Triathlon is an exceedingly rewarding sport. But it’s also an exceedingly time consuming affair. Triathlon training requires a lot of attention because there are so many extra variables involved in multi-sport that you just don’t get in a one-trick-pony discipline like running. The more devotion you show to those variables, the greater your success will be. But then the question becomes: At what cost?
There’s the financial cost of triathlon we’re all too aware of. There’s the leisure cost. There’s also potentially the physical cost. But what about the relational cost? Most of us in triathlon have normal jobs and a family. We are literally not able of making triathlon training a twenty-four/seven hobby. The more we try to, the more we sacrifice things of greater value.
TriDot’s position is that your family always comes first before triathlon. Therefore, here’s some advice on how to achieve that goal.
Be Up Front
All families and all relationships have their own dynamics. The immediate assumption is that you’re intimately aware of those dynamics and will be respectful of them. For example, maybe your spouse feels very strongly about 7 p.m. being dinner and together time. Don’t selfishly play ignorant to that dynamic. But if you and your family are in agreement that triathlon is going to be a significant reality for the next however many months or years, be up front about what this will entail.
That means you need to talk to your family about the specifics of how much time and money you will be spending on triathlon racing and training. Ask. Don’t tell. Have a discussion about your aspirations and what that’s all going to mean for everyone and how that’s going to impact the entire family. Create a plan of compromises that everyone is comfortable with.
Once everyone is on board in terms of expectations, you have the difficult task of being realistic. In other words, before having the conversation about your triathlon plans, think about what you can realistically achieve while maintaining acceptable family dynamics you know are important to each family member. This will admittedly be a difficult task. Although, in general, if it feels like the amount of time you want to put into triathlon is going to border that line of violating a family dynamic, then more often than not it will. Be genuine and dial back unrealistic aspirations.
Once the plan is in place, now you have the difficult task of staying realistic about what your body is physically able to achieve considering the constraints. I use the word “constraint” to illustrate a point. Oftentimes triathletes consider their family a constraint, which is—to them—what is holding them back from becoming a truly great athlete. If that’s you, it’s time for you to come back to the real world and get a little existential.
Ask yourself these questions: Why do you need to be a truly great athlete? What will your accomplishments in triathlon really mean to you? And why does that matter so much?
You probably know where I’m going with this. Your family and the important people in your life are infinitely more valuable than anything you do in triathlon. So be realistic about your goals and during the times when you’re wishing you were faster, remember what the cost of faster is.
Sacrifice Your Convenience
Once you’re in the thick of training and your family’s schedule is priority one, that means your triathlon schedule won’t be what you would have chosen if left to your own devices. If you’re the reluctant 4-a.m.-wake-up-and-train kind of person then you might already be aware of this.
Sacrificing your convenience is the best way to keep priorities with your family while triathlon training. You’ll need to fit in training when it’s most convenient for them, not for you. You’re the one who chose this extracurricular activity, so remember that it’s a privilege, not a right.
Sacrifice Your Training
That last statement rings most true with this last point. Triathlon isn’t what’s going to love you in return at the end of the day and triathlon isn’t more valuable than another human being. Therefore, when you get a text about a “family emergency” right as you’re about to go out for your evening ride, think hard about which one you’re going to sacrifice.
Triathletes can keep their family priorities straight by being up-front about their training and racing plans and goals, being realistic before and after those plans are drawn, sacrificing convenience, and sacrificing training when it’s needed.
TALK WITH TRIDOT:
What methods do you use to keep your family priorities while triathlon training?
JARED MILAM is a professional triathlete, TriDot coach, and member of the Tri4Him Pro Team. He has 16 years of competitive running experience and 11 years of competitive triathlon experience with a half Iron PR of 3:59 and a full Iron PR of 8:30. Coaching under the TriDot system since 2011, Jared loves working with aspiring triathletes of all ages and performance levels.