Ok so before I start going on about what I’m doing now and where I’m aiming to get to I thought it would be worthwhile covering a bit of back story as everything needs to start somewhere. After all, A Christmas Carol wouldn’t be the same with only two ghosts now would it!? Oh and by the way I prefer the muppets version, especially on Christmas Eve.
I’ve always been sporty as far back as I can remember and always willing to try a new sport or activity a go. This probably stems from my father having a sporty background so much so that even an accident which cost him half a leg didn’t slow him down as he simply altered his focus and went on to become a Paralympian as well as being involved in several disabled sports organisations helping people around the world enjoy sports that they previously may have thought were too difficult to do. It is his example that, when I feel too tired to go to the gym or it starts to rain just before my run or my legs ache before I even get the bike out of the shed, makes me realise that in the grand scheme of things I’ve not much really to complain about and I just need to give my head a shake, my arse a kick and crack on with stuff.
I also owe thanks to my older brother as I’m pretty sure that it is because of him and the standard sibling rivalry that I have a competitive streak running through me which is both a help and a hindrance at times. It drives my wife crazy and to her I apologise but to everyone else it’s basically a case of ‘game on’. Many a run or a ride have included a point where I spot someone ahead of me travelling in the same direction and no matter how tired I am the chase is on and the game is afoot! This poor innocent stranger out on their workout has suddenly been transformed into my adversary, my greatest enemy who I must defeat, they are the Foreman to my Ali, the Nadal to my Federer, the Ronaldo to my Messi, the Flanders to my Homer. Now I’m aware that I’ve just compared myself to some legends there but it’s my blog so I’m having it. I will kick it up a notch and push myself (despite probably having miles left to go) to get by them and will not ease up until they’re out of sight or changed direction (at which point I may well double up with a stitch breathing heavier than a woman in labour) as the only thing worse than being overtaken is being overtaken by the person you’ve just passed!
I also owe thanks to my brother (through gritted teeth) for encouraging me to take my first steps into distance running as generally my sporting interests revolves around sprinting and field sports such as rugby and football but a few years ago he decided to start running and asked me if I’d like to take part in the local 10k that he’d entered. Of course I agreed as I couldn’t let him beat me and so it began.
Now let me make one thing clear, I hate running! It’s boring, it’s hard and it seems to take forever. That being said I do love to challenge myself and push my boundaries and if that happens to be through running or any other event then pass me my trainers and let’s get on with it.
I’ll go deeper into some of my previous events in future posts as there are some amusing stories that I think are worth telling but for now I’ll keep it vague.
That year my brother and I took part in several 10k events and I started to get a bit of a buzz for them as I was normally used to running on my own or with my brother but the crowds, the large number of entrants and the different routes just made it more bearable and, dare I say it, appealing. This led to us entering our first half marathon (the Great North Run) in Newcastle which I still maintain is a fantastic event and well worth trying as the support and organisation are second to none.
My brother has since gone on to join a running club and completed several marathons but I’d always said that the only one that I was interested in was the London marathon but I’ve yet to get a place in the ballot and because of that I fear I may have to change my plans but more to come on that later.
I discovered cycling in a big way about 4 years ago having spent the previous year biking to work on my cycle to work scheme hybrid and realising what fun could be had on a bike. I did my research over many months and then ordered my new road bike (I’d never had a ‘racer’ growing up as they were always mountain type bikes) and started cycling. I intend to do a post entirely on kit so as before I’ll keep it vague for the time being. Now living in Yorkshire (I’m extremely proud to be from this great county and probably more so than being British if I’m honest) I’m lucky to have some great cycling routes both on my doorstep and within a reasonable travelling distance. Just look at how popular the Tour de Yorkshire has become over the last few years and you’ll understand. These routes have taken up many an hour and caused many a swear word to leave my mouth because of an incline or a smile to cross my face as I surge along a descent. Some of the lads I work(ed) with soon joined me in this hobby and our little peloton was formed. I really enjoy the social aspect to cycling from being able to chat whilst riding and spur each other on to finding a great little cafe and treating yourself to that flapjack or cake because you made it that far. It’s great bumping into other groups and comparing routes whilst quietly seething over how much better their bike or kit seems compared to yours. I like it even more when you see a fellow cyclist travelling the opposite direction and you exchange a friendly nod as you pass each other knowing that they understand you on some level. That being said those ignorant tools that just look at you and don’t even so much as say ‘hi’ can ram their carbon frame up their arse!
Swimming? Well now that’s a different story. Me and water have an interesting relationship in that previously when I swam it was more a case of I got in a pool, fought the water with all my limbs, swallowed my body weight in liquid and essentially tried to survive until the end. There was nothing graceful or majestic about my style and certainly nothing sporting. It is by far my worst discipline and the one that I have to work hardest at. Until I got into triathlon I never really swam much apart from the occasional trip to the local pool with the family or a water park and I sure as hell never dared to venture into the lanes as that was forbidden water in my eyes and only for those who wore proper Speedo’s and nose clips, etc.
In terms of triathlon I first got into it a few years ago when I took part in the local super sprint tri that was based at the school near me. I was part of a relay team where I’d decided to do the swim so that I could see what it was like before a friend of mine did the cycling part and then handed over to my brother to complete the run. The swim was a 400m pool swim and it nearly killed me but I got through it and soon after the event I signed up another sprint tri but this time I was going to complete the whole thing on my own. Since then I’ve done a few sprints and then this year I completed both my first Olympic distance and half iron distance within the space of a month but again more on those later.
I have to say that since starting triathlons it puts into perspective many things such as how dull just running really is when it’s not the final discipline in a event you’ve really pushed yourself in and the sheer athleticism that the likes of Alastair and Jonny Brownlee (fellow Yorkshire men) possess when you compare their split times with other athletes of single events.
Now I’ve prattled on for quite some time now so I’ll draw this to a close for the night but I’ll leave you with some thoughts:
At times your training may feel a lot like this, a long relatively barren road that stretches out ahead of you for miles but all you have to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other, keep turning those peddles round and putting those arms into the water ahead of you as things will get better:
The view will improve and your mood will lift and bit by bit you’ll get closer to home. I’ll often be heard saying to myself “Just get it done, get the miles done” etc to push my on knowing that at the end of it all I’ll be a little bit fitter, a little bit healthier, a little bit closer to my goal and a little bit more prepared than when I first set off.
That or I’ll just offset all the hard work with a massive bit of rocky road, etc. Either way works really.
Until next time, laters.