when it comes to how we approach this.

But there seems to be a common thread that binds the majority of us together... most advise given to new triathletes is to find a "group" to train with.  Someone whom they can cling on for advise and motivation.  Most tri clubs are created around this premise:  to provide a friendly environment where you can find training partners  ...

I too, joined a club a few years back.  I too, was looking for that "training partner", but in MY case this was not really what developed.  So I don't fit the mold.  I found myself to be extremely slower in every discipline that everyone around me.  It made me anxious and uncomfortable to be the one "holding" the group back.  At times, I found myself pushing to limits beyond those I knew I could comfortably reach if only to stay with the group.  This I knew was not a smart thing to do.

Quickly I realized that a "training" group was not for ME.  I opted for flying solo and understood that if I were to improve, it would be all up to ME.  I was more at ease with this option.

Occasionally, I will join a run or a ride, but I think by now everyone around me understands that if I get dropped, I get dropped and I'm just fine with that.

Here is what I've observed.  Insofar as "training types", there are several and others fall somewhere in between those I've come to describe.

1).  You may be a Groupie, if you have to train with a group.  No ifs, ands or buts about it.  If there's no group to tag along with, you're not training.  Not quiet sure I would describe this person as a true "Type A" triathlete, however.  Your reasons for this could vary from needing to be pushed because you can't push yourself (again, not a Type A), to needing the camaraderie of social training. 

2).  You may be a Loner you would rather train all by yourself.  You know how to push yourself and don't need anyone to tell you what, when and how to do your stuff.  If you have questions, you will ask them and you will experiment with your options, but in your terms.

3).  You could be somewhere in between if you enjoy the swim, bike or run with a group but don't rely on one to get the job done.  You're comfortable either way.  You often look for opportunities to gather or join a group but are just as comfortable if you have to fly solo.

There are advantages and disadvantages to be found for either type.  You are the only one that can decide what's best for you.  Right now, I'm helping a friend get out of a "training" situation she got herself into that is making her loose her passion for the sport.

Training as a Loner is not for everyone, but it has worked for me. You have to be highly motivated, extremely secure of your ability to stay the course. Your goals have to be specific and clearly defined.  You have to understand when and if you have to ask for help or advise. If you've been in the sport for at least one season you probably already decided how you're going to train.  However, if you're new to the sport, here's one piece of advise I can give you regarding training with a group:  Make sure you're compatible with most everyone in that group.  Not just socially.  Make sure your training partners' training and racing goals are the same, or at least similar, as yours.

Disclaimer:  This post is not an attempt to stereotype anyone in any form, way or fashion.  I understand that triathletes come in all types of personalities, therefore the qualifications with the statement... "most".  You too, as I am, can be a strong Type A when it comes to the tri world but be very cool, calm and collected in other aspects of your life.

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