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How to date a triathlete/marathon runner/endurance junkie.

January 1, 2013

As I was flipping around on Facebook, I came across this linked post about how to date a triathlete/marathon runner/endurance junkie and I was intrigued.  How could I not click the link and read more. 

Now I found her to be highly triathlete focused so I thought maybe I would do some minor tweaking to her posts to equate it to endurance swimmers.  Italics represent Carrie’s original post which the link is provided at the end of my post.

Rule #1 – Don’t.  Just kidding. In fact, endurance junkies are some of the most quality people around. All of those hours spent alone with ourselves in the meditative realm of Zone 2 really forces us to think about things like who we are, what we believe in, the meaning of life, what we’re going to eat immediately when we get home, and other critical themes.

But it’s not as simple as run, rinse, repeat. Being a true endurance junkie is a lifestyle. It’s a state of mind. For many of us, training makes us better people every day. It serves us in ways other people or experiences have not or cannot. And so we find ourselves caught up in a committed relationship, legs intertwined with the goddess of multi-sport.  Now I don’t know what Zone 2 is and I imagine that it has something to do with triathletes being data driven sports junkies.  But yes, endurance swimmers are already in a committed relationship with the water and other relationships are built on or measured against the water.

Rule #2 – Most of us are introverts. Again here I think Carrie is spot on and I would go so far as to say that swimmers are the extreme form of introverts.  Who else would subject themselves to hours in the water where you are pretty much forced to NOT TALK with people?  In fact, if you are on a supported swim you only see the people for brief flashes during breathing before turning back into the water.  Then at your allotted feeding time, you may grunt some form of thank you while you gulp or chew your food, which again limits the time you have to spend talking to people.

Rule #3 – Please, please, please don’t make us stay out late with you. I concur with Carrie’s post and have eaten all the chips and salsa just to make a point. = Our idea of “going out” involves literally going outdoors on/in foot or bicycle the water, preferably in the wee hours of Saturday morning when the rest of the world is sleeping off an impending hangover. If you make us stay out late with you at some sub-par Mexican restaurant, and hence compromise the quality or timing of our planned weekend long run/ride swim, we will resent you. And eat all the chips and salsa without regard for the others at the table. Consider yourself warned.  

Rule #4 –  We WILL spend more time swimming, planning swims, talking about past swims, biking, and running, than with you. Sorry. It’s not that we don’t like you, it’s just that, well, we like SBR swimming better.

Rule #5 – Vacations, dates, and trips centered around doing something physical and rugged are incredibly hot. Especially if you can keep up or are excited to be a crew member.  I know that many swimmers have to use their vacation days to go on their planned swims.  I personally don’t think that endurance swims count as vacations what with all the worrying about weather, the extreme mental and physical demands let alone the sea life encounters.  It is down right exhausting when you look at it.  But also incredibly rewarding.  Again it is another opportunity to focus on Rule #4.

Rule #6 – Please don’t make comments about our choice of dress, the smell of chlorine/sea or lake water, or wet hair. We got up at 3:30 am and ran 54 miles swam today, so yes, it’s gonna be another sweatpants day. (Side note:  Man if I could stay in sweatpants all the time I would.  Unfortunately that doesn’t always qualify as business casual.)

Rule #7 – Please don’t make comments about the state of our feet, or the strange rashes on our backs and butts. Listen, I’ve been working on those calluses for years. And brush burn can happen to the best of us. It’s a badge of honor. Now hand me my body butter.   Ok this is where I think Carrie’s point doesn’t connect with endurance swimmers.  I think the closest thing that I can think of here is don’t comment on our scaly and flaky dry skin.  At this point the body butter still applies.

Rule #8 – It’s really, honestly, seriously not about the bike. Some multisport “hobbyists”, as I like to call them, are really just into gear: flashy bikes, fancy moisture-wicking apparel, gravity-defying running shoes. I think those folks are in the minority though. Really, for most of us, it’s about the process. The bike is just a vehicle for personal growth and change.  Here is where most marathon swimmers would divert between the triathlete wetsuit wearers and the true marathon swimmers.  It is not about the heart rate monitors, garmins, wetsuits, and drafting as close as possible to the person next to you bumping them incessantly until you are ready to rip their arms out of their sockets or kick them squarely in the head to get them to leave you alone in your precious water world.  How dare they invade it!  Whoa…not sure where that came from, but I think it gets the point across that the water for marathon swimmers is sacred and a place for personal growth and change.  

Rule #9 – …but if you HAVE to give us a gift, give us a bike! Okay, maybe not a bike (has anyone looked at the price tags on those things these days? Insane!), but something we can use to make ourselves more comfortable, efficient, and/or entertained while slogging it out there. As they say, carbon fiber is a girl’s best friend. Or is it only me who says that? Meh.  I think that marathon swimmers here would prefer a kayak or more importantly a kayaker or a friend with a boat who loves to escort swims or a plane ticket to a swim or a swim deposit.  Man the list is endless on this one since marathon swimming is so dang expensive.  Oh we could be really easy and you could get us a hot water bottle and a pair of Uggs that you won’t care if we ruin with soggy sunscreen, lanolin smeared feet.  

Rule #10 – We probably finished off that entire box of cereal. SORRY. It takes a lot of fuel to power through several hours of cardio exercise every day. Or at least, so we tell ourselves. If you bring it to our attention that downing an entire box of Product 19 in a day is gross, we will feel sad, misunderstood and self conscious. So just don’t go there.  Hallelujah sister!

Rule #11 – No run = cranky + moody. I once saw a t-shirt at a local running shop that had the words “NO RUN = CRANKY + MOODY” printed on it in large block print. I felt relieved that clearly, I was not the only one to have experienced this phenomenon. Now where can I find a cute guy sporting said shirt? Swimmers equivalent would be NO water (and/or swim) = CRANKY + MOODY.  I’d be happy to find a guy who’s t-shirt read “I love kayaking really slowly.”

Rule #12 – We’re geeks for numbers. A lot of triathlon lingo is centered around numbers, figures, and calculations. Do we expect you to understand when we toss around terms like “max cadence,” “wattage,” “millimeter offset,” and “Yasso 800s“? Yes, yes we do.  Now I haven’t met a lot swimmers that geek out on numbers.  Weather predictions, currents, tides…ABSOLUTELY!  Not so much on the typical triathlete data points.  Mainly I think it is because we aren’t allowed to wear any of these items during swims and I also think that sometimes this data gets in the way of just enjoying the “being” aspect of the sport.  

Rule #13 – Yes, we are capable of love. We just show it differently. Here’s my theory, which is loosely based on my associations with triathlete and marathoning friends over the years: we just have a different sense of relativity, slightly different tolerance for solitude and independence, and frequently a radically different neurohormonal profile, than the general populous. We like our friends to be people who understand the value of setting personal goals and doggedly going after them, with perhaps seeming disregard for other aspects of life. Needless to say, this typically isn’t considered very socially acceptable; women especially are deemed neglectful if they choose to pursue “hobbies” outside of family and even career. 

The thing about triathletes and endurance athletes is that many of us have rediscovered the power of positive motivation, encouragement, and coaching in our adult lives. The paradigm of pushing through personal boundaries to shatter past records and achieve new, previously unattainable goals is something many of us move away from after we graduate from high school sports teams. This lens–one of encouragement, big dreaming, and distinctive goal-setting–is the one through which we understand how to show love and affection. If one of my friends mentions a goal she’s been entertaining, you sure as hell bet I’ll be on her case about realizing that goal and surpassing it. This comes off as annoying to some, but more often than not I’ve been met with appreciation.

Perhaps most people don’t get enough of this on a regular basis. When was the last time you heard someone say something like, “I believe in you,” “You can do anything you set your mind to,” or “Dream big”? These are things we were liberally showered with as children, but such encouragement and belief in oneself falls by the wayside as we grow up and hide away behind our desk jobs. This makes me sad.

I think people who are drawn to things like endurance sports are people who have recognized that realistically, only a finite amount of achievement and goal realization is possible in the “real world”. The concept of the entirely self-made man or woman is a thing of the past, as our careers and personal lives function more at the whim of the economy, our happenstance social network, and random obstacles that arise than our education and persistence. No longer does good, honest hard work necessarily translate into getting where one wants to be.

With triathlon, the payback is reliably and predictably related to the amount of work that’s put into it. Working hard = progress, and progress = personal growth and improvement. We crazy endurance junkies have found an arena in which one of the most basic human needs is not only attainable, it’s incredibly accessible. Maybe we’re not so crazy, after all?

So in summary how to date a marathon swimmer?

  • Dream big.
  • Bring a towel.
  • Stock up on all food especially chocolate and gummies.

Carrie’s original posting:

Happy New Year.

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