This piece first appeared in the July issue of Competitor Magazine.
Endurance athletes often stock up on how-to books to learn the quirks, lingo, training tips and traditions that form their sports. But there are some things these books won’t explain, and your training partners just don’t have the heart to tell you. Rip out this page and add it to your favorite training book as an addendum—it’s time you learned a few unwritten rules of the endurance world.
1. There are at least two embarrassing songs on every playlist. There is no need to pretend you don’t know how they got there. Just own up to your love for N’Sync.
2. Everyone pees in the pool at some point. Everyone. Anyone who says they haven’t is lying. The same goes for the mass start of an open-water swim. There’s a reason the water feels so warm.
3. Please limit yourself to no more than two electronic devices when you work out. Anything more and you’ll have more wires coming out of you than an ICU patient.
4. Outside of your running group, no one really cares if you did a brutal 12-miler this morning. No need to try to work it into every conversation you have at work, at school, while shopping, at the bank…
5. It’s embarrassing when you stretch in inappropriate places, like at the checkout aisle of the grocery store.
6. Everyone’s first open-water swim is scary and induces panic. That’s normal. The real champs are the ones who face it and get back in there for a second time.
7. Don’t wear your aero helmet on a group ride unless you want people to think you’re a tool.
8. It’s not bragging if you can do it, but until you’ve done it, zip it.
9. If you’re on a Century ride and take a break, eat first, then reapply chamois cream. Never the other way around. Ever.
10. Do not pee on the bike or run when your training partner is in the “spray zone” behind you. That said, if you haven’t peed on the bike or run, you’re missing out on one of the greater joys of being an endurance athlete.
11. Everyone cringes when they see their race photos online. Do you really look like that when you run? Yes. Yes, you do.
12. Unless you were trying to qualify for the Olympics and failed, please refrain from throwing a hissy fit at the finish line if you are unhappy with your performance. If your child can’t do it in at a restaurant, you can’t do it at the finish line.
13. Even if your training partner is faster than you, don’t discount yourself. Chances are very good that person admires something about you, but just hasn’t told you: your positive attitude, your persistence, or your ability to make compression shorts look good. Whatever it is, keep it up! There’s a reason he or she is still training with you.