Good art can illustrate complicated concepts.

For me, one of the most engaging and educational parts of putting FASTER together was the art.

Early in the process my editor decided that it would be better to use infographics rather than photographs to explain the concepts.


FASTER science of triathlon weight loss

The illustrations you see in the book will help you visualize some of the more sophisticated topics and clarify what they mean to you as an athlete. Ironically, as simple as those illustrations make things for you, actually creating them was a challenging process that required several iterations.

Seeing how an artist with as much background in physics as I had in graphic design was something like describing a bank robber to a police sketch artist and then comparing the drawing to the actual suspect. It was eye-opening to see how something I thought was obvious could be muddled to someone else. It’s also a great demonstration of a critical point I make in the book. Whether you’re talking about learning to ride a bike without training wheels or understand wheel aerodynamics, things are only difficult until they’re not. To see the principle in motion, go try to teach a 4-year-old to tie their shoes.

walt disney, epcot center, florida, r. buckminster fuller, imageEven in science, problem-solving requires creativity and a certain willingness to reject the Establishment at times. In that way, it’s an art unto itself. A particularly brilliant solution could even be considered beautiful. R. Buckminster Fuller, the certified genius who solved the mathematics behind the design of Disney’s iconic Epcot Center dome and for whom the molecule Buckminsterfullerene is named, once said that “When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty but when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.” In other words, a solution must be simple by its very nature. If it’s complicated, it’s probably still a problem!

If it sounds like I’m talking in circles, my point is that you should never give up trying to solve a problem because it’s too complicated. Once you see how simple the solution is, you’ll wonder how you ever thought it was difficult in the first place.

I was reminded of this principle by the story of Volker Steger, a photographer who received the rather challenging assignment of taking expressive portraits of Nobel Prize-winning scientists. Getting a Nobel Laureate to ham it up in front of the camera is a complicated problem. But Steger came up with a brilliantly simple solution. What better to get them excited than the very ideas that had garnered them the Nobel Prize in the first place? He asked them to illustrate their ideas with crayons and then pose with their sketches.

The results were simply beautiful.

If you’re interested in getting faster, you’ll be fascinated by FASTER: Demystifying the Science of Triathlon Speed. In Faster, astronautical engineer and triathlon journalist Jim Gourley explores the science of triathlon to see what truly makes you faster—and busts the myths and doublespeak that waste your money and slow down your racing. With this knowledge on your side, you can make simple changes that add up to free speed and faster racing.

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