When we signed up for Ironman and shared the news with our friends at our triathlon shop we were told our marriage wouldn’t make it … yes, great news to start our training with. They said we’d either split up or not get through Ironman … but, it was very unlikely we’d get through it together because Ironman is tough on marriages.
They were right about it being tough … but underestimated our determination. We did make it through Ironman together and have a few things to share with anyone who is considering any sort of training with a friend or loved one … especially a spouse.
*First thing you do is set your goals and share them with one another. The goals do not need to be the same, but they need to be compatible. If one of you wants to finish together and the other wants to set a time goal … it will be hard to make both of those goals and someone will be discouraged or hurt. However, if you both have independent goals of either a time or finishing the race … no problem … you can support one another in those goals. The issue is usually when one person wants to ‘do it together’. If both of you agree, and don’t mind slowing down for one other (honestly) … then enjoy your time together. This worked for our first race … but, by the time the second race came around our competitive spirits came out and we wanted to be able to do our personal best. On occasion we’ll still do a ‘fun’ run together … like the 1/2 marathon in Goofy’s challenge. We new we had a marathon the next day and both of us wanted to PR that … so, we both slowed down and enjoyed the 1/2 together then ran the full separately. Most triathlons are not set up for you to do them together. First off, a triathlon is suppose to be an individual sport. In addition, a lot of them do wave starts based on gender and age. Even if you get to be in the same wave … it is very hard to do a swim ‘together’.
*Since you most likely will not be finishing together … set a plan for the finish line. If you are the first one done … make sure you are at the finish line to see your partner finish and cheer them on. The only reason you shouldn’t be there for them is if you are in the medic tent!
*Ladies … this is a tough one if you’re any little bit competitive … if you and your husband are starting at similar levels and do the same training … and he takes it seriously … more than likely he’ll get faster and stronger quicker than you. Be excited for him … encourage him to go ahead of you … and, most importantly, don’t beat yourself up about it … be proud of the improvements you make (even though they may not be as good as his).
*Men … when you see your lady hit this plateau and become discouraged because you are beating her at everything … encourage her to do a women’s only event. Then, go to that event and be her biggest fan. If there isn’t a women’s only event that she wants to do – let her pick out a race that she does by herself, where she won’t have that same feeling of you always finishing before her.
*Don’t try to coach your partner. If they ask for your opinion, great … but, if they don’t, don’t offer it. The quickest way to start a fight will be by telling your partner what they should be doing. Trust your partner to do what he/she needs to be doing. If you really think they are heading down the wrong path, ask them how they are feeling. Sometimes it get overwhelming, sometimes it gets frustrating, sometimes it gets exhausting … giving guilt trips and calling them lazy won’t help! Don’t tell them they are doing it wrong and put them on the defensive, that will more than likely end with them wanting to quit. Instead, listen to him/her and ask what you can do to help. If the answer is nothing … go about your training, invite him/her to join you, and if they don’t want to, let it go.
*Understand there are days when a woman is not able to perform at the same intensity as she usually does … this is normal … she is not being lazy … trust her to do what her body is telling her to do. Ladies … listen to your body. It’s okay to have a lighter day when you just don’t have the energy. The energy will come back and these slower, shorter days will not hurt your training. However, if this is happening on a weekly basis, there may be a problem.
*Know it’s okay to do separate training. We do a lot of our biking together, for safety. Our running, however, is done a lot on our own. We started out doing most of our runs together but as our fitness levels and goals change we have started doing our own thing. This takes away the disappointment if you are a little slower than your partner and the frustration when you want to go quicker