What is your test when it comes to measuring fitness?

What challenge keeps you honest when it comes to evaluating your fitness? Photo: Getty Images

by Kevin Heinz

Some folks get into this sport because they tire of running or swimming. (Nobody gets tired of biking, it’s just too fun.)

Clearly one of the aspects of triathlon is the novelty factor. No other time in our sport’s short history has the novelty card ever been so easy to play as in January, 2020. If you are bored of your tri bike, reach for your road bike. When that gets old, go gravel. And now there’s the virtual reality cycling galaxies of Rouvey, Zwift, Binkey, or whatever else is coming around the corner by mid-February.

The novelty factor can extend beyond technology to workouts. To alleviate boredom, some triathletes chose to do a mind-numbingly diverse range of swimming, cycling and biking workouts. As fun and exciting as learning a new workout can be, there’s tremendous athletic and spiritual value in the familiar.

Here’s an example from my training universe: The hill.

It’s the hill that I have been doing twice a week for the better part of 17 years. The hill is a bastard. It’s a combination of false flats, Stelvio-like pitches and tough, but fair inclines. And it’s packed into 400 metres of honesty.

My personal relationship with the hill is based on fear and dread, but also a begrudging respect. The hill never lies. And this is where the beauty of “the same” exists. Barring the microscopic effects of erosion, the hill never changes. I do. Whether I am hung-over, in Ironman shape, sick, injured, hungry or angry, the hill provides testament to my worth as an athlete every time I do it. Having that rock-solid metric over the decades affords me a sense of continuity. The hill isn’t going anywhere. And, if I train right and am lucky, neither am I.

Training partners and platforms can come and go, just like our health and fitness, but the hill will always be there.

What’s your hill?

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