“If you can’t beat them, buy something”

Our man Martyn Brunt distracts himself with some unique winter-specific activities…

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Issue ID: December 2012

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This morning I stayed in bed until 7am, replaced my normal breakfast of muesli and bananas with a thrice-fried bap and glanced at my legs, which revealed hairs so long that my knees look like an elderly Rastafarian. All this can mean only one thing – the tri season is over and the joys of winter training are upon us.

In days of yore this meant six months of sleeping in, eating muffins and never cycling in the big ring. However, those days of wine and song are gone and winters are now ruled by shouty coaches with their b*stard training plans, and über-competitive clubmates who use Facebook statuses to bullsh*t about how much training they’re still doing.

As I look back on another season in which I have failed to become Ironman world champion and try to avoid making eye-contact with the turbo trainer squatting malevolently in the corner of my garage, I get a bit downhearted. So much so that my long-suffering other half, Nicky, decided to nip this in the knackers by whisking me off to Cornwall to see the hessian-clad imbeciles that constitute her family.

But holidaying with people who laugh like an Appalachian dolt is just one of the many ways you can distract yourself this winter. Here are some others…

1 “Work on your weaknesses,” say the training guides (and 220). In my case it’s riding round hairpin bends on my bike with the turning circle of a hippo that’s got a javelin through its head. I’m remedying this by riding round and round my patio in a very small circle, which looks to my neighbours like I’m training to race on the world’s smallest velodrome.

2 As the saying goes, “If you can’t beat them, buy something”, so now is the time for new toys. I have my eye on a Colnago CLX, which sounds like it’s named after a brand of piles ointment, and I’m thinking of investing in an iPhone 5 because the longer screen means I won’t have to scroll down so far on race result pages to see my finishing position.

3 “Focus on the fourth discipline.” People often say that transitions are the fourth discipline in triathlon. But I’ve spent the last few weeks working on mouse-finger exercises, sharpening up my reaction-times and training my body clock to be at its most responsive in the early hours of the morning for what has become the real fourth discipline in the sport – entering races online. Triathlon has become rather popular lately and getting into races is harder than getting out of Downing Street on a bike. This year I hope to be able to add at least my name, address, t-shirt size and fake occupation in the nano-second between the ‘Entry open’ and ‘Race full’ announcements.

4 Scheme for the year ahead. My main race of 2013 will be the London Triathlon. It may seem odd for a confirmed Ironfart to be focussing on an Olympic-distance race, but that’s because the 2003 London Triathlon was the first race I ever did, so this will mark 10 years in the sport for me and I’m keen to see how much I haven’t improved.

I was a tad fatter in those days (if tad means three stones), and at the finish my face was so red I looked like I’d been ducking for apples in a chip pan. Plus I had to be held upright by a skinny old marshal, which made it look like I was being carted off by the grim reaper. I’m also keen to enter because I spy the prospect of prizes thanks to the fact I go up an age-group next year – which is also good because in my present age-group I’m feeling increasingly like Private Godfrey from Dad’s Army.

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5 Do other stuff. The world does not revolve around triathlon and now is the time to prove I have a life – although seemingly only in the same way that athlete’s foot has a life. So I shall spend my winter months reading sports books, cleaning gungy drinks bottles, de-greasing bike chains and applying chafe cream to my legs, which look as if they’ve been set on fire and then put out with a golf shoe. My life revolves around triathlon after all…