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JR Creekmore: Collegiate Runner to Triathlete

By JR Creekmore | Feb. 12, 2016, 10:48 a.m. (ET)

Hey y’all! My name is JR Creekmore and I’m going to talk a little bit about my transition into the sport of triathlon from collegiate running as well as the training adjustments I’ve needed to make. Last spring, I finished my undergraduate degree in materials science and engineering at the University of Tennessee where I ran cross country and track all four years. As the end of my senior season approached, I was unsure of what would lie ahead of me in terms of general exercise in any capacity. After my NCAA career was over, I didn’t do much running at all for about 6-8 weeks. One Sunday, though, I went on a run with a couple of my buddies and realized what I had been missing in my life recently. I think sometimes while running collegiately, it’s easy to forget why you started running in the first place. But after that run, my love of running was instantly rejuvenated as well as the thrill of pushing my body. This is also when I realized that I had the freedom to compete in any race (or sport) that I wanted to. Having swum from the ages of 8 to 18, I thought that maybe I ought to give triathlon a go.

In August, I moved on to graduate school at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and that’s when I bought my first bike. I had never really ridden a bike before, other than down to the local neighborhood pool, but I started riding consistently with the cycling team on campus. They have been great teachers of all things related to bikes and also great training partners. As I was doing a bit of running and swimming as well on my own, the sport of triathlon became more and more real as time went on. In the Fall I got into contact with Barb Lindquist about the CRP program and since then my training for the triathlon has spring-boarded forward. Barb has so much knowledge of the sport and connections that she has been invaluable in my training. She set me up with Sean Edwards, a great triathlon coach out of Indianapolis (a short 2 hours east of Champaign). Sean has been pushing me very hard the last couple of months as we communicate regularly and have even done some training sessions together.

Triathlon training, in my opinion, is not like training for running alone and this has been a huge adjustment. While running in college, I put in 80-90 mile weeks (8-10 hours) pretty consistently. Most miles were relatively easy or maintenance, with only about 2 workouts and a long run every week which were harder. Now in triathlon training, I often train upwards of 15 hours per week with as many as 8 quality sessions in addition to an endurance ride and/or run sometimes. I only run about 40-50% of what I did while in college, but most of those miles are high in intensity. Even with the lower running mileage, I still feel like I have very good running fitness because of the training for the other disciplines.

It has taken my body a while to adjust to this change in intensity which has also required me to pay closer attention to my diet and recovery, so that I can train at that level. It has been a learning experience in those areas in order to stay out of a fatigue hole.

In addition to the physical changes, I have had to adjust the way I mentally approach training. In the past, it was easier to gear up for workouts as they were sparser, but now there is often more than one key workout in a single day. It takes greater mental fortitude to get geared up for a training day like that, but also, if one workout doesn’t go quite as planned, I have to be able to bounce back and not let that affect the way I approach the next one.

While making these changes has been difficult and frustrating at times, I have started to get it figured out and become more in touch with my body. There will always be more to learn to improve myself and my training so that I can push myself further. I look forward to seeing how my training so far pays off as my season will officially open up in Clermont, FL at the Clermont EDR. I am eager to get out there, race, and have some fun!