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A Very Thorough Breakdown of Triathlete Absentmindosis

Posted: Apr 03 2018

For seasoned triathletes, following a good training plan is more or less like following clear instructions using a very simple map. “Start here, turn right, take 20 trillion steps along the blue line, and you’re there!”

Not that hardcore training – especially when you get into some of the longer distances – isn’t hella challenging. (Pro tip – if it’s easy, you might be doing it wrong.)

Coeur Sports

 Triathlon Training can really take it out of you!

But if you know what you’re doing or you’re working with a knowledgeable coach who likes to try to keep her athletes alive through race day, then most of your workouts should be doable. Once the training plan is written, all you really need to do is show up for your workouts and get shit done.

Oh, and live your life in the real world with regular people (read: the human beings you see who are not also training for a triathlon, often in the form of co-workers and family members) in the hours in between. How hard can that be?

In my experience, it usually starts out alright. I mean, sure, I might be uncharacteristically responsible and opt out of a midnight dance party on Friday night to make sure I’m good for a big ride Saturday morning. But for the most part, I’m still Kristen: Competent Human Who Knows How to Live on Planet Earth.

Kristen Seymour

Kristen Seymour - Responsible Adult

That all changes once I really get into the thick of it and training officially takes the kind of time one would normally reserve for things like a part-time job or binging Netflix.

I think most people expect that they’ll need to eat and sleep more once they’re logging approximately 80 million miles a week – that’s to be anticipated. But how surprised were you the first time you came home after a long ride and transition run and realized you’d showered and dressed without remembering to wash the shampoo out of your hair? I know I was taken aback – not as much Carl, the poor barista who took my order at the Starbucks drive-through window was, of course, but I was definitely surprised at how boneheaded I apparently was. (And also at what a pain it is to wash out shampoo once it’s dried. Gross.)

But let’s be real – you know that’s just the beginning, right? It’s just one symptom of the extremely common Triathlete Absentmindosis*.

Now, the good news about TA is that it’s quite specifically tied to a heavy training load, although there’s also often a burst of flurried activity occurring on race day. (This is not to be confused with TAPS --- Taper Asshole Psychosis Syndrome, which rears its ugly head during taper week and, as you’d guess from the name, turns many a kindhearted, mild-mannered triathlete into a raging turd who’s lost any semblance of manners. Symptoms of this generally resolve on race day but can sometimes continue into a day or two following depending on an athlete’s goals and performance. Also, it’s worth noting that some of us are just assholes – no syndrome to diagnos.)

Symptoms typically fall into four categories:

Misplacing things.

This is the most common sign and often involves the refrigerator, which makes sense because we sure spend an inordinate amount of time standing in front it, hoping something delicious and premade will magically appear. Is your hairbrush missing? How about your cellphone? The cat? Check the fridge. (Quickly, if Fluffy is the missing item in question. Seriously – go look right now.)

Forgetting the obvious.

You’re heading out to meet friends for a big ride, and you show up right on time with your kit, your helmet, your sunglasses … and no bike. Or maybe you meet your running club for a run after work, but your running shoes didn’t make the trip with you. A checklist can come in handy in this case … but then you’ve gotta remember to check the list and that’s kind of just one more thing to do.

Bringing the wrong thing.

Congratulations! You’ve remembered to pack your workout bag! Too bad you brought your swimsuit for your yoga class, and you probably didn’t actually need your sporty sunglasses for your indoor swim. I can see why you brought your helmet to spin class … but I still might recommend you don’t actually put it on. Just a thought.

Straight up losing your mind.

From zoning out on a training run and missing a turn (thereby turning a 10 miler into something much longer and more terrible) to forgetting to add any pineapple to a pineapple kale smoothie, the anecdotes that exemplify this symptom are too numerous to mention. (Related: Ever wondered what a pineapple kale smoothie with no pineapple in it tastes like? TEARS AND REGRET, PEOPLE. TEARS AND REGRET.) I’ve even heard harrowing tales of taking ice cream out of the freezer and – wait for it – forgetting to put it back in and it all melts. Don’t let this happen to you! If needed, hire an ice cream gatekeeper (I volunteer) to ensure all frozen treats return to their rightful home. (Or into my mouth.)

If you’ve trained for a race and escaped TA, TAPS, and TACSMFTAIATT (Training And Can’t Stop Myself From Talking About It All The Time To Everyone I Meet), well, kudos to you – you’re a more psychologically sound individual than I am. Or maybe that means it’s time for you to move up to a new distance …

*In case it’s not abundantly clear, this is not a real syndrome – none of these are. Or at least I don’t think they are. I am so seriously not a doctor and really shouldn’t be called upon to offer any medical advice because usually I’ll suggest you see if ice cream will help … and then will offer to assist you with figuring that out.

About the Author

Kristen is a busy (and very funny) woman. She's a writer, a certified triathlon coach, a pet lover and she runs Fit Bottomed Girls which is a site dedicated to empowering women to live a healthy lifestyle in various ways.

 Kristen Seymour