Bluetooth speakers, bike workouts and a little Velcro add up to one serious training tip from Ian MacFawn.
“Listening to metal music drops my splits by 10 seconds,” he says, laughing. “It’s amazing.”
Siblings Ian and Lauryn MacFawn have embraced the concept and application of practice. And whatever will push them during those workouts, including thrashers such as Iron Maiden.
“I want to be able to support an active lifestyle,” Ian says. “Triathlon training — not only is it an end, but it’s also a means.”
Although they attend different schools, the MacFawns often train together in the summers. They’ll see each other a little sooner when they both compete at the 2015 USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships in Clemson, South Carolina. Neither Ian nor Lauryn say a podium finish is on their minds, but they’re both more than capable.
Lauryn’s 2014 season included age-group wins at IRONMAN 70.3 Eagleman and Muncie, sixth place overall female at the ITU World Triathlon Standard-Distance Championships, and fourth-place female at the USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships.
Meanwhile, Ian finished 10th for men 18-24 at Eagleman, his first attempt at that distance, and 22nd overall at the ITU World Championships race.
Those results might suggest that the MacFawns fall into a triathlete stereotype: hyper-competitive, sometimes bordering on aggressive. But that kind of Darwinian attitude is nearly invisible, despite the successes.
“I wish I was more competitive sometimes,” Lauryn says. “The first-place girl beat me by one second at half IRONMAN worlds. I was tired, and I wanted to be done.”
In that race, the 2014 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship, Lauryn finished as the runner-up. Only three seconds separated first from fourth. For her and Ian, race day remains separate from the work required to excel at swimming, biking and running. Training is not how they win; it’s how they live.
“I put value in the training rather than me beating other people,” Ian says. “Because I do it so much, I have a chance to do well in races. I try to pursue that. If you’re focusing only on the race or being competitive, then the training can really be a drudgery.”
Lauryn echoes that mentality.
“I like to feel strong and feel like I’m getting stronger,” she says. “Training is central to my life and my mental balance.”
“If I don’t,” Ian says of working out, “I start to get cranky.”
Enjoying the outdoors and sweating a little in the process has been engrained in the MacFawns. They have raced triathlons with their dad since before they were teenagers. Still, growing up with the sport doesn’t directly prepare someone for handling academics plus athletics any more than baseball or volleyball might.
That hasn’t been a problem for the siblings. Both ran cross country and track in college after stellar prep careers.
Lauryn raced at Syracuse University after winning five Maryland high school state titles, including two on the track and individual gold in cross country three years in a row.
Ian won one individual Maryland high school cross country crown and one track title in the 1,600-meter run. He ran three years at the College of William & Mary, where he’ll graduate in May. He’s focusing his senior year on triathlon practices.
“There’s something to be said for the ability to represent more than just yourself,” Ian says of what will be his first collegiate triathlon nationals appearance. “It’s another level of pride and representation to race for your school against other schools.”
That’s the beauty of the college-only race. Throw age groups out — competitors all have to deal with making time for workouts while they navigate classes and homework. Sports cannot stand separate of school for members of college club teams.
“It’s always something I’m working on, always trying to find the balance,” Lauryn says of graduate school. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in veterinary medicine at Virginia Tech University. “It’s not like you can’t handle it, but sometimes it just wears you out. Getting up in the morning is hard. Ripping yourself out of bed. I struggle with it still.”
For the MacFawn siblings, however, strength and motivation lies in each other.
“Ian’s my best friend,” Lauryn says. “If I’m having a hard time, I can talk to him about everything. He always has something good to say. He’s wise, even though he’s my younger brother.”
The same goes for Ian: “Lauryn and I are very close. We definitely kind of stick together. We just love the idea of what triathlon is really about — being active and trying to enjoy the world and reach your potential.”
In other words, training.
“If I lived on a deserted island,” Lauryn says, “I would still do triathlons because the sports are all fun and working hard is such a good feeling.”
“You can progress, and see how you progress,” Ian says. “That’s the addictive thing. Then you go to races. That’s an added benefit. Even if we couldn’t compete, I would still train.”