For this month’s blog post I thought I would mix it up a bit, since my usual ‘go-to’ topics normally center on training plans, race recaps and/or (hopefully) some helpful advice. But, with my wedding around the corner it got me thinking not only about the race I have ahead, but also the importance of finding the right training partner to embark on these adventures with. In many ways it relates to finding the perfect spouse- the things you might search for in soul mate might also prove useful when heading out to beat your PB!
Over the years I have done my fair share of big races- some single day and some multi-day, and the only way I have been able to be successful in these types of events is by putting in some serious hours and usually sacrificing some of the more comfortable aspects of life in order to get those hours in. Being a highly competitive person, the events I participate in nowadays allow me to have an outlet and compete, but I don’t let them consume me and am ok with being a “middle of the pack” competitor. This mindset has allowed me to train differently, which basically boils down to balancing work with life- Tor Des Geants is a big commitment, but not something that consumes my life day in and day out and luckily my training partner is my soon-to-be wife, so that always helps.
Kate and I started training together as soon as we started dating 4 years ago, and I have learned some valuable relationship lessons in the 10-15 hours/week EXTRA we spend together because of this training. Here are some quick tips that might not only help your training, it might also help your relationship- just call me Psychologist Dalts!
1. Silence is Golden: Sometimes it’s ok not to talk. When out for hours on end running or biking, you don’t need to fill up every minute with conversation. It’s nice to be in someone’s company without feeling the pressure to talk, which is sometimes an issue with the wrong training partner- sometimes you just need to cruise along side by side lost in your own mind. It’s healthy! That being said, it is extremely important to realize the difference between silence, and the silent treatment... like in life, that is never an easy road to go down
2. But… You Must Communicate: Obviously a key to any relationships’ success depends on communication, and it’s important in training too. I tend to take the lead on the what, where and how of mine and Kate’s training sessions and learned (and am still learning) that just telling all the above without explaining is no fun for her. She has questions and wants to know the “why” behind our workouts so that she can learn herself, whereas I just want her to trust me. Communication allows us to hash this out and develop a strategy so that we both feel in control of our training and are equally contributing to the end result.
3. Blue and Pink Jobs: Have you ever heard someone refer to taking out the garbage as a blue job, and washing the dishes as a pink job?? Before you stop reading this, know that I am not a fan of that delineation at all and regularly wash the dishes, but I do feel there is something to be said for having a defined role in the training program. My role is to ensure we are following the physical side of our training- getting the hours in, deciding on our route, keeping heart rates where they should be etc. Kate is (as I jokingly call it) Director of Nutrition. Being a Vega employee and having a much better knowledge base then me on nutrition, Kate takes control of what we eat, ensuring that before, during and after we are covered… an extremely important piece of any program and one aspect I am glad to not have to really think about!
4. Challenge One Another: The beauty of a training partner is having someone give that extra boost of motivation when you need it. Kate is a morning person while I would prefer to sleep a little later and get my training done in the afternoon. A great challenge for me has been facing that 5am alarm clock and getting the workout done before sunrise- something I probably wouldn’t do without Kate’s encouragement. Alternately, Kate has a bad habit of overtraining and without me monitoring and encouraging the rest days, she would not be in a position to be successful in our upcoming event. And then there are the days where one of us doesn’t feel like pushing through that last 5 km, or tacking on an extra 30 minutes to the 2 hour run, that is when you challenge your partner and keep them accountable to the overall plan.
5. Have fun together: Just like a relationship, if you’re not feeling it then there is probably someone better for you out there! Make sure that the time you are spending with your training partner (whether they are a spouse, friend, colleague etc) is time where you are made to feel good about yourself, feel good about what you accomplish, and hopefully have a few laughs along the way!
With that in mind I am off to Maui to get married… definitely the biggest endurance event of my life ;)
As is all things in my life now - my future wife had a hand in writing this post...