I love triathlon. I know that’s an obvious thing to say for a columnist for the number one sort publication, but it’s true. And you, dear reader, can be my witness that by all I hold sacred, I absolutely cannot wait for this year’s season to begin. But it’s not for the reasons you might think…
Like all of us, I’m always ready for the season ahead at this time of year, but it’s more than my annual excitement for the new season, for which the phrase ‘the triumph of hope over experience” was invented.
Honestly, I can’t remember a time when I looked forward to my first race more eagerly, and my mind is brimming with excitement as to whether I’ll finally overcome my top three hurdles to triathlon greatness – qualifying for Konaremembering all my gear for at least one race, and only once managed to swim, bike and run well in the same day.
And why am I so excited? ‘Cause I need variety, and I need a fucking rest.
Broken by unique sports
Like most triathletes, I don’t do one sport, I do four, because in addition to triathlon, I compete in all three disciplines individually (the word “compete” does a lot of work in that sentence).
And if you’re not careful, all of this can lead to most of your year being spent in non-triathlon races, forgetting that the only reason you’re doing all of this is because it’s supposed to be good training. for the triathlon.
And that’s what happened to me. I forgot that I’m only supposed to compete in solo sports as part of my quest for triathlon supremacy, and I became obsessed with events that not only drove me, even hammered me, home that I’m not cut out for one-man races, but they completely shattered me into the bargain.
Long-time readers of this column may recall that a few years ago, after a spree involving three marathons in three days along the north Cornish coast, I realized I would be running 25 marathons.
Most of them were Ironmans, and the rest were all Ironmans practice, but the voice in my head said ’25 marathons? Why it’s almost 100. It would be cool to run 100′, setting off a chain of events that left me like the exhausted cardboard wreck I am today.
86 marathons and counting
As of this writing, I’m at 86 marathons. I’ve done six marathons and three ultramarathons in the past nine weeks alone, and I’m looking at my next event in a fortnight which will be to run 50 miles in Shropshire on a course that not only goes around the Wrekin, but crosses it. “Cool” is definitely not.
Looking back, running nine races in nine weeks was always going to end badly, especially since the last two were 35 and 40 miles respectively.
The last being a particularly cruel circular path called the Coventry Way, which not only takes you ploddingly close to Nuneaton, but is never more than five miles from my home, testing my mental toughness by giving me endless turf opportunities home when the going gets tough.
Honestly, I can’t remember a time when I felt more tired. You know that feeling of deep fatigue that comes over you when someone else starts talking to you about their PR? Well, it’s just like that all the time.
I’m amazed that I haven’t broken my jaw with the size of some of the yawns I do, and my legs are so tired that I have to take a swing over the curbs.
Lacks the variety of triathlon
More worryingly, I’ve missed loads of practice because I’m too tired. I can’t remember the last time I went out on my bike, and I even missed club swim sessions, an occurrence so rare that I’ve had coaches text me to find out if I was still alive.
To be honest, it’s sort variety that I miss. It can be difficult to gather all your gear in one place and be ready to go, but there’s something nice about knowing that you’ll break the mono-sport monotony by jumping on your bike after swimming and pedaling. in the foggy morning, and when you return you can get off and hang out on the road. It’s a lot less fun when it’s just the last part.
My first sorting might be a few weeks away, but honestly I can’t wait – and if in the meantime you’re on a run and see a disheveled, sleepy old man lying in a roadside ditch, be nice to him, because he could be me.