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Out There: Triathlon Trouble

One man's pleasure is another woman's pain.

One man’s pleasure is another woman’s pain.

Written by: Susan Lacke

What’d you do this morning? I assume it involved exercise. Maybe some coffee. You might have thrown a little family alienation in there, too.

At least that’s how one reader sees it.

Karen is what some people might call a triathlon widow. In a letter to me, she expressed her distaste for the sport I love so dearly.

Triathlons are dangerous and absolutely not healthy in any way whatsoever. Are you aware that impotence for triathletes is generally caused by bike riding?

Wow! You don’t waste any time, Karen. Most of the letters I get are from readers who want to share how triathlon changed their lives for the better. But if you wanna tango, let’s tango.

If we’re going to start finger pointing, I’d like substantiated claims. As of right now, there are no scientific studies that definitively prove a causal relationship between cycling and impotence. Plenty of cyclists have plenty of babies. Heck, look at what Lance Armstrong did with only half of what most men have!

But potential launch failure was just the beginning of Karen’s gripes.

Are you aware that all over body shaving can be addictive for men and that all over body shaving is not sexually enticing?

Neither is someone with a butt like Sasquatch unless, you know, you’re into hairy things. Someone needs to call Abercrombie and Fitch and tell them they’ve been making millions of dollars the wrong way. As for the claim that body shaving can be addictive, this was the first time I’ve heard of it. I did some research and found a very rare condition called “Glabermania,” which describes a form of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder toward removing body hair. And no, “triathlete” is not part of the diagnostic criteria.

The tirade continued.

Are you aware that a triathlon training agenda—7 days a week and sometimes 2-3 times a day—is extremely destructive to having a personal life or relationship?

Any time a person lets a hobby consume his life, it’s a bad thing. A true obsession with Facebook, alcohol, qualifying for the Boston Marathon, gambling, gardening—anything—can negatively affect a person’s life balance.

The training involved with triathlon can be quite time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be. Some triathletes get all of their training done in 10 hours per week. Others get up at dawn every day to do their training before their spouse and children wake up. Inconvenient? Maybe. Destructive? No.

Then came the confession.

My husband was “addicted” until just recently.  Our marriage of 46 years was right on the edge of breaking up due to his obsession with triathlons.  Three months later, with continuous counseling, we are getting our life back again.

Well I’m no Dear Abby, but let me say this:

I feel for ya, Karen. Really, I do. Instead of becoming obsessed with riding a 20 year-old Hooters waitress, he became obsessed with riding his bike…and you got jealous. Neither obsession nor jealousy are healthy behaviors in any relationship.

Despite the shaving and heavy training, triathlon really isn’t the enemy. In fact, some couples are brought closer together by triathlon. Look at the Lovatos, or Chrissie Wellington and Tom Lowe. My own relationship is with another triathlete, and I’m not gonna lie – I really enjoy looking at my partner’s cute triathlete butt.

Everyone’s experience is different, Karen. There’s no reason to hate on all triathletes.  If you want to eliminate something bad in the world, focus on something that deserves it, like rush hour traffic, thong underwear, and Carrot top. Now that’s something we can all get behind.


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. Look for her print column in the pages of Competitor magazine and follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke.