There is triathlon training season and then there is triathlon training season. The training goes up and down based on when the race is and what type of race it is. There are A races and B races and then there are the “it’s just for fun” races that they treat like an “A” race.
You also have to consider where in the training cycle you are. Is it taper week or is it “Oh, my gosh, I have to get my a** in shape” week? No matter where in the season your triathlete is, it is always stressful to be honest, despite how wonderful training season is for you and your triathlete. At the end of the day, no matter where in the season it is, you are living with a triathlete and the truth is, training takes up hours and hours in any given week. It’s like a part-time job that affects everyone in the family.
We can stay to ourselves “this too shall end”, but the truth is, it won’t, and that is the first thing to remember. Instead of trying to change your triathlete and fight the lifestyle every step of the way, realize this is who they are and you instead probably have to learn to manage your expectations. I know that sounds crazy, but without doing this, you’re likely to go insane.
So, here is what we have learned over the years for maintaining your sanity during triathlon training season…
Manage Your Expectations
People look at the triathlon world as a sexy and cool lifestyle. They see all the places you get to travel to, the cool gear, and see your triathlete as a rock star. Fact is, they are not rock stars; they are simply your partner and this is a crazy hobby they have chosen. Don’t treat this triathlon life anymore than that.
Yes, you get benefits of picking races around the world together, BUT, just as your triathlete supports your crazy endeavors, it is your responsibility to support them. Set your expectations of your involvement. I personally take responsibility as the support staff, making training snacks, and healthy meals. When the kids were still home, I took the responsibility of taking care of carpools and whatnot, so he could train in-season.
Determine Your Gives
In any relationship, there are gives and takes. In a triathlon life, it sometimes seems as though there are more takes from the triathlete and the trisupporter/family gives a lot. Don’t get frustrated, get very clear. As the season starts, figure out what you can give and communicate this to your triathlete. But, please realize that these may change during different parts of the training season.
What thing you must do is hold tight to your expectations and don’t give to the point that you resent what you are giving. I know 100% that my triathlete gives a lot for my crazy hobbies and ideas, so this weighs in also when I am determining my gives. There is a delicate balance.
Non-negotiable’s are a must to set and you must be crystal clear on these. I have set 3 non-negotiables:
- One of ours was that the entire family would be home Saturday by 1PM for lunch together. I knew that this could be met by the whole family.
- This one may sound funny, but it’s an ABSOLUTE non-negotiable in our house; all training clothes must go into their own hamper, period, no discussion. I am not having these sweaty, stinky clothes mixed in with the rest of the family’s laundry.
- When is comes to race weekend and we are traveling, it is clearly understood that the kids (and I) can play on legs up day. Legs up day for us means hubby will go for a little run or spin on his bike and then “need” to spend the day resting. Well, the whole family does not need to sit in the hotel room all day just to keep him company. So, we don’t.
Communicate Your Needs
This is probably the most important part of the entire process, period. Speak openly. Be crystal clear about your needs. And, if your needs change for any reason, you feel differently, or something has changed with the family as a whole, have a talk. It might not mean things will change, but you at least brought it up. Talking about it is much better than letting it fester and fester. Then what you need to do is have a discussion fter each race to see what worked and what didn’t work.
Find Non-Triathlon Friends Who Don’t Speak Triathlon
I apologize to all my triathlon friends. I love you dearly and all the reality you bring to my life in so many ways. BUT, sometimes you just need to NOT talk about triathlons. Sometimes you want to talk about the kids laundry, not spandex. Sometimes you want real food, not powerballs or seaweed salad.
I am not saying to drop your triathlon supporter friends at all. You need them and to keep them close. In fact, I have many friends who I have met through my husband’s triathlon life that have become both triathlon and non-triathlon friends. We make it clear to each other that we don’t want to talk about triathlons and have so much in common, we talk and talk…
Don’t Plan Life Around Your Triathlete
Did you read that? No matter what part of the race or training season you are in, DO NOT plan life around your triathlete. You have to remember that there are other players and just like you should never plan life around your kids, the same holds true here. Plan life as a comfortable and happy balance of everyone in the family. Make sure everyone is supporting each other.
Remember, it was your triathlete’s choice to spend so much time away from the family and all that money on the gear and races. This in no way can play into it. Do not let your triathlete use the statement, “But we have invested so much into this”. Well, we invested a lot into the kids and our relationship, too. As we have always maintained, this is a hobby, nothing more and nothing less, and should not be given any more credence than that.
And if all the above fails, have a cocktail and enjoy the triathlon ride…