Many triathletes have probably experienced that “I just don’t want to or can’t do this anymore” feeling. It may have come about because of an injury, race setback, or they’re just plain exhausted. While most have something jolt them back to reality and the world of triathlons, there are those that just have a lot of trouble snapping out of it and getting remotivated to train and sign up for another race. They’re in an “I’m done” phase and it’s then that a triwife or partner has to decide what to do. How do you help? Or should you?
Okay, I know a lot of you out there are thinking, “Why in the world would I push them back into triathlons, when I could finally get them to stop the madness?” While it’s easy to assume that would be your reaction, do you think you’d really just accept it without at least a conversation?
I was recently in this situation, so had to figure out how to handle it and my reaction was a bit of surprise. We’re betting it would be for you, too, and here’s why.
Should a triwife intervene?
Think of this analogy…
In a race, when a triathlete decides to DNF, they go up to a volunteer and say they’re done. In most cases, the volunteer asks 3 times, “Are you sure”?, because the triathlete is sometimes overwhelmed by the emotion at that moment and they want to be sure the decision is thought out. The same should hold true when deciding to quit altogether.
In all likelihood, the triathlete has only spoken to him/herself about this, so really needs the person who knows them best and how much the sport means to them to let them reflect; meaning you. The coach should serve the same purpose. Perhaps all they need is a break and not quitting…
We know it’s a tough call, but consider these points before you decide NOT to intervene…
Determine first why they are making this decision. If it’s a serious injury and chances are slim they can get back to the sport, then that’s a separate issue and conversation. If that’s not the case then, you probably need to sit down and talk to them about what’s going on and make sure it’s what they really, really want to do.
Realize it’s a family decision. Just as entering the world of triathlon should have been a family decision, leaving the same world should be discussed as a family and how life will change, because it will impact everyone.
Think of the blood, sweat, and tears that has gone into the sport. We’re talking both triathlete and family here. They have worked really hard to be able to compete as a triathlete. A massive amount of time, effort, and not to mention money, have gone into getting them to where they are and that can’t be dismissed lightly. Plus, think of all the sacrifices the family has made so they could live their dream.
Think about how much they really loved the sport. If they didn’t really love being a triathlete, they wouldn’t have put their bodies through the training and spent the time and money. Should they really be giving up a passion? Will they live to regret the decision? It may not be that easy to pick up down the road.
And then ask yourself these questions…
- What will they do if not triathlons? Is the alternative better?
- Will you want your triathlete around the house more?
- Can triathlon-based friendships be maintained?
- Will they be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle without the training?
- Will your family be better off if they stop?
- How will your kids react? Will they see your triathlete quitting as a failure?
- Oh, and what will you do with all of the triathlon “stuff”?
As you can see, there are many factors to consider when a triathlete says “I’m done”. It’s obviously not as easy or uncomplicated as it sounds. But, it is ultimately your choice as the triathlete spouse/partner whether or not you intervene…