Having only ventured into the world of sports a few years ago, it’s been a steep learning curve. Not just with the training but the lifestyle. I didn’t grow up with 5am practice, teammates, long drives to competition, or protein shakes. I didn’t have chain grease on most of my clothes, know what electrolytes were and I thought I ate pretty healthy. I also used to think Coke was the devil’s drink but now I see a convenient package for a ton of energy. Things have changed, for the better, but there were a few things I wish someone had warned me about.
Laundry. Man oh man. The amount of laundry training creates is crazy. I went from having a gym outfit to throw in with the rest of my wash to a whole kit load, sometimes two. Bad weather means even more clothes and multiple sessions means multiple outfit changes, so it doesn’t take long for laundry to feel like an additional sport. I’m pretty sure the triathlon suit wasn’t just invented for racing convenience, someone out there was sick of washing three sets of kit every time.
Luggage. One thing I love about running is that I can just put my shoes on and go, or not even if I’m going barefoot. It’s easy and simple and travelling to running races seems like a breeze. As a cyclist or a multi-sport athlete, travelling becomes a nightmare. You learn pretty quickly how cumbersome a bike box is and add in racing wheels, a stationary trainer, and tools and you have a recipe for bankruptcy from overweight charges. In your normal suitcase, half the weight is taken up by training clothes and you start to wonder if you really need fancy dinner clothes or whether those extra gels and shoes wouldn’t be better (of course they would). Your hand luggage is also taken over, strewn with watches, cables, sunglasses and any other training electronics you can’t afford to replace or live one day without. Add in some strange wondering looks about your big box and a cramped ride to the airport and you’ve got the complete athlete travel experience.
Long distance. If you are in a relationship with another like-minded athlete, it can seem like a dream to meet someone else who loves to get up at 5am on the weekend to kill themselves for hours on end but there is a major draw back. Of course, scheduling revolves around training and race calendars but, worse than that, there is often a hearty helping of long distance. Whether it’s away race days that add up over the year or back to back months of racing overseas, Skype, WhatsApp and email become your lifeline. Two focused people together can be a mighty team but two different goals can mean different geographical locations.
Love. As soon as you become hooked on sports, no one tells you the truth about the lifelong romance you can fall into. Even if you fall out of competition and training, your heart will forever beat quicker when you watch a race, hop in the saddle, or even hear someone talking about your beloved. People already in love with something will tell you about their wonderful experience but they tend to highlight the glory and gloss over the guts. The crashes, the injuries, the sacrifices, the stress, the disappointments, the expense and, like all matters of love, the indescribable heartache that goes along with it.