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Collegiate Recruitment Camp: An Introduction to Triathlon
Five weeks ago I was finishing up my college running career at Syracuse University by competing in the 3000-meter steeplechase at NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Nationals. Now I am just finishing up the week at the Olympic Training Center after being invited to come out and attend the USA Triathlon Collegiate Recruitment Program’s Camp. During this transition I have gotten back into swimming after taking a five year hiatus from the sport, started getting more comfortable on the bike and competed in my first triathlon of the year at Cohasset for Off the Front Multisport.
So here are the key things I want you to know about me going into the OTC camp. My highest yardage in the pool was 3,500 yards, I had never done a group ride on the bike, my run was my strength, due to the increased volume in training I had neglected core and strength work and I had thought that you could get points competing in age group races. One of my first challenges at the camp was to put together my bike. Luckily I found out quickly that athletes and coaches alike would be very willing to help you in every aspect of the camp including bike set up.
Throughout the week I got to know athletes, coaches and different sport specialists who shared their knowledge and experiences to make me a better triathlete. We worked with specialists such as Dr. Genadius and Mike Doane who analyzed our swim strokes, Neal Henderson who worked with us on the bikes and Bobby McGee who not only helped us with our running techniques but also our mental tactics. The improvement I was able to make within a week was ridiculous.
On the third day I went from riding over very timidly in the back, breaking on every turn for our first bike session with Neal to cornering without braking, touching elbows with other riders (on purpose) and picking up water bottles off the ground while on the bike. Now I make this all sound very smooth but I did spend my fair share of time on the ground and also experienced my first encounter with road rash during a turn on the crit course where I decided to go through the sand. Not a good idea.
In swimming we had power analysis and video analysis in order to determine what our strengths and weaknesses were in the swim. We also did workouts with Mike Doane and I now have a new highest yardage of 4,100 meters. We got the same types of analysis with our running with Bobby McGee as well as in the Sport Performance Lab on the treadmill. After having been a Division I runner it was interesting to see the mechanical flaws in my form. However in both of these types of tests what I found most critical was that we were not provided only with what we do wrong, but were also taught the tools and drills that were necessary for us to improve.
The OTC camp has provided me with so much knowledge, skills and new relationships. During my time here I may not have improved all my techniques on the spot but I was given the tools so that I can continue to work on my weaknesses when I return home. I learned so much in the different swim, bike, run, nutrition, USADA, strength training and ITU lectures that I now know so much more about the sport that I will be competing in. Between the friends that I have made, the people I have met and the lessons that I have learned I will truly be missing the atmosphere here; but I look forward to seeing everyone at races and putting my new skills and knowledge to practice in my training and racing.