Kelsey Deery is married to Transamerica-sponsored professional triathlete Ben Hoffman. She offers a unique perspective of living a healthy life and training with an elite athlete. Ben Hoffman is scheduled to compete at the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii on October 14, spanning a 2.4-mile open water swim followed by a 112 miles by bike, then a full marathon run of 26.2 miles.
by Kelsey Deery
It is a pleasant Sunday morning for a mountain bike ride in Tucson, Arizona just after 8 a.m. The breeze is unseasonably cool today, giving us a break from the constant 105-degree weather. Ben and I are chatting casually about our week ahead, planning a few meals, thinking about having some friends over this evening. I pass a bottle of water to Ben who thanks me as he quickly takes a drink. Giving me a short glance as he passes the bottle back, I can tell, from the look in his eyes things are about to get intense. My pedal stroke quickens and he takes off down the trail.
For us, September Sunday mornings include a bike, some running shoes, 8+ bottles of nutrition and ice water, and a camera. We are right in the middle of one of Ben’s longest runs in his Ironman World Championship training block, and this workout is going to be a tough one.
He nails it. Ben completes the workout perfectly as prescribed by his coach, and as we rehash a few of the challenging moments during the run, I can’t help but feel an enormous sense of pride and inspiration.
However, Ben’s impressive athletic ability isn’t really the thing that inspires me to maintain my healthy lifestyle. I mean, running a 6:15 pace for 19 miles just really isn’t in my wheelhouse. His commitment to his health, his discipline to get out and get going even when he doesn’t want to or his body and mind are suggesting something otherwise, completely inspires me. Seeing someone so passionate and dedicated to his or her craft brings out a desire in me to have something similar. There are days when I forget how good a short run, ride, or yoga class would make me feel; to have that buzzing feeling when you are living well, giving your body the exercise it needs, and the recovery it deserves.
A healthy lifestyle is comprehensive. Ben and I try to make decisions in our life based around our goals and ideas of what that means to us. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we are strict “health robots;” we aim for balance and moderation in our life. Placing high importance on exercise and eating a balanced diet is essential, but leaving some room for the occasional special treat is necessary.
Making sure our bedroom is set up for rest and recovery is something we have focused heavily on this year, investing in quality bedding, black-out blinds, and limiting our cell phone use while in bed. Lastly, and most importantly in my mind, is cultivating quality time with family and friends. Quality is key here since quantities are limited with lifestyles as busy as they are these days. Being present and engaged with people enriches your life more than you imagine. All these things keep Ben and I healthy, happy, and working together as a team.
We all experience pride in the people we support and, of course, ourselves for committing to something and seeing it through. One of my favorite things about being married to an athlete is witnessing first-hand the long weeks of mental and physical preparations, the breakdowns and the build-ups, the exhaustion and the elation. It’s the belief and confidence in that journey that you or your athlete take to the starting line.
I want Ben’s experience to be as positive as it can be. Keeping the quality of our relationship high helps us both once race day comes around. For those just starting in a supporting role for an athlete, young or old, here is one bit of advice: If they seem testy or combative towards you, make them a sandwich, give them five minutes. Chances are you’ll come back to find a changed human who is more like the person you know. It works most of the time.
I am looking forward to sharing a few “behind the scenes” tidbits during the week before the championship in Kona. If you have any questions, let us know. Thanks for following along and best of luck on your road to living a happy and healthy life.
Ben Hoffman has had a successful campaign in 2017 with five top-10 finishes and a win at the Ironman African Championship South Africa in under eight hours. He’s considered a top contender in the field at Kona October 14.
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