Tuesday, 28 June 2011

How Clean is Your Triathlete

There are sometimes days - and bear with me here for just a moment - when I really have to have a good think about when will be the best time to wash. In regular life all you need to do is get up in the morning, have a shower and make yourself look presentable. Easy.

Even a normal person who does a bit of exercise might get their workout in first thing, get clean and head off to work or have a shower after an evening of exertion and wake up in the morning still just about fresh enough to go out in public. In triathlete world though, it is not so simple.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that I go swimming in the morning followed by riding to work, then hit the gym at lunchtime, followed by a ride home and a run in the evening. If I were to get properly clean at each stage of my day that would be an overly excessive amount of time spent showering and I'd get through a LOT of shampoo.

Instead, you end up having a little visual assessment and an armpit sniff at the end of each workout to decide when washing is absolutely necessary; sometimes all that is required is a rinse off rather than a full on soap lathering. Plus, chlorine is a disinfectant anyway, right? 

I had two consecutive rest days recently and it wasn't until the evening of the second day that I realised I hadn't actually washed at all. I wasn't sweaty, dirty, chlorine-contaminated or covered in bike grease so it just hadn't even occurred to me that it was necessary to freshen up.

It's not just a matter of hygiene either. The amount of time I now have to spend in a week washing items of lycra is quite astounding. Whilst the body is sort of self-cleaning(ish), you can't get away with just drying out your sweaty clothes and wearing them again, mostly because you'll be given away by the white, salty stains strewn across the material.

Swimming costumes. How often are you suppose to wash these?! Again, they're sort of always being washed by going in the pool and in the shower etc. I don't know about anyone else but I manage to get through so many swimming costumes! You can tell when they're starting to go as the bum gets really bobbled and baggy. It is a bit of a mystery why this happens, it's not like I spend any time sat down in it or do any rubbing of my backside against the pool walls. On Tuesday I realised as I walked to poolside that my costume (fifth one in a year) had gotten particularly thin around the left nipple, again, mystery!

There's always a "bag of contamination" knocking around as well. If you're lucky it will be something simple like one-day-old swimming kit but more often than not it will be something far more offensive, like a dry bag containing a wetsuit that you've taken off on the beach and stomped sand all over mixed in with leaked shampoo and a banana skin that was your post-swim nutrition or a bundle of mud-soaked clothes from that off-road race in the rain that you shoved away to deal with later.

I'm always at my cleanest when I'm in bed rather than out in public. It's a challenge to do this amount of stuff without looking like a complete state almost all of the time. So to summarise, don't judge me for being a mess, I'm just training hard!

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