10 things you should never, ever say to a triathlete…

Somehow us triathletes have acquired a reputation for being obsessive, fixated, neurotic and slightly uptight individuals and as a result you might want to be careful what you say to us, even in jest says Martyn Brunt...

Martyn Brunt prepares for Ironman Lanzarote (in his garden)

Triathletes: calm, rational, well-balanced, serene, relaxed, stress-free – these are just some of the words that are never used to describe those of us who do triathlon.


Yes, somehow we have acquired a reputation for being obsessive, fixated, neurotic and occasionally so uptight we could crush walnuts between our buttocks as we strive for multi-sport perfection. As a consequence, you sometimes need to be careful what you say to a triathlete if you don’t want to end up getting blasted into your constituent molecules.

Here then are ten things, in my experience, you should NEVER say to a triathlete:

1. “Did you see the (insert highly desirable bike) sale online? I picked up a (insert highly desirable bike) for (insert smaller amount of money than you paid for your bike)” – No, I didn’t see the sale online, so shut up because conversations like this always make me feel like the only person who’s ever paid full price for a DFS sofa.

2. “Are you injured?” – No, that’s my normal running style, but thanks for pointing out the many flaws in it that evidently make me look I’m crippled with arthritis.

3. “You’ve put a bit of timber on haven’t you?” – Of course you realise that even though this has probably been said in jest, suggesting I have put on weight means I will now shun all food except muesli and bananas, and sit for several hours on a turbo trainer until I start sweating spinal fluid, until my willpower snaps and I empty the entire contents of the fridge into my stomach.

4. “Why don’t you have a day off training?” – because if I do I will immediately put on two stones in weight and all my results for the season ahead will be completely ruined.

5. “How’s your training going?” – Make yourself comfortable, this answer is going to go into more detail than a crime scene forensic examination.

6. “What time will you be home from your ride?” – If I tell you a time that means I have to stick to it, and I might get lost, or get a puncture, or more likely massively over-estimate my abilities and be so slow that I end up coming home 45 minutes after I said I would, at which point I’ll say I got lost and had a puncture.

7. “Is that any good?” – This was said to me by Mrs B in response to me telling her I’d just done 10 hours 20 minutes for an Ironman. Not only did this completely puncture my pride but it meant I couldn’t say “Yes” without sounding like I was bragging (which I was, but I was trying to fake humility). I’m still in a mood about it five years on.

8. “Have you ever done (insert race that is tougher than the one you’ve just done)” – No, I haven’t. But now I’ll probably have to. Thanks for that.

9. “I thought you were supposed to be fit” (this in response to your failure to get a lid of a jar, or lift a heavy wheelie bin) – I am fit, but in a very specific way that involves travelling a long way at a mediocre pace, I’m not Bruce Lee.

10. “Fancy going to the pub Saturday night?” – Sorry, no, I have to get up at 6am and do six hours on my bike because I’m training for a race I entered at 2am the last time I came in from a Saturday night at the pub.

Has he missed any? Let us know…


More pearls of wisdom by Martyn