Regardless of whether you have spent this year training for the London Marathon, the Tour de France or even the Ironman World Championships, nothing can quite prepare you and your body for the stresses & strains of festive gift buying. So having barely survived Black Friday weekend, I thought I would share with you a few similarities I have observed between competing in triathlons and Christmas shopping, which as it turns out are not too different from each other…
The resemblance begins straight away. In both cases you usually have to get up at the crack of dawn, in an effort to try to beat the crowds that start to form before the gates even open, often with queues during the last few miles. Parking is inevitably a nightmare – miles away from the start line – which means at some stage you will be having to lug a load of heavy bags either to, or from the car.
On of my favourite elements of triathlons are that they require plenty of gear, ranging from wetsuits to bikes, with endless combinations and special features available. As well as helping you go faster, much of it is there to protect you such as bike helmets and cushioned shoes. This concept translates well into xmas shopping, for which I would recommend your own body armour. And possibly a riot shield…
I have written before of how mass swim starts are roughly comparable to being in a washing machine on full spin, your stomach a bag of nerves, arms whirling all over the place, getting bashed in the face by random elbows… only marginally less violent than Tesco at midnight on Black Friday.
Whatever route you find yourself taking, you will noticeably start to flag as you get around. All of your best intentions of conserving energy for the toughest sections will be ruined as you subconsciously start to compete against the person next to you, each of you unspoken and silently willing the other to fall over as you home in on your goal, whether it is being first to get to the final corner, or first to reach that half price television set in Asda.
The concept of transition often causes confusing for triathlon spectators: for professionals they are a blur of activity, with competitors seamlessly moving from one event to another; in my own case they involve a somewhat more disorganised attempt to avoid falling over whilst balancing on one foot with the other still stuck inside a wetsuit. But whatever happens you can’t be shy, as there is no time to nip indoors to change. As for sale shopping, why bother queueing for hours for a 4 items or less changing area, when there is a perfectly good shop floor to use?
Fueling is a key aspect of triathlons, with the ability to eat and drink on the move to ensure you do not get left behind essential. Meanwhile, if you think you are going to get a seat at Nandos in the food court at this time of year you are sadly mistaken, so those skills are instantly transferable to having a coffee and cookie on the move, as you well know that if you stop for just a few seconds you might never be able to face getting going again
The Finish Line
Collapsing in exhaustion as you get over the line, or out of the exit door. The main feeling is one of relief that it is over, and phrases like ‘never again’ and ‘I’m too old for this shit’ are spouted – but in reality you know you will be doing it all over again the next year.
I have a shelf full of triathlon medals, each of which I look at with pride and rose tinted memories of a fantastic race. Christmas shopping however is so traumatic that you have to give away everything you came away with, presumably due to the fact that no amount of rose (or rosé) could take away those memories. I wonder whether Batman managed to wrestle that TV away from Bane in the end?
So in the end, much like the Chile Challenge, it turns out you are better doing as much as possible of it on-line from the comfort of your own lounge…