Ask A Random Triathlete: Will Other People Laugh At Me?

They're all gonna laugh at youThey're all gonna laugh at you [Flickr/Sarah Ross]

This week I decided to answer a bunch of random questions from you all. Because, basically, your questions are so basic it doesn’t even take me a full column to solve your problems. That’s how much knowledge I have to drop. If you want advice from a random triathlete (and just aren’t getting enough of it from that dude at the pool), leave your questions in the forum, as a comment below, or message me.

If I wear a sleeved tri-suit at an Olympic/Sprint race, will others point and laugh?

Not if you’re winning.

You know when that guy showed up for your local sprint race with a blinged-out bike and disc wheel, and then came in second-to-last. You probably pointed and laughed at him. Or at least sub-tweeted him on the internet. But no one laughs at Jesse Thomas’ aviator sunglasses, right? Not anymore anyway. You can wear whatever you want if you’re winning.*

There’s an addendum I’ve found to this rule, however. If you wear the thing that you’re worried you can’t pull off, then you’ll get to a point in the race where you’ll think, “If I don’t go faster I’m going to look like an idiot in this sleeved tri-suit.” And then you’ll go faster, because you don’t want to look like an idiot. Fear of embarrassment is a powerful self-motivating force. And, besides, who cares if people laugh at you. You’re un-ironically running around a parking lot in wet spandex. You’ve already lost the right to worry too much about what other people think.

*Actually, you can wear whatever you want even if you’re not winning. This is America.

How does a GPS help you become a better triathlete? And why do people wear them in swimming pools?

Obviously, it doesn’t actually make you faster at point of sale, or GPS watches would be a lot more expensive.

How does a cadence sensor help you become a better triathlete? How does a heart rate monitor? None of them will actually do the work for you. Shocking though this may be. The only thing any of the toys you buy can do is give you more information to train off of. You then have to do the training. The GPS simply lets you know what pace you’re running, so you can hit the paces or miss the paces. This (combined with heartrate data, if you really want to get into it) is the most accurate way we currently have of measuring effort when it comes to running. For now. Give or take.

(Side point: I’m assuming you’re talking about a running GPS watch. A GPS bike computer won’t do shit, unless you just really want to see where you already know you rode. Buy a power meter instead.)

And people wear GPSs in swimming pools because they don’t understand how clocks work. Guys, the pool is always the same distance from one end to the other. That isn’t going to change while you’re swimming. Though: copyrighting the idea for distance-changing pool right now.

Where is the line between “internet fan/friend” and “insane stalker”? How can you tell when you’ve crossed that line? Asking for myself.

If you’re asking, then you’ve probably crossed it, right?

Or, perhaps, a more general rule would be not to be weird about it. Triathlete internet friends are totally a real thing, I promise. God, Mom, I swear I have friends. But translating those to friends in real life — or IRL, as those of us super cool kids on the Information Superhighway like to call it — can get a little weird if/when social cues are ignored. Don’t be that guy.

My wife is now faster than me. I would blame this on me just being a lazy fat slug, but it is in fact a combination of this and her training her ass off. My question is: How do I use this to justify buying myself a new bike?

You don’t. You use it to justify buying her a new bike. Clearly, it’d have more payoff for her. You’ve still got plenty of low-hanging gains to be made by actually training. 

About the Author

Kelly O'Mara
Kelly is a reporter and writer in the San Francisco Bay Area. She quit triathlon for a few years, because triathletes can be annoying, but now she's back into it and only hanging out with the non-annoying triathletes. She blogs about stuff at Sunny Running.

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