Coronavirus: how to stay motivated through the pandemic

Struggling for motivation through these strange times? Here's Martyn Brunt with some stirring talk, Brunty-style...


1. A little of what you fancy does you good


You need a lot more than a loaf of bread and some antibacterial hand wipes 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. So ring your local takeaway and enjoy a feast while supporting your hard pressed local businesses.

2. 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 bag of bogrolls I’m going to get out there and use it once things calm down

3. Get tipsy and enter a very hard race for 2021

It’s 10pm, the pubs are all shut, and you’ve just consumed your fourth large G&T in the privacy of your own under-stairs cupboard. 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.

4. 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.

5. Take up cycle commuting

Still allowed out to work? 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 and avoiding the bendybus of death.

6. 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.

 7. Acquire a (virtual) 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. Remember, the best way to practice social distancing is to crush everyone and leave them trailing in your wake.

8. 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 block of training mediocrity, a total rest leaves me feeling still completely knackered. Still, it’s the thought that counts.

9. 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.

10. Do some DIY or gardening 

Life is tough right now, but  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, if you’re able to get outside. It might even persuade you to get back on that turbo and give your self isolating skills a boost with that old post-spinning smell.

11. Do a slow ride on an old bike

Still allowed to go out on a bike in your area? Last year 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, rediscovering the simple pleasure of cycling with no pressure, and no company because of a) social distancing and b) none of my mates will be seen dead next to me, even if they were allowed

12. 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, in a carrier bag somewhere in the loft. Sometimes I like to fetch them out, prise them apart with a spoon and look through them to remind myself of my former glories… and so many failures to win a medal. And remember, my athletic inadequacies will still be there for me to see when all this is over

13. Go running with dogs, if allowed and appropriate where you live


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 I don the old face ask and off we go over the hills and far away. One day I’ll keep up with the gits. Remember to stay local though folks… and adhere to medical and government advice in your country.