Former Cougar transitions to triathlon


author: james lorenzen | contributor


Track and field athlete turned jack-of-all-trades./John Loeppky

James Lorenzen writes about what it’s like to switch sports

All athletes come to a point in their life when their competitive careers are over. I am no different. Most athletes are lucky that they get to choose when they are done their career. With most it is at the end of high school, and for those lucky enough to do varsity sport, it’s at the end of university. I was lucky enough to get to compete in university track and field. Not as lucky, I spend my whole first and second years in a yo-yo state. I went from injured, to kind of healthy, and back to being injured. Being a very competitive person, I was not ready to be being a competitive athlete. As an injured track athlete, I spent lots of time on a bike.

With a background in running and cycling, it seemed natural to me to learn to speed-swim and take up triathlon. I use the term speed-swimming with great respect. I learned to swim as a kid and I consider myself a strong swimmer often being the fastest swimmer in my swimming lesson groups. Since starting to learn to speed swim, I have realized one thing above all others: I am not a good swimmer. I read a quote recently that went something along the lines of, “When you quit running you stand, when you stop peddling you quit, but when you quit swimming you drown.” When you start to attempt to swim fast, it drains you. It is extremely hard, and without a bottom of the pool to stand on, I would’ve drowned by now for sure.

The nice thing about taking up something new is the rate at which you get good at things. My improvement over the last seven weeks is insane. I went from barely being able to front crawl for 50 metre without drinking half the pool to the point that I can swim 400 metre very relaxed. In the shortest form of triathlon, the sprint triathlon, one has to swim 750 metre, so I still have work to do.

Training for triathlon is a nice change from what I am used to. As a competitive runner, all I ever did to train was run, strength train, and toss in the odd cross-training session if my body was sore. The variety in run training comes from the kind of running you do. One still ends up in the cycle of running all of your easy runs at the same pace, doing four or more runs the same week that are exactly the same. The joy of triathlon is that in any given week I will never repeat a workout. It keeps me excited and always wanting to go work out. With that variety, I have managed to prevent the repetitive use injuries that have plagued me over the last two years. I have been healthy for seven weeks, which is something I haven’t been since high school.

Unfortunately, I live in Saskatchewan and everything is about to freeze. This means that I will not be able to race until springtime. Moving forward, I hope to become a competitive triathlete. As an athlete, I think the dream always exists to be the best, and this remains part of my life as I move forward and continue to train.

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