WARNING: Tired, Grumpy Athlete Ahead

Have you ever had one of those days when everything is giving you the absolute irits? One of those days when you wish you could just start again or heck, hide in bed all day? Well, that is where I’m at today. Everything and I mean EVERYTHING is making me irritable.

From the traffic this morning, the sun glare, drivers cutting me off (am I invisible?!), to humanity in general, the inclement weather (F.U wind and allergies!), people whistling/humming, food noises, people chewing gum with their mouths open, Facebook constantly reminding that this time four years go I was in Kona… oh, this list could go on.

I am tired, grumpy, hungry and irritable!

Welcome to the I’m-10-weeks-out-from-an-Ironman phenomenon. Well, really it’s about nine weeks… or, as I was reminded the other day, eight depending on how long you’re planning on spending in Taper Town. Whatever. Point is: D-day is coming.

Most long course triathletes will be familiar with this stage of an Ironman build. It’s a time when the sun is shinning and birds are singing training days are insanely long and hard (I mean, who doesn’t want to spend eight hours training on a Saturday and again on Sunday… hahaha *insert nervous laugh*), sleep becomes scarce, emotions run high, athletes are on edge and quite frankly, stabbing yourself in the eyeball with a pencil seems like it would be a lot more fun! During this time athletes should really come with their own warning label. Warning: tired and grumpy athlete ahead.

Let me just say – Ironman is not a solo sport. This shiz affects everyone! Friends and family, and maybe even work colleagues of anyone who is currently in training or who has ever trained for an Ironman will be all too familiar with this crazy time during an Ironman build too. Over the last four Ironman builds (five if you include this one) my family’s responses to this stage of training have ranged from pride, awe and disbelief, to eye-rolling disdain followed closely by, “Oh, come on! Stop being so selfish. It’s not all about you!” The Ironman build is a roller coaster of emotion for everyone.

If you’re one of the said family, friends or work colleagues reading this: if I’ve snapped at you recently today, I’m sorry. If I’ve said no to a catch-up, it doesn’t mean I don’t love you – it just means I can’t fit everything into my 24-hours and something has to give, for now (sadly, I’m no Wonder Woman). If I’ve almost started crying because you’ve asked me one too many questions about a spread or a deadline or something to do with the website, I promise I’m not having a mental breakdown. I’m just training for an Ironman.

So, how should you deal with your moody athlete during this annoying time?

We need space. We need patience. We need understanding. We need you to stop chewing gum and making food noises. Unless you’re the coach, we need you to stop asking us 101 questions as to why we decided to cut a set short or why we overslept this morning. We need you to stop asking us, “Are you OK?” Yes, We’re OK. We’re just tired and grumpy. Yes, we choose to do this sport (clearly we need to be institutionalised or something) but that doesn’t mean it’s not hard and that it doesn’t take its toll.

And remember, while it does take up a lot of our time, this is really only for a matter of weeks, and we’ll be back to our normal, social butterfly selves when it’s all over. So, please don’t give us a hard time if we say no to lunch/dinner/drinks/your second cousins, half removed, birthday party – it’s not you, it’s us. Not being there doesn’t mean that we don’t love you; it just means we probably need sleep…

Because trust me when I say – you don’t want to experience your athlete all tired and grumpy.

OK… that’s it. I’m tapping out!

~ Margy Margs


Margaret Mielczarek

Margaret Mielczarek is the deputy editor at Australian Triathlete Magazine and writes the web series 'Shenanigans of a Deputy 2.0'. She is a passionate age-group triathlete and four-time Ironman finisher - currently in training for Ironman number five!

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