STAYING HAPPILY MARRIED TO A TRIATHLETE 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
IT IS NECESSARY to protect pockets of time while juggling training and racing with a busy family life. There are great benefits to having a triathlete parent in the house as children witness the importance of exercise, commitment and the power of sport. No classroom can teach a child what it means to sees his or her parent give their best and come through the finish line regardless of placement. I’m grateful my husband has been able to do this with our children repeatedly. But, in the spirit of co-operation and for the love of triathlon, my husband and I came up with the top five suggestions we feel may help you better balance your workouts, marriage and your family obligations.
The title for this tri tip began as a joke over a glass of wine among friends, many of whom are married to triathletes. While I am not a triathlete myself, I’ve been married to one for 13 years. My husband’s training and racing have been a high priority and I have supported his passion for the sport for years. I’m proud of his athleticism and success. That it meant a significant number of hours pursuing the sport never bothered me, until, that is, we had children. That changed everything, including my attitude about three-hour bike rides, early morning swims while the kids were waking up and evening runs while the kids needed to be bathed and put to sleep. His commitment to triathlon was making my parenting extremely difficult and it only intensified as race season approached. Something needed to change.
As with everything in life finding balance is crucial in managing sport, career and relationships. Psychologist, coach and triathlete, Pete Simon coined the expression “Divorce by Triathlon” to characterize marriages that have fallen apart when one spouse refuses to pursue the sport in the context of the rest of their lives, but rather allows it to become the focal point – outweighing all other responsibilities.
Keep your marriage strong while pursuing triathlon with the following tips: Train all you want between 8pm and 6am. During other hours be efficient with your workouts and emphasize quality over quantity. Invest in a baby jogger. Make sure you still have energy after your workout to spend time with kids (no napping, only active recovery playing tag or hide-and-go-seek while drinking your protein shake). Respect your spouse’s extracurricular interests as much as yours. Give them the same amount of time they need to pursue their own activities and interests.
Cathy Keenan is a registered acupuncturist and yoga teacher living in Toronto. Find her at cathykeenan.com.