Lost Mojo, also known as ‘can’t-be-arsed-to-go-training-itis’, is a surprisingly common affliction, even among the fitness-obsessed health maniacs that constitute your average triathlete. Its symptoms are easily identified by: a general reluctance to leave your nice, warm home to go and get cold, yet sweaty, in the dark; a sudden attraction to all food, ranging from leftover luxury chocolates to meat-based meals that come in a can; a refusal to make eye-contact with your turbo trainer, which squats malevolently in the corner giving you a reproachful look.
When experiencing these symptoms, the first thing to remember is DON’T PANIC. Losing your motivation is something we all go through from time to time and I suspect even a Brownlee or two has bouts of low enthusiasm. It can have many causes – winter, boredom, injury niggles, loss of form, emptying the entire contents of the fridge into your stomach at Christmas – but the effect is the same, in that it makes you feel simultaneously bone-idle yet racked by guilt, with the uncomfortable sensation that your entire season ahead is ruined because you decided to skip a run.
I’ve been doing triathlons since the days when we used to race in Speedos (for photos send an SAE) and I’ve gone through countless periods of low motivation, usually as a result of failing to qualify for Kona agaaaaain or, more likely, being beaten in training by someone I used to regularly leave behind. In that time I’ve devised many cunning strategies to help me overcome my bouts of zero zeal. So ignore all the cries of ‘HTFU’ from your motivated friends and instead behold Brunty’s tried and tested Top 25 Tips on how to recover your multisport motivation for the season now looming large on your horizon.
1. A little of what you fancy does you good
You need a lot more than two handfuls of spinach and a bag of cashew nuts to keep you going, so why not give yourself a treat? I certainly don’t mind an occasional reward such as a curry so hot it lights my breath up like an oil rig and melts my molars.
2. Join a spin class
There’s no better way to recover your love of pedalling than to go and sit in a room full of new rivals. They, being spin-class types, will want to beat you. You, being a hardened triathlete who does proper cycling, will want to beat them. So don your most intimidating tri t-shirt, assume the TT-position, adopt a fixed stare, and let battle commence.
3. Purchase something expensive
If you want to guilt yourself into going training, then simply spend a lot of money on something. Triathlon offers endless opportunities to spend more money than a Brexit divorce bill; I’ve just stumped up the price of two of my more essential organs on a new wetsuit, so you can bet your life I’m going to get out there and use it!
4. Get tipsy and enter a very hard race
It’s 1am, you’ve just returned from the pub. What better time than to go online and enter a ridiculously hard race?! Don’t forget to post what you’ve done on social media so that you can’t back out.
5. Look at your old race photos
If I want to see how far I’ve come, all I have to do is look at all those old photos of me huffing along from a decade ago. Look at that old bike and that painful expression! Look at those stringy arms and that paunch! Look at that full head of hair… sob.
6. Read your friends’ Facebook posts
One of the things all of us triathletes have in common is that we’re terrified of missing training for fear that our club mates will gain an edge on us. If you want to heighten that paranoia, simply read their Facebook posts where they bang on about all the training they’re doing. They’re probably lying, but can you afford to take the chance?
7. Pick on some slower runners
Something I like to do when I’m struggling with my running motivation is to take myself to my local park of an evening when it’s popular with joggers and start lapping them like a lunatic. There’s no finer way to make yourself feel like a running God than to cruise past poor unfortunate social runners at twice their speed.
8. Take up cycle commuting
A handy way to rekindle your enthusiasm for fitness is to incorporate your training into a daily activity. Cycle commuting is a great way to get in a few miles without really realising, plus it develops important skills
like overhauling Deliveroo riders, out-sprinting school run psychopaths, and avoiding the bendybus of death.
9. Do some technique swims
Instead of thrashing up and down the swim lane as fast as you can, take a step back and do some slow swims concentrating on your technique. Make sure you have lots of paraphernalia with you like fins and paddles so others in your lane know that you could still beat them if you wanted to.
10. Take up circuit training
I’ve recently started a circuit class where we do all manner of painful exercises, like planks, with running in between. In the last class I think I dropped dead about six times, and if anything makes me want to go back to the simple world of triathlon, it’s circuits.
11. Go on a training camp
Rediscover the sight of your knees and your love of the road in places like Majorca, Lanzarote, the south of France, Italy or Spain – although coming from Coventry, frankly I’d take North Korea.
12. Read a sports book
Reading the autobiographies of famous sportsfolks has one of two effects on me – either I’m inspired to snap out of my motivational melancholy by their tales of humble beginnings to greatness, or I’m narked beyond belief at their whining self-importance and determined to go off and do my sport for the sheer love of it. For the former see most athletics biographies, for the latter see books by Premier League footballers.
13. Enter an insane team event
If you’re in a club, there will be at least one complete lunatic who wants to do some insane team event involving a 24-hour relay, channel swim or mountain marathon. When they collar you at training, just say ‘Yes’ and lo! Your demotivation will immediately disappear and be replaced by a fear of letting your team mates down.
14. Have a rest
Triathletes are notoriously bad at resting. However, a complete rest for a few days can work wonders, and I often find that when I’m recovering from a hard year of mediocrity a total rest leaves me feeling fully refreshed.
15. Bling your bike
You and your bike do a lot of miles together, so why not beat the blues by lavishing some attention on it? Some lovely new bar-tape, say, or brand new tyres, sparkling carbon pedals or a saddle that doesn’t send your groin numb after 10mins in the aero position.
16. Take up XC running
If you want to rekindle your love of highly competitive under-the-radar sporting events, I can highly recommend XC running. You’ll gather in a field full of thin people in shorts, muster in front of a tape, then leg it around some woods/heath/bogs for 10km until you cross another tape and – that’s it. No medal, no goodie bag, no photos, no bogs and no showers. Just honest-to-goodness local amateur sport at its purest.
17. Get annoyed
Once upon a time I was toiling around at the back of an XC race in a state of lethargy when another runner deliberately shoved me. I was so irked at this not only did I give chase and shoulder barge him into a hedge, but I charged off through the field and picked up about 100 places. Sometimes a physical boot in the goolies works as well as a metaphorical one.
18. Enter an early-season race
An excellent way to build confidence and enthusiasm for the season ahead is to take part in a short, early-season tri. Not only does it blow away the cobwebs but it’s a yearly reminder of how bad you are at transitions, giving you plenty of time to improve your flailing before your A-race.
19. Do some DIY or gardening
Winter is the ideal time to catch up on all those domestic tasks that you’ve been rightly putting off all year while you’ve been out training. And believe me, there’s nothing like a couple of days of painting, mending fences and jet-washing patios to make me sod off on my bike at the first chance.
20. do a slow ride on an old bike
Recently I bought a 1950s sit-up-and-beg Pashley, which I ride along a disused railway line that’s been converted into a cycle path. After decades of cycling as fast as I can, there’s something lovely about rolling along slowly
and rediscovering the simple pleasure of cycling.
21. Dig out your old race T-shirts
I have lovingly preserved almost all of my hard-earned race t-shirts dating back almost 20 years. Sometimes I like to fetch them out and look through them to remind myself of former glories… and so many failures to win a medal.
22. Get drunk and eat too much
Recently I went out with some mates from my running club which involved going to the pub, then another pub, then some more pubs, then going for a curry. After coming out of the curry house I stood on the pavement and genuinely couldn’t remember whether we were coming out having just eaten, or going in having not eaten yet. Then I went home, fell asleep until midday, woke up vowing never to drink again and set about training like a madman.
23. Acquire an enemy
I reckon there’s someone you train with who you don’t really like, and who you’d cheerfully bounce arse-first through broken glass to finish in front of. I’m right aren’t I? Be honest. That’s certainly true in my case, and I use this vendetta to fire myself up to make sure that at every training session we do I beat them, without looking like I’m trying to beat them.
24. Do something non-tri related
Most of the activities I’ve suggested so far have been tri-related in some way, but why not freshen up your fitness regime with something else entirely? Over the years I’ve tried all sorts of original ways to get out of breath, which have included hill walking, canoeing, rowing and smoking, and many other ways to work up a sweat including hot yoga, karate and shoplifting.
25. Go running with dogs
I have two Welsh Springer Spaniels called Freddie and Bertie, and they like nothing more than to go running with me across the fields where we live. When they come and stare at me with large eyes and wagging tales, I’m powerless to resist no matter how demotivated I may be feeling, so off we go over the hills and far away. One day I’ll keep up with the gits.
So there we have it, my top 25 tips to have you back on the road to tri motivation. And if none of these work for you, just remember this – I’m trying to beat you, and while you’re sitting reading this, I’m out training. Catch me if you can…