“Ultimately the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or in friendship, is conversation, and conversation must have a common basis, and between two people of widely different culture the only common basis possible is the lowest level.” - Oscar Wilde
As the intensity of your triathlon season builds, and training hours ramp up, the most important ingredient for success is having a strong support system. Without strong relationships and clear communication with those whom you love, you can really derail your triathlon season. Let’s face it, triathlon can sometimes seem cult like, and unless you are one of the rare triathlon power couples, then you have to really work on your relationships. But even the power couples face challenges. So, no matter how long you have been in this sport and if your partner is a triathlete - the reality is that communication is essential to get the most out of your training and not leave anyone feeling like they are not part of the process.
Triathlon is something that really raises your endorphins and self-confidence, but at times can zap your energy so the people around you are wondering what you are so excited about. This is what we see to be the biggest relationship stressor - as the season and your training builds so does your excitement. And sometimes that excitement can spill into every aspect of your life. Triathlon brings a ton of positive change from physical to how you handle stress, and in general you might find yourself feeling slightly obsessed with the sport. The positive changes are great, but imagine being the spouse on the other side of that equation. Where suddenly you are coming back from your workout discussing FTP, cadence, power numbers, sweat tests, drills, swim tests, Strava KOMs… You get the point… Consider sharing your excitement, but try not to discuss your watts and FTP for the next 6 hours. Balance the conversation with their day and give them a chance to talk about what made their day. We would suggest capping tri talk at 15 minutes - that allows you to get your excitement off your chest, but gives room for your partner to feel that your day is not the only thing that matters.
What are some things you can do to keep your relationship strong and support EACH other? Below are 10 things that we see athletes at Evolve do really well in regards to relationships:
Take time to have conversations with your partner and not speak in triathlon geek speak 24-7.
Agree on a triathlon budget.
After your 4 hour workout, do a surprise thing that your spouse will appreciate. It can be a simple thing around the house. Hint, hint .... laundry is the secret to all relationship success.
Share with them WHY you are on this triathlon journey.
Explain the role of your coach.Your coach is there to help you be the best version of yourself in triathlon. Share the conversations with your partner that you and your coach have. Chances are it will mean more than your new FTP to them; your partner will appreciate that you are improving.
When you get back from that long workout (maybe take a shower first), give your partner a hug and thank them for the support and acknowledge it is not always easy, but it means the world to you.
Include your spouse in your workouts when possible - ride the trainer so you can be in the same room, have him or her ride a bike next to you while you run.
Surprise them with a gift and no it is not an Ironman spouse t-shirt…
Understand your partner's love language and try and support it.
Schedule a regular date night and let your coach know when it is, the last thing you need is to have a long bike ride during date time. Your coach wants you to succeed and knows that this is part of the process.
Okay - and maybe just one more tip - when you get back from a workout, let’s be honest, we all want to look at our garmin data, and watch Training Peaks turn green, but take the time to put away all devices and just have a few minutes of real human connection! It really is that simple.
In the end sharing the experience can actually have a positive impact on your relationship, just remember your partner’s interest are just as important as yours. Having separate interests can be a great chance to connect as a couple, all that is needed is the time and communication that can be so hard to have these days!