This story hit my email inbox a couple weeks ago:
A few years ago, I put 4 months of grueling but fun Half Ironman training time in, only to end up not completing my training or planned race. Quitting time for me seemed inevitable when my boyfriend commented that I seemed tired all the time and had little time or energy for us to spend quality time together. We certainly could have used some help in getting us through the inevitable ups and downs of triathlon training, that's for sure!
- Danielle Bradley, Canada
Stories like Danielles are more than just about hurt feelings and disappointment (although those are pretty big things). Without a strong system of support, a triathlete is doomed to suffer poor performance.
A few years ago, The Harvard Business Review revealed the results of a study using contributions from more than 100 leading scientists who studied expertise and top performance in a wide variety of domains, including sports. In their 900-page tome titled The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance the authors concluded that there are only 3 things that truly define excellence in performance:
1. Intense and deliberate practice
2. Coaching and mentoring
3. Enthusiastic support from family
Want some examples? Think Tiger Woods, the Williams sisters, and even Mozart whose parents were instrumental to their success. Chris McCormack calls his family his rock in his most recent video, Craig Alexanders wife co-blogs with him on their Team Alexander site, and if you read Michael Lovatos blog on how his wife Amanda is his inspiration, it will undoubtedly bring tears to your eyes.
Having attended scores of triathlons over the past 10 years, I can tell you with certainty that most race mates who support age-groupers are clueless as to how to effectively help their partners. Oh sure, triathletes share bits and pieces of info throughout training and racing season... but much of what is delivered is pretty mysterious and hard to translate into action.
The latest stats show that 63% of triathletes are married and 11% are in a committed relationship. Couple that with the fact that the number of races (and racers) is exploding around the world. Considering all the growth in this sport, there are even more clueless mates, too.
Inc. magazine now devotes a regular column devoted to discussing the impact of entrepreneurial businesses on families. I did a little experiment, and simply replaced the word entrepreneur with triathlete in Meg Cadoux Hirshbergs November issue entitled, Breaking Ups Not Hard To Do: Why the start of a company so often spells the end of a marriage, and it was astonishing how this article mirrored the world (and woes) of the endurance triathlete.
A dedicated effort toward race mate support in the triathlon world could make a big impact on performance, satisfaction, and even further growth and support. Just ask Danielle Bradley.
Want to race faster? Miriam Zacharias, triathlon lifestyle expert and sports nutritionist offers clear-cut ideas for training and racing success. Grab a copy of her new book, Fast and Faster: Deliver Rock-Solid Support for an Endurance Triathlete and free report on Smart Sports Nutrition for Triathlon Training and Racing at www.miriamzacharias.com.