Daniel Bretscher – Pro
Andrew – Daniel Bretscher, of all the places to start, let’s talk 2007. You were the man in 2007, a year out of collegiate running at DePauw, you tore up the triathlon scene. I mean you won everything. You nearly won Memphis in May Overall including the pros, talk about 2007. What were the keys that brought you immediate success as a triathlete after collegiate running?
Daniel – …I like to say that I became “unbalanced” in ’09-’10. Looking back on things now, I think my problems really started right out of college in 2006 through 2008 when I was having tons of success, but the problems didn’t fully manifest until 2009. Basically, I had a one track mind. Triathlon was everything, it was the way I defined myself as a person, and the way my workouts and races went dictated my moods. It was a very unhealthy mindset and way to live, but I’m positive a whole lot of other elite athletes are living this same way right now. I’m not married, but if I was during that time period there’s no way the marriage would have been successful, everything in my mind was about me and my racing, completely one-sided. But I got away with it and put up very successful results for two years. This is because everything seemed to go my way in 2007-2008, nothing bad happened and I became a very spoiled triathlete, pro triathlon seemed like the easiest job in the world. Looking back on it now I can’t believe that I went two full years without a single setback. Then in 2009 the reality of professional triathlon finally caught up with me and I had some setbacks. An injury in the preseason of 2009 and a couple months later a bike wreck with minor injury. Typical setbacks that every triathlete experiences at some point but this was the first time I had experienced any sort of setbacks and mentally I was not prepared whatsoever. I basically just panicked when things started to not go according to plan and caused those minor setbacks to become so much worse than they were and snowball out of control until nearly all of 2009 was a wipeout. 2010 had a few more setbacks, and wasn’t my greatest year, but I spent a lot of time looking inward at my mindset, who I was, what I was doing, and what I wanted out of triathlon….
I’m very proud of the way I finished the second half of the year in 2010 as I was a bit of a mental wreck in July and was very close to reliving 2009 all over again. But I picked myself up, refocused, got into great shape, and finished strong. I like to think that this was the start of a new, balanced Daniel Bretscher, one with a healthier outlook on life and where triathlon belongs in his life. Truth is though, I can’t be 100% certain that I have overcome all my hurdles just yet, only time will tell.
Daniel – … I did put some thought into pursuing ITU racing. But that form of racing just has never appealed to me, it’s never done it for me. I’ve never gotten excited thinking about competing in ITU. I have nothing against that form of racing, I think it’s great, in fact I think that for the most part the best athletes in all of triathlon are the ITU racers. It just doesn’t do it for me personally…
I think it’s because I grew up in awe of the Hawaii Ironman. My father placed 69th overall at Kona in 1987 and some of my earliest memories are his races. We still have the VHS recordings of the ABC broadcasts from the old days of Kona. I grew up watching those races, still do sometimes. How many times have I envisioned myself running the last quarter mile to win Kona? Thousands. How many times have I envisioned myself sprinting for the olympic gold? Hardly ever. Ever since my first triathlon at the age of 12 the ultimate goal has been Kona.
Daniel – I’ve always enjoyed creating, modifying, executing, and analyzing training plans. I’ve kept a training log with every single workout recorded since the age of 12, I could tell you what workout I performed on December 13 1996 if you asked me. I can tell you that I’ve run 26,285 miles since 1995, I just enjoy the numbers. The way I got into coaching triathlon was three years ago I was approached by two athletes who asked if I’d like to coach them. I did, really enjoyed it, they had breakthrough success and I’m still coaching those two today. From there things have just spread through word of mouth, I haven’t spent one dime on marketing myself as a coach. I really enjoy it and enjoy working with people, everything’s been positive thus far. I can’t say if I enjoy coaching or racing more but I hope to make coaching into a full time gig once my pro triathlon days are finished. As far as coaching for myself, I’ve weighed the pros and cons of hiring a coach a few times, but like I said before, I really enjoy sitting down and planning out my training year, months, weeks, and individual days. And I’m confident I know what I need to do in order to get into peak race shape, it’s just a matter of doing it. Everytime I’ve followed the plan I’ve written out for myself I’ve had great results. Every time I’ve been disappointed with my results I wasn’t following the plan I laid out for myself.
So on the subject of doing more than racing for a living, I’m curious about you. If Catepillar, or some similar company, was to approach you next week and offer you a job that was on par with what you previously did, would you accept it? Or are you confident enough, based on the success you’ve had the previous two years, in your ability to ‘make it’ solely as a triathlete?
Andrew – No…Right now I am living a dream that was born on a severance package from the corporate combine, and once it runs out, I will fade into the darkness of the sport as hundreds have.
Can I make a sustainable income as a triathlete? Not yet, but God I am trying. The thing is, this opportunity is a once in a lifetime. I can work into real old age, but to have the gift, the talent, just the ability to race is bliss. I find it so interesting that people are so quick to question one’s decision to sacrifice it all and go for it as a professional, and these same people will go back and relive sporting accomplisments from when they were in high school. I do have those moments, but my real moments are yet to come. I am living those days right now. Living frugally and racing hard.
Daniel – But do you ever think about when you’re 38 years old, your days as a pro are ending and now you’re going to have to go back to ‘real life’ and your work experience is very dated?….I just think more young pros need to understand what they’re getting into, and be realistic about where they stand, their chances of making it big, and have a plan for if triathlon doesn’t work. I’m not trying to throw you under the bus because, personally, I think you’re going to land your first major win anytime now, I’m just trying to bring light to this topic as I feel it is a major problem and a trap that a lot of pros fall into.
Daniel – I would have to time travel for my ultimate dream job, it would be to be a member of a world famous 1970s rock n roll band. Secondly, I would be a Formula 1 race car driver. Third would a pro golfer on the PGA tour. One final question for you, Andrew. How many different ways have you seen your last name spelled or pronounced over the years?