Triathlon and the Single Girl

Tri-buddies, Sherrie, me, and Pam

The official title for this blog is Sex Triathlon and the Single Girl, but when I saved it I noticed blogspot can’t use strikethrough text in the title or to make the link…

and, well, Sex Triathlon and the Single Girl is an entirely different topic, indeed, and one I’m really not prepared to blog about!!! Though I bet my readership would skyrocket in a totally new audience!

Sex Triathlon and the Single Girl

This post has been swimming around in my head for quite a while, in fact, if you’ve spent any time around me in the last two years, whether you’re single or not, I’ve probably brought this up with you. Why isn’t anyone talking about how to manage your time and balance your life when you’re SINGLE and doing triathlon? How do you manage your time, get everything done, and maintain your balance?

It’s not uncommon at all to open a triathlon magazine or book and find at least a little snippet of an article on the topic of relationships and triathlon, from making sure you include time for your partner, show appreciation for all the things they do to pick up the slack created by your training time, even how to balance childcare when you are both training for events. Don’t get me wrong, relationships are important and require conscious attention to ensure balance. I’m thrilled to know there are people writing about balancing triathlon and marriage/relationships.

But what about singles?  Google “triathlon relationships” and you get hundreds of relationship-specific articles on the topic….Google “triathlon single” and you get a link to the Fitness-Singles online dating website and a forum page from about why it’s so hard to meet another single triathlete to date! In a section titled, Challenges for Women, Sally Edwards devotes three pages to guide women in maintaining healthy relationships in her book Triathlons for Women, but there’s no mention about going solo. It’s as if being single in triathlon is without challenge—it’s NOT!

I’m certainly not alone here, being single in triathlon. In 2009, USA Triathlon initiated a study with TribeGroup to analyze demographics of American multisport athletes in a report titled The Mind of the Triathlete. Single triathletes (comprised of single, widowed, divorced, or separated and not in a committed relationship) made up 26% of the 15,000+ survey respondents. It’s not a small group.

I’m not whining, I’m actually very curious about it! It’s been 18 months of trial and error learning how to balance it all, and I’m certainly no expert. Unlike being in a couple or family household, all the responsibilities of living rest upon you:

  • Grocery shopping
  • Meal prep
  • Household chores and maintenance
  • Lawn care
  • Errands (the bank, DMV, etc, etc)
  • Laundry
  • Pet/animal care
  • Vehicle (I’m talking about the car here) maintenance

Some things you do, some things, well, you just have to choose the extent you will do them. Yard care, for example…I can easily brick ANY workout with yard care. I simply come home, all sweaty, change my shoes, and mow, edge, or weed…it works great. However, try as I might, I have not been able to look at a calendar, coordinate with the weather channel, and determine when it would be best to fertilize, aerate, or overseed my lawn—if I’m looking at the weather forecast, I’m planning long runs or bikes, not lawn care! I decided to just hire a company to do that; that’s a cost of doing triathlon, for me. I used to do that stuff, I can’t now.

I cook as if I live with eight people and then freeze it so I have food easily available when I get home from training and don’t have the time, groceries, or energy to cook. Grains are cooked in bulk in a rice cooker, portioned out, and frozen for later to be quickly nuked. I have to REMEMBER to make time to go to the grocery store so I have fresh stuff at home to supplement this.

The one good thing about housework and tri training is that you’re out more than you’re home, so there’s not a lot of time to make a mess to clean up! But some of that other stuff…washing the windows, dusting, pressure washing the outside of the house and patios…it’s gonna take a while to get to, if ever this year. It’s like if Carl’s Jr. ever did a commercial for triathlon, “Don’t bother me, I’m training.”

And then you have to work. It’s not a cheap sport, in fact calculated the cost from couch to Ironman to range from $8,000-35,000. Even after taking out the cost to purchase a new bike and wetsuit, after the first season the annual cost for nutrition, coaching, gym fees, race registration, massage therapy, travel, clothing, etc. add up to thousands of dollars per year. In fact, The Mind of the Athlete study noted the median household income to be $129,000, which makes sense to support the financial aspect of this sport. You do this single, all that cost is on you. I don’t have a corporate sponsor, so I work, and I work extra when I can to pay for these extras. So when friends and coworkers comment on how into triathlon I have become, well, yes, it’s incorporated into my wellness plan, recreation, social outlet, and vacations, because I have to be financially smart about it and combine them.

I can’t stress enough the value of family and friends, though. Friends have bailed me out and helped with errands, picked up race packets, etc. Mother Superior, my mom, is hands-down the best triathlon registration guru on the planet, and has dealt with some pretty high-stress on-line registrations for quick-sellout races for me while I was at work.

And then there is that balance of rest, relaxation, the art of doing nothing…which is hard for Type A people to do. I learned earlier this year that fire station shift days don’t necessary make for good rest days. I schedule rest days just so they get priority. And I really don’t “do nothing” those days, but I am cognizant that they are intended to give both physical and mental rest. I combine these days with massage, yoga, catching up on housework, my blog, meditation, napping, and socializing. And they’re really as important as training days are.

So, Let’s Talk About Relationships After All!

I’m dating ME! What does THAT mean?? It doesn’t mean that I don’t date or wouldn’t get involved in a relationship, it means I am my priority. My calendar looks like a Tetris game with my training workout plan, work schedule, appointments, social activities—I have to schedule EVERYTHING!

Yes, I date, but it’s worked around my priority schedule of work and working out, it’s just how it is, take it or leave it. Sure I’m free that night, but I’m working the next day and I have to get up at 3:45 AM to hit the pool beforehand, so I have to be sleeping by 9 PM…so we can do that or you can pick a different date. You want me to come stay for a few days, no problem…just let me check to make sure there’s a 24 Hour Fitness or a pool nearby, or can I get a guest pass to your gym, and I’m going to have to go for a long run or bike ride in there—you can join me or find something to do while I’m gone. It’s part of the package of ME.

Triathlon has been and will continue to be a personal journey about discovering and celebrating me. I got a great kick out of a blog post on Run Oregon a few months ago, The Novice Runner: Sex and the Single Runner, where the author talked about the baffling impression people seem to have about single women getting into the sport of running:

And it does irk me a bit that so many people seem to think that I – and presumably, all the single ladies– who take up running are just in it for the dudes. Why can’t a girl take up an expensive, time consuming and frequently unattractive hobby because she likes it? Must everything revolve around men all the time? Isn’t it bad enough that most of them are faster than me, they don’t have the expense of shopping for sports bras and their shoes come in cooler colors than mine?

High five, Nichole! I love her attitude and resolve for the sport. For me, it’s not about meeting a new romantic partner, although it could happen and that’d be cool, it’s a personal journey. Maybe someday I’ll have to learn how to shuffle a relationship with triathlon and have someone to help mow the lawn and not ask others how they manage single life and tri. But my life is great, I manage all my responsibilities to the best of my ability, and am happier and healthier than I have ever been!

“Does having sex after an open water swim constitute a brick workout?”
“I don’t know, keep your heart rate monitor chest strap on when you do it and find out!”
—anonymous conversation between two triathletes

Single triathletes (male and female), let me know, how do you manage single life and triathlon? What are your tips?

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