Equipment V pure ability - KickRunners.com
 
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#1 of 18 Old 06-04-2008, 02:03 PM - Thead Starter
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In this months Triathlete they have an article about PNF's record times for the IM. the article mentions all the up and comers and the individual split times that would need to be done to beat the record.

The whole time I was reading it I kept thinking about when she set the record. 1999. 8 years ago. 8 years ag ot hey did not have the carbon bikes they have today. 8 years ago they did not have the aero helmets. 8 years ago they did not have the ceramiic bearings int he wheels they have today. 8 years ago the nutrition was gels or bars, no special blends. 8 years ago the tri suits were not as aero. 8 years ago the sneakers, although good, were not as light or water phobic.

With all the technology they have today in the bike and the run (The swim probalby hasn't changed that much as you can't really change the water.) i would have guessed that the records would be broken every year. the bikes are so much lighter and the the suits so much more comfortable.

It comes down to 2 things. 1) PNF was the most incredible athlete ever to walk the earth. (Which I believe having met her a few times.) Or 2) the athletes today just don't have it.

Me ----> ----> PNF

CS
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#2 of 18 Old 06-04-2008, 02:47 PM
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Eddy Merckx's 32 mph for an hour with a standard road bike and wool jersey evokes a similar reaction in me. A number of years ago I was able to do the tour of venezuella and the Cuban national team was participating. They were always in the moves, always riding fast and aggressive, as stong as a US pro rider, yet they had bikes with 6 speed scrw on freewheels, downtube shifters and 32 spoke wheels, all on junky old steel bikes. They just rocked on this old, worn out equipment.

Sometimes we'd hit a climb and you'd just hear gears mashing and freewheels skipping and stuff breaking, but them the pace would just go balistic.

We all came away with a realization that the bike isn't a big deal.
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#3 of 18 Old 06-04-2008, 03:07 PM
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I keep telling myself it's about the engine, b/c there's no way I can afford to buy a tri bike anytime soon. Will stick with my trek - granted, it does have aerobars, but I'm going to continue to tell myself that I'll gain that extra 2-3 mph of speed over the long haul by building my legs, not by buying new bike. Once again, when I arrived at my race last weekend I was completely intimited by the fancy set-ups. In the end I was 1/25 in the 35-39 age group on the bike segment, and 9/113 OA female on the bike.

But, if someone out there is gonna buy one for me, I'll take it!
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#4 of 18 Old 06-04-2008, 03:18 PM
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This is a GREAT topic, and I'm glad you, of all people, brought this up. I say "of all people" because you are driven and talented, a coach, and someone people look up to as knowing the in's and out's.

When I first got into this sport two and a half years ago, everyone talked about carbon and aero as if they were things you absolutely needed to go to the next level. I learned very quickly that this was not so. The latest gear may help an athlete go faster or be more efficient, but the darn truth is that for us ordinary athletes -- ordinary being non-Pro -- if we really want to go 1 mph faster, which even if you had the very best equipment you might not get, there are so many other much easier ways to get it. This is even more evident when you look at the raw numbers. So over the course of an Ironman you'll gain a minute if you had xyz on your bike or person. But the truth is, if you stayed focus on mile 95, when things were getting really ugly, you'd have that minute back and more.

We all want the latest equipment, me included, but I totally agree that the utmost benefit isn't nearly what it is made out to be. You still have to have the engine to run a small power plant if you want to average over 25 mph on a bike. You still have to work your ass off. You still have to go through a lot of pain to get to that level. You still have to be smart but committed with your training. And you still have to make those pedals go round and round.

A common theme about aero equipment, especially wheels, is that you won't see a benefit unless you're averaging over 21 mph or more. And even then it isn't much. But speed up to 24, 25, 26 and more, then you'll get even more benefit. That much I believe. We all dream about short circuiting that progression, to take our piddly 19.8 mph average and slap on equipment in hopes to get to 25, and although there will be a benefit, the biggest is with strength training and power-based analysis. There are no short cuts. None at all.

Another common theme is how some people look at Pro's and gush about their natural ability. Natural ability might be true. But it's also true that these athletes probably push themselves much harder then you and I, and they've been doing it for a much longer time, and they've started at a much earlier age. That's what makes it seem natural. Natural is working their asses off. Natural is training themselves to hold onto that pain even longer. Natural is the internal drive earned through racing hard, racing smart, and taking more chances than possible.
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#5 of 18 Old 06-04-2008, 03:22 PM - Thead Starter
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You are point in case. However, I do think that with your talent, a good bike would propell you to another level. PNF was on the top of the line stuff for her time, so putting you on a better bike would help. Would it give you 2-3 mph, questionable. I am at least 1mph faster on my Zipps, but I ride really crappy training wheels.

On another note. Would you be faster? I could argue both ways. Your comfort level on the bike you currently on gives you max power. If you were on anothe bike that didn't fit so well, would you be abel to put out the same wattage? Comfort and trust in your equipment goes along way.

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say YOU could buy some speed if you were inclined to do so, but only because you are already at the top of your game and upgrading the equipment can only make you better. The pros are and have been on the best, so giving them something that is marginally better isn't going to help them that much.

CS
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#6 of 18 Old 06-04-2008, 03:38 PM
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That right there is true of just about anything in life. Not just sports. The one thing I want my daughter to get out of her violin lessons, above all else, is an appreciation for what it takes to play well. No one just picks up an instrument and immediately plays well. They might learn fast, but they still put in the hours and hours and hours.

It's easy to look at the top level triathletes and think their equipment helped get them there. It's harder to remind yourself that they probably bought that equipment after reaching the top level and they got there on some random bike just like yours.

- Le Bannon
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#7 of 18 Old 06-04-2008, 03:58 PM
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I’m not trying to be contradictory or suggest that PNF wasn’t/isn’t a gifted athlete, but they did have some of that high-tech equipment just 8 years ago. Whether she used that stuff or not I can’t say. But, Kestral introduced production, non-lugged carbon fiber frames in 1987. Aero helmets date back to a few years earlier. Greg LeMond wore aero helmets in the TdF.

Sometimes it’s just about the athlete and not about the bike (no Lance reference intended). People, well life forms that don’t exercise, always comment how fast they think I ride (I don’t really ride that fast). I tell them that in a race with me on Lance’s bike and Lance on a K-Mart Huffy…the race would still go to Lance.

Dan
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#8 of 18 Old 06-04-2008, 04:22 PM
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"Case in point" is the phrase you were lookin' for there. It's derived from the French "à point", meaning the same as "à propos" which gives us apropos, something relevant or to the point. You're citing a relevant example or case - a case in point.

->>> John <<<-
Because too much fun is never enough.
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#9 of 18 Old 06-04-2008, 04:29 PM
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My long time friend from HS says basically the same thing regarding the "tech suits" that swimmers wear.

He was an age group coach for many many years, and would get soooo frustrated with parents and grandparents wanting to buy $300 suits for their 10 yr old kids to compete in. At that age, he said, there are nine billion things that the ATHLETE can do to get faster before a special suit would be truly helpful. Besides, the good form, the fitness, the technique....all that is much more important to develop rather than "relying" on the small help that a suit at that level could give. On his team, the rule was that if you made the national team, you could get a special suit. Their team was sponsored by speedo, too.....so if they made national cuts, they got a suit FOR FREE....mom and dad didn't have to pay for it.

Ferries are for wimps!!
Let's swim!
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#10 of 18 Old 06-04-2008, 04:45 PM
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I've got the 99 recording on IMH, in fact all of them to 91. That's what I watch on my long CT rides. They did have some top technology then, actually some pretty funky bikes like the one Welch used to win. Softride? I still see those.

PNF though was pretty awesome no doubt. Also I just watched the one where she broke down in the end, and then came back to win the next year, good stuff.
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#11 of 18 Old 06-04-2008, 05:01 PM - Thead Starter
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That's what I meant. I have like 3 seconds to type my thoughts and get on. I do not have time to go back and look to see if it's right and edit it. So if my typing and speeling are crappy, that's life at warp speed.

CS
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#12 of 18 Old 06-04-2008, 05:05 PM
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I think equipement plays a HUGE role in all sports. How can you compare Jessie Owens to today's current speedsters when they have way more high tech shoes and don't run in the dirt.

Golf is another example. Technologoy is making the game too easy for the pro's and old classic courses are having to be lenghtened and make more difficult so you don't have guys shooting -20 during a tournment.
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#13 of 18 Old 06-04-2008, 05:24 PM - Thead Starter
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Top tech for 99 was not nearly as top tech as 06 and 07. They frames have come along way in aero advancements and in weight. The components themselves are much lighter, have more gears (She was probalby on an 8 tooth rear cog back then) and shift much crisper.

I'm pretty sure Lance could out ride me even if I was on my motorcycle and he was on my trek hybrid.

CS
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#14 of 18 Old 06-04-2008, 05:31 PM
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I agree with you Kristine. At the elite levels an athlete needs the newest, high-tech equipment. But ya know…if a person (i.e. Me) struggle back in the pack of their respective age group, what’s the use of having all that stuff. It might gain me some seconds here and there, but that still isn’t any threat to even the leaders of my age-group. So I’m really racing against myself trying to better my performances. As long as myself uses the same equipment it doesn’t really matter if it’s new high-tech or old tech.

Dan
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#15 of 18 Old 06-04-2008, 06:07 PM
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This post reminds me of a book I read a little while back called "C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race" which I highly recommend. Its about some guys in 1928 that actually ran from LA to I think to New York. They ran every day, up to 70 miles a day maybe even 90, lows in the 20s, in crappy old leather shoes. Nutrition was almost non-existent, and they wore the same clothes day in and day out. Slept outside many times as they couldn't find suitable lodging. I mean geez... to run multiple marathons a day, for like 3 months, with technology from 1928???

They don't make people like this anymore
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#16 of 18 Old 06-04-2008, 06:54 PM
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This reminds me back only to the early 1990's when I first started running marathons.

Back then there were no timing chips. Even if it took you 5 minutes to cross the starting line, it was the time on the clock when you crossed the finish line that defined your time. To qualify for Boston often meant running that much faster. My all-time best Boston was a 2:57. That year, if I remember correctly, it took me 4 minutes to cross the starting line. My time wasn't a 2:53. It was what the clock read.

During that time, most marathons had only water at aid stations. Boston was among the first to start offering Gatorade or something with calories and electrolytes.

And during that time, Gu's were gobbled not on marathon courses but by guys who ran ultras. Those were unheard of. You ran with straight water, maybe some Gatorade -- if the race was advanced enough to have it.

The shoes were pretty good. I used to run in Asics Tiger and Asics Exults. Gosh I loved those. Until I discovered Asics DS Trainers, which were cutting edge.

The only hats were those cotton Fred Lebow styled hats cyclist would often wear. I still have my free handouts from NYC Marathon and even one from Boston one year.

Most runners wore cotton shirts. I have old pictures of a completely red t-shirt... that was once white.

I tried to get sponsorship from Sam Adams. I told them I'd run in their gear, if they would please give me a shirt. They gave me a basic white Sam Adams t-shirt and a Sam Lightship (no longer made) painters cap. I scrawled on the back of the t-shirt "26.2 miles until my next Sam!" The cap I placed on a kid's head in Boston one year because I was way too overheated. The boy's mother made me stop for a photo... with me knelt down next to the boy. I wonder all the time if he ever went on to run Boston himself. Or maybe he hates running because some sweaty guy stuffed a stinky cap on his head. Now that I think about it, I bet he's a painter!

Hydration belts were popular back then. We planted water, or went without.

Split shorts were in style. I still wear them. I will go into a sharp depression if they ever finally go out of style. I like them too much.

What the heck were synthetic socks back then? Who knows. We wore cotton. And got blisters. But hey, we looked cool with our split shorts.

I sound so old. Heck, I'm only 38. I ain't no old. But maybe I am if I keep wearing those split shorts.

Back then adidas made soccer cleats. They didn't care about running. Nike was just getting started. Asics had alredy a good hold of the market. They still do. You wore Saucony's only if you won a pair at a race or you had no money. Because they were inexpensive. New Balance was trying to break in. They still are.

Age group awards weren't all that popular. The race was for the overall win. Otherwise you raced against yourself or your mate for who would buy whom a beer.

New York State has great races. It's a law that you have to have at least one keg of beer and a decent afterparty. Massachusetts sucks. It did back then. And it still does today.

Back in '94 I ran the inaugural Disneyland Marathon. They screwed the course up and made us tag on an extra 1.5 miles at the end of the race, so right after we saw the 26 mile marker, they made us go another 1.5 mile by circling around in the Disneyland parking lot. That sucked more than the state of Massachusetts.

I can go on.
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#17 of 18 Old 06-05-2008, 03:50 AM
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Golf 1900 vs Golf 2008. Equipment today carbon fiber shafts, alloy heads, and golf balls that fly 25 or more yards futher than just a few years ago. Golf courses in much better shape. Greens are rolled and consistent. Manicured fairways. Back then greens were lumpy and bumpy and not evenly mowed. Fairways were not in great shape on a consistent basis.

Tournaments lengthening courses as someone else say.

Handicap for the average player 1900 vs Handicap for the average player today, are exactly the same. The average player has not improved 1 stroke even with all the technology and better golf courses.
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#18 of 18 Old 06-05-2008, 07:08 PM
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I was just thinking about this. The plains Indians men and women used to have foot races measured in days and hundreds of miles logged, and also short races around 5k. They did this all in moccasins or barefoot. Later when pioneers came they also had footraces of similar length and they did it barefoot or with minimal footwear, and they were fast too. I often wonder what modern athletes would be like if they had to run or bike, etc. everywhere and did it from a young age. Would they really need all these performance improving shoes, bikes... or would they just naturally have the efficiency. I've always been inspired by these early american athletes because they weren't the most gifted, weren't groomed to become athletes. They were just regular Joe's who used their bodies to the fullest everyday of their lives.
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