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Imagine trying to train with a work schedule that can extend to sixty hours a week. Toss in drive time to work that ranges from fifty minutes to two hours, “depending on traffic.” And consider that the training involves triathlons—running, cycling, and swimming.
That is what triathlete Jerry Beasley confronts as he continues to train for events up to Ironman distances.
Beasley “has been involved as a managing partner at Portofino,” a restaurant on the Detroit River in Wyandotte, “for seven years. His drive from home to Portofino is fifty-one miles, one way. “My schedule runs between thirty hours and sixty hours, five to six days a week. My responsibilities become more intense as we go into our season, which runs from late April to October.”
And yet he still finds time to train for triathlons, Ironman competitions at that.
The 67-year old restauranteur began running about ten years ago. He recalled, “I started running and training for triathlons to be healthier and lighter.” He was “attracted to triathlons for the diversity of the event itself. Swimming, biking, and running are all different at every venue. There are times when one of the three regiments doesn’t work, but the you can always make it up somewhere else.”
Since 2008, “I have completed thirty-six events,” Beasley noted. They have run the gamut, from road races to triathlons, “from 5Ks to full marathons and sprint triathlons to Ironman competitions.” He added, “I competed in and finished an Ironman in both 2014 and 2016.”
Training time is always a factor to consider for the busy triathlete. “I always have a goal in mind when I run, swim, or bike. With time at a premium, I must make very workout count. In the off-season, my running is for endurance.” When he “begins training for a specific race, my workouts intensify. I
include more speed work in my routine.” Sometimes road races become “part of my training.” He will enter “local events such as the Martian Marathon, Grosse Ile Rock CF, and other early season events.”
As might well be expected, Beasley “attempts to work [training] around family and work.” During the early season he tries to get in four or five workouts a week, putting in about six hours total. But as the race season and targeted events near, “my workout time doubles, sometimes reaching fifteen or sixteen hours a week.”
The heaviest workout weeks are tough—and time-consuming. “I have to double or triple up some days,” he said. “For instance, I may swim early, before work, and then before the sun sets, get in a bike and run session, up to four hours.”
He admits his schedule sometimes forces him to forgo a day of training. “I used to be discouraged when I missed a planned workout.” But experience stepped in and he adapted. He changed his workout cycle. “I found that it is easier to use a four-week calendar,” that is log and measure mileage and distance over four weeks rather than a week or two. “It becomes easier to move and pair workouts without affecting overall fitness. At the end of the month, it’s about hours and targets, not days.”
Beasley also plots an event calendar, selecting running and triathlon events. “They are set up in groups so that they complement each other.” That entails some thought and planning. “They must meet my peak and taper requirements.” For example, “I enjoy early season short- to middle-distance running events which test my training for early season triathlons.” Some of these races and triathlons “are more training tools” than actual competitions for him. Of course, he also targets events on which to focus. Those are the goals. “The training tools” are selected “as they come up.”
Candidly, he evaluates his strengths and weaknesses in the triathlon. “My strength is my swim and my weakness is my bike segment.” He quipped, “That’s unfortunate as it [biking] is always the
longest part of the race.” Also, he said he enjoys running and swimming more; they usually last only an hour or two. But cycling? “The minimum time for a good endurance ride is two to three hours.”
Occasionally Beasley will train with others, but that is limited due to his loaded family and work schedules. “The dynamics” of his schedules “may change a workout by an hour or eight hours,” hardly conducive to group training. He did note, though, that he has had several mentors for both running and triathlons. “I make sure they have successful credentials and experience.” He also cites “very successful training experiences with online training coaches such as Training Peak and Addaero. Both training systems,” he said, “have people who can evaluate and help with specific training issues. And they both interface with [my] Garmin GPS watches. [So I] can load workouts for both tracking and evaluation.”
Beasley is shrewd in his approach to training and competing in several ways. It’s not just about physical fitness. “A good example for me,” he explained, “is training for an Ironman.” Noting the distances, 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run, “All must work to finish. Allocation of time, not only for each segment, but for each weakness provides the mental strength to hit your goals and make it to the finish line. I don’t think any amount of training for distance will provide success unless you are mentally prepared for the race. To me, it’s 40% training and 60% mental strength and focus that allow me to do the distance in any race.” He believes his training at Kensington Metropark and Island Lake State Recreation Area gives him an edge. Such training sites “provide every conceivable race day challenge.”
In his quests and successes, Beasley has “enjoyed the challenges of training and in attaining personal goals in both running and triathlons.” Over time, though, “The challenge of a PR was simply no longer enough to overpower the time, sweat, and pain of training.” Again he adapted. “For me to overcome the mental block of distance” and time and sweat and pain, “I had to focus on something
more important than my own needs. For the past several years, I have used the faces of the children of the Children’s Tumor Foundation to get me to the finish line.”
He is a member of the Children’s Tumor Foundation NF Endurance Team. NF is “neurofibromatosis.” The team helps to raise awareness and research funds in hope of discovering a cure for NF, a condition that causes tumors to form in the brain and on the spinal cord and nerves. (www.ctf.org.)
Imagine training for Ironman-distance triathlons while working sixty hours a week, driving…… and then think of Jerry Beasley.
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