10 reasons why you should never, ever, date a triathlete…

On paper a triathlete with an enviable body and an adventurous lifestyle might seem quite a catch, but don’t let your eyes deceive you, says Martyn Brunt, as all is not what it seems...

What a catch...

If you’re looking for that dream date who’ll sweep you off your feet and pack your life full of incident and romance, who better than a triathlete? With buff bodies, exotic races and windswept, interesting lifestyles who could possibly be a better catch than a multi-sporter? But look behind the lycra for a moment, and not everything is as ticketyboo as it may appear. Here then, for your future happiness, are the top ten reasons why you should never date a triathlete…


10. Holidays. With virtually every scrap of annual leave hoovered up by going off to Lanzarote, or Majorca, or Tenerife, or France for bike weeks, training camps, triathlons, marathons, adventure races and God knows what else you can kiss goodbye to your two weeks of sun-kissed relaxation in the Caribbean. And if by some miracle you do manage to persuade your beloved to spare some time for a “normal” holiday, expect them to be a fidgeting mass of tense energy, unable to sit still for more than five minutes without sloping off to do laps of the pool while you sunbathe, or sneaking out for a run before breakfast.

9. Split personality. You could always go on one of their trips with them, if you fancy spending all day on your own while they are out cycling. However it is particularly dangerous to accompany a triathlete to a race because you run the risk of seeing the “other side” of your paramour. There is literally nothing in the world more unpredictable and annoying than a tapering triathlete who will be variously moody, irrational, full of self-doubt, obsessed with the weather, germaphobic, restless, excited and anxious – otherwise known as a pain-in-the-a***.

8. Food. Triathletes only eat two sorts of meals – enormous, or nothing. Expect any romantic restaurant meal for two to become a stressful search of the menu for a gluten-free, cheese-free pizza and a fresh fruit salad. Also expect your dreamboat to tell constant lies about the amount of chocolate they consume, and be prepared to witness the full horror of a hungry triathlete who returns from a training ride and, having previously eaten less than a Trappist sparrow, proceeds to consume the entire contents of a kitchen cupboard in one go. Also prepare yourself for the latest nutritional fad concerning beetroot, or peanut-butter, or broccoli, or smoothies which will dominate their diet for the next two weeks.

7. Conversation. There’s nothing more romantic than a long talk with your loved one about your shared passions – unless it’s a triathlete you are talking to in which case you can expect the conversation to be dominated by phrases like “I averaged 300 watts for my 20 minute bike test” or “I was repping 100m in 1.30 in the pool”, to which the answer “is that any good?” will be met with crestfallen bewilderment. A true test of triathlon obsession is to secretly start a stopwatch going when you begin a non-triathlon conversation and see how many minutes (seconds) your sweetheart takes to change the topic to something tri-related.

6. Lateness. Say goodbye to ever being on time for anything ever again, and say hello to waiting around for your sweetheart to return an hour later than promised from an all-morning bike ride. Also prepare yourself for heavy use of the “had a puncture excuse” to conceal the truth that they went further than they said, or more likely went more slowly than they hoped. Always check the fingers when confronted with the puncture excuse – fingers covered in greasy dreck = puncture. Clean fingers = liar, liar, bib-shorts on fire.

5. Clothes. With chiselled and honed physiques triathletes should look great when dressed up to the nines. However you’ll never know because all they’ll wear in any public place is their most impressive race T-Shirt they have, a branded Headsweats cap, some compression tights and a pair of running shoes. The average triathletes wardrobe is made up of 50% race-T-Shirts, 20% cycling kit, 20% running kit and, 10% “casual” race clothes like polo shirts or fleeces which still have the name of a race emblazoned all over it.

>>> Race T-shirts: what yours says about you

4. Bodies. There’s no denying that there is a certain expectation when it comes to the average triathlete body. However when you see your dearest at a swimming pool standing on the blocks looking like an embarrassed shop dummy with a bum disorder then you may begin to question whether the clothes-peg physique of the average triathlete is all that attractive. Let’s face it, there’s only so much sex-appeal you can generate when you look like a piece of floating cardboard

3. Stuff. Remember all that space you used to have in the garage, conservatory and spare room before it got filled up with bikes, wheels, wetsuits, bike-boxes etc? Yes welcome to the world of “stuff” that the average triathlete accumulates over the course of their season. And the pile only ever gets bigger because nothing is ever thrown away even when it is usurped by a costly upgrade. Christian Grey may have had a “Red Room” where he kept all his spanky toys, but most triathletes have their own cave completely filled with instruments of pain, the only difference being it’s all self-torture via the medium of turbo-trainer, treadmill or TRX

2. Friends. You have friends. They are probably normal people who like meals out, films, going to the pub and so on. Then there are your loved-one’s friends who speak in code with phrases like “brick session”, turn up at 5am on a bike ready to go “on the rivet”, and persuade your date to enter ridiculous challenges involving many hours of sweaty toil. And you are probably nice to your friends, so it may come as a surprise to you to hear your sweetheart start belittling their friends’ achievements the moment their back is turned, or hearing how much they are looking forward to beating them in their next training session.

1. Intimacy. This is a family show so I’ll pick my words carefully, but in those private moments of intimacy we all enjoy you might expect triathletes with their stamina and nutcracker physiques to be quite the catch. However prepare for phrases like “Not tonight I’m fatigued after run training”, or “I’m up early for a six-hour ride tomorrow”, or “I’m tapering for a race at the weekend” to play havoc with your romantic plans. And on those occasions when nature takes its course, even then things may not go entirely as you would wish, and I know of at least one true tale of a triathlete who wore a heart rate monitor during moments of tenderness to measure calories burned and what their heart rate got up to in case it needed to be logged in their training diary.

So there we are. Now you know what you’re getting into should you decide to date a triathlete. Not that we aren’t capable of being romantic of course. Earlier this year I went to all the trouble of making my wife her very own Valentine’s Day card which said on the front cover “You’re the reason I get up in the morning”, before she opened it up and inside was written “Only kidding, I’m training for an Ironman.” I made my own tea that night.

Still want to find yourself a triathlete? Why not try finding one on match.com

Martyn has a monthly column in the magazine 220 Triathlon and you can subscribe here


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