Celebrating the Partners of Training Athletes

Usually by this time every year I’m at least 6 weeks into a training program and let’s just say letting other things go. This year due to a flare up of runner’s knee and you know the Covid not so much… So let’s take some time to appreciate and thank our amazing partners now for all the stepping up they do to help us out in training. I can’t possibly write this post without talking about the stuff honey does to support me but what your partner does might be totally different and shooting him a great big thank you! I broke it down into categories so you can think about the stuff your partner does in that category. I think it’s a good idea to jot down the things you will soon realize your partner does for you and thank them specifically for every single one!

We don’t take the time to recognize all the things our partners do for us. We might even get annoyed about all the things you think they are not doing. But if you really think about it our choice to train does have some pretty big implications on their life too. I want to take some time this week and spell out exactly how awesome all of our partners are and how much their sacrifices let us achieve great things. I’ve been pretty vocal in the past that athletes should take some time out of training every year and this is just one of the many reasons why. I would also argue that its a pretty important one.

They put up with the stuff we do

All training athletes are different but most of us get a little intense in training. We might hoard ice and the freezer space for our ice baths, go to bed before sunset or only eat and cook non-delicious things. We might be tiered and therefore cranky and they put up with that too. Ditto for being weirdly anxious and nervous as race day approaches. My partner even has to make allowances for me at work since we do that together too. Really there are so many irritating and inconvenient things we do like setting an alarm for before dawn, eating ALL the groceries, peeing wherever we go and using all the hot water on our constant showers. A lot of it is non-negotiable but you could check in and see if one thing in particular drives them nuts, like foam roller grunting, maybe you could fix that one thing.

They forgive the things we don’t

After we’re done doing all the weird things we do in training there’s a whole other set of things we just stop doing. You might not really notice you’ve stopped doing these things but rather just acknowledge that you’re ‘behind’ on them. The truth is you’re so far behind on them that if you looked behind you with a telescope you still couldn’t see them. Your couple social life might be on life support and training might mean that you are sending zero quality time together. Those are the big things but the small things matter too. I know that even though I do all the cleaning, cooking and shopping for our house when I’m training that all slows to a trickle however my workout clothes seem to get miraculously laundered each week. For you it might be that you stop asking about your partner’s day, anticipating their needs or just plain old scrubbing the toilet. You might usually pack the family calendar with fun events but don’t have time to plan or participate now. Ironically you might not have time to support their passions at all while they are supporting yours.

You might think I’m going to say just pick up the slack and get it done but I’m not. There just aren’t more hours in the day or two of you all of a sudden. Instead think about all the balls you’re dropping a bit and fess up. Tell your partner that you know you’ve been slacking and exactly how. Then ask them if you could prioritize one thing what would they want it to be. Once you know you can do better, they feel heard and you don’t have to do the dishes if they’re missing your movie nights the most!

They give us the space we need

Usually when we’re in a couple almost all of the time we’re not working we are together. No one says it has to be that way but families and living together usually make that the case. Hopefully our partners love spending time with us but in training that might decline drastically. Lots of days you’re up and gone for the whole morning (or evening) and often in bed way earlier than normal. Depending on what you’re training for (triathlons especially) your training might come with lots of other time eaters too. It could be extra errands, laundry, obsessive reading or just generally being distracted and less present.

Your partner is missing out here to because all this time is a major upheaval in their schedule and routine too. We’re not going to get into all the stuff they have to do since you’re not yet but this section is all about recognizing the space they give us and realizing that’s not always easy. Even if they’re missing you right now they never really say anything about it and make you feel guilty. Plus a lot of us do this every single year. I would suggest taking some time together each week and really being totally present while you do.

They talk us down from the ledge

It’s a weird, weird thing but the act of training for an event can make us unexplainably anxious. The first time you ever train for a specific event it’s even more intense. It also doesn’t always make us the easiest person to be around either. Certain workouts and weeks just seem to loom large in our minds and we just obsess about it. Dealing with someone who is nervous all the time maybe with a short fuse isn’t fun. Our partners are tuned into our feelings and treat us with kid gloves when we’re training because of it. I’m not sure I ever give my partner that kind of treatment for so long. To help mitigate that problem accept that your training regime is responsible for your nervous mood. Once you do its much easier to get a hold of it and minimize the effects on everyone.

How did I even do this? Once I walked home honey fixed it in three minuets flat!

They pick up the slack

There is this line in Gilmore Girls where Lorelei tells Sukie that her back is literally breaking for all the slack she’s picking up. I imagine that our partners feel that way sometimes too. They have more duties with childcare, cooking, housework, errands and maybe even work than they usually usually do. This can be a really big deal over time and leads to hurt feelings if you have intentionally divided your chores. At our house I pretty much do all that stuff so if I’m in training and honey has to bring some laundry in from the line and run the dishwasher a few times a week that’s totally fine. While it might not seem day to day like your partner is doing a whole lot extra keep in mind that feeling like you’re doing it on your own adds up over time. While you’re probably not able to meet all of your obligations in training make sure to thank your partner every week at least for doing your chores. Ask what chore they never, ever want to do of yours and make sure that one is always done by you even in training. When it comes to weeks close to peak week if you can swing it set up things like meal delivery services, babysitting nights, extra tutors and maybe even a night off completely for you partner because well by now they probably need a break too!

Then, after all that, they show up on race day

You might think that at the end of all that sacrifice you’ll both be up for some super luxurious and relaxing payoff but that is not the case. The day you’ve been working towards for months now is here and you’re both going to have to wake up before the crack of dawn, possibly load the kids in the car, and you’re going to be a useless bundle of nerves. Then no matter what the weather is your partner and your entire family will cheer really loudly for you for 5 minuets and then, potentially for hours, nothing. You won’t really notice the weather no matter how bad it is, trust me but your partner is potentially stuck standing in it with nothing to do. Then when you finally finish you might be emotional but very quickly will be a tiered, hungry shell of a person. If you’re anything like me this is the exact time you’ll say something insensitive. Then home for a nap right after feeding which of course they have to pay for because this is your special day.

Training obviously takes a toll on your life but did you ever realize that it’s hard on your partner too? It’s probably not realistic that your partner’s life will be exactly the same while you are training and no one says it has to be. Relationships are give and take after all. But training doesn’t give you a license to step all over your spouse either. Check in with your partner and remember that you made this choice for both of you. What do you do to lessen the load on your partner while training? What do you wish or appreciate that your athlete does for you? Leave it in the comments below!

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