The Bachelor Triathletes Guide to the Domestic Arts

Posted: November 26, 2010 in Lifestyle
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“Home life as we understand it is no more natural to us than a cage is natural to a cockatoo”
George Bernard Shaw

There is just not enough time in the day.  While training you will learn that time is only a figment of your imagination.  It doesn’t exist beyond an existential concept devised entirely by man to measure the period between TV shows on the boob tube.  Time is precious as it is hard to come by; but to a stoner such as myself, it’s like trying to find a unicorn or a four-leaf clover.

There is simply very little time left after you factor in all the regular work day hours and the amount of time you spend training.  Who has the time or energy left over afterwards to do those other domestic tasks like cooking and cleaning?  For those who are part of a successful domestic partnership, getting these chores done may be marginally easier given that they have a little assistance.   But for the rest of us hopeless schmucks, who have never been skilled in the Domestic Arts anyway, these duties take a priority somewhere between getting out of bed in the morning and scratching our ass.  But the fact of the matter is that we still need to eat and maintain some degree cleanliness and hygiene in order to successfully fend off sickness and poor health so that we can train and race at our optimal efficiency.  Try running a half marathon fueled only on Twinkies and cake frosting while fending off an ever-present illness and wearing clothes that haven’t been laundered in eons.  Yeah, no one wants to be that poor bastard.  But when are we supposed to get all these necessary Plebeian tasks accomplished given that we are probably spending most of our personal time swimming, running, cycling, yoga, weights, etc.?  I don’t have a time machine, nor do I have any monkey butlers (I hope you’re taking notes Santa).

The first household domain to master is the kitchen.  If you can’t prepare basic healthy meals at home without relying on Take Out I’m not sure I like your chances of either improving your health, or bettering your Personal Best in a race anytime soon.  So unless you want to resort to sucking on Bouillon cubes and chewing grass for dinner, you will eventually have to develop some basic skills in order to survive.  Without mastering these basic kitchen skills first, trying to prepare all those healthy lifestyle menu plans will be an absolute time sucker.

First you have to start with the essentials. A bachelor triathlete needs a fully equipped kitchen like he needs a hole in the head. It helps but it’s not necessary.  Instead, I think of my kitchen its own Transition Area and I plan on getting in and out quickly and efficiently, just as I would in a race.  To ensure this happens, I just keep these basics on hand:

  • Buck knife
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Box of Band-Aids
  • Set of cast iron skillets
  • A sauce pan
  • Collection of wooden spoons
  • Blender
  • Alka Seltzer
  • Duct tape

With these few items, anybody can prepare a healthy four-course meal (as well as heal from it afterwards) quickly and get moving again. Whisks, ladles, slotted spoons, cheese graters, garlic presses, vegetable peelers, potato mashers, casserole pans, stewing pots, food processors, salad spinners, and other such crap only confuse the preparation process and suck up added time by having to wash them all afterwards.  You don’t have to be MacGyver to figure out that you can substitute an old dress sock in place of a colander if you really need to.

The next obstacle to overcome is that of the actual cooking of the meals. Never mind acquiring all those fancy ass kitchen gizmo’s, just understanding the Operator’s Instructions can be like taking an advanced auto mechanics course.  Likewise about fancy cookbooks as most simple recipes (and package directions for that matter) are like trying to translate ancient Sumerian script. I’ve seen “Easy to Prepare” dishes in certain cookbooks that require me to decipher hieroglyphics and figure out complex calculations that would confuse Steven Hawking. That isn’t cooking – that’s high school Calculus all over again and I don’t have time (or the interest quite frankly) to know all this.  I want to just turn on the oven and heat shit up, stir and serve, how hard is that, right?  You don’t have to be Chef Ramsey to prepare meals that are both delicious as well as quick and easy to prepare, you just have to be a bit more innovative with what little time you have.  That’s all.  If you’re planning on preparing an entire salmon soufflé for dinner and still have time to slip in a long run before bedtime, yeah, well, good luck with that.  Eat well, eat simple, and save the big, fancy menus for your rest days.

For this reason, I have started leaning towards Green Smoothies throughout the day as a quick meal replacement when I am on the fly.  At first, the concept of Green Smoothies was not a welcome one as I’ve never been a salad type of guy.  The last thing that goes through my head when I’m high and have the munchies is “Boy, I could sure go for a salad right now.” So blended up lettuce, kale, spinach, or whatever does not sound too appealing either.  I fully understand the nutritional value and benefits, but what really sold me on the idea was time; more to the point, the time saved by not having to also peel, chop, sauté, or boil those greens before eating them.  Just stuff them into a blender with some fruit and whatever else you’re interested in for added flavor (almond, coconut, agave nectar, etc.) and just whir away until suitably frothy.  Just remember to brush your teeth afterwards.

Why the big deal with Green Smoothies then?  Well, leafy greens are absolutely loaded with those essential amino acids that you usually get from animal protein.  If you recall, amino acids are those things that are so important in the building and repairing of damaged muscle tissue.  Likewise, leafy greens are also rich in minerals, vitamins, fibre and chlorophyll.  Yeah, yeah, ‘so what’ right?  Well, look at the chimpanzee, the closest animal relative to humans sharing over 99% of the same genes. They eat a diet consisting of 50% fruit, 40% greens and 10% pith, bark and insects. This is all raw and whole food.  I’m not recommending that you begin munching on twigs and caterpillars or anything, but have you ever seen a fat chimpanzee? Also consider that all the typical chronic diseases of humankind are not seen in wild chimps at all.  Coincidence?

Unfortunately, leafy greens are biologically very hardy on a molecular level as they contain cellulose (Natures glue). Nutrients are stored within the plant’s cells and their cell walls need to be ruptured to release them. This requires a significant amount of chewing, which humans can struggle with as our jaws are not strong enough and we are very impatient.  I guess my grandmother was onto something all those years ago when she would advise me to “chew (my) food slowly” as a child.  I could suck up an entire turkey dinner through a straw in seconds so I’m sure that I’m probably not chewing my greens adequately enough to take full advantage of the all good shit within.  However, blending them up in a smoothie is ideal as it ruptures all those plant cell membranes releasing nutrients very easily so that they are practically pre-digested making for easy absorption in the body.

The bonus benefit of Green Smoothies is that I also don’t have to eat so much fucking salad.  But where I wouldn’t say that Green Smoothies are the perfect substitute for a substantial meal, they do break up the monotony of having to endlessly chop vegetables all damn day…or, more time.

So now that we’ve discussed ways to save time and stave off starvation we can move on to the other vast Domain of Domesticity which will also vacuum up a budding triathlete’s time like an industrial-sized Shop-Vac.  Of course, I am referring to “housework”, that unholy stealing of time.  Cleaning, dusting, mopping, sweeping, vacuuming, whatever, is never a desirable way to spend the weekend, particularly when you want to get in that long ride or run while it’s still nice out. Usually (for me), housework ends up being hurried, disorganized, and thoroughly in vain; much like Sisyphus pushing his rock forever uphill.

Personally, I’d rather volunteer to have my testicles used as a piñata than be coerced into cleaning my apartment or making any repairs around the house (unless it’s my bike, for which I will approach repairs with the dedicated focus of a mad scientist). At times, the sanitary conditions of my apartment must be similar to that of a Haitian refugee camp.  Housework is just one of those things that’s best learned on ones own and apparently I’m a total idiot. Housework is a total workout killer.  Understanding that no one would ever want to do housework nor am I any sensei or guru on the topic, but I will still try to provide you with some tips I’ve picked up on how to make the whole housework tribulation less painful so that you can still get out for those important workouts while maintaining some degree of domestic order back at the ‘ol homestead.

1) Triathletes are good ones for being germophobes and taking extreme precautions to avoid getting sick.  This might entail wearing gloves to avoid contact with bacteria and germs; I respectfully disagree.  Protective gloves are for pussies. Latex, leather, rawhide, cotton, construction, cut resistant, heat resistant, flame resistant, safety, whatever, save the gloves for the bedroom puppet shows. A true man would sooner dip his hands in battery acid than put on a pair of protective gloves to scrub pots and pans.  You are going to get sick anyway and any preventive measures you take while cleaning will more than likely not prevent anything.  So better get accustomed to it now and allow your body to build up a strong resistance to all those random infestations lurking around your home.

2) All cleaning MUST be performed with your pants off. I don’t why, must that’s just the way the universe works. No matter if you’re changing a light bulb, replacing fuses, or hoovering up chip crumbs with your Dust Devil, natural science demands that you remove your pants first for best results. Men just simply think better with their pants off. Considering how much blood is usually being pumped through our bodies during our workouts, pants can significantly hinder of the circulation of blood back to our fatigued limbs when we attempt to clean with our pants on.  It’s not so much a Triathlete thing as it is more a Man thing.

3) Just like having the right motivational tunes available on those long runs, you must also have the right soundtrack for housework. Ambiance is everything when one is engaged in serious cleaning. I find the Doors are the perfect choice when you’re working on plumbing-related repairs as nothing beats ‘Break on Through’ while you’re snaking a bathroom drain.  I would also recommend some funk for your vacuuming; blues for dusting; techno for all electrical repairs; Van Morrison for doing the dishes; Steppenwolf while waxing the car; Bruce Hornsby for folding laundry; and maybe, Nine Inch Nails when scrubbing the shitter.  Just let the music motivate you to set a new PB while scrubbing the algae off the shower walls.

4) Let’s get one thing straight: men don’t “decorate”; we “accumulate”. For men, decorating might simply entail making a pyramid out of those empty E-Load containers in the corner, or hanging an Ironman poster on the wall in front of our wind trainer.  Apart from that, I suggest you just fill in the blank spaces with your accumulating stores of triathlon equipment.  What other decorating do you really need, Martha?  Besides, it’s all just more shit to clean later and therefore less time in your day.

5) I have also chosen to include yard work as a Domestic Art. Suffice to say; yard work blows chunks. Anyone who’s sharper than a cue ball would instantly realize that yard work is an impossible battle after any of your long workouts. In my opinion, clear cut the whole yard, pave it, and make it a basketball court, or horseshoe pit, or something requiring less maintenance.  I don’t understand how some men get excited about working in their yards. I can’t recall any historical records suggesting that the Vikings, the Mongols, Romans, Zulus, Celts, or any other significant marauding civilization for that matter, ever gave two shits about their front yards. To think that our lawns are a pathetic suburban imitation of the pasture land or park surrounding an eighteen-century manor house is completely laughable. And since we don’t graze sheep in our flowerbeds or course deer down the driveway with a pack of greyhounds, what the fuck is the point?  Forget about it, smoke a bowl, and hop on your bike for the afternoon.  Who gives a shit?  Think of it this way: men have only been on this planet for four million years. Who took care of the yard before we got here? I think the real beauty of nature is that it doesn’t require dusting, vacuuming, polishing, or dry-cleaning.  So leave it alone.

Mastering these domains and becoming skilled in the Domestic Arts will only aid you in improving your own training later.  “Live well, be well, and leave a good looking apartment”, I always say.  Work on these chores like you would work on your swim/bike transition in order to find, as well as maximize, your precious timeTime not spent on dishes is time out on your bike; time not spent raking leaves is time spent working on your run splits; time not spent polishing your silverware is time spent polishing your bike instead.



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