Karla Borland starts off her 2021 Fast10 journey with an insight into being married to someone at the very top of their sport. Some a little bit like living with a marathoner, but to the extreme.
When I was asked for a ‘fun fact’ for the Fast 10 blog I mentioned my dog, Goose. He’s a very cool English Pointer and will hopefully feature in an upcoming blog. The other ‘fun fact’ that I probably should have mentioned is that I’m married to a double Olympic medallist in rowing, Tom Ransley.
Tom retired last year, and I could probably write a book on living with a recently retired athlete, but it wouldn’t be funny and I’m keen to avoid divorce (turns out, divorce is mind numbingly expensive and a massive hassle).
I thought I’d try to talk through what I’ve learnt from living with an Olympian.
The not-so-normal aspects
Once you’ve got your required nutrients in for the day then you can eat whatever you want. If that means consuming 16 mini rolls on the way round a supermarket and then having to explain it to the checkout lady, then that’s what is necessary.
If it means you need to eat a bowl of pasta before going out for a three-course dinner because you’re concerned about portion sizes, then that’s the sacrifice you’ll have to make. Anxiety about the availability of food will be constant.
Rest is essential. Agreeing to come on a dog walk isn’t really about the walking. It’s all about walking infuriatingly slowly to the nearest bench and then asking to sit down.
In summer, our dog enjoys this enormously as every bench usually has some disgusting discarded sandwich nearby to try to eat. In winter, the dog and I just freeze as we’re basically just standing outside in the cold and waiting. I suspect the aim to stop being asked to come on a walk.
Training so hard that it makes it difficult to get up every morning is normal. As is groaning every time you have to put your socks on, lift anything off the floor or trying to descend the stairs. Living with someone who does an impression of the tin-man in the Wizard of Oz on a daily basis becomes totally normal.
Enough lycra to make clothe the Titans
You can never have enough kit. We now have enough lycra to clothe a large village of very tall people with a penchant for close-fitting sportswear. No matter how many times it’s washed it will still smell like a mixture of mould and body odour.
That smell will invade every other piece of normal clothing kept in the same room. When suggestions are made about disposing of said kit the reaction will be akin to suggesting that second breakfast is an optional meal (see Point 1).
Competitiveness extends to every part of your life. At the end of a heated ‘discussion’ you will declare that you have ‘won’ the argument. It will take you 10+ years to figure out that this makes your wife want to kill you. Board games at Christmas take on a new significance and years later you will still have a mental tally of how many times your mother-in-law has beaten you at cards.
Maybe a bit more naked than normal
Training day-in, day-out with 20 other men every day for 11 years will make you incredibly relaxed about being naked. This means being unsure whether answering the door to our 90-year-old neighbour wearing a very small towel is appropriate (it’s not by the way).
Coming home for Christmas to Northern Ireland and swimming in the sea, in panda-print budgie smugglers, is also not ok. Especially if your mother-in-law is looking on, wondering who her daughter married.
If you’re an Olympian-in-waiting and you’re reading this I accept that you won’t have got any useful advice. Spare a thought for your partner though. Living with an athlete is hard.