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Mark Allen’s Total Triathlete

September 28th, 2007

A friend recently lent me a book: Mark Allen’s Total Triathlete, published in 1988.  As far as I’m concerned, this book is GOLDEN – there is tonnes of excellent info to be taken.  Given that Mark is Peter’s mentor, I read the book with special interest.  Interestingly, I’ve picked up a few things from the book that I’ve heard Peter say at one time or another.


A few things from the book:

Mark accounts his experience prior to the Nice triathlon in 1985,…he felt like he had the flu in the morning – had he not had a triathlon to go to, he would have turned over and gone back to bed.  Halfway through the race, he went from struggling to gaining his competitiveness,…he ended up winning the race – learning to never predict the day’s outcome by the way you feel in the morning.  This reinforced the Yogi Berra axiom: it ain’t over ’til it’s over.


And this beauty….Mark Allen’s SAUSAGE PRINCIPLE:

In relation to a super hard workout he had prior to a race, he said this about his next race experience:

“My body was absolutely rejecting that pain threshold I had to reach to maintain contact.  You’ve only got so much physical and emotional energy.  If you spread it out, you’ll have it at the proper times.  but if you tap yourself out, you may not be ready to do it again a week or two later when it’s the real thing.

I knew it was going to be really tough to stay with Mike [Pigg].  During some races, your body almost thrives on the pain, that push, that hunger that will not let anyone get away from you.  You know you’ll do whatever it take until you drop dead.  In other races you start to push, and your body just shuts down.

It’s kind of like having a favorite food.  When I was a kid, I used to love those little link sausages.  When you went to a restaurant, you’d only get maybe two on your plate.  Our family hardly ever went to a restaurant, and we didn’t have link sausages at home.  One time I was camping in the mountains with my grandma.  She bought a pack of 84 link sausages and said, “You can have as many of these as you want, Marky!”.  She started cooking them, and I had one, then five, and finally eight.  All of a sudden, I started feeling so damn sick.  Just the word ‘sausage’ made me nauseated for weeks.  My family would say it just to watch me squirm and turn green.  For years after that, i couldn’t eat a sausage.

This is known as Mark Allen’s Sausage Priniciple of Triathlons.  You love the sport, you love the training, but if you tap into that deep reserve and go too far, your body rejects that pain when you have to do it again.”


Mark also wrote this on being centered as an athlete:

“You’re also really living if you face your fears.  One of my ultimate fears before the Ironman was that I was going to fall apart during the run.  I thought about being in the lead and having someone come by me.  When Dave [Scott] did go by, I said to myself, “Face your fear.  It’s happening.”   When you avoid a fear, when you’re staring at it face-to-face and you run away, it gets bigger.  “Face your fear,” I said at the time.  “Keep going and no one else will pass you”.

The more of those situations you are aware of and face, the closer you get to the spot I call the center, your energy spot.  For me, there is a point where I can stand and nothing can knock me off.  To find yours, face your fears, and acknowledge that they are there.

If I am centered, if I have reached my energy spot, I should be able to just sit in a corner by myself and be happy.  As an athlete, I sometimes imagine that I’m in a crowd of world-class athletes receiving awards for excellence.  As the awards are presented, everyone claps.   All the athletes in the room receive an award but me, even though I had a fantastic season.  I’d be in my ultimate place within myself; I would be in my energy spot if, after not receiving an award, I could feel sincerely happy for everyone else.  If I know myself what I had accomplished, that it was the best I could do, the praise wouldn’t have to come from an external source.  I should be happy with myself.”


How may one get to know oneself?  Never by contemplation, only, indeed, by action.  – Goethe’s Worldview, Ungar


We are born fighters; we will find something to oppose.  If we cannot find a worthy foe, we create one, even if that foe is ourselves.  – David K. Reynolds


Maturity is not succeeding all the time.  Maturity is continuing to try even when we are failing.  – David K. Reynolds


Swallowing error or accomplishment of the recent past, we turn to the next moment, always a fresh one, always carrying with it the possibility of new achievement.  – David K. Reynolds