Cam Dye retired from racing as a professional triathlete at the end of the 2018 season and he is ready to move on to new adventures. While in Boulder, Colorado I sat down with him and had a chat about that decision and what the future holds.
Slowtwitch: Hey Cam, thank you very much for your time.
Cam Dye: Yeah, my pleasure.
ST: Well, how is retirement treating you?
Cam: So far, so good. Definitely enjoying having the weekends to spend with my kids, and I get to sleep in a little bit. Also have time now for some other things. Have spent time in the weight room, and been playing racquetball, plus no longer have to worry about that third beer at the end of the night.
ST: When did that thought to walk away from racing as a professional first come up?
Cam: Well, when I first started I had always planned to race until I was 40, and I think every year you put your body and your family through it, it gets a little shorter, or at least for me it did. Two years ago I really started to enjoy my off-season more, and as the kids started to get older I felt like I was missing out on some stuff. Squeezing in a swim and getting in a long ride on a Saturday morning started to be more difficult when my son started to play soccer. So a couple years ago I thought maybe it is not that far off and in the beginning of 2018 some of the short course races had gone away, and I had no desire to go longer. And if I was not going to be able to make a living from short course racing that certainly helped with the decision. I still raced well in 2018, but it was just one of those things. I kind of feel lucky, and I feel it was time. In sports but in endurance sports in particular folks tend to hold on too long, and stop performing at the level they were. And then it becomes this slow decline. In many cases folks simply do not know what to do next. I certainly do not have all the answers there, but it was time and I knew it.
ST: Does that mean you walked away from swimming, running and cycling too?
Cam: I certainly do not dislike the three, but I think it will be a long time before I swim again, just because I have been swimming since I was 8. And this is currently the longest break I have taken from swimming laps in 25 years. But I will get up in the mountains in the spring and run some trails, and I am excited to ride my cross bike and ride on the dirt. Probably won’t spend too much time riding on the road, because it is not as safe as it was. And now since it is no longer the way how I pay my bills, the last thing I now want is to get involved in an accident. It will always be part of my life and I continue to coach athletes, because I enjoy that.
ST: How much coaching do you do, or better said how many athletes do you currently work with?
Cam: Currently I work with seven athletes but I am looking to expand that a little bit. Obviously this past year when I was still racing myself and putting all my time and effort into that, I did not want to take on more than I could chew. And I didn’t and believe I did that pretty well. I would like to coach a few more people, but coaching is never going to be the way for me to pay my bills. At this point it is purely something I enjoy, and a way to give back and stay involved in the sport. I had so many dreams and aspirations in the sport that I was able to achieve, and it is kind of rewarding to help other people achieve their dreams and goals.
ST: Do the distances vary of the athletes you coach?
Cam: Yeah, I am coaching everybody from relative newcomers who are doing Sprints and Olympic distance races all the way to seasoned Ironman athletes. The training principles are similar all the way through, and having been around the sport for 12 years and having worked with the best coaches and athletes in the business, I believe I learned a lot, including things that I did not experience personally. For me it is all about the athlete, their personality and their goals. I want to help them accomplish their goals, whether it is their first Sprint triathlon, learning to swim or win their age group in Kona. As long as they have a goal, something we can write down and achieve, I can get excited helping them do that. To me that is more important than what the actual goal is.
ST: If coaching is not going to be your way to make a living, what will it be then?
Cam: It for sure will be something in the financial world. I was a finance major in college and have been interested in the markets since I was a freshman in high school. I have my small trading account that I started really small and managed over the years. I have also always done my own retirement stuff, so I guess I have been a student of the markets for the last almost 20 years. And similar to coaching I would like to get more serious about that. If I were willing to move to New York I would love to work on a trade desk, but since I am not willing to move my family anywhere, Denver is as far as I am willing to go. And trade desks are sort of a dying thing, and so I am thinking more about the wealth management route. It is effectively similar to coaching, as in you are effectively coming up with a goal, making a plan and then trying to be consistent and follow through on the plan. Finance is one of those odd things everyone uses on a daily basis, but 95% of the people have no idea how to do it well. Being an athlete is such a selfish endeavor, and it is now time for me to do something that helps others.
ST: When you traveled as an athlete, were you the type of person who sits in his seat with the headphones on and your face in a book, or did you chat with folks next to you?
Cam: [laughs] Well, I was much more the face in the book and headphones on traveler. Which is funny, because now I regret not having had more conversations with people on planes. But I guess that is a bit more of my personality.
ST: I have always recommended to professional athletes to be social, because you never know who is sitting next to you. It could be a potential sponsor or future employer. So talk at least 5 minutes until you figured out if they are interesting, and in case if not - you can always hide your face after that.
Cam: Yeah, that is brilliant advice, and something you likely mentioned to me before. I wish I had taken it more seriously, because you never realize whom you are sitting next to, and they might be the absolute best person. I think that is great advice and something I wish I had done through my career, and something I am trying to do better now.
ST: What about things you couldn’t or shouldn’t do as a pro triathlete? Be it culinary delights or other activities, what are you now looking forward to have or that you couldn’t or shouldn’t have before?
Cam: To be honest, I was never the strictest with my diet. My rule has always been, everything is good in moderation. So I did not really shy away from a beer here and there, a whiskey here and there, but in the last weeks I have tried a few new beers and we have a pretty good whiskey collection, and that is something I have gotten into. Food wise I was never very anal about it, it was mostly about having enough calories to get me through the day. I have never turned down seconds and likely never will, and that might be something I might regret down the road. But my thing was always there is no problem with any of those things in moderation, be it donuts, cake or whiskey.
ST: What about other activities for which you had no time or the risk of injury was too great?
Cam: For sure. It is wintertime now and I picked up skate skiing a couple years ago, but I have not downhill skied in 12 years, because the risk of injury was too great. That was something I really enjoyed growing up, and now that the kids are a little older they are pretty close to get into that. Also little things like racquetball and pickup basketball. I really enjoy those things, but I always thought what if I twist my ankle or tear my ACL? Lateral movements in particular are tough on endurance athletes. So I have been especially cautious about those things. And I can do those things now not having to worry about the repercussions. Plus I want to play golf in the spring. It is a sport that takes a lot of time and adding that to a long training week adds up, and thus I look forward to playing golf. Mountain biking is another thing I want to do, even though I rode bikes forever, mountain biking was something I was never confident enough to do without risking serious injury. And since I was not doing XTERRA, I saw no training benefit to it. Now I can work on those skills, and if I go over the bars – life goes on.
ST: Hopefully you won’t go over the bars, and thank you for your time.
Cam: Thank you very much Herbert, it has been a pleasure.