HERE is the Wall Street Journal article, titled: "How Couples Handle Conflict Arising from Exercise" with a sub title of: "A Workout Ate My Marriage."
To sum up the article, it is about how some folks can become so consumed by a passion, or hobby, that it starts to bleed into your everyday life that your family and spousal relationships start to become compromised.
This article happens to center on a middle aged age group triathlete, Jordan Maxman, who is married with three kids. I see him as the typical triathlete since he is 46 years old (which is in the largest age group @ most large races) where he is married, has children who are no longer small, his career has been defined, the finances are no longer an issue, and buying an uber-expensive bike is not a big deal. Triathlon, since it is such a goal driven sport, seems to be filling that void of achieving that "higher success."
Except, based upon the article, he is running away from his family. No, he returns after he has belted out a 10 miler, but he is running away in terms of filling some void that is lacking in his marriage or his family. He is escaping into his "world."
Here are a few excerpts from the article that I felt stood out the loudest.
"His exercise regimen intensified about seven years ago, eventually hitting two hours each weekday and up to five or six hours each Saturday and Sunday. "It became a sore point," Mrs. Waxman recalls. "I had three young kids and no family nearby. I heard myself badgering him: 'Family is really important. You need to be a part of their lives today.' "
"As for Mr. Waxman, he honors certain rules: Dinner with his family every Friday night. A date with his wife every Saturday night. And as often as possible, he turns competitions into family trips. "I make sure there's enough vacation time with the family," he says."
Ok, I am not going to go on and bash the guy, since that is his life and this is his family arrangement. I am sure someone would look @ my lifestyle choices and think that I am NUTS! (I will say I am, but in a good way ;) )
I think this article points out the obvious to us endurance athletes who take these sports a bit more seriously: BALANCE.
I will admit, what I read in that article hit home in a big way and I am guilty as charged for a lot of what he pulls.
Except! I am not married and I do not have children. I do live with my girlfriend and that in a way is no different than being married, so that is an obligation that I need to honor. But other than that, I don't have a lot tying me down other than my job and a mortgage on my condo.
But what about that obligation to my girlfriend and my job and my friends and my parents and my three siblings? I can't blow off work to go and train. That wouldn't end well. I do know that I sacrifice a lot of time with my girlfriend and friends to train.
Its a HUGE struggle!
Another big point of the article was on "THE END."
"Among endurance athletes, though, resentment on the part of spouses is a common topic. The phenomenon may develop into what Pete Simon, an Arizona psychologist, triathlon coach and blogger, calls "Divorce by Triathlon." "I often wonder how many lonely wives, husbands, children of triathletes are out there wondering when the insanity is going to end," he wrote."
When is this going to end for me? That is the guilt part. I will admit this:
I AM A NARCISSIST!
With Triathlon, especially when you are hitting the big leagues with the Half Iron and Full Ironman distances, you sorta HAVE to be! Especially if you want to do it right.
It's a lifestyle choice. This is not an easy sport and you can't train for 5 hours a week and expect to continue to improve. I am NO different than Mr. Waxman in this article, other than having no children. All of my "vacations" this year are happening because of triathlon. I am heading to Galveston in April for a long weekend for a Half Ironman. A long weekend in May and June will be spent up in Lake Placid for training camps. A full week will be spent in July at Lake Placid FOR Ironman Lake Placid.
Do you know how much money I am dropping on this sport this year alone? I won't reveal a total, but its going to be a LOT. Has this sport consumed my life? You betcha!
So now back to the "when is the insanity going to end."
I don't know....
The definition of an addict is as follows:
"To occupy (oneself) with or involve (oneself) in something habitually or compulsively."
The other dangerous thing about this sport are the different "levels" as I call them. You start out with the sprint distance. Then you do the olympic distance, followed by the Half Ironman followed by the big kahuna Ironman distance. (not even going to mention the double or triple Ironman) Its like a freaking video game where you "level up" until you win the game.
What happens when you have reached the last level? *cough* Ironman *cough*
What is next? Either your body becomes so conditioned that you can complete multiple Ironman races a year on 4 hours of training a week (yeah, right!) , or you scale this "hobby" back.
This is my fourth full season of this sport, and for how much I love it and it drives me to become a better person, unless I find a large suitcase of cash and can quit my job, time will always be my enemy.
I would like to have a family in the future. This is why I am doing this whole "triathlon thing" now since I am young @ 28 years old. I can already see that being a full time working individual with a wife and kids, that that would have to be #1. Triathlon would need to be scaled WAY back. Fitness will alway be a part of my life! I do NOT want to wind up as Mr. Waxman from the article.
So when do you draw the line and say "This is my limit with (insert sport here)."