PowerUp Tri Podcast Episode 12: Gwen Jorgensen

PowerUp Tri Podcast Episode 12: Gwen Jorgensen

ON August 7, 2019 by Zwift

The PowerUp Tri Podcast is hosted by former pro triathletes Matt Lieto and Jordan Rapp, who lend their in-depth knowledge of the multisport to the Zwift Tri audience.

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Gwen Jorgensen reached the pinnacle of the sport of triathlon by winning the gold medal at the Olympics in 2016. What did she do next? She dropped the mic on the sport of triathlon to chase her love of running. And being the badass that she is, Gwen wasn’t okay with just setting a goal of being a competitive professional runner: she set her eyes on another gold medal, this time in the marathon. In this episode, we sit down and ask what inspired her to make the drastic move while at the top of the sport of triathlon.

A big reason why she walked away from triathlon is the motivation necessary to be the best in a sport. Gwen says, “I put everything into accomplishing the goal of winning a gold medal and I ticked that box and there was just no motivation for me to go back. I didn’t enjoy it. Triathlon picked me. They said, ‘We think you’d be good at this.’” Gwen is being literal here. USAT picked her out of a talent ID program and the rest was history. After Rio it was Gwen’s turn to chase her own dream, not theirs.

After Rio Gwen began looking for a way to continue to push the limits of sport while finding something she was truly excited about and always wanted to do. “I just have this passion, like this is so cool, the marathon. And to have that motivation, you need that motivation when you’re a professional athlete. If you don’t have it, your performance just isn’t going to be there. I’ve actually always wanted to run. I remember out of college I wanted to run professionally, but I wasn’t able to get enough money to support myself.” She has been on a progression as a runner since college and thought there was nothing to lose by giving it a try.

From an outsider’s perspective, Gwen seems to have an air about her, a self-confidence, almost a brash demeanor (when it comes to sport) that can certainly be respected. For Gwen it wasn’t always that way, though, and we chat about how there have been different standards in sports for men and women about boldness and speaking with that brazen self-confidence she possesses.

She wasn’t always this way and it affected her performance in triathlon, especially in very physical ITU swim legs when she first started. “I kept saying to my coach I don’t want to be aggressive and that’s solely because I’ve been taught my whole life that women aren’t supposed to be aggressive. And I had to have this mind shift that, you know what, it’s okay to be assertive and it’s okay to have that boldness and it’s not something that only men can have.” Damn straight, Gwen. Damn straight.

It’s with this newfound confidence that Gwen was able to shoot for the stars with a gold medal at the Olympics. She shares that the process has been a challenging one for her.  “I think it’s going horribly. I think for me I’m starting at a disadvantage to begin with just switching sports and only having four years. And then I decided I wanted to have a family as well. And so I got pregnant with Stanley and that took another year out of it. It’s always been this time crunch.” Gwen is coming along well after surgery on an achilles injury, a Haglund’s deformity, and has begun running again and is hopeful to make a turn for the better to be able to qualify for the Olympics at the Trials in February.

In the tech corner Jordan gives us the skinny on whether or not the “speed bar” aero bar extensions really are as much of a game-changer as they are hyped to be. Jordan thinks for most people, even at high speeds, you’re only looking at maybe two to three watts. At a cost of several thousands of dollars a pair it’s up to you if you think it’s worth it or not.

In tri happenings, we talk about recent race results including an American male winning an ITU World Cup for the first time in quite some time. Just in case anyone else is confused by all the different  ITU race categories, I have Gwen give us a quick tutorial on all the ITU lingo. All this plus some good Q&A and fun times with our all-around legend guest host, Gwen Jorgensen.

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