6 Relationship Saving Tricks for the Triathlete

If triathlon is a part of your life and you’re sharing your time with a spouse or significant other, tri training can cause some pretty ugly arguments. The balancing act is often a difficult one. You need to train but you also need to make time for your partner. For some, you have to make time for kids as well. That really brings in another hot element to the mix.

Here are a few things to remember before I give you my bag of tricks.

  • It will never be 50/50 during this time. In fact, it’s more like 70/30 and the athlete will most likely be on the losing end of this deal and spend a lot of guilt driven time trying to make up for it.
  • Without support, you’re doomed. Doomed!!! I say!!!
  • It can be done.

Having trained a full season of racing (including a full Ironman) with my husband, I’m no stranger to tight schedules. I’m now currently in the supporting role as he trains for his second full Ironman. It’s still no cake walk with two small kids to care for, a dog, a house, a new business and my need for my own personal time.

So before you think all is lost and you’re left to choose between your love for triathlon and your love for your significant other, there are few things you can do to be prepared for the chaos. And there will be chaos, this is for certain.

1.       Food. This goes both ways.

When you’re training, you’re insatiable. Not only do you need the fuel for your performance but you need it for your mental sanity. Ever been hangry? Well, the last thing you want to do is start ‘snapping’ at your overloaded, supportive spouse simply because you forget to put food in your mouth.

Guess what? This goes both ways! You’ve got to eat anyway, so you may as well label yourself as the meal bearer as often as possible. This helps ease some of the stress on the supporting husband or wife, especially if kids are involved. That means grab food on your way home from work. If you go grocery shopping, get extra for those left at home. If you have an early morning set, program the coffee maker and lay out a coffee cup for her. If you pre-make your lunches, make an extra one or get the kids’ lunches done at the same time. If you’re smart enough to juggle a tri training schedule, you’re smart enough to get creative here.

The extra mile on meals will benefit you both.

2.       Attention.

You don’t have a lot of time for attention these days do you? So many things to do that conversations and sex fly out the window. Not to mention you’re so tired, those seem like unnecessary energy burners that can be eliminated.


I’m not saying spend all night talking about your hopes and dreams and love and rainbows. I’m talking about 10-15 minutes of undivided attention, SOMEWHERE, in the midst of your day. That whole 'quality over quantity' isn’t just for training. We all know when someone’s mind is wandering or if they just don’t want to put in any effort to pay attention. Yet, we often interact that way during these seasons of training and choosing to make time for that personal interaction can mean everything.

You might not have the energy for an all out foreplay or 2 hour long discussion, but c’mon. Someone else is putting a lot of their own wants and needs aside to help support you in this journey. It’s the little things that show you care.

3.       Clean. Something. Anything! Besides only your stuff.

Time is precious. You finish that protein shake and you chunk the dirty glass in the sink. It sits there until someone addresses it, meanwhile caking up and drying around the glass walls. Those are a bitch to clean. I’m guilty of doing the 'toss and leave' myself. But I learned that if I take 10 seconds to run some water and rinse it out, it makes my husband really, really happy.

I’m going to use the word “clean” loosely here because we all know that tri training leaves little motivation or energy to do any such thing... unless you’re one of those Martha Stewart, Superman or OCD folks. If so, kudos! But for me, I’d rather live with piles of laundry. However, as a supportive wife in this race season, my temper can really flare if I have to chase dirty clothes around the house. God help my man if he leaves a wet jersey or tri shorts lying somewhere besides the dirty clothes hamper.

Yet, for some odd reason, I feel loved and my feelings considered when he either finds the dirty laundry or even runs a load. THAT, my friends, is effort worth supporting and definitely worth another 6 hour ride this weekend.

4.       Training Schedule Communication

It’s easy in the mix of things to forget to tell someone that you’ll be leaving early for a swim set (meaning they’ll have to manage the kids themselves), or that you’ll be late that night because of a track set, or maybe you have a long brick on Saturday.

Save everyone some grief and post a schedule or let your significant other in on yours. It’s a really crappy thing to have to choose between a child’s event and your set. Sometimes it works in your favor and you can get out of doing something you don’t want to because of a “really, really critical workout” but that will bite you in the ass my friend. Show a little consideration, allow that supporting husband to rearrange family affairs or warn you ahead of time so you can plan accordingly.

Teamwork people! Teamwork! It goes a long way!

5.       Give a time frame.

You probably have target races. No one has the same time intensive schedule for 6 months straight. Let your support team know when time is going to get tight and when you’ll have some to spare. This gives your significant other HOPE. Hope, that it’s not going to be THIS BAD all the time. That one day, you’ll actually be seen in public together again and that she won’t be the only one bathing children and checking the mail.

When we know what to expect, it’s almost always easier to deal with.

6.       Lastly. Say “Thank You.” Often.

This seems obvious but there are more ways to say “Thank you” than verbally. Write it on the mirror in the bathroom. Leave a sticky note on the car window. Buy a bar of salted, dark chocolate with almonds and put it in the refrigerator so it’s nice and cold when I… err… she sees it. Plan a surprise date night. Wash the dog. Wash the car. Snuggle on the couch. This list is endless and only you know the little things that make his/her heart patter.

Tokens of appreciation could keep this ship from sinking.

If you feel like your ship has begun to sink, I would highly recommend that you re-evaluate how important this relationship is to you and whether you’re making the smartest decisions with your training times. (Coaches come in really handy for this *wink*)

Just know that having support in this sport is priceless. Give as much as you can when you can. And when that race is over, give credit where credit is due. You can do this!

Cori Moore
iTRI365 Coach