Total Therapy Blog

Juan Jaramillo, Kinesiologist & Endurance Athlete

Juan Jaramillo, Kinesiologist & Endurance Athlete – Interviewed by Mae Nakano

Today’s spotlight is kinesiologist Juan. Juan and I actually met when we both were heavily involved in a run club in North Van back in 2011 or something crazy long ago, and you guys, he’s a pretty inspiring athlete underneath his extreme modesty. We sat down and chatted about his passion for endurance sports.

So Juan, what would you say your main event is?

I would say triathlon, at least for the moment. I try to do a few trail and road running races throughout the season, but their real purpose is to compliment my triathlon training.

What’s your main discipline: swim, bike, or run?

Running is definitely my strongest, and therefore my favourite. It’s all about strength-to-weight ratio– genetically I have a fairly lean build on top without much height, which is advantageous for running. Swimming is my least favourite because I started late in my teens so I’m constantly working towards improving my technique.

You mentioned trail running too. What’s the difference between trail and road running for you?

Road running is all about data and keeping a certain tempo. Trail running is more challenging because it usually involves much more elevation gain, but mentally it’s much more liberating. I can disconnect from running gadgets and just simply enjoy my time in nature.

How did you get into it all?

When I was 17, my dad challenged me to my first marathon. I completed the Vancouver Marathon in 2011 and I’ve been hooked on endurance sports ever since!

And now you’re into triathlons. I think you have an Ironman (3.8km swim, 180km bike, 42.2km run) finish under your belt now, right?

My first triathlon was an Olympic distance (1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run) in 2012, the Vancouver Triathlon. My one and only full Iron distance was the Challenge Penticton in 2014. Then I had some nagging injuries throughout 2015 and 2016, so when I returned to racing in 2017, I decided to focus on shorter and faster racing. Now my longest distance is Half Iron. I also love to race Olympic and sprint distances throughout the season.

So those injuries… Do you mind sharing your experience?

In 2015, the main reason I was out was from 2 fibular stress fractures, while in 2016 it was the plantar fasciitis that did it. But I’ve also dealt with a lot of other issues, from ITB stress syndrome to metatarsalgia to patellar tendonitis. It was pretty rough. The loss of my sport and lack of progression as an athlete led to some dark times, because this sport was (and still is) such a significant part of my life. However, I was able to focus on other important aspects of my life too, like spending more time with my family and friends, and I was able to fully focus on completing my undergrad in Kinesiology. I wouldn’t necessarily want to repeat it… But I did learn valuable life lessons.

What has being an endurance athlete taught you?

It first and foremost taught me the power of perseverance and reaping the benefits of working hard towards set goals. It also made me realize you have to be able to let go of things that are out of your control. You make all these sacrifices in your personal and professional life; all those hours of training you put in on a daily basis; the money you invest in making sure you have the right gear to succeed on race day– yet, things can still go terribly wrong. When things go south– either during race day or getting injured during training– it’s always a tough pill to swallow, but at the end of the day you have to realize that is the way sport/life is, and be satisfied with the fact that you did everything in your power to make sure you were as prepared as you could be. It is an opportunity to learn from any mistakes you might have made and therefore continue to grow as an athlete to perform even better the next time.

And what’s next for you?

Later this season I plan to do mostly sprint and Olympic distance races, and possibly a couple 10km running races or half marathons.

In the next couple years my goal is to race a full Ironman again and hopefully place at the top of my age group in order to qualify for the Ironman world championships in Kona, Hawaii. But in order to achieve this, I need to improve my performance on the bike, as well as run better coming off the bike. Coming from a running background I have usually performed fairly well in running standalone races but running off the bike in a triathlon is a completely different beast. My fuel stores usually tank and I end up slowing to a trot in the final third of the run. I think I wasn’t consuming enough electrolytes, so that’s one major change I plan on implementing for my upcoming half-Iron in Whistler (July 28th).

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