My Name is Martin Ball. I am a Husband & a Dad. I am also a Working Class Triathlete. (I'm also now a blogger).
Class isn’t just a measure of wealth. Class is also a mind-set. A Doctor can be a working class Triathlete.
Our sport is Fashionable and it is Expensive. As such it attracts the financial middle classes. The white collar workers who want the competitive escape of the sanitised life, a life governed by the nuances of labels and design. From the Smeg fridge to the Farrow and Ball paint on the wall of their home office. This is what they know. This is what they love. This is how they measure themselves and those around them. They bring this obtuse misunderstanding to the starting line.
The middle classes complain they are time poor. What they gain in disposable income, they lose in time. Be it the middle managers weighing in their pound of flesh to the man, to those obsessed with growing their own business. They are used to plugging the gap with cash. That’s what they do, and that’s why style matters to them. It assuages the guilt, they may have missed the party, but at least little Johnny unwrapped the latest iPad air. If in doubt, throw money at the problem.
This mentality translates to the field. You see it in Transition week in and week out. They may have missed the last 3 sessions in the pool, but rest easy in the knowledge that the latest pair of goggles will more than have made up for the pace they have lost. Besides, at that price they must perform as good as they are making him look……
These people are great. They inflate the entry numbers that make the events we love financially viable to put on. That also means there are 500 also rans beneath us on the results table rather than 50. They attract the marketing men that chase them like prey to sell them the latest piece of kit that matters so much. This in turn does drive product development over time. Finally, and most importantly, they create an invaluable source of 2nd hand barely used kit, a fraction of its retail price that makes this sport affordable to me. As disposable to them as the money that bought it. Kit that’s last year’s colour, that has last season’s outdated aerodynamics, or a strap that weighs 0.02g more than the latest model. I say thank you for that, you make this sport affordable to me.
But Triathlon is an honest sport. You get out what you put in. Come race day, no amount of kit or posturing will replace the hours of consistent hard work and dedication that have gone in behind the scenes. The regular motivated training with a clear goal in mind. The desire to compete, the drive to win. This is where the working class triathlete succeeds. You don’t become an endurance athlete by shopping for new gear.
I had a working class upbringing. It taught me that I have to work hard for what I want. It taught me that things shouldn’t be disposable. Work hard for what you want, look after what you have. And it will look after you. When money is precious, you choose carefully what you spend it on, and you treasure what you have. You have had to work long and hard for it, and replacing it won’t come easy. The same is true of your time.
I have 2 assets that are priceless. The first most people view as a barrier to training. My family. The second, a work life balance.
I don’t have money to throw at the sport I love. What I have is children that need a childhood, a wife that deserves my time, a mortgage, a boiler that needs replacing, a car that needs MOT’ing, and bills that keep landing on the doorstep. We make sacrifices in other areas to afford the races, the travel to and from them, the training and the essential kit that everyone needs – the bike, the trainers, and a pair of goggles. The race fees. Some things every triathlete has to have…...
My family. They encourage & motivate me, they support me, they get involved, they drive me to perform, to train consistently and purposefully. My wife excels at meeting my nutritional demands. They remind me my time is precious, and give me the desire to win. To make them proud. They look after me when things don’t go as planned and are the biggest cheers in the crowd come race day as I sprint past. They make sacrifices because they love me, sacrifices in their time and our collective family lifestyle, so the least I can do is give the best account of myself possible. Only consistent hard work will achieve that. Not kit.
I only surround myself with other Working Class Triathletes. Friends who are serious about what matters in their sport, who are obsessed with what they do, want to share what they learn, who encourage me through their own quiet hardwork and dedication. People who are motivated to achieve their potential, and know what is important in this sport. They are few and far between. When you meet them hang on to them and help them. Learn from them.
If you are looking for a website that will give you a pat on the back for buying the latest piece of fashionable kit, reviews on the latest must have gizmos to record your performance - this website isn’t for you.
This blog is for Triathletes.