Written by: Ben Atlas
Triathlon training is difficult even for professional athletes, but it was the exact challenge seniors Steve Yang and Josh Trockel were looking for.
Yang and Trockel were motivated to begin training approximately six weeks ago in order to get into shape and increase their aerobic fitness. “We chose to start because Josh’s family was beginning a series of triathlons that would gradually increase in length and difficulty, and we resolved do a triathlon every month,” Yang said.
The two practice in various local cities including Palo Alto, Los Altos Hills and Portola Valley at 4 p.m. almost every day, depending on the weather. “As it is a triathlon, we change up the sport every day, depending on which discipline we wish to emphasize that week,” Yang said. “During a typical practice, we like to start by complaining about everything that’s happened and letting out these negative emotions. Once that’s over, our practices vary.”
For swimming, Yang and Trockel practice jumping jacks and other lower-body exercises before swimming for approximately 45 minutes. To train for biking, they bike for 12 to 15 miles on hilly terrain. “We try to not get passed by other more legitimate cyclists and just do our best by going at our own pace,” Yang said. For running, the two run five to six miles at a standard workout pace.
According to Yang, the most difficult parts of a triathlon are the transitions. “There are many websites dedicated solely to the efficiency of triathlon transitions, and it’s depressing to lose so much time whenever I transition,” Yang said.
However, they do feel the struggle is a worthwhile one. “Training’s definitely tough and I have to push myself on some days when I’m feeling worn out from school, but the feeling that you get right after working out makes it all better,” Trockel said. “The mix of an endorphin high and a sense of accomplishment makes the training fun.”
As expected of any athlete, juggling training, schoolwork and a social life is a difficult task. However, Yang believes that the exercise actually motivates him to work more diligently in other subjects. “Triathlon training is a wonderful way of overcoming procrastination,” Yang said. “I get my homework done earlier when we practice than when we didn’t, which is great. College apps do get in the way, but I somehow am always able to make time for both. I don’t need a social life because especially after long cycling sessions, I can hardly walk and I’m just too tired.”
The duo has already begun to compete recreationally in small community events, including a mini-triathlon on Saturday, Oct. 22. Trockel’s family also plans on hosting a sprint triathlon in a months’ time, and Yang plans on attending the Ironman Championships. “Of course, I’ll be behind the camera,” Yang said.
Trockel urges students to consider triathlon training as an alternative to team sports. “To those interested in training for a triathlon, I’d just suggest that you go for it,” Trockel said. “The hardest part is to start—once you get into a steady rhythm, you’ll come to really enjoy it.”