Recently, I had the opportunity to conduct an email interview with Geordie McConnell from Sole Responsibility, iRun Magazine, and the Ottawa Triathlon Club. Geordie is a NCCP certified Level One Triathlon Coach.
Here is the interview!
GB: I have heard that Ottawa has more triathletes per capita than any city in North America. This is probably not true, but in any case, what is it about Ottawa that makes it such a hot bed for triathlon?
GMcC: We do have a lot of triathletes but, no, I’ve never heard of a per capita rating. Why is the sport so popular here? The first key is the city’s incredible geography with ample lakes and rivers, trails and parkways. In some cities you have to drive 20 minutes out to find a suitable place to ride. Due to our parkway system and Gatineau park, we can ride safely from downtown a 100km in any direction. The second reason for the sports popularity is events. Over the 13 weeks of our race season there are only two weekends there is not a race within an hour’s drive. It is the efforts of race organizers like Terry McKinty from Somersault Promotions that give us a place to play!
GB: You are one of the key coaches for the the Ottawa Triathlon Club. You are also the founder of Sole Responsiblity (an Ottawa based running club). What is it about group athletics that you are passionate about?
GMcC: (Not a founder of SR itself but a founder of the Ottawa Running Club, part of SR.) Adopting and maintaining an active lifestyle is very challenging for most. Over my years I have found one element that makes exercise much easier to do: FUN! One of the keys to fun is sharing the experience with a group of like-minded individuals who all agree that enjoyment is a top priority. You start with fun then add in training based on the latest of scientific principles to assure participants get the results they’re after. If you have fun and see results, what more is there!
GB: What are the major benefits of training in a group?
GMcC: Firstly, let’s acknowledge that group training isn’t for everyone. Many enjoy the solitude of training. However, one of the key advantages of group training, besides the aforementioned fun, is accountability. Knowing that others are expecting you can be a powerful motivator to get those shoes on and get out the door. The group dynamic also results in a sense of community and the establishment of friendships; this is like gold in this day in age of ear bud head phones and big screen tv’s. The ability to train in a group also puts you in a place to gain enormous knowledge from coaches and the other participants. One last thing: in the right environment, training with others will push you to acheive goals you might have thought out of your reach.
GB: What is the biggest misconception about triathlon?
GMcC: Oh, easy one: we’re all superjocks who are training for the Hawaii Ironman. Here’s my take: Can you swim? Can you jog? Can you ride a bike? Presto: triathlete! You can participate in the sport if you have 3 hours a week to train for a Try a Tri, and you can do so with the equipment you already have in the garage and closet. If you have 24 hours a week to train and $20, 000 for equipment, don’t worry, we may have a spot for you as well 😉 It truly is amazing the range of individuals that have found a home in our sport.
GMcC: It’s you, your bike and the finish line. There are no marks for styling. You could add a straw basket for your gels if it makes the race easier for you. If you do x time in your first race then train some more and do x minus 5 minutes in your next, you know that it was YOU that accomplished it. The key to the bike is that it is in safe working order, fits you well and is comfortable. Buy a little more expensive bike and you’ll find it to be more efficient and save you energy. Aero bars are great but if they are comfortable and the rider practiced in their use.
GB: I have heard it said that it is okay to enter a short course triathlon with a mountain bike, or hybrid bike. Is this for real?
GMcC: Totally – these are seen in every local race!
GB: Can you give us one piece of advice for…
GMcC: a. swimming: Keep you head down. This will bring your feet up (like a see saw) meaning you won’t have to kick hard to keep your legs up and body horizontal. Horizontal body = less drag, more efficiency. Save your legs – they have some work to do after the swim.
b. biking: Keep you cadence up. Pedal in the range of 85 to 95 revolutions per minute, choosing a gear that allows this. Riders too often push a big gear slowly which exhausts the legs prematurely.
c. running. Same thing: cadence. In both bike and run, when your cadence is slow you use up your fast twitch muscles which are not designed for endurance. Run at a cadence of 85 to 95 and you’ll recruit more slow twitch muscles, the enduring type.
That’s awesome! Thanks a lot to Geordie for taking the time to participate in the interview. He’s a great coach and resource for local athletes. If you want to know more about the Ottawa Triathlon Club check out their website. They have a great section on triathlon resources which includes training programs and advice for all different levels and abilities.