It was January 2011. New year, new me. Like many of those 'New Year’s Resolution-ers,’ I'd decided to lose a bit of weight and get fitter. I'd been getting out of breath walking up a flight of stairs so I needed to make a change. Along with countless others at that time of year, I joined a gym. Little did I know, I was going on one heck of a life-changing journey.
I couldn't do much, to begin with - just twenty minutes on the cross-trainer. I was eager to improve though. It didn't take long to build up to half an hour then before I knew it I was up to a couple of hours at level 20, dripping in sweat, hair plastered to my forehead. It’s an amazing feeling, isn’t it?
I spent the first few months building up my fitness on the cardio and resistance machines. Then, as the sun started to appear and winter turned to spring, I bought myself a bike. My very first bike at the age of 20!
I'd never ridden before, so I thought that a good way to start was my commute across London. As a first timer, this might have seemed like a pretty bold plan, but despite the obvious 'what could’ve beens' it ended up being a fabulous way to travel through the capital and gave me a sense of independence.
At that same time, I started running outdoors which was a totally new concept to me. I lived opposite a beautiful park, only a mile all the way around. All it took was a gorgeous spring Saturday morning and that was it. I never looked back again.
I did my very first off-road duathlon the following February. I was so excited. I had no other choice but to get psyched up since the temperature was hovering around a balmy -6°C!
A 10km run, followed by a 40km mountain bike, finished off with a 5km run.
Best. Day. Ever. It felt like the longest distance ever travelled by man but what a feeling at the finish!!
I was hooked. Since that point, I couldn’t count how many freezing cold, early morning starts I've had, hoisting myself into a wetsuit (forgetting the talc - not recommended). But I remember every single one.
At the end of 2016, my love for long-distance running took over and started to dominate my training.
2017 started as a great year. I smashed my marathon PB in Berlin, ran my first 100km, got a top ten finish in the Sussex Marathon, and was massively upping my distance on long weekend training runs, to prepare for a packed summer of ultramarathons and long-distance triathlons. It wasn't meant to be. Unfortunately, a fractured heel bone and torn tendons put a stop to my training for the second half of the year.
I've worked my way back up to training for long distance now, but I will always have pain in my right foot. It's a reminder to approach training with care and patience. Getting injured through training was no fun but accidents do happen and we can all be guilty of over-training sometimes.
I've learnt to rely on my own mental strength to be more patient and smarter with training. Mental strength is what gets you through race day too. Being calm and patient during the race, and having the belief in myself, are the main things I abide by, as well as just enjoying the whole moment.
2019 promises to be an exciting year. I'm looking forward to the London Marathon, a 106km run around the Isle of Wight and an Ironman in July. Running the JOGLE (John O'Groats to Lands End) at the end of summer should finish the year off nicely.
Oh, and I still get out of breath walking up a flight of stairs, some things just don’t get any easier!