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Laura Radniecki is an inspirational blogger and commercial + portrait photographer from Minnesota. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Matt, and obsessed with their feisty toy poddle, Remy. She also has wild dreams of traveling the country in an RV and being the youngest Snow Bird in Minnesota history. She blogs about photography and living with intention at www.lauraradniecki.com.
The word “triathlon” had very little meaning to me five years ago.
I knew what a triathlon was, and I knew a few friends who had taken the triathlon class offered back when we were in high school. But aside from knowing it included three different sports, and sometimes involved a big race called an Ironman, I didn’t know much.
Oh, how things change.
My husband Matt spent 2005-2009 as an Active Duty Marine, stationed on Oahu, Hawaii. During that time, he did two tours to Iraq. Matt’s time was spent either training up for a deployment, or readjusting back to normal life after returning stateside, leaving little time for hobbies.
In 2010, we had moved back home to Minnesota, and Matt was in an accelerated bachelors degree program at the local college. He was busy, but life looked very different from what it had the previous four years.
I’ve always taken after my dad, and had an abundance of hobbies I enjoy. I love to read, and I love just about any kind of craft project or DIY adventure.
Matt, however, didn’t have a hobby that he enjoyed. He hadn’t had much time for one in the Marines, and now that he was home, he wasn’t sure what interested him. I remember telling him, “You should find a hobby.”
In the summer of 2010, his mom randomly asked him if he wanted to sign up for a local triathlon taking place a few weeks later. He said, “Why not?” and they registered. They practiced swimming in the lake a few times before the race, ran and biked a time or two, and Matt showed up on race day wearing board shorts. They both completed the race.
The triathlon bug had bitten them both.
In the 5 years since then, Matt has gone from a triathlon amateur wearing board shorts at a race, to qualifying to represent Team USA in the Triathlon Sprint World Championships this fall.
What started as a hobby has morphed into a passion for him.
I don’t share Matt’s enthusiasm for triathlon. I’m not a runner, and really – I don’t enjoy any exercise much at all. My hobbies still include reading and crafts, as well as leisurely walks outside in the sunshine. I think you could say Matt and my hobbies are polar opposites.
I am glad Matt found something he thoroughly enjoys and I’m extremely proud of his accomplishments. But things aren’t always rosy around here; triathlon has brought some turmoil into our lives over the years.
There are some triathlon spouses that don’t have any issue with “sharing” their spouse with triathlon. They don’t mind the training and don’t feel any annoyance or jealousy at all.
I’ll be honest; I’m not one of those people.
There have been times over the last five years, especially recently as Matt’s training volume has increased dramatically, where I regret telling him to go find a hobby. Or, I wish he’d have chosen something different. My goal in writing this post is to reach any other triathlon spouses out there who might be feeling this way. I want you to know that you’re not alone, and it’s ok to feel this way.
I have a love-hate relationship with triathlon for a variety of reasons. The biggest ones being the amount of time required to train, the financial investment of ALL THE GEAR, the weekends being tied up because of race after race, and the fact that because I’m not a triathlete too, I’m not part of “the club.”
However, as Matt and I have navigated the last five years with him racing triathlon, I have learned a few things that help me make peace with it all.
1. Try it too. Or don’t.
For some people, once their spouse gets bitten by the triathlete bug as they call it, they want to try it out too. If this interests you, go for it! Maybe you’d be like the couples in Matt’s triathlon club that both train and race.
If you’re like me and you have no interest in doing it yourself, then don’t. And don’t apologize for it. I get asked all the time if I race too. I laugh and say, no. It’s as simple as that. You don’t need to explain why you don’t want to do it, and you don’t have to feel bad.
2. Find ways to be involved.
I am a commercial and portrait photographer, so for me, an obvious way that I involve myself with Matt’s races is taking photos as I watch. It keeps me engaged in the race and allows Matt to have photos to look through later.
If you’re not interested in photographing the race, something as simple as making a sign and cheering them on is great. The important thing is to be involved somehow and show your support.
This is something Matt and I have gotten better at over the years, especially as Matt’s training volume has increased. When he makes his training schedule for the week or month, he will ask me about activities we have coming up, so his workouts don’t interfere or mess up our plans.
Even though he might still have 3 hours of training to do on a Saturday, I appreciate him asking when the most convenient time would be for him to do it. It means a lot to me that he’s involving me in the plan, and that he is trying to work the training into our lives, instead of work our lives into his training.
4. If possible, match your schedules.
When Matt first started getting up at 5am to exercise before work, my usual bedtime was 11pm or 12am. I’m a photographer and I work from home, plus I’m a natural night owl. So, his newfound routine of 9pm bedtimes and 5am wake ups did not interest me in the least.
Over the years though, our bedtimes have gradually shifted so now, we both go to bed around 9:45 or 10pm. I might sleep or I might read for awhile. I don’t get up with him at 5am usually; I’m less of a morning person than he is. But even the simple act of going to bed at the same time has done wonders for making us feel like our lives are more in sync.
If this isn’t an option for you, that’s ok. And if you don’t want to go to bed at 10pm, that’s ok too. You might be surprised though, how something as simple as shifting your schedule can help you feel more connected.
5. Explore your hobbies.
Triathlon is an expensive sport and chances are there is always more gear on your spouse’s “List”. If you aren’t allowing yourself a little room to explore your own hobbies, it’s easy to start feeling resentful about all the money triathlon requires, and feel like you’re not able to do anything for yourself.
It’s important that you take time for yourself and encourage whatever types of hobbies you like. For me, I love to read so I can often be found on the couch, nose in a book while Matt’s working out in the basement.
Whatever you enjoy doing, you need an outlet. Otherwise, I promise that resentment is just around the corner.
I don’t love triathlon and I probably never will.
I will probably always wrestle with some resentment over the training time and financial investment it requires, as well as having to share my husband with the sport.
But I’ve come a long way over the years, and I continue to do my best to work through the nagging resentment. I know how much Matt loves the sport, and I am proud of his hard work and dedication, as well as his achievements.
I may not love triathlon, but I do love my husband, and I am learning to be the most supportive triathlon spouse I can possibly be!
What is something you have learned along your husband’s triathlon journey?
Make sure to check out more of Laura’s honest and intentional writings over at www.lauraradniecki.com.