10 Things I Learned About Dating An Ironman

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Hey! I’m Rebecca and am happy to be guest posting here today. I just started blogging a couple months ago over at Blueberry Smiles. While I know there a lot of blogs out there about what it’s like to train for an Ironman race, I thought I’d talk today about what it’s like to be DATING an Ironman”¦.’cause let me tell you, I’ve learned a lot!

Before Jared and I started dating, the only Ironman I knew had quit his job 6 months before the race and devoted all his time to training. While I know that isn’t typical, the thought of dating someone balancing a full-time job, training, and a new relationship was still a little intimidating.

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We started dating 9 months before his first Ironman. I’ve always been active and have run a few half marathons, but my preferred activities are more along the lines of yoga, hiking, and a leisurely swim”¦.not a weekly 100 mile bike ride and daily 2 mile swims. So, needless to say, this wasn’t a typical match. But now, as Jared’s in the midst of training for his second race (Phoenix Nov 2012), we’ve both learned a thing or two about what it’s like to “Date an Ironman.”

I thought I’d share these things in case it’s helpful for anyone who’s training for a race or supporting someone who’s in training.

10 Things I’ve Learned About Dating an Ironman

1. Saturday Nights Are Likely Spent On The Couch”¦..And Quite Possibly In Bed By 10pm.
To an Ironman, Saturdays are for hard, long workouts. After 8 hours of straight of intense exercise, going out to dinner, much less dancing isn’t really an option. So while we occasionally will still plan to hang out with friends and I always have the option of going out without him, sometimes a cozy night on the couch together is just as enjoyable. Typical Saturday nights are usually a combo of icing some part of the body, eating lots of food, and watching TV. Exciting stuff.

2. You’ll Become a Morning Person.

Weekends start at 5:00am, just like the weekdays. And races are even earlier. Coffee helps, but usually there’s no choice than to just try to get used to it.

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3. They’re Always In Pain”¦..So Be Careful Where You Touch Your Ironman.

Inevitably, some part of his body will always hurt from exhaustion, a pulled muscle, or minor injuries. The difficult part is remembering just what part it is each day. On Monday, it might be, “Watch out for my left shoulder and walk only on my right side so I can put my arm around you.” A few days later, the shoulder might be better, but instead it’s, “Be careful not to touch my knee with the big bruise.” We also went through a couple months of a blister problem, so that was, “let’s not go anywhere that requires walking more than 15 steps or wearing a shoe other than a sandal.” I have a hard time keeping track of each day’s injury, but am easily reminded with frequent “Owwww”s!

4. When You Cook, Make At Least Double”¦.Make That Triple”¦.What You Would Normally Make.

Ironmen can eat. A LOT. So cooking requires making way more food that you’re used to. Case in point, check out his plate on pasta night:

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5. Don’t Eat As Much As Him.

Um, yeah. “Stopping for a snack” can often mean an entire tri-tip sandwich two hours before dinner (yep, that happened). He makes milkshakes with whipped cream just so he gets in enough calories for the day. But just because he gets to indulge so much, it can become a slippery slope for a normal eater. It’s easy to get caught up in the, “Sure, I’ll have a snack too”¦.” Forgetting that he’s burned 5,000 to your 500 calories in exercise of the day. Oops, where’d that extra 10 pounds come from?

6. Hanging Out On The Sidelines All Day Has Its Perks.

I wasn’t much for spectating before we started dating. I preferred to be the one IN the race. But pretty soon, I realized just how much fun it can be. You’ll meet great people. You’ll buff up your photography skills. You’ll finally put all those childhood cheerleading skills to use. You’ll get to go on “racations.” Last year, we went to races in Sonoma and Napa. Being the spectator, I could sit on the sidelines sipping wine and working on my tan while cheering him on. Not too shabby if you ask me.

7. You’ll Learn New Skills”¦..And Carry A “Mom” Bag.

I’ve gotten really good at taping up his body with athletic tape. It took watching 6 youtube videos, but now I can do a perfect knee, shoulder and lower back tape. If only I could make money from it, I would be golden. My “interior design skills” now include decorating the apartment with silly slogans that are funny only to triathletes and those who date them. I’ve also learned all the Ironman lingo, know a ton about “cadence” and “heel strikes,” and have great new skills in ringing cowbells. Plus, I have new appreciation for the “Mom Bag” and carry one full of everything anyone could possibly need. BandAids. Muscle Milk. Ice Packs. Advil. Clif Bars. You name it, I’ve got it.

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8. You’ll Make The Most Of The Off-Season.

Hello vacation in Hawaii. Multitude of ski weekends? Yes, please. Plus, all that cheering during race season gives you plenty of excuses for your Ironman to spoil you rotten (i.e., “Why yes, I’d love another foot massage, thank you.”) So in times when training’s at its height and you’re not spending much time together, at least there’s something to look forward to.

9. You’ll Feel More confident In Pushing Yourself Too.

I had been a “failed” runner. I say failed because my previous attempts at running marathons left me injured pretty quickly in my training. But with all the Ironman motivation, I gained confidence in myself and my own athletic skills too ”¦.increasing speed and mileage, learning tips, and finally believing that I could do it.
And I did.

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10. You’ll Learn That It’s Amazing What You Can Do If You Put Your Mind To It.

I remember watching Jared cross the finish line at the Ironman race thinking, “Wow. He really did it.” It wasn’t because he’s superhuman or a super athlete, it’s because he worked hard, put his mind to it, trained consistently, and was so incredibly motivated. That mentality doesn’t just equal success in an athletic race. It’s pretty true about life in general. And dating someone who inspires you, who pushes themselves, and who has big dreams is pretty darn great”¦..and incredibly inspiring.

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I’m not going to lie and say that it’s easy to date an Ironman. When someone has two full times jobs (a paying job plus training), prioritizing a relationship is a difficult balance. But it’s a journey you take together. On race day, when your Ironman crosses the finish line, you’ll likely be bubbling with smiles and pride, knowing that all the trials of training made you grow stronger as a couple.

It’s race season again, so I’ll be blogging plenty more about “Dating an Ironman” at Blueberry Smiles in the next couple months. Hope you’ll come visit me!

What are your tips for balancing training and relationships?

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59 Comments

  1. Nice blog.

    The one thing I would add is that tri-athletes can’t stop talking about their training. They can obssess about how they felt at mile 20 and you have no idea what they are talking about, or how they felt great on the work out and on and on. My advice, put up with it for 10 minutes, and then say something ppolite and get them to change the subject.

    M

  2. How do you balance supporting his goals, as well as achieving your own? In a past dating experience with an Ironman, I felt as though I was being selfish in spending time on my own pursuits (particularly athletic). How could I talk about IT band issues from hiking 20 miles when he biked 100 that day? Thoughts?

  3. I literally just cried reading this article. Absolutely on point! I have been dating an Ironman for about 6 months now (we were friends prior) and he has already ran 3 triathlons and been to Hawaii. (I had to move into our new house while he was away).

    I thank you so much for writing something to look forward to, smile about and know as the “other half” to the Ironman, I can be proud too!

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