A simple, four-step guide on how to date, and maybe one day marry, a triathlete.
I dated and then married a top amateur Ironman triathlete. I feel like anyone who has deserves a medal or trophy—we are a strong group of independent people. Here are a few rules I’ve learned along the way that might benefit anyone married to multisport by affiliation and not necessarily personal choice.
Rule #1: Get your own life.
If your partner is a dedicated triathlete, he will spend anywhere from 15 to 25 hours each week training. Let’s also assume that your partner is not a professional triathlete so add on a 40-plus-hour workweek. Doesn’t leave much time for you, does it? Just because you’re not always No. 1 doesn’t mean you should bail on your athlete. In spite of what we’re told in fairy tales, romance novels, chick flicks and on “Oprah,” love ain’t always grand. Long-lasting love is also about compromise and supporting each other’s differences. Of course, you can make yourself and your partner miserable by resenting them, the sport and everything and everyone to do with it, but that doesn’t make much sense, does it?
Rule #2: Change your expectations for, ahem, intimacy.
One of the fears is that pre-race relations will leave the competitor somehow weakened resulting in a slower finish time. Of course, men don’t worry about this before a big business meeting, and sex before going off to war is almost a tradition. Go figure. If your partner has this idea it’s probably not worth trying to change their mind.
Rule #3: Take advantage of the perks, namely global travel.
Before race season starts my husband and I decide where I would like to vacation and where he would like to race. We have traveled to Austria, Germany, Arizona, Hawaii and the list goes on. I call these trips racations. Arrive at your destination a couple days before race day and then vacation on the back end. This eliminates prolonged pre-race stress.
Rule #4: Learn to make a great protein shake.
Ah, nutrition—the life source for triathletes. I remember before I entered the world of triathlon, I used to refer to this as “food.” Realize from the get-go that nutrition will be a big factor in your relationship. During race season, your athlete will scrutinize every calorie he puts in his mouth. In order to make it fun, get creative with your recipes. Swap recipes with other tri partners or take a healthy cooking class with your partner. Learn to make a killer protein shake. A trick that we love: Add a scoop of instant coffee to a protein shake. It adds a nice mocha flavor and will keep your partner up a few extra hours.
Dating a triathlete is not without its rewards. Another upside—outside of having a partner that looks good in Spandex, of course—is that triathletes really know how to make a commitment. It takes major dedication to train for and actually finish a triathlon. This ability to commit tends to spill over into relationships, provided his prospective mate doesn’t try to come between him and his “A” race. Just remember all relationships need boundaries and it doesn’t hurt to remind your athlete that a simple note or card as a thank you always goes a long way.
Lauren Harsch is the author of “How to Date a Triathlete.”