Found on Ironman.com and written by Lisa Dolbear
10 things triathletes are sick of hearing, and how to respond.
Oh, October. That wonderful time of the year when most triathletes begin the off season and take some time to rest and do something other than swim, bike or run. Chances are, your arms and legs aren’t the only things that are tired—if you’ve been on the multisport scene for any length of time, you’re also likely tired of hearing the peanut gallery chime in with some of these common questions and declarations. Here’s how to respond. Just remember to be nice.
1. “All you ever do is work out, don’t you have a life?”
Why yes, I do. Nothing makes me MORE alive than bringing back childhood through swimming, biking and running while enhancing them with the competitive spirit.
2. “I could do a tri, I just don’t have the time.”
News flash: We don’t have the time either, but we’ve found a way to carve it out of our busy lives because that’s what you do when you commit to something important to you. Thirty-five year old mother of two, part-time MBA student, community volunteer, fitness instructor and full-time marketing professional Darcy DiBiase is no stranger to busy schedules. She’s also no stranger to triathlon. “I learned how to own my world at 5:30 a.m., and use the time before everyone else’s day started to do things for myself,” the three-time Iron Girl finisher says. “And time is only one of the resources I needed to be successful—I’ve also found the right people along the way to keep me motivated and committed to my goals.”
3. “My cousin/sister/friend did an IRONMAN in an hour.”
Using the term “IRONMAN” to describe any length of triathlon race is like using the term “PhD” to describe any level of education. A lot of time, preparation, sacrifice and passion goes into racing 140.6 miles and it’s annoying to hear people boil it all down to the equivalent of a fun run.
4. “Triathletes are in love with themselves.”
If it seems like we talk a lot about what we do, it’s partly because we’re often forced to explain what an IRONMAN race actually is (see #3). We’re excited by our goals and our accomplishments, and many of us got into the sport because we were inspired by hearing stories about it from others. The love is everywhere—and yes, it makes it for a stronger self-esteem and sense of self-confidence—but that’s not a bad thing.
5. “Tri looks boring. All you do is swim, bike and run.”
Sure, repetition can be boring—but the mystique of going from point A to point B is one of the timeless tenets of any great adventure. Take your average road trip. Is it just a car headed down the highway running up the odometer? Or is it the backdrop for unforgettable conversations, inside jokes and memories that will last a lifetime? “I’ve met some of my closest friends while training. We push each other mentally and physically and we’ve created a healthy, balance lifestyle through our experiences,” says 32-year-old Philadelphia, PA resident, Mike Marsteller.
6. “I would have gone faster, but ________.”
There comes a point in a triathlete’s life, when hearing excuses cheapens the “war story” narrative rather than enhancing it. We’ve all had experiences where certain factors may have contributed to a sub-par performance, but sometimes it just comes down to being honest: we aren’t always “on” and we aren’t always prepared for every challenge. It’s okay to give an honest race report and accept you have work to do in your training.
7. “So you can eat whatever you want then?”
No, we cannot. Just because the average IRONMAN competitor burns around 10,000 calories over the course of a 140.6-mile race, that doesn’t give us carte blanche for what we put into our bodies. There’s a reason athletes refer to food as “fuel”— it’s a major factor in how well our machine performs in training racing and recovery. That being said, many triathletes indulge in ‘bad foods” when they want to because they know they can do it in moderation. Like any other aspect of multisport, diet comes down to discipline and listening to your body. If my body is saying, “eat peanut butter cup ice cream,” I go for it, but I’m not crushing the whole carton (not every time, anyway).
8. “I’m doing the Warrior Dash, Spartan Race, Tough Mudder…”
Here’s the thing: it’s not that we don’t appreciate the challenges of a good obstacle course. It’s that it’s often brought up it in a way that seems “one uppy” in conversation. We mention a seven-hour brick workout on a Sunday morning, then we hear about someone climbing into a dumpster of ice during a 5K. Once. On the weekend. And then there’s free beer. I’m betting I’m not alone when I say that I only WISHED there had been a dumpster of ice in the last 5K of an IRONMAN race or any of my scheduled long workouts. And I’ll take the beer, too.
9. “Now that you’re done with IRONMAN, what’s next?”
For triathletes, being “done” with IRONMAN is like being done with breathing. The sport becomes our lifeblood, fueling our drive in a way we never imagined it could. Even the most devastating race leaves a triathlete wanting more—whether it’s for redemption, chasing a PR or the simple act of chasing another goal. Take it from 21-time Kona finisher, Harriet Anderson, one of the most inspirational and “longest running” athletes in the sport (who is also the oldest woman to ever finish the IRONMAN World Championship).
10. “I just want to finish.”
There’s more to it than that and we both know it. Triathletes might seem like simple people on the surface (after all, per #5, all we do is mindlessly cover miles), but we’re actually quite introspective. (How do you think we pass the time over all those miles?) “Just finishing,” is the short version of “I don’t have any specific time goals for this race,” and that’s fine, but it doesn’t mean the effort is void of a driving force. Personally, I like to know what moves people. Whether you’re racing for a charity, to wrestle personal demons, to celebrate health or to smash a PR, don’t be shy about sharing your motivations and race-day goals. As triathletes, we’ve all come to this sport from different backgrounds, but we’re in this together and we all want something out of it.
Lisa Dolbear is a three-time IRONMAN and USAT Level 1 coach.