Jarrod Shoemaker is an elite triathlete, originally from Maynard, Massachusetts.
He came to triathlon from a running background, competing for Dartmouth College whilst studying history.
Jarrod started competing at the elite level in 2004. His career highlights include: 2011 USAT Elite Sprint National Champion, 2010 USAT Elite National Champion, 2009 USAT Elite Athlete of the Year, 2009 ITU Duathlon World Champion, U23 World Champion in 2005, ITU Duathlon World Champion in 2009.
Jarrod Shoemaker represented the USA in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, finishing 18th.
His sister Jenna is also a pro triathlete, as is his wife Alicia Kaye.
You seem to have always been very sporty, playing a whole range of different sports, so what made you turn to triathlon?
Growing up I tried to play every sport I could, I enjoy competition and enjoy being active. Baseball is the sport that I love the most and I focused on that growing up.
My parents both ran the Boston Marathon since I was a little kid, so I grew up watching my parents go for runs and when I was old enough I would bike with them.
Once I was in 7th grade I decided to give cross country a try instead of soccer at my school (although I still played soccer for the town team). I was immediately good at cross country and loved running on trails.
I started swimming after my sister decided to swim and I can still remember swimming summer team practices at the unheated pool and how cold it was.
I guess I ended up in triathlon because I was a good swimmer, great runner, but was never going to make an Olympics or national team in either of those sports. I knew I could be an athlete because I loved it, so I dove into triathlon head first and learned quickly.
And if you could be a pro in any other sport, which would it be?!
Baseball. I love pitching, I love the challenge of trying to figure out how to get people out. I also enjoyed playing in the outfield and trying to throw out runners. I had one game where I threw somebody out from left field at first base, at home and second.
To quote one of your Tweets, “I love how people think there is some magic bullet to be good at triathlon. It's hard work. Freaking damn hard work day in and day out.” What keeps you going through all the hard work?
The light at the end of the tunnel! I know that if I do this work I will get better. Too many people think that you have to go find this one special recipe, or there is one special place to train, that is so not true.
It's about finding the right balance for you and then just going for it. I’ve done lots of different training, but the best advice I ever got was go to bed wondering how you are even going to train tomorrow you are so tired.
During the swim of the Hamburg World Championship Series race in 2011 you got kicked in the face and suffered from concussion which took a while to recover from. Has this affected your confidence in the swim, and can you give any advice to people new to triathlon who are scared of this aspect of the swim?
I think the problem that most people have in the swim is that they lack the experience necessary for a mass start open water swim.
Most athletes swim laps in a pool by themselves, forgetting that that is about as far from race simulation as possible.
A good masters swim coach will set up situations where people can get the feeling of swimming in a group or open water simulations.
It's still tough feeling comfortable swimming open water and even crazier when you are swimming in an ITU event and 75 of your best friends all want to be in the same place as you.
You have to learn how to move around people and be aware of your positioning. I'm ready to swim harder and faster than I ever have before, I’ll just lead the swims instead of staying in the middle of the pack!
You competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. You’ve said that you learnt a lot from the experience. How has that impacted on your preparations in this Olympic cycle?
I think making an Olympic team changes a lot and I really am happy I was selected early in 2007. It allowed me the chance to develop as an athlete instead of worrying about qualifying leading into 2008.
Personally, this Olympic cycle has been very different for me, I am a different athlete and a different person right now than I was even a year ago.
Sometimes you lose sight of what is important and head off in the wrong directions and maybe a kick to the face is what brings you back around.
Either way my goal has been to get myself in shape to be a consistent top 9 performer on the ITU circuit like I was in 2009 and 2010. The rest will take care of itself.
You have a team of coaches, therapists and physiologists supporting you, could you tell us a bit about how this works and what benefits you get specifically from physiology support?
Just like my sponsors I have worked hard to surround myself with people I can trust and people who are positive influences on me.
At this point the list is so long, but I have my doctor, Dr. Lynn Weigel, in MA, I have my massage therapists, Andrew Southcott in MA, and Emily Tornatore and the rest of the therapists at West Orange Massage Therapy in FL, I have my chiropractor, Dr. Jeff Robichaud in MA and Dr. Frank Lopez in FL, and my Muscle Activation Therapists, Pam Minix in CA and Suzanne Gross in FL.
Also, coaches Tim Crowley for my overall program and Rich Axtell for swim specific.
All of these people, plus the USAT medical support staff are such great people, I love working with each of them.
It's all a balancing act for us athletes, you have to be on the edge between being super fit and being injured and it's quite a fine line.
I work every day with my MATs to make sure that my body is firing correctly and I am not overcompensating. The massage and chiropractors keep me in line.
And it's funny because the list doesn’t stop there - there are lots more people like my manager, Mike O’Neil. It’s a small country of people that make one athlete the best that he or she can be!
We’ve heard you say in an interview that with so many triathletes now good at all 3 disciplines you have had to change your mind set from sitting in the pack on the bike and waiting taking on the race in the run. How has that change been, and has this been reflected in your training?
The sport of triathlon has changed so much in the past 6-7 years. The athletes in the ITU races have become so much faster and so much more competent in all three sports.
The differences between the fastest and slowest runners used to be minutes, now 30-45 seconds can drop you from top 5 to 30th place. Personally I have just been working on increasing my bike skills by riding more cyclocross and riding in more group settings. I’ve made major improvements in all three sports this winter and I am excited to race soon.
You are sponsored by Zeo, which you refer to as your ‘secret weapon’. What have you learnt about sleep and could you give some tips for people looking to enhance their training by improving their sleep?
Sleep is something that most people forget about when they think they are training hard. Sleep is the most important recovery tool for an athlete, unfortunately it's also the thing that most people skimp on when they are running out of time in their lives.
Keeping a regular routine when it comes to sleep is very important, even for adults.
I try to go to bed at around the same time every night and try to spend some quieter time without the TV on or computer in front of me before I get into bed.
Also, I can use my Zeo and look at my deep sleep numbers and see where my training is. If I am not getting enough deep sleep it means my body is not recovering as it should.
You seem to be quite busy outside of competing, having been involved in organising some triathlon races, holding the position of Vice-President of PROTA (a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion and representation of professional multi-sport athletes) and doing some coaching.
Could you tell us a little bit about these activities, why you got involved and what you enjoy about them?
I have way too many things going on right now. I am the VP of PROTA, our goal is to help promote multi-sport athletes and be a liaison for the athletes.
Unfortunately many pro triathletes are off the grid and seems like they do their own thing.
We will get PROTA to work as it is so important now that there are a few other organizations dominating the other side, with WTC, Competitor, Lifetime, Rev3 and USAT on the race directing side, Triathlon America on the products side, the athletes are the ones left out in the cold.
In addition to PROTA I am working on a race series with Streamline Events. We have our Clermont Draft Legal Challenge, Harvey Cedars Triathlon and 4 great races in Massachusetts. We are about to launch a pro sprint distance series in the next week as well!
And beyond that my wife and I just launched our own suncare line, Endurance Shield. We are super excited to bring this amazing product to stores and we have sunblock, lip protectant, chamois crème and a muscle relief cream.
That is the start of our line as we have a few more super cool products in development. Its all lots of fun, but having great people around you in those businesses is just as important as having a great support staff in triathlon.
Lastly, everyone knows the favourites for the 2012 men’s Olympic race, but which up and coming triathlete do you think could make an impact on the race, as Alastair Brownlee did in Beijing 2008?
There is always a wildcard who has a big impact on the race, but in my mind the Olympics are about the people who have experience. Knowing how to execute on a single day is not something that happens by luck, it's good preparation and that is only achieved by a good athlete and a great coach.
1st March 2012