Friday, December 5, 2008

The Collegiate - Issue No. 3

By: JP Severin

As the sun sets on Michigan State University, the majority of the students flock to campus. Lines at the bars swell with coeds, and houses are soon packed to capacity as they hope to reach the keg for a few fleeting moments. However on this, and on every Friday, the MSU triathlon team is not among the majority of party goers. Instead of sloshing it up, sweat drips from our bodies as we engage in our weekly ritual known as Black Friday. This ritual, which is similar to the post-Thanksgiving shopping fiesta in name only, is infamous because pain is the goal of the encompassing workouts.

You see, at the beginning of this year I realized I had made so SO many mistakes in triathlon. I had overtrained to the point that it set me back an entire year, and in fact, had spent several years of fruitless yards in the pool cementing bad habits. I'd also made a practice of running inefficiently, and had made the blunder of abandoning speed in the base phase of training. Fortunately, I did at least learn quite a bit from those mistakes, and as a result wanted to pass this knowledge on to the other members of my club so they didn’t have to toil for years before doing things the right way as well. Just taking people aside at practices wasn’t enough though; I needed to lead in order to truly help. Thus brings us to the birth of Black Friday.

In a nutshell, Black Friday consists of a strength-based running program with time trials along the way to test progress. With it, I introduce the team to scientific training with a clear objective, and to walking through the reason behind everything we do. Every workout is hard and the team gets stronger not just physically and mentally, but as a unit.

The first Friday left me and some Ironman vets on the team feeling like we had in fact just completed one! Afterwards, several team members said we needed to tone it down to charcoal Friday, or perhaps grey Friday; but even so, the Spartans have still returned to the challenge time and time again. In fact, since our inaugural pain fest, the turnout has been better than any other regularly scheduled "normal" practice during the week, with numbers to the tune of twenty-five plus coming out for the suffering!

Why? Well, it all comes down to results. We start by setting a baseline goal with a time trial run on specific course that goes through the heart of campus. After three weeks of strength, form, and hill work, we time trial again on the same course. PRs are the goal. After the most recent Black Friday practice, the team smashed the course with everyone going at least twenty seconds faster than the previous time trial, and that deserves some recognition, of course. The prize for the most recent winning PR was a belt with a pizza box buckle that was painted with "M$U" and the slogan of Black Friday: “Pain is My Friend”. A one-minute and seven second PR claimed the pain belt until the next TT, so here's to a well-earned shout out Alex Douglas, way to shred that 5K!

That said, for my tri team, Friday night is no party. It's rather laying the foundation for a successful year for MSU triathlon. It is laying the foundation for the young members to train the right way and learn from my mistakes. Watch out for the Spartans ladies and gentlemen, Black Friday will ensure that we are strong for years after I am gone!

Quick October Race Highlights:

*MSU traveled to Purdue to race the Purdue tri club’s annual BoilerMan Triathlon -
Result: The team won for the 5th straight year! Individually, Lindsey Polinko placed 2nd overall in the Women’s race and I placed 2nd overall in the Men’s race.

*MSU hosted our first ever triathlon-
Result: The women won with a 1st and 2nd overall for women (Jackie Brosius and Allysa Thompson), and the men took 7th-9th (Todd Kennedy, Kyle Johnson, and Paul Grieve) in a great showing.

Thanks to the Purdue triathlon team for housing us for their race, hopefully we repaid the favor with housing for our race. It was great to get to meet everyone!