Andrew: Coming from a running background and now crossing into triathlon, define suffering...is suffering in Triathlon and Running the same?
Jeff: Suffering…for me suffering has always been when physical or mental performance begins to decline due to the high stress levels a race can place on the body and mind. Suffering for me has definitely been different in running than triathlon.
In regards to the mental aspect of suffering for me it is totally different between (only running), and triathlon running. If I’m doing a running only race, I find myself wanting it to end as soon as possible. That mindset probably creates more physical problems because I think about how much it hurts. In triathlon I am quite the opposite. Because the run is where I can gain time on competitors I don’t want it to end. The longer we have to go the better. Mentally it is a huge plus because I wouldn’t want the race to end unless I’d gotten a chance to get to the front.
Andrew: What do you tell your friends when they:
- want to go out for a beer close to a race?
- want to go to an event and you have a big workout to get in?
- ask you how you are doing (and you are wasted from the days workouts)?
Jeff: The social life…oh boy. There's no doubt my time is restricted when I'm into full training mode. If it's during the school year I'm spending 40 hours a week working on top of 20-30 hours a week in total training time while trying to be a good husband and father of two young children. If a friend wants to go for a beer close to a race, I'll do what I almost always do when something comes up...I'll ask my wife for permission.
Honestly, I don't think there are many events as important to me as some of the big races. I've invested so much time and sacrificed so much that it would not be worth missing a key workout unless the schedule allowed for the workout to be moved easily to a different day. When they ask how I'm doing after a tough day of workouts I normally tell them what I did and I don't have to say much more than that.
Andrew: What drives you?
Jeff: I’ve always loved to compete. I played about every sport out there growing up…even soccer which I terribly regret. One thing was always constant regardless of the sport I was competing in…I loved to compete and hated losing. It didn’t matter if I was racing my brother through a word search during church service, trying to throw the football through the tire swing in the back yard, playing one on one basketball games in the snow covered driveway…I loved to compete.
Two years ago, I started the summer at nearly 200 lbs. I’d been a recreational triathlete the past few summers. I almost decided to not race that summer because I was so fat and out of shape. Through the summer I lost about 25 lbs. and began having success in races. I started wondering how good I could be if I devoted everything.
Andrew: Pertaining to your big race career that is just starting; would you rather have a career in triathlon of mainly mid pack (5th-10th place finishes) with one or two big wins or consistent podiums, but lacking the crown of race champion?
Jeff: If I had to choose between a career of consistent podium finishes or a bunch of mid-pack finishes with one or two big wins I’d definitely go with the mid-pack finishes with one-two big wins. This may be different if I stopped teaching and needed to be on the podium to support myself and my family financially.
Andrew: If you had the opportunity to have the talent of 1 athlete for one day, who would it be and why (PS: it does not have to be a triathlete)?
Jeff: If I could have another athlete’s talent for a day it would be Michael Phelps. I would use that talent to feel what it is like to swim much faster than I’m capable of. My hope is that by feeling the water like he does I’ll be able to do it myself when his talent leaves me. I see such tiny improvements with my swimming month after month and I feel it must be technique related. I watch videos of myself, videos of other…Phelps included, practice drills and technique…and I feel the same speed week after week. I’d like to have his talent for one day, but then learn from that experience so I can be faster for the rest of my life.
Thanks guys for phenomenal questions and responses. Great insights from both of you. I know both of you are dealing with setbacks in the form of injuries right now. Know that Evotri is behind you and wishes both of you a speedy recovery. For updates, check out Andrew’s Blog and Jeff’s as well. Both are excellent reads.