Like many triathletes, AJ Rhodes is a driven athlete, student, and professional, managing to be successful in all aspects of his life. The first Tallahassee finisher at this year’s Tri the Rez, Rhodes finds time for high quality training while working full time and pursuing his studies at Florida State. How is he able to coordinate his busy schedule?
“Efficiency and planning” Rhodes states. “Trading volume for intensity. Every workout has purpose. Just as in a single workout you have a pattern of work and rest, so it is in a day, week, month, semiannually, annually, etc. There are times of the year when things are really structured, and there are times of the year when it's just like ‘go out and do whatever you feel like.’”
Rhodes believes taking the time to exercise each day makes him a more productive person. “Getting in my workout helps me to blow off steam and I am a firm believer that it actually makes me more focused throughout the day” he states.
Focusing mostly on team sports in high school, Rhodes did not discover triathlon until college. He started swimming to keep in shape for surfing. He discovered triathlon after a friend told him about training for Red Hills exclusively at the Leach Center. “I scored a used bike off a guy in Havana, signed up for my first tri (Beach Blast Olympic, 2009) and have been hooked ever since,” Rhodes remembers.
Rhodes counts Red Hills and Six Gap Century as his favorite races. He’s hoping Augusta 70.3 and Six Gap will one day be held on different dates, as he’s always wanted to do Augusta, but chooses Six Gap instead.
Due to his full schedule, Rhodes prefers shorter workouts with a focus on intensity. He’s also noticed that “inserting intensity seems to make the time go by faster, especially on the bike trainer or treadmill.” He counts running as his weakness, but feels he thrives in hectic situations.
Rhodes has several words of wisdom for those new to the sport, among them “don't get overwhelmed by gear; the most important thing is the engine. Prioritize rest as much as workouts. Figure out why you train and race. Actually write it down.”
All in all, Rhodes hopes to continue to enjoy training and racing and not get burned out. “I think everybody should spend time each week doing something they enjoy and that brings fulfillment, even if it doesn’t come to anything but that. It could be photography, writing/blogging, cooking, playing music, reading, woodworking, hiking, web design, etc. That's not to say that setting goals is not useful or laudable, just that achieving goals is much more fulfilling if the process is enjoyable. If it is not that, then we need to step back and reevaluate why we are doing ‘fill in the blank.’”