In September I completed my first Ironman in Wales. I was probably at the peak of my fitness. Afterwards, I vowed not to do what normally happens after I complete a big challenge, I fall off the wagon and lose all the hard work I’ve put in.
This time it would be different of course, it always is, right? I had worked extra hard to build my fitness and strength, I had become an Ironman. Surely I wouldn’t let that slip through my fingers. Time and time again I realise you can have the best intentions but that small thing called life gets in the way.
It’s now the 3rd of November, almost 2 months since Ironman Wales and I can officially admit I have fallen off the wagon. I’ve not been sticking to my diet, I’ve been eating too much chocolate and I’ve not been exercising as much. All this has meant I’ve put on weight and lost the muscle I built over the summer. What’s worse, I feel sluggish and lacking in drive. I’ve struggled with the dark mornings and change in weather, making me feel more tired and less like training.
Any of this sound familiar?
I know, I know it will come back and in a way, I kind of like the challenge that I have to rebuild it. It’s so frustrating when you have to rebuild strength and fitness after a period off training, but it is also a motivating challenge. Funny how it takes twice as long to build fitness as it does to lose it.
So why have I fallen off the wagon?
There's a whole string of reasons that led me to find myself here and to write about it, but the biggest contributing factor has been a shift in focus. During the summer months I focused on training, exploring new venture ideas and enjoying newly married life. From July to September I was back in London, hustling to create opportunities and figure out how I wanted to make money. After the Ironman in September, my focus shifted considerably and hustling towards what’s next took most of my time. In October I launched a business consulting for startups. I help startups grow by building connections, opening doors, gaining traction in new markets and building their brand awareness. This has been my next challenge.
After Ironman, I’ve been asked numerous times “what’s your next challenge?” I’ve had to dodge this question somewhat as although I have loads of ideas in mind of what I’d like to do, my focus has to be earning money and finding the right way to do that.
However, I can’t let myself get away with thinking that the reason I’ve fallen off the wagon is because I’ve been focusing elsewhere. That’s starting to sound rather like an excuse to me! I have to take responsibility for my own life and where I’m at. I need to be honest with myself and admit that I’ve prioritised life over training. It’s more than just a shift in focus. I’ve let go of the pressure I was putting on myself leading up to Ironman. I’ve been eating and drinking the wrong things and not doing the right things to flush them out of my system – for example exercise.
Last week I was in Dublin for the Web Summit conference. The amount of times I have packed my trainers and running gear when going on a trip abroad and not used them is ridiculous. Yesterday, Charley said “I think we need to start being more honest with ourselves about running when we’re abroad”. Honestly, we’ve taken them to Budapest, Mallorca, Paris and now Dublin and not used them once…
Would love to hear if any of this is sounding familiar…
Dublin was another example of having the best intentions but not following through with them. The conference was on from 8am to 6pm both days and we were out partying until 1:30am on the first night and 3am on the second two nights. With hindsight, running was never going to be an option.
This year I have heard my friends use the phrase “Off-Tober”, to describe October as the time of rest for athletes in between summer racing and winter training periods.
It doesn’t matter what the label for it is, how well-earned it is or how fun it was… all of this stops the moment it starts to impact my life. The moment I wake up after 9 hours of sleep and feel drained of energy. When I look in the mirror and can see the affect of my eating and training regime (or lack there of). This is not the way I’m supposed to feel, time to change.
I like to exercise, eat well and pursue new challenges because of the way they make me feel. Fit, healthy, driven, goal-orientated and resilient. There are 24 hours in a day, my brother Luke once told me. That’s enough time to do everything we want to it’s just a matter of prioritizing and executing.
That’s why I can’t let myself fall into the trap of thinking it’s ok that I have not stuck to my good intentions because I didn’t have the time. Anyone who trains hard will have heard friends say “I don’t know how you find the time to do that”, right? We don’t find the time, we make the time.
Every single person in the world is just as wealthy as each other in the most precious thing on the planet – time. We all have exactly the same amount of time available each day, it’s what we chose to do with it that differentiates us.
I'm not a natural athlete, healthy eater or slim person. Whilst I love any form of training or exercising outdoors when I'm doing it, I'm not naturally motivated to go and train and every day is a challenge to get up and train. That's why, I always fall off the wagon when I complete a new challenge, it's so easy to drop habits without that focus.
Today is a new day, Off-Tober is officially over and I woke up feeling more energised. Every day is an opportunity to assess where we are and move forward. I don’t always consciously take advantage of the opportunity to do that, sometimes I move backwards, sometimes I make small steps forward and other times huge steps. Starting from today, I’ll be making amends and getting back on the wagon. To anyone who trains with me over the next couple of weeks, please be kind and help me improve! I’ll get there but it may take some time :)