It’s not the first time I’ve decided to take on a challenge despite being unfit and unprepared and I’m sure it won’t be the last (much to the dismay of my long-suffering wife Elaine). On 14 July I’ll be taking part in the City of York Triathlon that takes place at York Sports Village. To put things in context, compared to the athletes that took part in the recent ITU event in Leeds, I’m probably twice the size with 1% of their endurance capacity. The one thing that I do have in my favour is my ability to keep moving. Like a diesel engine, once I get going, I can keep moving for longer that you might expect but it won’t necessarily be fast or pretty.
Over the next 5 weeks, I need to improve my endurance, work capacity, strength and (worst of all) get out running. Ever since I was a child, running has been something I’ve endured rather than embraced. My dad used to take me with him at the weekend and it was always a case of being dragged around the route rather than me going voluntarily. Even when I was playing football, I never liked that part of the training unless the runs were less than 100m. When I did the year of challenges in Dan’s memory, I still felt the same about it and even though I made it through the mud runs, they often ended as more of a mud walk than a run.
Since I started picking up the couch to 5k plan again, something has changed and I must admit, I don’t know why. Despite it going against everything I’ve ever known to be true; I’ve actually started to enjoy running! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not good at it and there’s more walking going on than actual running, I’m finding it quite therapeutic. It’s still a struggle but there is a strange pleasure that comes with it now. The sense of achievement when the session is over and pushing through when I want to stop far surpasses anything I’ve done in the gym. I’m also finding that it’s good for clearing my head, mainly because I can’t think of anything other than breathing and putting one foot in front of the other, and that it gets me out for some fresh air. There are some lovely places run around where I live, and the views can be spectacular particularly as the sun rises or sets. It is good for the soul and my mental wellbeing.
There is a definite link between getting out and getting fresh air and exercise and how I feel. When I can do it, I’m more relaxed, more content and more upbeat so it’s well worth giving it a try even if it’s just getting out for a walk. It all counts and even if you can’t find a park or somewhere nice to walk, any activity should give you a boost if you’re feeling flat.
Getting prepared in such a short space of time would be difficult even if I was starting in a much fitter position, but I am where I am so will have to deal with it from here. I’m confident I can get in much better condition in 5 weeks and can then use this as a platform to push on as I’ve got some ideas of what might follow this, but they all depend on being much fitter. For the time being, I’m thankful that York Triathlon is based on a flat course (which is good for me as I don’t get on well with gravity) and it is a short distance being a 400m swim, 18km cycle and 5km run. In my current condition this will be more than enough to provide a stiff test as even though I’ve started again on the couch to 5k plan, I don’t think I’ll be able to run the entire 5km in one go by the time the event arrives. The aim is to finish and do it as quickly as I can, but I don’t think that will be concerning the Brownlee brothers just yet but maybe in the future!
Greg Lemond once famously said “It doesn’t get any easier, you just get faster” and hopefully that will be the case as my training builds towards the event. It’s going to be a tough month of training ahead, but it will be worth it. As ever, I’m doing all of this to try and raise awareness and raise some money for the Dan Rhodes Foundation so please feel free to share this, any updates, my sponsor page or anything you can as every share or sponsor really makes a difference. If you fancy joining me, let me know as we’ve got some cool tshirts for events. I wasn’t born to run but hopefully a bit of training will help me.
Onwards and upwards
If you do want to help me raise some money, my sponsor page is https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Stuart-Middletonyorktri