Monday, November 3, 2008

Off Season Difference of Opinion: Time for Change in our Sport

Training:
A good friend of mine showed me his off season plan after a couple of weeks absent after this weeks race in Clearwater. No swimming; not a lap of swimming until April.

The "thought" behind this (and I use that term loosely) is that many triathletes are top heavy. So this winter, he will lose muscle mass in the upper body and his legs will gain strength. His coach says that "swimming doesn't matter". While I agree that it isn't as important as the bike and run you need not look far to find examples of where people have lost major races due to poor swims. I think this coach is pandering to the adult triathlete who doesn't swim very well. I would also add that you cannot just "turn on and off" swimming like a light switch. If you choose not to focus on it, fine, but that means three days a week in the water minimum.

At the Ironman championship level we have seen times get continuously faster - stupid fast. 22 for a half ironman. 50-53 for an ironman. Then on top of that...fast bike and run times. Let's see how these age group folks do swimming a 1:03. Even if they bike a 5:15 and then run a 3:20 it isn't enough in my opinion.

We'll see who is right in time. In the mean time, you'll see me in the pool.

Distance:
Swims need to be longer. I am giving very serious thought to starting a race that will be 1/3 swim, 1/3 bike, 1/3 run. That is a triathlon. Right now I think we do duathlons with a short swim on them; even an ironman distance event.

Penalties:
Penalty times for drafting need to be more severe. USAT has a system that looks like this:

Olympic race:
1st Penalty:
2:00

2nd Penalty:
4:00

3rd Penalty:
DQ

Half Ironman or Long distance races:
1st = 4:00
2nd = 8:00 (for a total of 12 minutes)
3rd = DQ

Ultra (Ironman) distance:
1st = 6:00
2nd = 12:00 (for a total of 18 minutes)
3rd = DQ

WTC Races:
1st = 4:00 (drafting)
2nd = 4:00 (for a total of 8 minutes)
3rd = DQ

All non-drafting penalties are stop and go at a penalty tent. A no show to a tent and you are DQ'd a la Timo Bracht at this year's Hawaii Ironman.

I am for doubling these penalties and adopting the USAT version with double. This would mean that ANY half ironman is 8 minutes for a first penalty, 16 for the second; a total of 24 minutes added on...DO YOU THINK THAT MIGHT MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN HOW PEOPLE RACE?

I do.

In an Ironman you are looking at 12 minutes first offense and 24 minutes second offense...36 minutes total...again, DO YOU THINK THAT MIGHT MAKE A DIFFERNECE IN HOW PEOPLE RACE?

Want to use penalty tents? Sure...use them. Very safe idea for everyone.

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