This week started out like every other week this semester. Work from 5:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., an hour of driving home due to traffic, a quick 30 minute nap, a long swim (3000 meters, about 120 laps in the pool), a post workout meal, homework, and a then bedtime. Tuesday, much of the same. School from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., weight training from 2:30 p.m., to 3:30 p.m.. a meeting with my mentor from 4:00 p.m., to 6:30 p.m., a two hour bike ride, dinner, some blogging, and then bedtime. However, these two days have been a little different. I did all of this with newly shaved legs :)
For guys, shaving their legs for the big race has pretty well become an important part of Ironman race preparation. Its right up there with carbo loading and pre-race hydration. Actually, more to the point, its become a tradition and the mark of a real honest to God triathlete who has truly arrived, or at least a great pretender (in my case, more of a pretender).
I doubt most people actually realize why leg-shaving takes place and why the heck athletes put themselves through it in the first place. In the beginning there was one and only one logical reason to shave your legs for an Ironman. It all started with cyclists who shave their legs in the event they have a nasty crash where exposed skin meets the ashphalt. From what I have gathered about road rash, it is far easier to clean and treat abrasions if the blood and dirt is not dried and matted in your leg hair. And in all honesty.... it does hold true. I have crashed a few times and its surprising just how much faster these wounds actually heal when the affected area is smooth and easy to treat. Plus it alleviates the agony of trying to rip off a band-aid that is connected to your leg hair (ouch!).
There is yet another reason to shave your legs. For years competitive swimmers have been huge advocates of shaving. And when I mean shaving, these guys shave everything off..... legs, arms, stomach, chest, face, eyebrows, nose hairs, butt hairs.... everything. The theory behind this is obviously less resistance in the water. So... is it true? As a newly shaved athlete I can attest that swimming suddenly did seem effortless when trying to propel yourself through the water. You virtually "slide" through the water. Then it dawned on me..... that is exactly why fish don't have hair right? That is logical right? If not... then picture a salmon with chest hair.... now thats funny! :)
Anyways.. other than that, is there a real difference between shaved legs and not? No. It does make cleaning your wounds easier, and it does cut down on resistance in the water, but in most of my triathlons I wear a wetsuit anyways, so shaving is pointless. People also contend that it makes you bike faster... idiots. That is a mental thing if you ask me.
So to shave or not to shave? Sure, why not? If it makes you feel like a triathlete then of course you should. Although, after two days of shaved legs, the up-keep is quite annoying. Ladies.... I have the utmost respect for you. Keep up the good work.
"If you only do what you know you can do..... you don't do very much"