My boyfriend’s training for Ironman Cozumel, which is insane. I mean, really, who does that??
I hate running. I like biking, if it’s slow and scenic, and I’ll swim in open lakes and the shallow ends of an ocean when it’s warm enough, but I have no desire to ever train for a triathlon. And yet, I’ve found a guy who loves triathlons. On race mornings, you’d think it was Christmas day – his eyes light up, he talks really fast, and bounces around like a kid on a sugar-high. As I said, he loves it.
For those of you who don’t know what an ironman actually entails (because really, who do you know that would actually ever do one? Nobody ever!)… it’s a 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike ride, followed by a marathon 26.2-mile run. See, insane. But if you happen to be dating this somewhat-crazy competitive man or woman who can’t help but enjoy wearing wetsuits, eating liquid gels, and biking up mountains and swimming in open-waters, then here’s what you need to do:
1. Find your own hobby.
Training takes up a lot of time. I mean, a LOT of time. Imagine he/she is a workaholic – he/she will stay out late and wake up at insanely early hours. Find your own hobby. Mine’s reading, writing, dancing on occasions, and taking way-too-expensive fitness classes. At least I stay busy. Plus, I enjoy my alone time, so that helps immensely.
2. Get acquainted with the jargon.
I’m learning words I didn’t even know existed (and I was in English major). Suddenly, you’ll hear words like “aero bars,” “century,” and “brick.” If you don’t know these words, you’re not alone and you’re not an idiot. But when you date somebody who uses them constantly, figure out what they mean or simply ask.
3. Be patient.
Your boyfriend or girlfriend will have a strict schedule during training, which means Saturdays may be consumed with 100 mile bike rides (a “century”) and drinking might mean sipping on redbull versus wine. If you follow #1, then this shouldn’t bother you as much, but I know, it’s a lot. Be patient with him/her and understand that in order to survive something like an ironman, he/she needs to train for it – and you want to see your boyfriend or girlfriend survive this, don’t you?
4. Pay attention.
Make sure he/she is eating enough to balance the cardio. Make sure he/she is eating the right foods. I’m lucky, because my boyfriend cooks his own food, but some might need a little direction. Be in the know. Also, make sure he/she is stretching and taking care of his/her body.
5. Follow a schedule.
This takes two. In order to make time for one another, you’re significant other must schedule you into their week of training, otherwise it will be very difficult to see each other. If you’re smart, you’ll make plans a week in advance. But make sure you both follow the schedule. Life will be easier if you do. And I realize this takes away from the spontaneity of dating, but you’d rather see each other than not see each other, right?
6. Be supportive.
This sounds easier than it is, but being supportive means showing up to the triathlons (even at the crack of dawn on a Saturday or Sunday morning), holding his/her muddy shoes, and spending many nights in, because of recovery or preparation. Don’t discourage him/her, even if you think it’s crazy. It’s like telling your kid he can’t paint, even though he loves it. Give him some paint brushes, some paint and let him do his thing.
7. You don’t have to love it.
If you take an interest in triathlons after seeing them, great. If you don’t like them, that’s ok too! Having different interests is a good thing, so long as you’re willing to show up, be supportive, and recognize that even if it’s not your thing, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth the efforts. Once you and your significant other accept this, you’ll be better off.
8. Compliment and celebrate him/her.
I know I will never ever do an ironman, for many, many reasons, so I can’t really wrap my head around the idea of swimming, biking, and running for 14 hours straight. It doesn’t logically make sense to me, but whatever, some people like it. It’s important that you motivate your boyfriend and girlfriend - and celebrate the challenges that he/she has overcome, because it’s anything but easy and very few of us will ever do it. Let him/her know that you’re proud.
And one last thought: The world of triathlons, cycling, open-water swimming, and competitive racing, etc. is a very strange world if you’ve never been a part of it. You’ll probably feel out-of-place, confused, and bored at-times, but that’s okay. You may never really understand it, but you will get used to it. And if you follow all of the tips above then your boyfriend or girlfriend should recognize and appreciate you for that.
I’m lucky. My boyfriend schedules me into his week, wakes up super early to get a workout in, and makes time for other things (like friends, family, events) - and he cooks for me! It’s not easy dating a triathlete but it’s not easy being one either. Put in the effort and if you’re with the right person, it will be worth it!
Now… only two more months until my boyfriend’s Ironman! Let the countdown begin ;)