After literally thousands of hours and tens of thousands of kilometres training with my boyfriend (and now fiance), I feel that I have become an expert on how to successfully train for elite performance with your significant other. Obviously, these tips won't work for everyone, but here is my advice for couples who want to log more hours together without running the risk of divorce/separation/anger-induced dismemberment:
- Choose your equipment such that you can go the same effort level for similar speed. For example, when Lespy and I train on the road together, he will ride his gravel bike while I ride my road bike. This enables us to ride two-up (a much more enjoyable experience than just wheel-sucking all day!). We also use other means to alter the speed of our respective rigs, for example loading up a bar bag with snacks on either mine or Lespy's bike, depending on the day and who needs a little more resistance.
- Maintain at least one day per week where you ride solo. This is one of the most important factors in the success of our training environment. Don't underestimate the importance of time apart!
- Communicate IMMEDIATELY. Don't let discomfort/irritation build for hours (or days, or weeks!) without saying something. If the pace is too high/low/your partner is annoying the crap out of you, say so right away.
- Further to the above point, when you are communicating training-related things, use a tone of voice and style of language that you would use with a professional teammate. *this is very important for avoiding unneccesary tears and arguments*
- If there is simply too great of a fitness disparity between you to ride together productively, arrange to meet for a coffee 3/4 of the way through your training session and ride the rest of the way home together.
- Start your own mindfulness practice!!! This will help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, allowing you to recognize negative emotions BEFORE they erupt in a volcanic explosion directed towards your partner.
- Make sure you are always on the same page for the day's goals - training won't work if one partner is expecting a tempo ride and one is expecting an easy spin.
- If you do have to make pacing compromises, make sure it isn't always the slower rider who has to ride harder than they want (or the faster rider who always has to ride easier!). Try to find a good balance.
- Be attentive and aware - it's really that simple. If you pay attention to each other's moods, fatigue level, etc - and avoid the trap of total self-absoprtion in training - you can likely make most of your rides together great experiences!