I've been reading Arianna Huffingtons book Thrive at the recommendation of Katie and the recent stuff I read about WISDOM really got me thinking about it's application to triathlon. Life, triathlon... that's me, always trying to draw some parallels.

"To know that you know, and to know that you don't know - that is real wisdom."

- Confucious

I love reading about and looking back at the lives of our founding "rock stars" in the sport. Dave and Mark totally intrigue me, and I love any time that Wendy Ingram will let me chat her up. My coach Muddy has been around all through the years, a true fixture in the sport, and when I think about wisdom in the sport I think about him. He has a really strong sense of "this is what we need to do" and I'm not sure he can even explain it. His intuition is very strong when it comes to coaching. He doesn't like power, or heart rate and he always wants me to ditch it out the window.

In the sport today we are bombarded with information. I'm constantly amazed at the sheer volume of articles and blog posts and podcasts that are being published today. I could spend 30+ hours a week easily reading and listening to keep up with the information that is being published. Advise on nutrition, training, tapering, gear choices, choosing a coach, how to be happy, what attributes great athletes share, these are just the beginning. Heck, I just glanced through the last 4 hours on my Facebook wall, here is what I encountered:

What happened to the days where the only info we got were some well written articles in the tri magazines, and some well thought out books on training? We are in a time of information overload, most of it delivered with a snappy headline, and a dose of shock value. Much of it is written to light up the spots in our brain that feel shame, inadequacy, or incompetence. And as I've seen in the food world, it leads to paralysis. Bread or no bread, honey or no honey, power or no power, HR monitor or no HR monitor?

When you are starting anything new OR when you are frustrated and trying to make gains most of us flock to information, we think we need more knowledge, and sometimes this is true. But in the current world filled with knowledge it's become "cheep". What I'm finding in the sport is that the hot commodity, the rare commodity, is WISDOM, and those with a deep sense of INTUITION.

"information...does not equal knowledge, and knowledge does not equal understanding, and understanding does not equal wisdom"

--Nancy Koehn (Quoted from Arianna Huffingtons book Thrive)

So what is Wisdom? The first thing that comes to my mind is age, old people have wisdom (sorry coach). It's more than smart, it's also street smart. Knowing what to do in certain situations, knowing the right way to progress forward, being able to walk around the pitfalls that those who lack wisdom fall into.


  • the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.
  • knowledge that is gained by having many experiences in life.
  • knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.

Knowledge is very much part of Wisdom, but the bigger nugget is experience. I think that the Dave and Mark triathletes of the past were 90% experience, 10% knowledge, and I think that's flip flopped today. People are much more likely to go read, or seek advice and knowledge from others over getting outside and testing/trying new things to gain experience. There is something I love about how the first guys and gals in the sport were rewarded for their experience, and I think many of them are the wise coaches of today.

The quest for knowledge may be pursued at higher speeds with smarter tools today, but wisdom is found no more readily than it was three thousand years ago in the court of King Solomom.

---Arianna Huffington

The farther along I get into my triathlon days the more and more I am leaving the book knowledge behind. Yes, I burn 745 calories per hour at an Ironman race pace, and I consume 215 calories an hour from nutrition. My metabolic efficiency is about 54%/46% glycogen to fat. That's the book knowledge. But the bigger voice is from my wisdom. I've ridden an average of 1000 miles a month, I know when I eat a bar every 45-60 minutes I'm good. I know when I drink about a bottle an hour I'm good. When I feel bad, I know what that is and I eat or drink or slow down to fix it. I didn't read that (well I probably did at one point) I just figured it out because it's what works over time. I failed a few times and got smarter each time I did. When I got stuck and I couldn't figure it out on my own, which was pretty rare, I did some research.

But sometimes I find myself getting sucked into the information world. It's on the twitter, in the Facebook, and it's easy to sit on the couch and read rather than get out on my bike and fail, and learn from failing. That's developing experience, and that leads to wisdom.

Ours is a generation bloated with information, and starved for wisdom.

--Arianna Huffington

In this last race in Boise, I had a cool experience. It was one of the first times racing that I relied much more heavily on my intuition. On the bike I reset my watch at mile 50, shoved it in my bra, put my head down, and listened to my gut instincts on how hard to ride. When I got out running I was running faster than Muddy and I had planned and my intuition took over. It said "this is great, your body feels exactly as it should, this is the same feeling you have when you run well" I knew in my gut I could hold onto the effort, and how did I know? Experience....which lead to wisdom....which lead to intuition.

Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.

- Jimi Hendrix

Does it mean I'm dropping all the gadgets like Muddy wants? Well, slowly some things are getting phased out as I learn to become less dependent on them. I think the athlete (and the coach as well) have many short term goals on the road to progress but one of the big questions I am asking of myself and I am asking about my athletes is "Where do I/you suck?" It sounds harsh, but you have to make decisions in this sport based on the answer. Do you suck at pacing? Get a HR monitor and a power meter and learn how to use them (experiment, you'll figure it out). Have you nailed your execution on your last 5 races but fail to step out of your safe box? Ditch the gadgets, and take some risks. Think about where you suck, and move forward with equal amounts of knowledge and experimentation. As we master different things in the sport, our "where do you suck" answer changes. Mine is changing, and with the help of Muddy, we are adapting and growing based on those changes. I'm thankful both for his wisdom, and his dedication to helping me develop my own wisdom.

Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, be fortified by it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.

Hermann Hesse