Friends, family, triathletes, ex-boyfriends: please do not take offence. This post is meant to be mostly satirical.
I was introduced to triathlon by an ex-boyfriend who was/is a serious triathlete. The abnormalities of the triathlon lifestyle went relatively unnoticed. It was normal to spend the entire weekend training, eating, relaxing,
trash talking each other, sleeping, and planning other life events like Sunday’s family dinner around these “core” weekend activities. This made sense, and was not a source of tension, but rather our idea of fun!
Since becoming a single woman, the number of raised eyebrows, “you are insane” ‘s, bulging eyeballs, and dropped jaws have been on the rise when it comes to my training. I even got dumped recently because the guy did not see how he fit into my
life training schedule. Ha!
I am often justifying spending 8 hours a weekend training for a race this is 2 months away. I am a “no” woman: “no, can’t go to the farmer’s market“; “sorry no late show for me“; “drinks? not in my schedule“; “gotta get home – running early!“; “sorry, fell asleep“; “i would love to go to dinner but I need to be in bed by 9“… it. goes. on.
Luckily, my friends embrace my quirks and take to teasing me about my habits. They still invite me to stuff, even if it’s just to humour them, or they simply forget. “Hey Bria, biking 5 hours tonight?!”; “Bria’s invited but she probably won’t show because she has a race in 2 months“; “Bria’s coming? Believe it when I see it.“
So how do you maintain a training schedule without losing contact with the real world? My top 5 tips for keeping friends while training, because while I’m still working on the relationship part, my friends love me!
1. Know thy self. You must know that you are an anomaly; most people do not devote the same amount of time to fitness pursuits as you. It’s ok. If everybody did, your age group would be way more competitive. Embrace your uniqueness, but realize there is (I know this is shocking) more to life.
2. Be flexible. If your best friend is moving out of town and wants to go for lunch at the farmer’s market at 11a.m. on Saturday, let go of your first thought that, “Urgh. That is smack in the middle of my scheduled swim-run workout.“, and swap your workout for friend time. You can make up the swim-run elsewhere; wake up earlier to get it done or do half the workout before friend time, the other half later. You cannot make up time with friends, even if they are really good ones, eventually they will give up on you.
3. Schedule social time. In addition to swapping workouts occasionally for time with friends, you also need to make the effort to remain a “friend in good standing”. Offering to host or initiating the organization of a group activity will win you major friend bonus points, which in turn, will grant you some slack next time you really can’t swap a workout. If you want fans at your next event, or someone to give you a ride next time you flat in the middle of nowhere during a training ride, you must keep your friends and family happy.
4. Have the best of both worlds.Something easy on your schedule? Grab a friend for company. Run, walk, bike, swim, or weight train with your friends. Granted, likely only a select few of your friends will be willing, and in an ideal world you would only date triathletes, but you need to capitalize on these relationships if you have them. Better yet, encourage your friends and family or new beau to become triathletes. My brother and I spend quality time at the gym together. He shows me new exercises and we have a few laughs; sibling bonding! I am teaching my sister how to swim and loaning her my road bike. She already runs faster than I do, so with a little work, I may be able to build myself a training partner for all three sports! Win, win.
5. Join a triathlon or swimming club. People are much less likely to judge you if you are “heading to practice” with a group. It is when we spend hours upon hours alone in the pool, on the trainer, and on the road that our peers become suspect. Going to Masters practice sounds almost as cool as “watching the game with the boys” or having “girls night”. Almost. As a collateral benefit, you will meet other athletes like yourself w
ho are just as crazy as you are and that 1 hour swim practice will become your salvation for talking splits, gear, nagging injuries, and next races!
Do you have a tip for balancing training and relationships? Do share!