I’m the first to admit all the great characteristics I found in triathletes and what it takes to even get started in this sport. But, I’m also the first to admit there are quite a few other character traits they possess, that while on the surface may seem good, heck even great, but when you dig deeper, have a dark side…
Now, I could have just listed these under the GOOD and be done with it, but I wouldn’t be doing my fellow triwives/partners justice and would have undoubtedly heard from them. So, triathletes, while these are awesome character traits you possess, please make sure you don’t save all the good for the triathlon world. Share a little with us at home, too…
THE CHARACTER OF A TRIATHLETE – GOOD, BUT…
Home Takes a Backseat
Triathletes actually are most fortunate to have found something in their lives that gives them purpose; that makes them get up at 4 am to work out; that just makes them love life. Not many people have found their passion and for that I am envious of my triathlete. That said, I found that this passion may not be as strong in other aspects of their lives. Where’s that same passion when the garbage needs to go out or the kids have to get to soccer practice or the car needs servicing? I guess you can’t be passionate about everything in your life!
I’m often amazed at how myopic my husband can be when it comes to this sport and it’s most evident during a race, when his only focus is on his heart rate, pace, mileage, and completing the race. During training, I have to say he’s also got an uncanny ability to tune out all distractions, including me! Most also have the same focus with their work, but this was not a characteristic that described their family life.
Have you ever seen area where a triathlete trains and keeps their gear? Everything, and I mean everything, is in place or has its place. And, they seem to get such pleasure out of this task. They can spend a long time just organizing their tri space at the expense of organizing the garage or putting dishes in the dishwasher instead of the sink or leaving dirty clothes on the floor. Right? This trait also goes hand in hand with being good with time management and scheduling time for it all. Now, tripartners may disagree at how successful they are with this or approve of their choices…
Doesn’t being an athlete pretty much require a desire to be competitive? I think we’ve all seen this exhibited to varying degrees, from friendly competition to the person who will stoop to new lows to win. I will say I’ve been witness to a STRONG dislike of a fellow competitor by a triathlete and have even been the recipient of an oh, so unfriendly glance by a fellow triwife when my husband beat hers. So, I guess I have personally witnessed the somewhat ugly side of competition in triathletes and it has been reported by others. And if you ask, most triathletes are also competitive in work, other hobbies, and even with their partner. Just think back to the last time you played any game together…
I have overheard many conversations between triathletes where they happily discuss some new gear they found or new supplement that is so much better than what they were using. But, while I say this with some sarcasm, it’s actually a very real trait and I’ve seen them give each other bike pumps, repair tools, and nutrition bars when the other athlete needed help.
And, unless my triathlete is at death’s door after a race, we always go back to the finish line or someplace along the course to support the triathletes who are still out there and I’ve seen many pros doing the same thing. Maybe it’s because you never know when that might be you.
But, when it comes to being as supportive at home, our triathletes can fall short. They may decide to do a training session rather than take the kids to the soccer game and support their spouse.
Well, some say they should be committed for what they do, but I’m talking about their dedication to the sport. Training and races take priority over many other aspects of their lives and they have to give up a lot of other activities in their lives to be a triathlete, often much to the chagrin of their partner/family.
This goes without saying…If you aren’t disciplined to do the training, you really can’t compete and race. This is also evident with their unbelievable control in what they eat when trying to drop some lbs. or before races. I can be eating a sticky toffee pudding – his favorite – right in front of him and he will seriously turn down even a bite.
The downside for the spouse comes when say they want to have fun with friends and said triathlete needs to be in bed by 9pm or they want to see a matinee and the triathlete won’t miss their swim. What’s interesting is that most triathletes were not that disciplined pre triathlons and only became so obsessed after they started doing the sport. Go figure..
High Pain Tolerant
How else could you put your body through what they do without having a high pain tolerance? From blisters, to chafing, to plantar fasciitis and then some – they manage to train and race through the pain. Me, the minute my abs start to hurt doing a plank, I’m thinking, “Okay, that’s enough”! But, how does your triathlete fair when they have the flu and needs someone to take care of them?
In Control of Emotions
A triathlete really has to be able to keep the emotions in check during a race. Nerves have to be calmed at the start of the race and if the race isn’t going well, they can’t get mad, but have to evaluate the situation and decide whether to forge ahead or call it a day. It seems many triathletes are pros when it comes to keeping their emotions in check on race day, but they don’t quite have a good grasp on them leading up to the race and depending on how the race went, after, too. Many triwives/partners have been known to disappear during this time and or enjoy their glass of wine!
Eager to Learn
Okay, they wouldn’t subscribe to AND read every triathlon-related magazine and website out there if they weren’t on a quest for the perfect diet, the fastest bike, the newest running shoes, or to learn how the pros balance family life and triathlons. In “real life” many also have a penchant for learning, whether it’s reading historical novels or about the energy markets; some even boning up on their math skills to help the kids with their homework. While this quest can certainly be admirable, it does eat up more time not spent with the partner and/or family and can be selective – will happily spend hours learning to take their bike apart, clean, and put back together, but go figure, there’s very little interest in doing the same with the barbecue grill.
Did we miss any or get these wrong?
Next Up: THE CHARACTER OF A TRIATHLETE – THE ALL AROUND BAD
Sherry is one of the TriWivesClub and LifeDoneWell co-founders and contributes to multiple blogs. She is a former co-owner of the California Apparel News and had a career in the healthcare industry. Her passions include traveling, real food, the environment, and animal rescue/welfare. She lives a healthy lifestyle and has been a vegetarian since 1987. She and her husband are parents to two rescue pups and reside in Connecticut.