Martyn Brunt on his desperation to start racing again

I love triathlon. I know that’s an obvious thing for a columnist in tri’s number one publication to say, but it’s true. And you, dear reader, can be my witness that by all that I hold sacred, I absolutely cannot wait for this year’s season to start. But, it’s not for the reasons you might think…

Like all of us, I’m always keyed up for the season ahead at this time of year, but it’s more than my annual new-season enthusiasm, for which the expression ‘a triumph of hope over experience’ was invented.

I honestly don’t remember a time when I have more eagerly awaited my first race, and my mind is brimming with excitement about whether I will finally overcome my three main obstacles to triathlon greatness – qualifying for Konnaremembering all my kit for at least one race, and just once managing to swim, cycle and run well all on the same day.

And why am I so full of excitement? Because I need some variety, and I need a bloody rest.

Shattered by single sports

In common with most triathletes I don’t do one sport, I do four, because as well as triathlon I compete in all three disciplines individually (the word ‘compete’ is doing a lot of work in that sentence).

And if you’re not careful all this can lead to most of your year being taken up with non-tri races, forgetting that the only reason you’re doing all this stuff is that it’s supposed to be good training for triathlon.

And that is what’s happened to me. I’ve forgotten that I’m only supposed to be participating in solo sports as part of my quest for triathlon supremacy, and I’ve become obsessed with events which have not only brought, nay hammered, home to me that I’m not cut out for single-discipline races, but they have left me absolutely shattered into the bargain.

Long-time readers of this column may remember that a couple of years ago, after some daftness involving three marathons in three days along the north Cornwall coast, I realised that I’d run 25 marathons.

Most of them were as part of Ironmans, and the rest were all as training for Ironmans, but the voice in my head said ’25 marathons? Why that’s almost 100. It would be cool to run 100′, setting off a chain of events which has left me as the exhausted, cardboard wreck I am today.

I’m amazed that I haven’t fractured my own jaw with the size of some of the yawns I’m doing, and my legs are so weary I have to take a run-up to step up kerbs

86 marathons and counting

At the time of writing I’m up to 86 marathons. I’ve done six marathons and three ultramarathons in the past nine weeks alone, and I’m contemplating my next event in a fortnight which will involve running 50 miles in Shropshire on a course which not only goes around the Wrekin, but over it. ‘Cool’ this most definitely is not.

In hindsight, running nine races in nine weeks was always going to end badly, especially as the final two were 35- and 40-miles long, respectively.

The last of which being a particularly cruel circular trail run called the Coventry Way, which not only takes you distressingly close to Nuneaton, but which is never more than about five miles from my house, testing my mental strength by giving me endless opportunities to sod off home when the going got tough.

I honestly don’t remember a time when I’ve felt more tired. You know that feeling of deep fatigue that comes over you when someone else starts telling you about their PBs? Well it’s like that only all the time.

I’m amazed that I haven’t fractured my own jaw with the size of some of the yawns I’m doing, and my legs are so weary I have to take a run-up to step up kerbs.

Missing the variety of triathlon

More disturbingly, I’ve missed loads of training because I’m too bloody tired. I don’t remember the last time I went out on my bike, and I’ve even missed club swim sessions, an occurrence so rare that I’ve had coaches texting me to see if I’m still alive.

To be honest, it’s the variety of tri that I miss. It might be a faff to get all your gear in one place and ready to go but there’s something lovely knowing that you’ll break the mono-sport monotony by jumping on your bike after swimming and pedalling off into the misty morn, and upon returning you can hop off and shuffle off up the road. It’s a lot less fun when it just comprises the last bit.

My first tri might be a few weeks away but I honestly can’t wait – and if in the meantime you are out running and you see a dishevelled, sleeping old man lying in a roadside ditch, be kind to him, because it might be me.

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