One of the best things about being a triathlete is the transferable skills it gives you. I had an excellent example of this recently on a trip to the supermarket, where I used all my tri experience to emerge triumphant from the C-19 panic-buyers with a trolley full of treasures, including two packs of toilet paper, a bar of soap, a giant bag of pasta, a box of cereal, some antibacterial surface cleaner and some fig rolls.
So how did decades of carefully honed tri-skills help with my successful shopping spree? Well…
Years of mass swim starts made me completely immune to the various body blows I suffered while joining the punch up for bog rolls.
Countless races spent legging it around crowded transitions desperately trying to spot my bike gave me a massive advantage
when it came to spying the last bottle of hand sanitiser and snatching it up.
My superior bike-handling skills meant I was able to corner at speed with my trolley to outmanoeuvre the masses in the Mad Max-style dash for the sliced loaves.
My endless experience of laying out kit in transitions and then vigorously defending MY space from the people racking next to me, meant that fending people off from my trolley was a doddle.
Thousands of miles of cycling mean that while others flagged, I had the endurance to make it to the biscuit aisle at the far end of the shop without having to stop for a rest by the world foods.
Decades of pre-race planning spent working out the fastest route from my bike to the run exit meant I was way ahead of the panic-buyers when plotting my route from the UHT milk to the check out.
Hundreds of sprint finishes meant I was able to easily outpace the baying mob to reach the tills with the last of the penne.
On top of all this, thanks to 15 years of training for Ironman races I will happily eat any food going, in any combination imaginable, so I was quite happy to scoop up all the stuff other people left behind. Tuna with bourbon biscuits? No problem. Soup and crisps? Yummy. Marmite and prunes? I’ve been scoffing meals like that for years.
To be honest, this kind of retail-rumble is a handy substitute for training and because, at the time of writing, everything has been cancelled. My three morning swim sessions a week have all been scrapped, although I wouldn’t have thought we were a particularly high-risk group because years of ploughing up and down grotty Cov Baths must have made us immune to every germ known to man. My running club has stopped all track sessions, which I’m not surprised about because you’ve only got to sneeze in the same postcode as a sprinter and they have a month off with a temperature. And even my cycling club has banned club rides, although I’ve been self-isolating from them for years via the medium of getting dropped.
So, like all training-addicted triathletes, I’ve been searching for substitutes wherever I can find them.
I can already replicate the experience of draft-legal bike racing by taking on the Deliveroo riders on my morning commute, and competitive running is covered by my weekend XC battles against my dog Bertie. As for swimming, the closest I’ve come to finding something that feels the same as a 2hr club session is getting someone to repeatedly hit my shoulders with a frying pan between 5-7am.
I’m sure I’m not the only one, so if you have any examples of the lengths you’re going to in order to get the miles in, why not share them with me on Twitter (@Bruntyonabike) and I promise to share the ones that make me laugh the most. In the meantime, however you’re getting through all this, stay safe, look after yourselves and your loved ones, be kind to hard-pressed race organisers and club officials who are having to cancel stuff for our safety, and I’ll see you on the other side.
7 life lessons triathlon has taught Martyn Brunt