Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Slovak vs American athletes

I was browsing the web last week and found some tri and running blogs from guys in Slovakia. And geeez, there is such a huge difference between anal American tri types and cool laid-back Slovak athletes:) These guys in Slovakia do sub-9h IMs while sleeping in tents in camps before the races, eating rice and drinking orange juice for fuel and ones that have real tri bikes are heros:) (Ok, maybe little exaggerated because I do not know their precise nutrition plans but they sleep in tents or drive 5-6h to the race the night before and eat rice instead of gels and bars for breakfast). Compare that to the American attitude where nobody touches anything that does not have PowerBar or GU in the name and if your bike does not cost as much as your car you don’t think you are a real triathlete.

I think that the Americans are overanalyzing things, make huge strategic plans, analyse whether they are type-A personalities (I do not even know what exactly that means and who cares about what type of personality you are anyway), spend a lot of money on useless stuff. Basically they take themselves way too seriously. Those Slovak guys are dead serious about their races and training (otherwise they would not be racing 8:30 IMs, would they) but they seem to be having more fun, are not obsessive about every single detail. They are just laid-back. And what I like about them is that they do not make a big deal out of racing IMs. In the US people buy stickers to put on their car windows, jackets, t-shirts etc with “Ironman Finisher” stapled all over it and they even get tattoos (come one, it’s IM, you have not find a cure for cancer or solved the Gaza strip crisis…), you get feeling that Kona (or Boston marathon) is an ultimate sport achievement (and when someone says that getting to Kona is harder than getting to Olympics I want to smack the stupidity out of that person with a titanium wrench) and everyone thinks that finishing IM is one of the greatest accomplishment ever. Ok, maybe for someone who has lost a limp or overcome a nasty disease it is, but for healthy regular folks…everyone can do it.

People here just do not keep it simple. Or maybe I am just too simple and thus I do not understand all the “intangible feeling stuff” they talk about:) That club meeting I went to last week was supposed to be for first-timers doing IM. Everyone was talking how great they felt when they finished, how accomplished and proud they felt, how their whole families would come with them to cheer them on and throw them huge party afterwards, how they were pushing through mental barriers and such totally useless (for me at least) stuff. All I wanted to know was how aid-stations on bike course work because I just cannot imagine how hundreds of people on bikes do it. You stop? How do you navigate around other cyclists? For me those are important things, I do not really care about how I am going to feel mental-wise before or after. And I am somehow getting more and more annoyed being around those tri people when they talk about their IM experiences. But maybe it is because I am around people who are not serious enough athletes by my standards. I think that athletes who actually race races rather than just go there to finish have a different mindset and care about different things in racing, don't you think?

My point is, American triathletes, stop being so freaking narcissist about this!

Sure there are a lot of American triathletes who I like a lot because they are "my kind of people" :)

PS: Surprisingly, I have found only blogs written by men, nothing by women. I know that there are women athletes out there in Slovakia but still most women are home cooking dinners and not running around. Although from what I have heard more and more women are joining in for fun!


  1. From my blog, people expect that I'm some sort of monster at races; then they meet me and find out I'm way more laid back than I pretend to be.

    I'll keep an eye out for Slovakian women triathlete blogs... but would you be furious if I found a Czech one?

  2. Totally agree with your assessment. I didn't know if it was Slovak or Eastern European but that's something I've noticed as well. I don't think it's just about Ironman or triathlon either- but more an outlook on life and things that are 'hard'. Find Tatiana Vertiz. She won 20-24 age group at Kona and writes a rather honest blog... Obviously not eastern European but certainly not American in her thoughts process. From my coach's perspective, I would have to say that I'd like to take a whole crew of athletes like you... ;)

  3. @ Steve: I admit, some of those blogs were from Czech triathletes:)
    But Slovak, Czech...they are the same, ending with "oh, finish line, I can finally rest my aching legs" instead of "oh, finish line, I feel so proud of myself".

    @Michelle: Yes, it is true for other things as well, not only triathlon or running. It is one of few things that I do not like about the US, lot of people just seem spoiled (it is a perfect word to describe it but it is the closest I can find).