Ashlie Nalls knew she had found the right match when her future husband said he was interested in doing a triathlon.
"We met through his sister," said Nalls, a 26-year-old from Land O'Lakes. "We just started talking and both realized that we had both signed up to do our first triathlon."
That was four years ago. Today, Nalls and her fiance, 31-year-old Keith Campbell, regularly work out together, and will compete in the St. Anthony's Triathlon in St. Petersburg on April 25. They will marry in two weeks in Dade City.
"Once you get serious about triathlons, training can take up a lot of your time," said Nalls. "But fortunately for us, training is one more thing we can do together."
TOO FAST, TOO SLOW
Campbell loves to ride his bike. There is nothing the heavy-equipment salesman would rather do than head up to the Suncoast Trail and bust out an 80-mile ride.
Nalls, marketing services manager for the Tampa-based World Triathlon Corp., likes to ride, too, but she is not as fast as her husband-to-be.
"We start off riding together, but I'm not as strong as he is," she said. "I always feel like I'm holding him back."
Campbell knows Nalls can't keep up with him. "So on the way out, I ride easy so we can stay together. But on the way back, I'll pick up the pace and pull ahead, but always keeping her well within sight in case she has some trouble."
Campbell and Nalls both get a good workout, together at first and then separately.
"We end up back at the truck together," she said. "That's all that counts."
PICK UP THE PACE
Nalls and Campbell also run at different speeds. But they overcame this obstacle by introducing interval training into their running workouts.
Running hard for a short time or distance, followed by a measured recovery period, and then another measured period of intensity, is a great way to improve both endurance and speed.
"One of us will run ahead at a faster pace, then slow down and let the other person catch up," Campbell said. "Then the other person runs ahead.
"We keep going like this, leapfrogging each other. It's a great workout."
Bookending all their workouts are more opportunities to train together.
"The best part is that we always do the warmup and cooldown together," Nalls said.
ALONE BUT TOGETHER
There are times, though, when even this happy couple has no choice but to separate: You can't hold hands when you're swimming.
"We may share the same lane," Campbell said, "but we each have to do our own workout."
Working out together, but separately, is ideal for a lot of couples, regardless of their relative fitness levels. You can hit the gym together and urge each other on, which will help keep you motivated. Some couples like to sit on exercise bikes, side by side, and spin away.
"When I'm running, I'm not much of a talker," Nalls said. "But the important thing is that we are out there exercising together.
Terry Tomalin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8808.