WHO AM I?
My name is Simon Jørn Hansen. I'm deeply passionate about triathlon so watch out if you ask me into something related to triathlon. You might get caugt and have to spend a long time with me. My foundation for how I approach triathlon is found in my relation to my twin brother Christian Jørn Hansen. We both had the vision that once we put commitment into triathlon and running we could get far in our sports. In the summer of 2013 we both stopped playing football/soccer and I devoted my energy into triathlon and Christian into running. However, due to a slipped disc, I first started with structured training on 20 October 2014.
Christian and I decided to be self-coached. We were both aware that some bright minds were out there that had already invented the "wheel" in triathlon. But we both found joy and excitement in reading tons about how to train and get better, and then to experiment on ourselves. To me there are more pros of being self-coached than being coached. I like to know what I'm doing and make sure that there's a purpose behind it.
This lead me on to why I have this blog. The reason behind it is to share my journey and inspire others to take on a journey of their own. If I inspire just one person I'll be more than happy. I want to show that if you put commitment and passion into something, then you can "reach for the moon - and even if you miss, you'll land among the stars". Triathlon brings the best person out in me. It might be a bit "cliché" to say so but clichés are made for a reason. I have ambitious goals and if I want to achieve them, I need to improve and evolve as a person. Triathlon makes me become that best version of myself.
HOW DID I GET INTO TRIATHLON?
As so many times before my brother Christian Jørn Hansen was the big inspiration. In 2010 he signed up for Challenge Copenhagen, which was the first big Ironman distance triathlon and what catalyzed the triathlon "boom" in Denmark. I was the only one he told that he had signed up. He had never swum, biked or run that far. We had a goal of completing a marathon before we turned 20 years, and he just upped the ante by completing an Ironman by the age of 19. Only one week prior to the race he shared to our family that he should race it. He was too nervous that he wouldn't finish it. But he did and seeing him have fun, run that last marathon, talk for hours at the finishline, and complete such an ambitious goal got me intriguid about the sport of triathlon.
I now had one clear goal: I wanted to complete Challenge Copenhagen in 2011. I had seen what it did to him and I wanted to have that same experience. I cannot stress how much that day in 2010 when he crossed the finishline has meant for my personal development. He was the "moon" I was shooting for. We both played football/soccer at an elite level so it meant we only had a couple of months during the summer vacation to devote to triathlon. I devoted my summer of 2011 to triathlon and with all Christian's knowledge I finished my first Ironman at a time of 10:50:28 hours with only a couple of months of training.
I continued to focus on football/soccer and do triathlon as a hobby. I ran some marathons and did a relay with my best friend, Jacob Christensen, at Challenge Copenhagen in 2012. In 2013 I went on exchange to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Here I signed up to do my second Ironman at Challenge Penticton just one week prior to the start of my exchange. It was an incredible experience and I got to see the best of triathlon. I was there all alone but lots of people greeted me and helped me in the days leading up to the race. A women even drove me the entire 180km bike course the day before so I could see what was ahead.
I was there to enjoy it and ended up finishing as no. 1 in the 18-24 Age Group. Some recovery and then I was ready to start going more into triathlon after having quit football/soccer in the summer of 2013. I found joy and motivation in triathlon and changed my focus. Unfortunately I got a slipped disc in December 2013 that chased my all the way through 2014. However, I find this to be a breakthrough period. I had time to sit down and set goals for where I wanted to go. That's when I saw a video on YouTube from the Olympic Triathlon in London 2012. I was absolutely sold! And I went out to see a good friend from my childhood, Simon Hein Frederiksen, race short course triathlon. That opened my eyes and showed me that triathlon is more than long course. Simon inspired me to go in another direction. No long course stuff - only the short course because that's what I found to be the real triathlon. Seeing the intensity, drama and pain in short course triathlon motivated me to get into it.
My slipped disc was almost over in October 2014 and I could finally start on my long-term goals in elite triathlon. On 20 October 2014 I started using all my acquired knowledge from when I couldn't train. From there I quickly found that I could sustain a fair amount of training. I had no background in athletics and had probably run 10-20km on average a week since 2011. All of my training was (and still is) based on building a good foundation. I've found that going out hard with low volume and high intensity doesn't develop me. I need that base. That's probably quite different from what many other people do and I've also had many suspicious looks and questions over the time about my approach. I've found it to be my way towards success. Building a base and being consistent is key to become a good endurance athlete.
I saw the first sign of success when I ran 15:12.86 min. on a 5000m on 12 May 2015. I had previously run 16:49 min. on 5km in 2013. With no running in 10/12 months in 2014 and only what Arthur Lydiard terms marathon-conditioning training (for me no faster than 3:35 pace at the time) in 6 months I came close to run sub 15 min. on 5000m. You can find more times here on my results-page.
All my ups and downs during my journey in elite triathlon is what I want to share with you. Some might say that I reveal too much to my competitors. But I don't care. I want to give some inspiration to other people to start their own awesome journey in triathlon. That means more to me than revealing some information to my competitors. If they want to beat me they'll just have to work harder. I believe very much in this quote: "Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work".
Be devoted, pacient, passionate, consistent, and enjoy what you do - then there are no limits.
WHY IS TRIATHLON THE BEST SPORT?
I find triathlon to be the best sport for two reasons. The first and primary reason is that it makes me become the best version of myself. Triathlon is pushing it. Why not only focus on one discipline instead of trying to master swimming, cycling and running at the same time? For me it's about doing what seems unrealistic. The goal should be high, very high, for me to be motivated. And doing triathlon challenges me a lot.
Some (a lot!) has asked me why not do duathlon. Already after 1.5 years with endurance sport I placed no. 10 in the Duathlon Standard World Championship in Adelaide, Australia. With that big a potential it would seem obvious to go more into duathlon, also because I don't have a swimming background. My running and cycling abilities are quite proven so I could probably do well in duathlon. But doing well after such a short time in the sport isn't interesting. To me it says something about the level in duathlon. I respect duathletes but I respect triathletes more. I want to compete against the best. And you don't find the best endurance athletes in duathlon. Plenty of triathletes could go in and win a lot of duathlons. But they don't. So for me - if I want to compete against the best endurance athletes triathlon is the right way to do. It's not interesting winning a race if there was no competition. I'd rather finish way down in the ranks but at least I competed against the absolute best in the world.
Another reason for doing triathlon and adding the discipline of swimming is that it brings me out of my comfort zone. And isn't that what we chase after all? Challenging ourselves and see if we can come out on top? I have no swimming background. I started swimming 2:15 min/100m but has since then put a lot of hard work into it and am now swimming in the range of 1:20-1:25 min/100m. Swimming challenges me a lot. I admit that I have absolutely no talent for swimming (those who've seen me swim will agree!). Swimming is about technique and not just hard work. It's different for me and here you have to be more smart than be able to work hard. It's challenging and I know I have to bring the best out in myself if I want to improve.
The last reason for doing triathlon is the communities and the people you meet along the way. Triathlon gathers awesome people that enjoy the outdoors and want to push themselves. I enjoy those long bike rides where you get to talk about nothing and everything. The running sessions where you really push yourself. Seeing each other develop and being together about this development gives me an incredible feeling. I've met so many fantastic people in my relatively short journey in triathlon and I cannot thank you enough for being so welcoming and have open arms to other people, especially a rookie like me. You've all taught me a lot and helped me become a better version of myself.
WHAT ARE MY DREAMS?
My dream is to have fun and to push myself as you can read from the above. But you probably also wonder about what some of my more concrete dreams are? First, keeping at the national level, my dream is to became a Danish Champion in triathlon. I find draft-legal triathlon to be extremely exciting. It's all-out all the way from start to finish as every second counts! However, the swimming level required to get on top of the podium is extremely high. I will work hard to improve on my swim and continue doing draft-legal triathlon as it for me is the "pure" kind of triathlon. A dream is to finish on the podium in the Danish Sprint Series amongst the senior men. That'll require a lot. I know I can ride and run with the best but I need to improve that swim.
If I look at my strengths and weaknesses, another goal comes to mind that I recently discovered in 2016. I've never really considered long-course triathlon. The Ironman is something I'll probably move into when I get older but it doesn't tempt me at all now. However, I experienced that the Half Ironman distance still involves quite a high level of intensity. My endurance is good and my running level is the best in Denmark on the half distance, and even has the level do run with the best triathletes in the world. I haven't focused on the bike a lot so I know there's more to come after. Again, the swim is the key. I need to improve on that. Seeing that the half distance actually involves more intensity and that I have a potential to become one of the best triathletes in the world on the distance, that's where I'll move my focus slightly towards. In 2017 it starts with going after the podium in the Danish Championship on the half distance.
And no - I won't stop racing draft-legal triathlon. The intensity and tactical play it involves is too fun. And at the same time it sets me up well for another one of my dreams. To stand on top of the podium at the Danish Championship Sprint Distance Non-Draft. This race has a high prestige in Denmark and the field is good. If I want to become one of the best triathletes in Denmark, this race is where I can prove it.
Moving on to my international dreams, I've spent quite a lot of time in the beginning of 2017 to think about this. At first I had a goal of competing in some short course draft-legal international races, more specifically regional cups like European Cup and in the best case, World Cups. However, the swimming and the time required to spend on qualifying for World Cups especially is extremely demanding. It is still a dream but not as much as this one! To get on the podium at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship. First I have to qualify, which is something no Danish athlete has done in a long time. This dream requires a huge amount of effort, passion and commitment. And exactly that is why I find it attractice. Furthermore the field at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship has become so deep in the later years. Previously, you would find the best athletes divided between short course at the World Triathlon Series and long course at the Ironman Hawaii World Championship. But today the 70.3 distance brings together short course athletes and long course athletes. If I want to be one of the best triathletes in the world this is where I can prove it.
The later dream is extremely ambitious but I know it's realistic. On this blog I'll take along that journey to accomplish my dream. Follow me shoot for the moon and long among the stars!
Every year I make a season plan and set some goals for myself. They change year after year and I post them on my season plan-page
. However, the dreams are more long-term. In summary they are:
- Podium at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship
- Danish Champion on Half Ironman Distance
- Danish Champion on Sprint Distance Non-Draft
FOLLOW MY JOURNEY
I regularly post updates here on my blog - about training and all other things triathlon related. You can also follow along and see why the sport of triathlon is awesome in my regular video updates. The entire collection can be found on Vimeo.
If you have any questions, just ask away on my contact-page. I'll be more than happy to share my experiences.