Last week I made a new friend. He’s a pro triathlete from Boulder, CO. And…without a doubt, the most awe-inspiring athlete I have ever met! His name is Sam Long.
What makes Sam so extraordinary? For starters, it’s the story of how shortly before graduating from high school he decided he would usher in the next chapter of his life by throwing himself into an Ironman race that was only 16 weeks away. Although he’d been running track in school, he had not been biking or swimming when he decided to sign up for the inaugural Boulder Ironman.
His goal was to finish. And he did.
He was the 12th male to finish, including the pros, and at 18, he was the youngest competitor in the field of nearly 3,000!
Sam raced IM Canada a few weeks ago, finishing 4th overall on a tough course on a very hot day and followed that up 3 weeks later with IM Mont Tremblant last weekend. A mutual friend introduced us and I had the pleasure of observing his last hard swim before Mont Tremblant.
His taper week swim before he flew out to Mont Tremblant was 25 x 100, some pull + paddles, some swim, but all “pretty fast” (in his words) and without a lot of rest (my observation). Being an American, he’s used to swimming in yards, not meters, and he’s also accustomed to a digital pace clock. To make the most of this pool session I thought it would be helpful if he used my tempo trainer for his send offs instead of the analog pace clock on the wall. We did some quick math to come up with his target send off time in minute pace per 100 meters (rather than yards) and then I gave him my tempo trainer set to his desired 100m pace (in mode 2) and he shoved it in his cap. He told me he had used a tempo trainer before in mode 3 (stroke rate) but never before in this way.
All he had to do was hit the start button once and he was good for the entire set as long as he stayed ahead of the 100m send off pace – which he did. The tempo trainer would beep at the set interval and once he touched the wall at the end of each 1oo, he simply waited until it beeped again and he was off. At first he would glance at the pace clock on the wall to get a feel for how much rest he was going to get but after a little while, he stopped looking and just waited for the send off beep.
Afterwards, I asked him what he thought of using the tempo trainer this way and he said he liked it. I sensed it took him a little while to get used to the blind anticipation of the send off beep but he commented that it was good because it encouraged him to tune into his ability to pace internally vs getting feedback from a clock.
Turns out his internal ability to pace is quite good! When he was done with his workout and adequately cooled down I filmed his stroke from all angles for 100m. When I asked what pace he thought he had just swam, he was bang on.
In addition to his extraordinary athletic ability and friendly & easy going nature, Sam also has a Bachelors degree in Psychology and Physiology and coaches other athletes. We spent a few minutes chatting about our coaching philosophies and it was pretty cool to learn that we share many similar perspectives.
I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to get to know Sam a little bit and I look forward to seeing how his pro triathlete career unfolds. You can learn more about his triathlon journey and find some of his great blog posts HERE.
For more information on how to use a tempo trainer you can read THIS BLOG POST.