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Living the Life of a USA Triathlon Collegiate Recruit

By Justin Roeder | July 11, 2012, 12 a.m. (ET)

(Disclaimer: This is the life of Justin Roeder. This is not meant to be a generalization of all collegiate recruits. Materials below may upset you if you measure your life’s meaning by your wallet size. P.S. My wallet has Velcro on it. Enjoy!)

For review purposes, The USAT Collegiate Recruitment Program, headed by Olympian Barb Lindquist, seeks out collegiate runners and/or swimmers who have exhausted their primary sport eligibility, and who might be capable in competing in triathlons at a high level. The goal of the program is to fast track these identified athletes, “recruits,” into the professional ranks of triathlon with the ultimate objective of competing for national teams. “What post graduate collegiate athlete wouldn’t jump on this opportunity?” At least this is what I thought when I first heard of the program. Currently, I am a few months shy from my first year anniversary in the Collegiate Recruitment Program. These days I am still training long and hard, receiving expertise and guidance from Olympian Barb Lindquist, generous support from my USAT and my coach, AND defending my current role in societies’ eyes!

justinAs a collegiate recruit, even though I graduated college, I am embedded in a unique situation when questioned “what do you do” by fellow peers. What I do is train upwards of 25 hours a week, travel another 5-10 hours in order to get to these training locations, rehab 5 hours a week, consume more calories than recommended, and finally, I sleep more than a teenager on the weekends.

Here is the ultimate kicker: after receiving a degree from the prestigious and private Butler University, I moved back into my parent’s home in order to minimize my cost of living. This allows me to save money on rent and utilize my extra funds on my next competition (flight, bike fee, hotel, etc).

Today’s norm expects recent graduates to find a job, pay off loans and bills, buy a home, get married, and adopt a dog for good measure. My apologies to the society, but currently I work as a volunteer coach for a local university, train several endurance athletes(lots pro bono) to pay for travel, deferred my student loans, live with my parents, still dating a girl for over five and half years now, and well, my parents adopted a dog, so that is a wash.

Long story short, “what do I do” in my mind, is think, act, and be the best triathlete I can be. I eat, sleep, and train with the following goals in mind: become a professional triathlete and compete for my country at the world’s biggest stage. Well part one of two has been completed. I have earned my professional license (both Rev3 Knoxville and Dallas EDR), but I am waiting to accept it until after Age Group Nationals in order to maintain my amateur status. While my friends, training mates, and other peers question how I can I live below the poverty line, I simply ask myself how could I live above it if I never gave myself the best shot at my dreams? Without being cheesy, we only live once, so what am I waiting for?

justinOutside of swimming 25-30k, biking 150-180 mi, and running 40-50 miles a week, I manage to wear several other hats as a USAT Collegiate Recruit. These hats include the aforementioned men’s distance running volunteer coach at IUPUI and endurance coach for local athletes competing in events from 5k-10k road races, marathons, crits, and triathlons. I also lead my own marketing campaigner (finding potential sponsors), and last but not least, I am public speaker. Yep, that’s right! I have been into schools telling your kids to chase their dreams with all their heart. I tell them you can be an astronaut, firefighter, doctor, or even a professional triathlete. You’re welcome; we can talk payment later.

So when someone asks me “what do you do,” I can politely respond, “I do what I love”. Waking up each and every morning knowing there is another big workout or race. Understanding very well that it is going to hurt, I am going to suffer, and the reward is usually not monetary, rather I am paid with self-satisfaction, physiological adaptation and fulfillment. I am truly living the life! Follow me on twitter for more! My handle is @justin_roeder.