WAG / HAB* Job Description
*WAG - Wife and Girlfriend
HAB - Husband and Boyfriend
It is certainly not a role to take on lightly. Although, often you won't have a say in the matter.
Previous experience in a similar role of training and competing in endurance events is desirable. However, not all athletes make great WAGs or HABs themselves, so don't let lack of experience discourage you from putting your hand up for the job.
Firstly, prepare for your athlete to never be at home.
Hardly ever at home, but normally doing something awesome. Here is Hannah Buchanan being awesome on the Goat Pass run.
Secondly, money will disappear. This will begin with innocent purchases such as a new pair of shorts, or another event entry. But before long you will be arriving home to a shiny new paddle sitting in the garage, or a sizeable package from the USA sitting on the doorstep with the contents described as 'birthday gift, $20'.
Thirdly, if this is your athlete's first time dabbling in endurance sport, don't be alarmed if you inadvertently catch them standing in front of the mirror one evening, dressed in lycra. They will be shy and embarrassed at first, and will go to great lengths to avoid being seen in lycra without their running shoes, bike, or kayak also in sight. But give it a few months and you'll be having to explain to your athlete why lycra isn't a suitable choice of attire for a casual dinner date.
Finally, depending on the rigorousness of your athlete's training regime there might not be much energy or enthusiasm left at the end of the day for some "take me to boom town" action. Get used to cuddles and early nights.
A pep talk and extra advice in transition never goes amiss.
1. JACK OF ALL TRADES
You are expected to do it all. You must be the loving partner, counsellor, motivator, assistant coach, chief of logistics, as well as support crew leader at events. You will need to always see things from the athlete's perspective, even if you cannot relate in any way to their experiences. Your athlete is always right - even when they're wrong.
You will also need a 6th sense when it comes to being aware of where things are at all times, and anticipating what your athlete requires well in advance of them actually asking for it. "Have you seen my GPS watch charger?" or "Have you seen my other favourite sock?" are particularly common requests.
It is up to you to ensure that everything runs smoothly, especially in a race situation. If it goes well, you might get thanks and praise. It it doesn't, you will most definitely know about it. And never discount the importance of your role before a race. You will be expected to have on hand a banana, a water bottle for last minute sips, and encouraging words to dispel pre-race nerves.
Be prepared for your athlete to lose their sh*t ...at you. Don't take it personally.
So far, so good for the HABs at Spring Challenge 2017 in Geraldine.
2. SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE
You will be required to comprehend, and sometimes converse in, the endurance sport lingo. This includes, but is not limited to, the following terms:
Heart rate zone training and lactate threshold
Cadence and power
Macros and electrolytes
Chafing and chamois cream
C2C, B2B, PFD, RBD, GPS, and MTB
Cumecs, braids, and eddies
La Sportiva, Altra, Salomon, Inov-8, and Hoka
Pain cave, hurt locker, and struggle street
It would also pay to become familiar with the correct etiquette when it comes to negotiating the attendance of social commitments.
"No I can't go out. I need to recover from the run I just got back from, and I've got hill intervals on the bike in the morning."
The preferable answer is not "Sweet as, I'll go without you then." More appropriate instead might be "Aww OK hun, I know you've been training hard this week. How about I cook you dinner while you put your feet up, then we can watch a movie."
With your athlete juggling a full time job, 15+ hours of training a week, life admin and, if they're lucky, some form of social life, it is likely that the task of meal preparation will be your responsibility. If you're no Jamie Oliver or Chelsea Winter it might pay to sharpen up on your culinary skills and expand your repertoire. You want your athlete to enjoy the meals you cook rather than just tolerate them. That said, almost anything and everything will get eaten. A staggering amount of food will be consumed - it will be like watching it disappear into a black hole.
You are expected to provide nutritionally balanced meals, and pay close attention to carbohydrate, protein, and fat intake. You must also be prepared for your athlete to decide to follow the latest diet trend, such as low carb high fat, paleo, vegan, or Whole30. The diet they choose will likely be dictated by the diet their celebrity-athlete crush is following.
For bonus points always have treats on hand ... ice cream, chocolate, Russian fudge, roasted cashews, gummy bears ... whatever sends them to that calm, contented state.
Any treat with peanut butter is a winner in my books. Or PB on its own!
The role of driver is included here primarily for WAGs or HABs whose athletes compete in multisport, which includes the discipline of kayaking. As a general practise, kayaking is done in one direction, downstream, thus making a loop or out and back route difficult. As a result, you will be asked nicely to do A LOT of driving. However, this is not always limited to kayaking, as several important run routes, such as Goat Pass, are 'point to point' routes so they also require a shuttle.
The WAG/HAB life ain't so bad with such delightful scenery.
This will often consume an entire day of your own time. For Christchurch-based HAB Jordan Buchanan, whose wife Hannah is training for the Coast to Coast Longest Day, his reward for long days spent shuttle driving for Waimakariri River trips is a visit to the famous Sheffield Pie Shop. In fact, bakeries in general all over the South Island are Jordan's main highlight of the HAB life.
5. MASSAGE THERAPIST
You may be expected to fulfill masseur/masseuse duties on your athlete after a tough race or hard week of training. Hint: If you continually provide a pathetic, half ass service then your athlete in desperation may eventually decide to instead seek regular service from a professional massage therapist.
PERKS OF THE JOB
While the role of WAG or HAB is demanding, there are a number of perks that come along with the job.
The ultimate feel good factor of being selfless and helping your athlete succeed.
Meeting other WAGs and HABs at events. Here is a bunch of like-minded people who are in the same boat as you. It can be a bit like a support group as you share your concerns and complaints, but also a chance to glean tips and tricks from one another.
Enjoying a few beers at the end of the day with the other WAGs and HABs while your athlete is curled up on the ground nursing a recovery shake.
Even just one season of WAG/HAB life will earn you a staggering number of brownie points.
Sometimes your athlete will win a prize. Occasionally they will share it with you.
The opportunity to explore places you wouldn't otherwise have visited - and visiting the bakeries in these locations.
An excuse to upgrade your vehicle to one that is fit-for-purpose.
Prizes and beersies! However, I do believe that these beersies were enjoyed by Mr Swannie during the event.
Do whatever your athlete says or asks of you. Job done.
PS. The role of my endurance sport HAB is currently vacant. If you believe you meet the criteria above don't hesitate to get in touch. ;)