Selasa, 16 November 2010

How did I get here?

Florianópolis, Brazil, home to the Ironman 
Just over 3 years ago, I decided that enough was enough and I made a radical change in my life. I gave up smoking, drinking (well, for a while anyway...) even biting my nails and decided to GET FIT again. Unfortunately I don't seem to be able to do anything in moderation and throwing myself into running and cycling after 15 years of sofa-lounging came with more than its fair share of injuries.

I started 2008 thinking that running a Marathon was insane and unhealthy. Later that same year, I ran my first Marathon in Amsterdam. In 2009 I started having problems with my knees but that only made me even more determined. After initially going down the well-trodden route of huge (and expensive) running shoes and orthotics, I decided to retrain my running gait to reduce stress on my knees: I refused to believe that I was some kind of freak of evolution that could only survive as long as Nike didn't go out of business. In retrospect, had I gone about this in a sensible fashion I think I would have got to where I am now much quicker and with much less pain. I totally underestimated how long it would take for the muscles, ligaments and bones to adjust to a different running style that gave more protagonism to the lower leg and foot. As my coach put it, "Maybe 35 years of wearing shoes can undo millions of years of Evolution". Hence the torn Achilles, torn hamstring and, finally, the stress fracture in my foot. The stress fracture was a kind of blessing in disguise as it forced me to STOP and retrain from scratch. Since then, I have been injury free - well, at least, running injury free. Now I am able to run for hours without any discomfort or aches and pains the next day. All this was thanks to the POSE method.

Me at the Berlin Marathon. I really hadn't noticed the sign behind me.
While I was recovering from my foot injury, I decided to take up cycling. I was practically born on two wheels as I grew up in Cambridge, but it had been 10 years since I had last ridden a bike because - you guessed it - I had a very serious road accident that really should have been the end of me, all things being equal. I managed to find a route from my house to work that took me through forests and virtually avoided any contact with cars and other evils from the modern world. I started with a mountain bike because it made me feel safe, with sturdy wheels, a solid frame and a forgiving suspension fork. So safe, in fact, that, in a brief moment of Evel Knevel inspired madness, I went flying and tore three ligaments in my shoulder. When the doctor said my shoulder would look like that "forever" I actually asked him if he was joking. Thinking that mountain bikes perhaps weren't quite as safe as they looked I bought a racing bike...

In 2010 I moved to duathlons and triathlons but I vowed to myself I would NEVER consider undertaking an Ironman (3.8km swim, 180km bike + full marathon run) - I mean, that's just ridiculous! Instead, I started going out on long cycle rides with a bunch of Ironmen and women and it was inevitable that I would end up talking to them... So I did my first triathlon in April - a half Ironman in Lisbon - and I have not been able to get the stupid idea of doing a full Ironman out of my head since then.

Recently, a dear friend of mine died of a heart attack aged only 41. I was so shocked and angry about this that I became convinced that I would do an Ironman in my friend's honour. He was also a keen cyclist. You can see more about that and check out my podcast at my website.

So, I am about to buy the flights to Florianópolis, Brazil, where the Ironman I am taking part in takes place on the 28th of May 2011. This is the point of no return...

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