It took me a while to nail this one down…because let’s face it, once “The Season” starts, it doesn’t feel like there is EVER a non-triathlon weekend. If it isn’t a Race Weekend, then it is a Pre-Race Weekend, a Post-Race Recovery Weekend, or an Essential Training Weekend. What?!? Ok, ok, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. Maybe I need to define these terms before moving onto the rare and elusive Triathlon Free Weekend (if there really is such a thing and you believe in unicorns and winning the lottery).
- Race Weekend = the most obvious weekend – it’s the one a race falls on. I don’t think I need to say more.
- Pre-Race Weekend = the weekend preceding a race, and maybe even the 2 weekends preceding a race, if it’s an Ironman or 70.3 distance. These are critical to the final training and preparation for a race and are usually heavily dictated by their coach or tradition, or superstition, or all three. Whatever it is, it is held sacred! Any deviation from “The Training/Prep Plan” or introduction of any additional risk for injury or illness during this time is unimaginable. Don’t waste any breath or energy trying to negotiate this as a weekend where something else might be the focus. It’s a sure loss. Having a Non-Triathlon Weekend is all about timing and picking your battles – and this is not when you should do it. Save your efforts for another time.
- Post-Race Weekend = the weekend AFTER a race. This is a weekend many trisupporters make the mistake thinking it might be a good weekend to do something else. I mean, it seems to make sense that the race is done and trihubby had his Race Weekend and now it’s time to have a Non-Triathlon weekend and relax . . .right?? WRONG. His body is tired, he is mentally low due to the post-race depression syndrome that many feel when all they’ve trained for and anticipated about is over, and he is still analyzing the race obsessively. Trust me, this is NOT a good weekend to expect him to reboot and refocus on other things yet. Plus, a lot of the conversation will still be focused on the race and is that what you really want??
- Essential Training Weekend = Many of you seasoned trisupporters will ask, “Why the qualifier of ESSENTIAL because EVERY weekend during “The Season” is Essential?” Exactly! Well done! You would be 100% correct in saying that! I decided to use the qualifier “Essential” for supporters that do not yet know that EVERY training weekend is essential and cannot be compromised. To prepare for a race properly takes dedication to a training schedule/regiment that will make them more successful and keep them safer in their endeavor. . .and thus, they will be happier . . . and so will you. I say don’t mess with that!
- Triathlon Free Weekend = Quite simply, a weekend where the main focus is NOT centered on a triathlon or the triathlete. It may have some training involved, but that is secondary to whatever else is planned or going on. Easy definition, but not easy to do or accomplish! It can be quite difficult to plan and even more difficult to pull off. But don’t despair. Just realize that while there will be less of these type of weekends, they are great when they occur. So enjoy!
So after all that, I’m here to admit that we DO actually have Triathlon Free Weekends……several in fact….every fall. Lucky for me, they are scheduled by an entirely independent entity and cannot be influenced or compromised by any TriHubby. The Pennsylvania State University athletic department along with the Big 10 takes it upon themselves to schedule and dictate my Non-Tri Weekends when they set the PSU football home game schedule. See, we have had season tickets since graduating 30 years ago and long before triathlons were an obsession (yep, unlike the general public, age groupers are willing to admit their age and are ecstatic to “Age Up”!). Attending these games is Tradition, not only for us, but for my extended family as well.
The day for me and trihubby starts with a swim workout. Yes, I said a swim workout! On our way up to the game, we stop at a pool either in town or on the way so he can get in an early morning swim and get it out of the way. I do not consider this an “infraction” of a non-tri weekend, because the workout is planned before the other activities start and the primary priority is the game and not doing a workout, and that makes all the difference.
Then we (mom, dad, brother and wife, lifelong family friends, and sometimes son or cousin’s family and uncle/aunt) meet up at the stadium to tailgate, cheer the team on to victory (hopefully), and share a meal together before parting. It’s a day of family and friends and adding some diversity to cheering for something other than swim/bike/run! It’s the end of “The Season”, so it’s time to celebrate and get together with loved ones we haven’t seen in months and share and catch up with each other’s lives…and maybe even have a beer or two! (My trihubby abstains when in training). There is something magical about food and sport that bonds us and brings us together time and again, year after year, and why in spite of all the time triathlons consume in our life these days, we have kept these weekends just as sacred as any of the other weekends defined above.
I hope you find your special favorite triathlon free weekend as well and keep it inviolable.
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.