With the new season for sports of all kinds now underway, we interviewed local Ironman triathlete, MBF-sponsored, Joe Skipper about how technology plays a part in this sport.
Joe uses a Garmin 305 for monitoring his running progress and a Garmin 800 for cycling. It can monitor heart rate and speed and distance. In the pool he usually relies on timing clocks.
Of course he analyses his own stats regularly and publishes then on the Strava site http://www.strava.com/activities/38810529 so followers can keep up to date. But like football managers under pressure, he claims not to be too concerned about how rivals are faring in the stats tables.
Joe describes power and weight as ‘the only things that matter.’ He gives cycling as an example. In racing, ‘you can get more powerful or lose weight to increase speed.’ This matters on the uphills, of course, as well as the flats.
He says that if you can do both, add a few watts per kilo of power to losing a few kgs of weight, ‘it’s a win-win’ scenario. The Garmin 305 is set in minutes per mile and measures distance and time and pace.
Bike repairs? Done en route if you have a problem. Some carry repair kits with them, but it’s extra weight and about half ‘take the risk’ of breaking down. ‘If you can’t mend it, it’s race over.’
Yes, many triathletes are obsessed with technology and stats, ever improving themselves. While that is vital, of course, Joe thinks ‘technology should be a tool to help you, not the master of your life. You must know your own body.’
He wondered, ‘what if your tech fails? What if the Garmin battery runs down? If you don’t know enough about yourself, you’re lost.’
I put to him the idea raised in some quarters about Olympic and other sports in the future becoming virtual, with competitors at home racing each other virtually while the TV viewer sees a simulated race track combining all racers together. He at once thought he’d hate it. ‘Racing against each other is the appeal.’
On reflection, he thought that like most new ideas, they don’t go down well at first, but you just get used to what there is. Ah, the story of life as far as most technology is concerned, isn’t it?