Talent is something that you cannot buy. Talent is something that you work at. Talent can never be taken away. Talent shows up when stuff fails and stuff will fail. In the past twenty-four hours I have had two Twitter conversations and one talk with my step-son about stuff being less than talent. The conversations started with a contest I posted on the CTER Facebook page about Triathlete Magazine giving away a Trek Speed Concept.
The idea that the world’s fastest bike is what is needed to take you to the next level struck me in a way that prompted this post. I have seen and passed a number of athletes on the course that have disc wheels, aero helmets, even Trek Speed Concepts or Specialized Shivs. You see they had all the tools but they didn’t have the talent to use those tools in the most efficient manner. As a matter of fact at Rev3 Maine I was passed on the bike by a guy wearing flip-flops. Yes, flip-flops. He had clips bolted onto the bottoms of them but you know that flip-flops are not as aero as the shoes I spent hundreds on. My point is that he had the talent and didn’t need to wear all the fancy gizmos and gadgets.
That day was an awakening of sorts. I have a tri bike, an aero helmet, race wheels and all of that didn’t help me to avoid being passed by flip-flop guy. I knew then that I had to work harder than I had to that point to get faster. When I started working with Maria and John we focused on the swim and bike. These disciplines were my weak link and getting stronger at those would lead me to be better at the run. As each day in the training cycle went by I noticed that my talent to swim and bike faster and more efficient started showing up. It was no longer a need for swim buoys and paddles to swim 100y in less than 1:40. My talent was getting me there.
Riding a bike at speeds of 20 mph for a long time was starting to show up. My talent was pushing those pedals and no aero helmet or race wheels were involved. I was going faster at a more efficient way. The light bulb started going off about my talent at the sport of triathlon was getting better and better. This translated to better and more efficient runs. I stopped worrying about buying this or that to help improve my performance. I focused on talent and nutrition. Getting in the calories, carbs and protein would further improve my talent and so the focus was less on things and more on talent.
In the past two months I have not done any organized training. I have been going out for swims, bikes and runs as time dictates. With no races on the schedule the freedom to do what I want has been a blessing, but also a curse. I need the organization of a training schedule to help me keep my days organized but along the way what I have noticed is that I am getting faster even though the weather is getting hotter. Last year in the summer I would run a 9:30-10:00/mi pace and ride at a 16-17mph pace. Those paces transferred to 8:30-9:00/mi and 17-18mph in the cooler weather. Today I am running sub 9:00/mi paces and riding at nearly 19mph and none of these involve any special tools but instead pure talent. Oh, and for swimming? I have been going on open water swims with friends on Friday mornings and the paces per 100 yards compare to those that are in the pool. The confidence in my talent is starting to sky-rocket and making me itch to get back to structured training for a race.
I am not saying that you shouldn’t get certain tools like a tri bike or an aero helmet or race wheels as I have those items and those were some of the first I purchased. They do provide you with a level of confidence that can take you places. At the same time don’t be jealous because the athlete in transition next to you is racking a Slice, P5, Shiv or Speed Concept because a pretty bike does not mean faster it just means they spent more money. When talking with new triathletes I always profess to them that they need to fall in love with the sport and find their talent before spending thousands of dollars on the latest bike, sneakers or wetsuit.