At 49 years young, Ken McLarty knows firsthand what it's like to train and compete in triathlons at the Ironman level.
Although he's in demand all around the metro area, McLarty is sharing his knowledge at the Mt. Hood Athletic Club. He was hired as a spinning (indoor cycling) coach at the club, but most recently he was hired as an endurance trainer.
His success is shown not only by the number of triathlons he has won but by the success rate of the athletes he coaches.
Participating in triathlons is a lifetime sport, he says, noting it has less impact on a person's body than just running.
Triathlons - including the sprint, Olympic, half-Ironman and Ironman distances - begin with a swim, followed by a bike ride and end with a run. They can be on-road or off-road, changing the level of difficulty. The Ironman begins with a swim of 2.4 miles followed by a bike ride covering 112 miles and finishes with a marathon (26.2 miles) foot race.
McLarty is familiar with all types of triathlon competitive events, and he wants to share that knowledge and coach those who are interested in success.
'One of the reasons I've made this commitment with the Mount Hood Athletic Club,' he said, 'is because there's no one in East Clackamas County who is coaching triathletes.'
McLarty says this activity is not just for people who want to win races; it's for people of any ability or age who want to be more fit or become a better runner, swimmer or cyclist.
'You don't have to be Joe Athlete to do this,' he said. 'You just have to be committed to the training.'
McLarty coaches people in any one of those three sports as well as those who combine the sports into a triathlon. Within a six-month period, he said, he coached two of his students this year to their first Ironman event.
He also coaches strength training, because he says it is important to have a well-rounded training program.
'It's not enough any longer to do just one thing,' he said. 'It's healthy to just run, but it's really advantageous to have a multifaceted approach to fitness and health.'
By that, McLarty means advice on proper nutrition to match one's fitness goals, guided cardiovascular work and strength training as well as yoga for flexibility, coaching for endurance and proper form for the specific sport.
McLarty has a long history of involvement and success in competition and coaching.
Early in the development of the sport of triathlons, McLarty was active, training groups of aspiring triathletes in the mid-1980s.
An active coach since the mid-1990s and among the first group of triathlete coaches certified at the Olympic level, McLarty has competed in several hundred triathlons and marathons in the past 25-30 years.
McLarty says he's never coached anyone who didn't finish a competitive event.
He has trained a dozen athletes who qualified for Ironman triathlons.