So how’s it going? I don’t mean that in the way you do when you’re scrabbling for something to say to someone whose name you can’t remember, but I refer instead to the New Year’s resolutions you've made. I say ‘inevitably’ because, as triathletes, we love nothing better than an excuse to come up with some shiny new goals, preferably logged on some sort of spreadsheet.
My own resolutions were hatched while I did the Christmas rounds of visiting elderly relatives, because there’s no better time to dream about a better future than when you’re trapped for four hours in a racist house with a tin of stale biscuits, talking about a bygone era when people were polite and crimes were solved by a clip round the ear from a policeman, or, if that didn’t work, hanging. In between the unsatisfying, snippy arguments and trying to eat Toblerone without punching a hole through my jaw, I came up with the following resolutions that I suspect are similar to yours…
1 Stop buying crap
Triathletes are a salesman’s dream because we buy things that are new whether we need them or not, and we’ll spend anything from a few quid on a new energy bar, which tastes like a Glade Plug-In, to thousands of pounds on an Endless Pool that makes you look like a salmon trying to wriggle upstream to spawn. I am as guilty as anyone for buying over-priced crap, like my ‘hydration system’, which was basically a plastic bag with a straw in it. Although top marks must go to my friend Neill Morgan, a sort of Bob Monkhouse action figure, who recently bought a ladies’ purse that he frantically tries to pass off as a “Rapha essentials case”. So in 2018 I will not be paying one thin guilder for a carbon skinsuit or the latest piece of twat-dazzling technology for my wrist. I might need a new bike, though.
2 Look good on photos
Race photos generally do for my self-esteem what seawater did for the Fukushima nuclear plant, and I’m sick of pictures of me looking like I’ve just been shot in the rectum with a Taser or peering into the distance with the pained absentmindedness of a man with an undiagnosed urinary tract infection. This year I’m making a concerted effort to look like a chiselled Olympian cruising effortlessly to a PB and less like a man as cheerful as Andy Murray in an Ingmar Bergman film, whose only visible six-pack is on my forehead when I frown.
3 Stop looking at Facebook
Facebook is basically just a list of invitations to develop a gambling addiction and pictures of cats with fruit on their heads. However, it has been a boon to triathletes wanting to bullsh*t about the amount of training they’re doing, with endless messages like, “Just done a great kettlebell class,” or “New parkrun PB today!” and “Nice 50-miler this morning despite the rain”, which could be summarised by a single post saying: “I AM BETTER THAN YOU”. The net effect of these messages is to increase my guilt if I haven’t been as far or as fast as people’s Facebook statuses allege, which leaves me with the choice of either trying to match these lies or just ignoring them and having another bun. Guess which one won?
4 Win something
So far I have existed largely as a Lidl-strength triathlete happy to climb hills on my bike at the speed of a Stannah Stairlift. I know I shall never be a Brownlee, however, next season I will be going ‘up a box’ on entry forms into the 50-54 age-group, and being the youngest in my wave marginally increases my chances of winning something.
My new approach to training sessions is no longer to ‘knock it out and p*ss off early’, but instead to actually put some effort in. So far I’ve got as far as doing three 5.30am swims a week at my local pool, which have dropped Nagasaki-like into my morning slumbers. I’ve also started cycling to work through the school run, and avoiding 4x4s is giving my legs the same turn of speed as a Tesco burger in the 3.30 at Aintree.
5 Lay off the booze
Alcohol gives me super-powers, such as approaching women in pubs and making amazingly large fry-ups at 3am. On the downside it seems to make me more argumentative and un-coordinated with a mild notion of invincibility, plus I’m more prone to do Gangnam Style dances, which make me look like a drunk trying to shake a turd down my leg. So for the next six months I will be replacing value-brand lager, which is normally best enjoyed outdoors, perhaps while seated in an underpass with one’s dog, with things that are isotonic, hypotonic and hypertonic. I did know the difference between these for all of about 10 minutes, but it’s gone. Something to do with sweating, I think.
So that’s my 2018 mapped out, although I suspect ‘stop making unrealistic resolutions’ should appear on there somewhere. I also realise that publishing these means I probably have to stick to them, but I know you’re obviously all very socially well-adjusted and too busy having dinner with attractive partners to moan about tiny inaccuracies in my column. Finally, let’s hope 2018 is cheaper and, given that I spent the whole of 2017 basically being waterboarded, just a little bit drier
Martyn has a monthly column in the magazine 220 Triathlon and you can subscribe here