Setting goals

Leaving your comfort zone.

As I build this blog, I check back over it every few days or so to see how it fits together and how I can improve, build and just generally mess around with it. It’s a little project.

It occurred to me, whilst re-reading my posts and chatting to friends about things, that though I’ve shown why I started the blog, I haven’t mentioned why I’m doing the event itself.

The easiest answer would be “it’s a crazy challenge so I want to do it”, but it’s not the full one. There are various reasons why I’ve picked something that, at the time of said picking, was out of reach.

Challenging yourself.

You need goals in life, and that’s that. Even if you haven’t consciously acknowledged them, ask yourself certain questions and you’ll see you have some. Are you saving money, as so many people are, and if so, for what? That’s a goal. Are you fundraising for charity for something close to your heart? That’s one, too. Are you working to complete a uni project or looking to lose some weight? You guessed it. Goals again.

Objectives are important because they give your life focus; you set your mind to meeting the goal itself or ‘checkpoints’ along the way and you become more disciplined for doing so. They’re important because when you achieve something you’ve worked for, it’s inherently more satisfying than if it had been given to you. You value and appreciate your achievement more because it is an achievement, rather than a gift.

Challenges are addictive, because you push your limits and discover what you can really do. One seemingly insurmountable challenge falls before you and almost inevitably leads to another. The parkrun events are amazing for this and are a great example – people can go along and walk the 5km course if they want, something they may never otherwise do, and chances are they will go forward from there; jogging the same route, running it, signing up to a fun run, you name it. The Great North Run, a huge half marathon local to me (tens of thousands of runners take part every year), is filled with stories of people challenging themselves. The people truly pushing themselves and looking an enormous challenge straight in the face are legion when compared to the club runners looking for a PB.

The honest answer.

The real reason that I’m doing the Ironman is because it’s something that is out of my comfort zone. Without hubris, I can run a half marathon comfortably, the same way that other people can do marathons day in, day out and some can do the 100m in under 11 seconds. Sometimes you can just do something, and that’s where the fun begins to stop. Comfort zones suck.

I’m deliberately putting myself in the situation where I’m a first-timer rather than a repeater. It’s what everyone should do, in my opinion; push the boat out and do something that makes you nervous. It’s one of the most invigorating things you’ll do and among the most rewarding.

Take a leap. You won’t regret it.

My first blog post: Taking the leap

Signing up to the challenge.

Who am I and why am I writing this?

 

20170408_135420Hi. I’m Matt, which answers the first question. Thanks for stopping by :).

 

I’ve started this blog to share my experiences as I train for the biggest sporting challenge of my life so far: Ironman Zurich. It’s intended for people who have never done an Ironman triathlon, or who have recently started or been involved with running, or cycling, or swimming, or something different entirely, and have heard about this sort of thing the way I did; through the grapevine. If you’re a triathlete wizard, this probably isn’t for you.

 

Hopefully, my experiences detailed in this blog will help people doing a similar thing to what I’m doing, or give an inside look into what it’s like to commit to an event of this magnitude. I promise I’ll always be honest on here; if I have a tough week, I’ll write it. I won’t sugar coat stuff. I want people to know what I’ve let myself in for and what you could, too. But I’ll also tell you about the awesome times. The most amazing thing for this blog would be if people see it and are inspired by it, in whatever way that is.

 

What am I doing – what is an Ironman?

 

If the people who I’m writing this for do indeed read it, then I guess you might not know what an Ironman is. At least, maybe not the details. As mentioned, I’m not writing this for experienced triathletes, mainly as I’m not one. So, what exactly have I signed up to? Well, simply put, it’s a triathlon. A one-after-the-other swim, bike and run event, and in that order. In miles and kilometers, it’s 2.4/3.86 in the water, into 112/180 on the bike and finishing with 26.2/42.2 on your feet at the end. I have to do all of this faster than the 16-hour Zurich cut off time; more specifically, the swim inside 2 hours 20, the swim and cycle inside 10, and everything inside that 16. I have a time in mind that I would go for were I to have the ‘perfect’ race, but the last thing I want to do is get hooked on this. It’s a long, long way and anything could happen. I want to enjoy it as much as I can, so with that in mind that ‘perfect time’ is staying close to my chest. For now, at least.

 

What’s my history?

 

I have to put my cards on the table; I’ve never done a triathlon at this point, let alone an Ironman. I haven’t even done a marathon. I’ve done several half marathons and have been involved in a training regime of some sort since I was 11, but this is an entirely new challenge. People look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them that. But I’m here to say that I’m going to not just complete this event, but do so in a respectable time and, afterwards, I’m going to use this blog to show you all that you can do it, too.

 

This needs caveating, though; I’m not jumping blindly into this. I’m not ignorant of the task that lies ahead of me. I’ve read a lot about training, nutrition, the mental as opposed to simply physical challenges of an event this long, forums; you name it. I’ve spoken to people who have done Ironman triathlons before and I freely admit that I’m milking their experience for all it’s worth. I’m respectful of the time and commitment that completing this will take.

 

This is in part because I have put myself out there, joining my local triathlon club and signing up for online coaching. Both of these, in my experience to date, have been critical to get me to the point I’m at now. Let me give you a bit of background on my sporting history to give more context to this.

 

My sporting background.

 

Whilst new to triathlon, I’m not new to sport or to endurance training. When I was 11 I started playing rugby and tried rowing, but it wasn’t until I was 13 and began rowing five times a week that my fitness started picking up. I rowed through school and university, reaching a decent national level, winning medals and championships, but not due to talent. I’m not built like a rower and it wasn’t until I got to university and could row as a lightweight that I was more competitive. Bottom line, though, I wasn’t ever going to make the national team or anything like that and eventually I reached a peak point.

 

Rowing training, apart from the obvious water training, rowing machines and weights, included running and cycling. I always enjoyed these ‘cross-training’ sessions and I was far more naturally competitive at these than the more power-based rowing. So, after graduating and not being in a rowing program, I had time to think. I did weights and nothing else for a while, but was missing a goal. So, back in September 2016, I signed up to Zurich Ironman to get myself on track and give myself a challenge.

 

I could bike. I could run. Swimming was another matter.

 

I knew it was my weakest discipline, but that didn’t make me afraid of it. That’s when I joined the local tri club, to get coached swimming and improve from there. I’m still by no means the fastest swimmer but I am a lot faster than I was. I have no doubt that I can do each discipline of the Ironman. I’m training to make sure I can do them together!

 

Keeping committed.

 

So, that’s a brief look at how I got where I am. If you’ve read this far, perhaps you’ll read other things I post. I’ll be covering a variety of topics and I’ll also upload vlogs when I can. I hope you enjoy following me on my journey and perhaps start your own!

If you have any thoughts or comments, or topics you’d like me to cover, don’t be shy! I want to make this the best I can and that requires input from the important people: you guys!

Matt 🙂