London calling

After an exceedingly lacklustre winter of training, I’ve been given some motivation: selection in the Australian team for the triathlon World Age Group Championships in September. So, I’m London bound and better get in shape for it. The competition will be tough.

Getting technical

I’m trying to figure out a formula whereby one might show if a triathlon result is dubious or not. Let’s give it a good old Aussie go.

An Olympic distance triathlon is 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run. The pros do this in about 1hr 50mins, but this is not a good comparison as those races are draft legal (riders can bunch up and ride as a peloton, basically cancelling out the bike leg, while in amateur races drafting is not permitted, making the bike a serious, and rather lonely, slog). And they’re pros; all they do is eat, sleep and train.

I will say that a really good amateur, around 25 years of age and with a training programme, can do this distance in 2hrs. That’s a good starting pointing: 2hrs. Let’s call this the “amateur threshold”. Now for the variables. The easiest are age and weight. For age, it’s well-known that athletes enter decline after the age of thirty. So, every year over that age counts as an extra thirty seconds, up to age 44. After 44, every year counts as an extra minute. For weight, every kilogram over the healthy weight (based on a person’s height) counts as another thirty seconds. Remember, this is all theoretical, with no science involved. Other variables that need to be factored in include lifestyle, working hours, training hours, history of injuries, attitude, etc, but these things are hard to calculate. I’m trying to keep this simple.

Example 1: male, 42 years old, 1.80m, 82kgs. 12 years = 6 minutes. 4 kgs = 2 minutes. This athlete’s amateur threshold is 2hrs 8mins. If this athlete did an Olympic distance race in under this time, I would call the result dubious.

Example 2: male, 60 years old, 1.70m, 74kgs. 14 years = 7 minutes. 16 years = 16 minutes. 4 kgs = 2 minutes. This athlete’s amateur threshold is 2hrs 25mins.

Looking at the thresholds for the two examples, this seems about right. Ah, but it’s all conjecture. We still need WADA to rock up unannounced at some local amateur race and do some testing. There’s some science.

Give or take a metre

Spring. At last. And the first long ride done. Okay, long for me is just a couple of hours spinning the wheels out in the countryside around Hamburg. If you pass a guy in a yellow shirt like the one below, then it’s probably me. The one metre please idea is great, but widely ignored by drivers here. So, it’s best to keep off the main roads, like everywhere in the world. Fortunately, Hamburg has great places for biking where there’s little traffic.

For more about one metre please, go to http://www.3feetplease.com/

SAMSUNG

An interesting interview

http://www.everymantri.com/everyman_triathlon/2011/11/everyman-endurance-podcast-a-conversation-with-author-cyclist-doper-andrew-tilin-.html

It was a year long experiment, but it does give insight into amateur drug taking and why athletes will use drugs. The key point is recovery. With drugs, you can work out hard, then wake up the next day and work out hard again. While the rest of us work out hard, then can’t walk for a couple of days.

Life in the Lance Lane

I’m not sure how I would behave if I lined up at a masters swimming event and in the lane next to me is Lance Armstrong.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/05/sports/cycling/armstrong-plans-to-enter-swimming-competition.html?ref=global&_r=0

In the article, amateur athletes are quoted as saying that wouldn’t mind racing against him, that masters is for “fun and fitness”, but what happens when Lance blitzes the field and wins?

And the opening sentence says it all: Lance Armstrong “planned to return to athletic competition this week at a masters swimming event that does not test its athletes for drugs.”

Maybe they should start testing, just to see how many of the masters athletes are actually in it for “fun and fitness”.