What Sport Should You Do?

There are all sorts of “tests” you can take to help you understand which sport it is that is ideal for you. I stumbled across some of these “tests”several weeks ago while researching another topic. For fun, I gave a number of them a go to see how the results stacked.

It turned out that they were all pretty good and mostly fun. The simple “tests” did a good job of putting me into sports disciplines.

Cycling was always near the top. One “test” indicated I’d be good at triathlons. A few of them suggested boxing or tae kwon do. Archery came out a winner on one “test” and among the top 3 or 4 sport in others.

There was a theme for most of these questionnaire exams. Some were specific to Olympic sports and others more general. In the more general exams football came up as a top choice for me a time or two.

This is what I found surprising, the “tests” did a pretty good job of identifying sports where I have played.

I did play football in high school and was a starter. I’d had some serious scouting meetings with coaching advice to follow during summer between my junior and senior year in order to get a college ride. I failed to follow that advice and instead began racing bicycles.

The cycling turned out to be a good choice and even though I didn’t get a sports scholarship to college; over time I earned other awards that paid for nearly 100% of my schooling (which was a bundle considering I earned two doctorates and a masters degree – kind of like Dr. Sheldon Cooper).

Circa 1986

Cycling eventually gave way to duathlon. A duathlon is like a triathlon without the swimming and having more running. Duathlon worked out pretty good and earned me a spot on the USA Team to the World Championship Long Course Duathlon.

ITU World Championship, Long Course Duathlon – 2007

Duathlon migrated to triathlon and I even made it to the Ironman World Championship on Kona.

Ironman World Championship – 2008

Those online sport “tests” were pretty cool. I’d even done tae kwon do for several years earning a brown belt before cycling sucked all the time away I had for training. (One day I’d like to go back and complete that path.)

Of the sports selected for me archery is the most frustrating. Some folks say archery is 90% mental and 10% physical. I once heard a top coach, in jest, say archery is 10% mental and 90% trying not to quit.

Certainly, archery remains the single sport where I have yet to achieve the degree of expertise I thought I’d have by now. Archery is vastly different from the other sports where I had success. The gap in talent transfer is huge compared moving from cycling to duathlon.

Transferring from cycling to duathlon was easy. Moving to triathlon was harder because swimming required learning a new skill with a wider talent transfer gap than that of riding to riding.

Always come out of the water under your own power (My triathlon rule #1*)

Archery on the other hand just doesn’t fit the mold. The athletic skills needed to perform well in archery aren’t associated with sports that move fast. (Although, the conditioning needed to move fast can be beneficial in archery)

Archery is, however, one of the sports that online “testing” suggested my body type, conditioning, training, and brain should excel.

Did anybody see where my arrow went?

If you’ve got some time to kill go online and search for “Which Sport is Best for Me” or some variation of that query. It might be fun to see where you fit. Don’t be disappointed to learn you’re better suited for gymnastics or track and field other than archery.

Footnotes:

  • Coach Lain’s 3 Cardinal Rules for Triathlon
    • 1 – Get out of the water under your own power
    • 2 – Don’t crash on your bike
    • 3 – Don’t be last on the run
  • I’ll also note my wife, Brenda a professional Yoga instructor, took a few of the online “tests” to find her ideal sport.  It was unanimously archery.
    • “Is this as far back as it goes?” (50 pound draw weight)

Last Night on Little River

(Okay, to took a little liberty from John Irving with that title. Mr. Irving, I’d have asked but didn’t know how to contact you. For those that don’t know, Mr. Irving wrote a book titled, “Last Night in Twisted River.” He’s a real writer.)

We sold our home in North Carolina. It was only a vacation home. It became our permanent home a few years ago. We’d never intended it to be more than a place to get away, relax, and enjoy the water.

The location was great. The views, water, wildlife and tranquility were amazing. But, after a few years we learned it was a bit too isolated, too far from family and best as a vacation home.

We decided to move back to Georgia. We, also, knew that we wouldn’t keep the River House; it was simply too far away to enjoy. So we sold it.

On the last night at the Little River there was nearly a full moon. It was beautiful. There have been many nights with an astounding moon and planets to view, followed by amazing sunrises.

I’ll miss those views and the sounds of the water. But, moving back to Georgia was the right thing.

A Great Day to Play

The weather was great, today. Sunny with very little wind and not too cold. It was a good day to train.

For the 2018 Duathlon National Championships I’m using a modified triathlon training plan. There’s no swimming in a duathlon so those workouts are replaced with more running. It’s no big deal since running is a daily activity pretty much regardless of a formal training plan. In other words, I’m not running too much.  This is a modified plan that I’m following so there is flexibility.

There are lots of sport training plans available for purchase. There are an ever-growing number of coaches for hire through the Internet. What they offer are programs available to you sight unseen. Perhaps, if you are new to a sport an online coach you never see can provide a starting point. After decades of sports, in my opinion a face-to-face coach is a better investment. I’m making no investment. I took a plan I’d created years ago and adapted it for the upcoming race.

I’ve had some great coaches in cycling, football, and track. I’ve also spent decades studying sports physiology and feel fairly confident I can put together a plan that will get me across a finish line. Of course, there are the hours of work that need to be completed and today was ideal to add to those hours.

In an abridged overview my general training goes like this: Run, shoot, rest, shoot, cycle, and sometimes run again. It was hard not to do a second run today, the weather being so nice. It was the archery practice that pushed me away from a second run.

The second practice with a bow was going just fine. Well, good enough for second practice. That session was planned for 60 arrows at a 3-spot followed by 30 at a 5-spot. The morning was just 60 arrows into a 3-spot.

The afternoon 3-spot when okay with 32 Xs and 28 nines. Sure, Reo Wilde doesn’t need to be worried for the moment. But, not too bad. Then, I put up a 5-spot.

Man, those X rings looked huge on that blue and white paper. I shot 10 arrows and called it a day. As big as the X is on a 5-spot I was doing good to hit white. It was time to stop. While I didn’t feel tired, my arrow placement suggested otherwise. It also indicated I’d had enough exercise for the day, so not second run. Instead, a hike in the woods was perfect to wind things down.

Tomorrow the weather isn’t going to be so nice. I’ll have to go into Elizabeth City to shoot. I’m glad there is an indoor range within a 40-minute drive. Still, I am looking forward to moving to Georgia where on days like tomorrow promises to be, that drive becomes 15-minutes.

Adding Some Endurance Racing for 2018

Years of planning and a bit of luck helped me retire at 57 from a typical job. When I retired I considered focusing on winning a major endurance event in my age group. Now, I’ve never won a lot of races. I had earned a spot on a USA World Championship Team for the Long Course Duathlon, which was pretty cool. I also got to compete in the Ironman World Championship on Kona, Hawaii. That is the Super Bowl of Triathlon.

Kona, Hawaii 2008.
World Championship, Long Course Duathlon 2007

But, I’d never won something like a marathon or a 140.6-mile Ironman. I’ve done a lot of 70.3 and 140.6 Ironman events, but I never finished among the top athletes. I did better at the shorter distance triathlons.

Get out of the water under your own power

The sprint distances were where I did my best. See I not a great swimmer, I am a pretty okay runner, and a really decent cyclist. My plan for the shorter races was this: Swim well enough to finish the swim in the top 25%, pass everybody, the better swimmers, during the bike portion, hang on to my lead during the run. That worked for me a number of times. (There was often that athlete that is better at all 3 disciplines)

Finish at Kona – Ironman World Championships

But, the more I thought about it I realized I’d never be a good enough swimmer to place well in the major events. Sure, I can swim. Sadly, while I can swim far, I will never be fast. It’s a matter of genetics and body type. (My best time for a 2.4-mile swim is 64 minutes) So, I put that out of my mind while relaxing in my front yard shooting a newly acquired compound bow a little more than four years ago. There is where the thought hit me; maybe I could do well in archery. Time will tell.

Picking up some hardware

In the meantime, I can’t let go of endurance racing. I tried for a year to pedal around on a bike, jog every morning and swim at the YMCA. I stayed away from racing any distance. Essentially, my day is this:

Up between 0530 and 0600 , stretch

Eat breakfast, run one to six miles.

Shoot my bow for one to two hours.

Eat lunch

Take a nap

Ride a bike ten to 30 miles

Shoot my bow one to two hours.

Often, one of the last things I do at the end of the day is take a walk through the woods with my dog, River.

If there is water, River will find it.

It works out to from 4 to 6 hours a day of exercise and training.

In 2016 I ran a number of 5K races for fun. Each time a little more slowly than the previous race. These were for fun and I had not been training for speed. Still every day I think about racing. While planning my 2018 archery schedule I thought – why not add a duathlon. So, I did.

2017 USA Archery National Indoor Championships, Snellville, GA

I’ll still train about the same amount of time only now I’ll add speed work. I’ve added a spring dualthon onto my calendar. I’ve got 5 months to get into shape. On top of that there are a number of significant archery tournaments where I’d like to perform well all occurring around the same time frame. Nothing gets me going like a good challenge.

See ya

Fitness and thinking about 2018

My fitness program is not exactly what I’d call an archery fitness program. It is different because I still consider endurance sports and try to stay in minimal shape to perhaps compete in other events. Of course, once I make a decision I’ll make a plan. This is the time of year I begin planning for the next year’s events.

What should we do next year?

In that plan will be a weight loss program. I am not overweight but since my last triathlon in 2013 my body fat percentage has increased from 4% to 11%. That is not racing weight. 2013 was a hard year of racing for me. I raced 12 times in 2013 and that wasn’t a big deal. From 2006 until 2013 I raced at least 12 times a year. However, in 2013  two of the races were Ironman events and one was the Mt. Evans Ascent.

The Mt. Evans Ascent was one of the hardest races of my life. Here’s what the race’s website says about that race:

Although the air will be noticeably thin at the starting line, Echo Lake’s 10,600 feet of elevation is just the beginning. The climb totals nearly 4,000 vertical feet – much of it above tree line – as you make your way 14.5 miles to the finish line located at the summit of one of the most recognizable peaks on Denver’s mountain skyline – 14,264 foot Mt. Evans.

For a guy that has lived most of his life at sea level – that race was a bear! To make it tougher a week prior to the Mt. Evans Ascent I raced in the Ironman Eagleman. The day after I raced in Boulder, but it was only a 5K.  It was actually on that week in Colorado that I became interested in archery.

I was in a sporting good store and noticed some bows in the shop.  I was killing time so I asked a salesperson about the bows.  It all sounded pretty interesting. A couple of months later I bought a compound bow. I’d never planned to compete at any level in archery. That changed.

I like running events, triathlons, cycling (time-trials only – no need to risk a crash because of some squirrelly rider) and duathlons. I’ve pretty much ruled out another triathlon anytime soon. Archery, running and riding are about all I can fit into my schedule. There’s no time to swim.

Not my best discipline

Running is easy. I do that nearly every day. Running races are also easy. They’re inexpensive and can be short or long. A 5K is a breeze. A marathon is a bit more effort. I have no idea how many 5Ks I’ve run. I also can’t recall how many 10Ks or half-marathons I’ve done. Half-marathons are nice because you can pace yourself and still not feel totally wasted after a race. A 10K hurts the entire race and a 5K hurts a lot and then its over.

I do remember exactly how many marathons I’ve run. They all hurt in a different way. After my 7th marathon I figured it was enough, but perhaps not.

Running – you can do it anywhere (I just replaced to blue Nikes I’m wearing in this photo) This raced was a 1/2 marathon in Maryland.

I also ride a bike nearly every day. I run in the morning and ride in the afternoon. But, archery practice twice a day eats away at time needed to drive to a pool. An hour in the pool means another hour of travel.

Aside from specific archery goals for 2018 I am considering some endurance sports competition. In that regard, off-road duathlons keep popping into my thoughts.

Sunday’s Decisions

Today was the USAT Long Course Duathlon National Championship in Cary, NC. I’d trained for it and entered. It was also the ASA State 3D Qualifier in Plymouth, NC. I had a choice to make: duathlon or archery. It was not an easy choice.

I’ve raced the long course duathlon many times. Basically, the race is a long run, followed by a long bike ride, and finishing up with another long run. In 2007 when I did my first long course duathlon I won the third spot for the USA Team to compete in the World Championship. It was a really hot day and I do better in the heat. I accepted the slot and competed.

The world championship was a rough one for me. It was cold, too cold. I never did get warm and finished 23rd. Still, I was a member of the USA Team and will never forget the Parade of Nations during the opening ceremony. There were 43 countries represented. It wasn’t the Olympics but it was cool. I was very proud to be racing for the USA.

In 2012 I once again earned a slot on the USA Team for the long course duathlon World Championship. When I got the call from the USAT I, regretfully, declined and they rolled down my place to the next athlete in line.

I turned down the offer because we’d just sold our business. It was a big deal, we were a public company and I was a chief officer. So, I turned the spot in the USA team down after explaining to the USAT my position with the company and stating I had “responsibilities to the company that prohibited me leaving for 10 days.” In hindsight, that was a mistake. The deal was done and the bigger fish that had bought us more than likely would have been (seriously) pleased to have me on the team. That bigger fish was heavily populated with amateur athletes, ex-college athletes, and even a few ex-pro football players. So, it probably would have been cool with them. I should have accepted and gone to Switzerland to race. Although I never raced in Switzerland I have trained there and knew what to expect. (It would have been cold.)

Today was another chance for a place in the USA Duathlon Team. I didn’t expect I’d win in Cary, I expected to finish in the top few, high enough to end up making the team. (I had already checked the times of other athletes and knew how I compared) I wouldn’t do it with my running; I’d do it on the bike. Or, at least, that was the plan. As such: hang on during the first run, a short one for this type of event only 5 miles, pull ahead on the bike, again a short distance only 42 miles. The short bike would give me space to come in among the leaders and after only 42 miles I’d still have plenty left in my legs for the final run, again a short one only 5 miles. It would have been the shortest long course duathlon that I’d raced. But, I bailed out of the race to shoot.

I’ve never done a 3D state championship. If I didn’t do the qualifier, well I’d not be able to compete. So, rather than go to the duathlon, I gambled on archery. The gamble is bigger than it appears.

IMG_5016
There were 3 in my group and we did this a lot.

The NC State ASA 3D Championship, to be held in Mt. Airy, NC, is a day after I finish at the USA Archery’s National Outdoor Championship in Decatur, Alabama. The timing is tight, really tight. By the time the ASA event rolls around I’ll have been on the road for several weeks. It falls on the weekend that was to have ended with the National Championships in Decatur, Alabama, which is the last leg of spending three weeks on the road shooting. That is going to be a grind. It will also be after spending three weeks in a 21- foot long Winnebago with my wife and two dogs. By then end of that adventure I’m not certain if I can make the drive to Mt. Airy, NC in time to compete or if I’ll have any mental gas left to make a go of it.

IMG_5017
Wagons for hauling gear, food and water has become popular on the 3D ranges here.

I can’t yet say whether I made the right choice today. Duathlon is my favorite type of racing. Duathlons are not real popular in the US because more people lean toward triathlon. So, they are a bit had to reach. But, it’s done.