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New strategy required

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.” - Walter Elliot

Life very seldom follows our lead and where we want it to go. It is a journey that meanders, twists and turns while taking us on a rollercoaster ride to reach our set objectives.

I for one believe that life is as such because it is the ultimate test of our adaptability and resilience. Where I used to resent the constant change, I’ve now come to realise and see the beauty of why these little additions are so important in my ultra-endurance legacy.

Sometime last July, when we confirmed that our first child would arrive the following April, I found myself in strange territory. Where I was once full of trepidation and fear of change, it was a feeling of anticipation and the willingness to embrace change that overcame me. After all, so many athletes out there embrace fatherhood with open arms, train, work, and take care of their families. Why couldn’t I be the same?

Armed with the happiness of an impending addition to the family and the fortitude of a job that I truly loved, I never felt more prepared than ever as the goal was now to fit everything and to make it work. A new strategy was needed in order for me to meet my goals and it would involve a tremendous amount of commitment even though I was unsure of keeping up.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no stranger to hard work and am definitely not the person who would walk away when the going gets tough. My weight loss story from 150kg to my current state is a testament to that. But circumstances then were different. I was pretty much alone and time was well within my control, both of which have changed now. What I was going to drive myself towards was a path of commitment and perseverance that would push my limits, test my mettle and possibly break me.

“You see, you’ve got to want something so bad in life that you’re willing to make the sacrifices most people won’t. That’s where you’ll find your edge. That extreme desire to achieve something only comes when your goal is aligned with your true passion.”

- Darrin Donnelly, Author of old school grit

Enough said.

Over the days, weeks, and months leading up to the birth of my child, I’d change my sleeping habits, trot out of bed at 4 am in the morning and squeeze in my session (sometimes two sessions) before work started. Lunchtime was a premium that could not be afforded and I would crack in one more session. Dinner was a no-brainer and I would often times squeeze in yet another session. Most importantly, however, I would listen to my body. If the fatigue levels were too high, I’d cut back. If there was awkward pain anywhere, I would cut back. If I was unwell for any reason, I’d cut back or skip the day completely. While it sounded insane to be training multiple times a day, I made sure that staying healthy was the most important ritual. And in the sessions that did take place, my focus would be razor sharp on the quality. No more mucking around and wasting time. All of that had to become a thing of the past.

The biggest change I made was in my nutrition. While I don’t particularly encourage anyone to subscribe to any one kind of nutrition plan, my own lactose intolerance forced me to re-think everything I was putting into my body. If I wanted to train and work hard and take care of my family, the very fuel I consumed needed to be of the highest quality. Thankfully for us, this grows all around us… plants.

In switching up to a primarily plant-based diet with supplements of the rare occasion of fish and beef to mix things up, I found a new source of energy never experienced before. I could go further and longer while recovering faster. I’m not sure about the science but it definitely worked for me and is here to stay.

With my new strategy in place, only time would now tell ( I gave myself 6 – 8 months) if it would all work out. So far, I’ve managed to PB every race I’ve entered and finally cracked a sub-1:45 half-marathon on fatigued legs. Not too bad if I say so myself. I’ve managed to race for 8 weeks straight without a drop in performance and narrowly missed podium slots. Importantly, I’ve never felt stronger and more confident on the swim, bike, and run than before. While the road ahead is long and possibly infinite, the results have been encouraging. And all of this while balancing the demands of work and family, which I’ve never been more thankful for.

If life is a balance then I am truly grateful for the constant tests it throws at me.

They only make me stronger.



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