At the risk of boring you, it might be useful to give a short potted history of my life to date to show how I came to be where I am today. As a teenage I was quite a loner I suppose (and probably still am). After leaving school I went to university where I was quite unhappy and didn’t really mix that well. I became very depressed and started drinking very heavily, smoking 40 a day and generally destroying my body with very bad diet etc. etc. The early prowess I had shown as a young boy in cricket and football went to waste. Finally I ended up in a psychiatric day hospital weighing just 7 stone. I tried to commit suicide twice with overdoses of the many different tranqillisers and sleeping pills they presribed me because I was so unhappy with my seemingly pointless life.
After many months, if not years, I started to feel not quite so hopeless and it was during this period that I started taking our family dog for long walks in the Wiltshire countryside. The fresh air and exercise seemed to improve my mood and then suddenly, I can’t remember when, the long walks turned into long runs. This was just about the only thing that really seemed to relieve the misery of life so I just kept doing more and more of it until I was running every day. Finally I gave up smoking and, at the age of 27 I began my real life.
You would think that after 10 years of wrecking my body with 40 a day smoking, endless bottles of neat whisky and a diet more deprived of nutrients than the average Somalian’s, that any real prgress at running would be unlikely, to say the least. However, I was so motivated at having discovered this new remedy for stress, that in just a year or two I actually became a pretty decent club runner, clocking sub 33 minutes for 10 kilometres and a 1 hour 13 minutes half marathon. I also did a few triathlons which I enjoyed.
And then my son, David, was born. My physical activity ground to a halt because life was ‘too busy’. I also became a teacher which was quite stressful and demanding. Although I refereed the odd children’s football match, my physical fitness quickly became that of an average middle aged guy I suppose and I ate and drank ‘well’ which led to my gaining weight.
In my early forties I met my wife who happened to be from the Seychelles and this broadened my horizons enormously. Unfortunately she was also an amazing cook so it also widened my waistline!
It wasn’t until around 4 years ago that I started to get interested in endurance sport again. With my son independent now and living at university, I had more time and started taking a real interest in nutrition and lifestyle. Early last year I joined the Abingdon and Vale Triathlon Club and started doing triathlons again. This year I have completed two ultramarathons, one of 100 kilometres and another of 50 kilometres. Next year I am hoping to do an Ironman distance triathlon and a 100 mile running race. I regularly train between 10-15 hours per week and have come to the conclusion that absolutely anything is possible in endurance sport with the right training and nutrition, allied to a correct mental approach.