Out There: Housekeeping And Training Don’t Mix

Illustration: N.C. Winters

If I were caught up on my housekeeping, what would I do in the off-season?

Recently, I stumbled out of bed and made my way to the coffeemaker to fuel my 6 AM run. The machine’s red light began blinking. I rubbed the sleepiness out of my eyes and squinted to read the words on the light: “CLEAN”. Immediately, I gave the machine the one-finger salute. No one criticizes my cleaning skills, especially early on a Monday morning.

Housekeeping tends to fall pretty low on the endurance athlete’s to-do list. For some, it’s lack of time—work, training and sleeping take up so much of the day already. Prioritizing is also a factor—when you can decide between spending precious free time playing with your children or cleaning the toilet, well, it’s not exactly “Sophie’s Choice.” Then, of course, there’s the sheer lack of energy. After a 20-mile run, most people want to drink a recovery smoothie while sleeping standing up in the shower, not mow the yard.

So we let empty juice boxes and protein bar wrappers pile up on the backseat floor of our car. We quickly rinse and refill water bottles, sometimes tasting the remnants of last week’s sports drink. When we’re out of clean technical shirts, we sift through the pile of dirty laundry until we find the shirt that emanates the least offensive odors. Besides, the wind will air it out while we run.

As the primary washerwoman in a two-triathlete household, I can say with absolute certainty that I do more laundry than the Duggar family. We fill up a machine with towels, cycling jerseys and running shorts in no time. I don’t even sort laundry anymore; instead, there’s a strip-on-arrival rule where clothes go immediately into the washer. Yes, that means there are sweaty naked people walking around my house at various points during the day. It’s like a Turkish bath, but without the steam, plush towels or body hair.

There’s also an overabundance of “closet-stuffing” going on at my house. Instead of putting training gear away in an orderly fashion, it gets pushed into a closet, chest or cabinet. To bring some method to this madness, I purchased several colored bins and labeled them “swim,” “bike,” “run” and “recovery.” I’m pretty sure those bins are now underneath a large pile of cycling bibs, but don’t quote me on that. Only a Hazmat team could confirm.

If I take off my shoes, you’ll see that my socks don’t match. My once-white sports bra is now pink (see laundry system, above). There are glasses in my cupboard collecting dust and a sink full of dirty water bottles. Trying to put away laundry during peak training season proves to be a Sisyphean task, as we go through socks and towels like Paula Deen goes through butter. And yes, that black mark on my dining room floor is from my bike tires. It’s a long story.

Though I’m not living in squalor, I admit my house is never going to be featured in a fancy magazine. But that’s OK. There’s far too much life to live, and I’d rather experience it in my running shoes than in rubber gloves. Besides, if I were caught up on my housekeeping, what would I do in the off-season?

This column first appeared in the May 2012 issue of Competitor magazine. 


About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she serves as Resident Triathlete for No Meat Athlete, a website dedicated to vegetarian endurance athletes. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete boyfriend. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke



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