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Q & A WITH SCOTT TINLEY : Triathlete Enjoys Long-Running Success, Doesn't Foresee an Imminent Slowdown

June 04, 1989|ROBYN NORWOOD | Times Staff Writer

Scott Tinley started competing in triathlons in 1976, in the days when the sport was most often known as a grueling, masochistic endeavor, if it was known at all.

Since then, triathlons have proliferated in a variety of distances, including mini-triathlons for weekend athletes and, of course, the famed Ironman at Kona, Hawaii--a 3.8-kilometer swim (2.4 miles) and 180-kilometer bike race (111.6 miles) topped off with a marathon.

Other triathletes have won more often and won more money than Tinley, who grew up in La Mirada and went to Fullerton College before graduating from San Diego State, although he does have three of the five fastest times at Ironman distances. But the breadth of his endeavors outside of competition is not easily matched.

Tinley, a Del Mar resident, has translated his renown into numerous business ventures. His name is sewn into a variety of athletic apparel known as Scott Tinley Performance Wear Clothing, a business he started in 1984 with three partners. In 1986, he released a book, "Winning Triathlon," and in 1988, a home video, "Triathlon Training with Scott Tinley."

And at 32, the 6-foot, 155-pound Tinley shows no signs of slowing down.

Question: Talk me through a normal day for you.

Answer: First of all, my days aren't normal in comparison to anyone else's. Each day is a little bit different, but basically it includes about 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 hours of training and at least a couple, two or three hours of work. I try to spend an hour or two with my daughter (Torrie, 20 months), and my wife (Virginia). The rest is just made up of little things that are necessary to live day-to-day life. Eating, sleeping.

Q: So often when people have children, it changes the way they think about their daily lives. Has the way you think about training changed since the birth of your daughter?

A: Yes and no. I was fairly well prepared. I knew that having a child would cut into the amount of discretionary time I had for myself, so I was prepared for that.

It hasn't affected my training other than I think I'm more aware of exactly how much time I have to accomplish what I want to accomplish. Let's say I flit around for 20 minutes doing something completely unnecessary. That time is going to come from someplace else, either the amount of time I have on my bike or the amount of quality time I spend with my family.

But all the time that I spend with my daughter I consider the most rewarding out of everything else that I do. Even though it's the most subjective time. It's just that you can't really measure the time you sit around and play blocks with your kid. You can't really measure that in relation to maybe like going out on my bike for a 30-mile time trial. Then, well, I know exactly . . .

Q: So how fast did you and your daughter build the blocks?

A: You don't like to do that. There's a real tendency to go that far, not only when you have a personality like I do, which is fairly obsessive at times.

When you start undertaking all these different activities, it's very easy to get too type-A. You don't want to be that way all the time. Not only is it very unhealthy, but I think your quality of life goes down, because you end up being driven and very mechanical and efficient, but you don't enjoy what you're doing because you're always worried about time and performance and rewards.

Q: Would you say most triathletes have type-A personalities?

A: It's hard to stereotype them, but I'd say the sport has attracted a lot of individuals who are goal-oriented, who are motivated by success, whether it be in business, in academics, in life in general. When you have a group of individuals like that, it's very easy to say everybody who competes in triathlons is a workaholic. That's not necessarily true.

Q: You've written about the demographics of the sport, that there are a lot of people in their mid-30s, very successful who are getting into triathlons. What does that mean for the sport? Is this a trend, the way tennis was in the '70s? Is that a possibility? Can the sport avoid that? What do you think, basically, of the future of this sport?

A: I think because the demographics are such, at least from what small studies we in the sport have found to show, I think it's a positive sign for the future of the sport for a number of reasons.

First of all, when you have people who are like 'the average person' involved in the sport, they usually do it for a loftier reason than something they might do on a fad basis. They do it because it fits into their life style, or they want to be a part of a sub-culture that is going to provide them with certain intrinsic rewards which they may not be able to achieve being involved in weekend softball.

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