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photo: James Wood
Multisport Champion Dave Slavinski Races Best Season Yet
Dave Slavinski is accustomed to winning. For the past several years, Slavinski has been a fixture on the podium, capturing numerous national and world titles in duathlon and triathlon. However, even with this history of winning, it is possible that Slavinski has never had a season quite like 2013. This year, Slavinski won three USA Triathlon age-group national titles in triathlon and duathlon. He also raced to the top of the podium at the ITU Long Course Triathlon World Championships, an event which was shortened to a duathlon due to cold water.
For someone who trains full-time, Slavinski’s season would be an inarguable success. But Slavinski has a full plate, working as a teacher and triathlon coach, and keeping up with his wife and two children, which makes his impressive resume more astounding.
Competing in such a wide range of events and distances, one of the keys to Slavinski’s success has been his ability to effectively manage his time and his training. Not all training yields the same benefits and Slavinski is careful to use his limited time wisely.
“Riding is the most time consuming of the three disciplines, so you need to be smart. I keep my rides to two hours or less,” Slavinski said. “The key is to vary the intensity of these rides. Riding 90 minutes at hard effort on the trainer or on the road is better than a 4-hour easy ride. That is a waste of valuable time.”
Slavinski also believes that in order to maintain his high level of success he must constantly be looking to improve upon his training methods in an effort to eliminate weaknesses, something he also stresses to athletes that he coaches.
“Each season I do things differently in an attempt to get better,” he said. “One of the things I did this year was to swim solely in an endless pool or in the open water and not at all in a pool. Flip turns don't do any good in triathlon.”
As much as he loves winning, the most satisfying aspect of his multisport lifestyle is that it is something he can do alongside his family. Slavinski’s wife, Carrie, is also an accomplished multisport athlete. In 2011 and 2012, Carrie was recognized by USA Triathlon as an age-group duathlon All American.
“Training is always a challenge since my wife races all the disciplines as well,” Slavinski said. “Now my children are involved in everything from running to triathlon, to swimming, soccer and the arts.”
Though Slavinski and Carrie are careful not to pressure their two children into multisport competition, they do encourage physical activity. Training has become a great way for the family to spend quality time together.
“A lot of our friends who race ask us how we balance it all and still have time for family stuff. Our kids have been coming with us to our track workouts since they were infants,” Carrie said. “We started bringing sand toys so they could play in the long jump pit while we did our workouts. Now they are running around on the infield, playing soccer and running laps.”
This past season, Slavinski’s daughter competed in her first triathlon, finishing fourth at the Tough Kids Championship. Slavinski says his daughter is his biggest fan.
“At the ITU Worlds in Vitoria-Gastiez, Spain (in 2012), she was also in tears when I was awarded the gold medal,” Slavinski said. “She is turning into an intense and gifted athlete.”
As the curtain closes on the 2013 multisport season, Slavinski joins many multisport athletes in looking forward to a new season. Setting goals and laying the groundwork for improvement is all part of the process, but Slavinski is quick to remind others that the benefits of competing in multisport far exceed winning.
“When you train and race, you push yourself and pull everyone who is close to you closer. You eat better, feel better and act better,” Slavinski said. “What else can you do in your life that makes you and everyone around you happier and more enjoyable to be around? There is nothing better you can do for your family, yourself and the people who see you every day than to set a positive example, and there is no better way to be that example than multisport.”
Looking to make the most of your 2014 season? For training and nutrition tips check out USA Triathlon’s Multisport Zone section online, and stay tuned for the next issue of USA Triathlon Magazine, which hits mailboxes Jan. 2-7, 2014.