Triathlons: Middle-class problems

Number 80
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It used to be a convertible; a new head of hair; an affair with a younger partner. These days? Can't afford it; can't be bothered; and who's got the time?

No one, that's who. Because when it comes to mid-life crises, we're all too busy pumping our tyres, stretching our quads and keeping count of lengths.

Soft-top? We'd rather splash a fraction of the cash on an ultralight carbon super-bike. Mop-top? Our shorn head will shave seconds of friction from our run. Low-cut top? That's not the sort of breaststroke we had in mind, thank you very much; and get your mind out of the gutter.

This isn't to say that everyone who does a triathlon is having a serious think about their life – or rather their mortality. But it is the fastest-growing mass-participation sport in the UK – and perfect in this age of austerity for those who are having a wobble.

Running? Doesn't cost a thing. Just get out there (though mind the knees). Cycling? Admittedly the bike could be expensive, but think of the commuting savings – it basically pays for itself. And swimming? If public pools don't appeal, you can always turn to local rivers or lakes.

Only, no one really does it like that. If you're running, you need anti-friction trainers, a couple of nice tees, shorts that look cool… Cycling: servicing that £5k bike is going to cost £500 a year. Swimming in lakes? Nice idea; but – and this counts for the other two, as well – freezing at this time of year. Still, it's as well we love all the expensive gubbins. Because they're sure as hell going to stay pristine in the cupboard.