The Long Journey to Rio, Part 1
By Jarrod Shoemaker, 2008 Olympic triathlete
I have been a pro triathlete for 11 years and each day I have two ultimate goals that I work towards:
1) Be the best athlete that I can be;
2) Represent my country at the Olympics
As an athlete, the opportunity to compete in the Olympics comes around once every four years when the lucky few get to compete for a spot on their country’s Olympic team. I had the opportunity to represent the United States in 2008 at the Beijing Olympics and I just missed the team in 2012 despite being ranked #1 in the U.S. I am going for it again in 2016 and I will be sharing my experiences on that road with you.
The Olympic qualification cycle is basically a four-year period of time, but in triathlon, it’s the last two years where you gain points towards a ranking to help your country earn a spot at the Olympics. A maximum of eight countries can have three athletes at the triathlon start line in both men’s and women’s for a total of six triathletes.
Halfway through 2015, the Olympic points standings are already well underway and I am sitting in 15th place – good enough to earn the U.S. a spot at the Games, but meaning nothing for me personally to guarantee qualification. This year our two important qualifying races are the Rio de Janeiro Triathlon – a test event held on the planned Olympic course in August – and the Chicago ITU Grand Final. If you finish in the top eight you are guaranteed an Olympic spot for the U.S. team.
So far this year I have raced in Abu Dhabi (UAE), Gold Coast (Australia), Cape Town (South Africa), Yokohama (Japan) and London with mixed results. I was 12th in Cape Town, but crashed in Yokohama and had a horrible off day in London, but the good thing is that those are all learning experiences for me heading into the important part of the season: Rio and Chicago.
Our sport is grueling combining swimming, biking and running, and one of the things that I have learned is that it is constantly evolving. Eight to 10 years ago you could be a great runner and get by on the swim and bike, then the swimmer started to come into the sport and made the swim more important, now everybody is very good at everything, making it even harder.
As an athlete I grew up playing a lot of sports, but specialized in running and for most of my triathlon career I have had that as a fall back, but now I am focusing a lot on my swimming and biking, because you have to be in the hunt to be able to run fast.
This past weekend, I spent three days doing my first cycling stage race ever and it was challenging and rewarding. We had to do a time trial, a circuit race and a hill climb. The circuit race was 1/3 dirt, which was quite challenging, and a hill climb with an 8-mile dirt section. For me challenging myself in new ways is what makes me a better triathlete.
I challenge you to do something new in the next two weeks, do something you wouldn’t otherwise do in your triathlon or endurance training. Here are a few ideas:
- Go open water swimming
- Run on a trail instead of the road
- Change your normal workout, add in something harder or more challenging
- Go to the track and run a mile! See how fast you can go
- Video yourself swimming and watch it!!! See if you can make some changes to your stroke.
Triathlon, as life, is about challenging yourself, making yourself a better athlete or person, doing something you normally would not do and testing your limits. The best way to see who you can be is to challenge yourself.
Over the next months you will be able to get an inside look into my training, racing and attempt to qualify for Rio 2016. Let me know if you have any questions or topics you would like me to cover in the comments below!
Leave a question or comment for Jarrod Shoemaker and wish him best for his Road to Rio and you will be entered to win a brand new road cycling helmet! (one entry per person, entries close 11:59pm PT on July 22. Winner chosen at random)Email Address Invalid. Please enter an email address in the format: firstname.lastname@example.orgAndrea
5 years ago.You are an inspiration to me, you don't even know! I hope u go to rio and kill it out there because you are the best and everyone should see you! My family will be watching!!! Good luckPhil
5 years ago.Focus on getting to RIO, not on winning gold. Once you achieve this first hurdle, the rest is downhill!P. Stephanie
5 years ago.Best of luck!
U.S.A! U.S.A! :)Ryan Anness
5 years ago.What type of diet do you use. As a Marine Officer I stay in good shape but notice when I get busy the first thing I stop caring about is my diet. Any advice?Kris
5 years ago.Good luck on your journey!!Carolina
5 years ago.Good luck on training! Go USA!!Kelly
5 years ago.Best of luck with your training! Be your best! !Daniel W
5 years ago.Best of luck!! Win! Win! Win!Irene R
5 years ago.Lots of luck in Rio, Jarrod.Kay Q
5 years ago.Good Luck Jarrod. Wish I had the money to come see you run in Rio. God Bless & keep you safe.Jonathan W
5 years ago.Swim, ride and run to the Gold! Best wishes from Taiwan!Natalie
5 years ago.Our family wishes you the best and we will be cheering you on in 2016!Cammie stamey
5 years ago.Good luck on your road trip to RioRita
5 years ago.Run Jarrod!Tony
5 years ago.good luckJarrod Shoemaker
5 years ago.Thats actually the easy part for me, as I was a runner in high school and college and still love running. For me the run is putting the exclamation point on the race, I want to pass as many people as possible. Doing some runs off the bike also helps as your body learns what it feels like to run with tired legs.Young
5 years ago.Good luck!!Bob Johnson
5 years ago.Good Luck!!!TJ Cundiff
5 years ago.Good luck Jarrod. May God continue to bless you!!Jim
5 years ago.Good luck Jarrod!Bryant Reyes
5 years ago.Jarrod I am sure you have a team of people who look over you and make sure you are healthy and able to compete to the best of your ability. I was wondering if you had any rituals that you normally would partake in to keep your body feeling good. For example a chiropractor, yoga, regular sessions of message therapy. Whatever the case may be. Im just curious as to what you feel is most beneficial to your training and recovery as I have good and bad days and was wondering if I could amp up my recovery with such methods. Anyways best of luck and stay strong my friend.Jarrod Shoemaker
5 years ago.I look at keeping my body healthy as one of the most important pieces of my training. Without being able to train consistently it is hard to improve. I see a chiropractor, massage therapist and MAT (Muscle Activation Techniques) each once a week. For me it is about making sure my body is moving in the most effecient manner possible and I have found that investing the time and money into those works for me. MAT is about finding muscle imbalances and reactivation those muscles and then strengthening them. I am firm believer that what is tight on your body is being overworked because something else is not working hard enough.Adrian
5 years ago.What inspired you to do all of this, and what keeps you motivated to do all of these races? Everyone has a reason for why they do things, what's yours?Jarrod Shoemaker
5 years ago.Motivation is interesting, everybody has something a bit different, for me it is about being the best me I can be. I want to push myself as hard as I can and mind my limits. I also love competing against the best in the world and seeing where I stack up.Kevin Keil
5 years ago.What is your favorite part of the triathlon? Good luck in Rio!Jarrod Shoemaker
5 years ago.I love running, and so for me that is the best part. Once I get my feet on the ground I am excited. I also do enjoy the training and working hard to better myself and get a bit faster.Michele P.
5 years ago.Good luck and thanks for the additional ideas to change up my triathlon training.Jordyn
5 years ago.Good luck on your upcoming tris!Add a Comment
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