Haskins Double Carries Useful Lessons
American Sarah Haskins competed in two very different Olympic-distance triathlons just 12 days apart.
It is not easy to win the St. Anthony’s Triathlon, which is one of the most competitive non-drafting international-distance races on the professional circuit. It’s even harder to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team in triathlon. More difficult still is achieving both of these feats in a period of 12 days, but Sarah Haskins nearly did just that, winning St. Anthony’s on April 29 in course-record time and then coming within a hair’s breadth of qualifying for her second Olympics at the ITU World Triathlon San Diego on May 11, finishing as the second American and eighth overall when she needed to be the first American and among the top nine finishers. (Check out Sarah’s power file from ITU San Diego here).
Although disappointed with the latter result, Haskins, 31, takes comfort in knowing that her preparation for the back-to-back races was perfect. The St. Louis native and current resident of Clermont, Fla., might be further gratified to know that her preparation for the unique “double” that she nearly pulled off provides an excellent model for age-group triathletes to follow in their own efforts to excel in more than one race within a short period of time.
It was only in January of this year that Haskins and her coach-husband Nate Kortuem learned the date of the final Olympic qualification event for U.S. athletes. Although it fell less than two weeks after St. Anthony’s, where Haskins was the defending champion, the thought of skipping the Florida race to focus on the more important San Diego event never crossed her mind. “I felt that it was possible to have peak form for both races,” Haskins explains. “I think it actually would have been harder if the races had been farther apart. But with only 12 days between them, I could use St. Anthony’s as one last ‘fitness race’ before the trials.”
Haskins also knew from nine years of triathlon experience that she was capable of bouncing back quickly from one race to perform well in a second race one or two weeks later. Nevertheless, she and Kortuem recognized that they would have to plan and execute her preparation just right to maximize her chances of achieving her goals for the two events. Here again they took advantage of knowledge acquired through past experience.
“We looked at what we did before London last year,” says Kortuem, referring to August’s ITU World Triathlon London, where Haskins finished a disappointing 34th. “I think we trained too hard and put her in a hole. Going into London after that she was just dead flat. Obviously, we cut back for recovery, but by then it was already too late.”
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