I decided to write a blog about how I got into running, swimming and competing in Auqathlons. I am not talented; I just think hard work pays off. Some of you may know my background and some won’t know my background. This blog is to inspire others to achieve their goals and dreams.
I set up my website and social media accounts to inspire others and this is also why I have joined the Red Squirrel Blogging team. Anybody that posts stuff on social media keep going as you never know who you are inspiring.
Photo by Jason Dodd Photography.
At the age of 25 and not doing much exercise, I only played five a side football once a week with some friends and some gym sessions just doing weights. I decided to run the Sport Relief 5k at the University of Kent for charity. I hadn’t run since I was back at school when I was 15. So only trained for it a few weeks before and when I started the run I found that I would struggle and after a mile I had to walk for a bit; throughout the run I kept walking and running. I was happy to finish it but didn’t really enjoy it because of the pain and the struggle I had to go through, but hey it was for charity.
Fast forward to 2011, I realised I was very unfit and pretty much just playing football once a week. I decided to go swimming in my local pool which is a 33m pool. I only managed 6 lengths in an hour and found it tough. This was the start of something, I decided I wanted to get better and would start swimming once a week but I still struggled with the lengths.
In 2012 I was pretty much going to the gym twice a week, not that I had a clue what I was doing, football once a week and swimming once a week. I was doing more lengths at this time around 20-30 and it was still tough. Sport Relief was back because it is every two years. So I started running and training for this in January on a treadmill only about 20 minute runs twice a week. The run came and I managed to not stop and somehow managed to be the first person back. I really enjoyed myself, however running stopped after that.
I then watched the Olympics in 2012 on the television and watched the men’s Triathlon. I was wowed by the Brownlee’s and really enjoyed watching it. I texted a friend who recently ran a 10k and convinced him about joining a running club. I was inspired by the Olympics and decided to get fit. I joined my local running club Canterbury Harriers and soon got the bug of really enjoying running. I soon realised that if I trained and worked hard I could be alright at this. Unfortunately this didn’t last long as I was doing speed training and my calf went. This then set off problems and setbacks for around 7 months on and off. By this time it was spring time in 2013. I turned up to my local swimming pool that had a triathlon class on and I gave it ago.
The first thing the instructor asked was why I was wearing goggles if I didn’t put my head in the water. I listened and learned the stroke she had told me to practice and my swimming was getting easier and better. I decided to train for a triathlon and my leg was healing. However it did not take long for it to go again and this time I had to do a triathlon. I turned up to the race with a bit of a limp and was fine on the swim and bike but a mile into the run my calf felt like someone had stabbed it with a knife, I had to carry on as I was raising money for charity and after I limped back I was unable to run for nearly two months. Unfortunately healing was a problem; I would come back to running and get stuck in a cycle that every time I ran every 6 weeks it would go again. I had to stop playing football but it still went and it was at this point that I considered to just give up running.
My friend who joined the running club with me was making huge progress and I just felt down about my body being injured all the time. I decided to see a private physio who I still see now. He filled me with huge confidence and from there-on I managed to go 6 months injury free, making progress.
The summer of 2014 saw me compete in triathlons and I was getting better however it wasn’t long until I got injured again and this time I was out for a full 3 months with an Achilles injury. I stayed positive and managed to bounce back after a long lay-off. This time I had a goal of staying injury free for longer and it worked. I ended up getting around 15 PB’s in races in 2015, which is due to the fact of keeping injury free.
After going a while injury free for a bit, I was in the process of buying a house and planning my wedding with my future wife. I didn’t have the time to go out and train for all disciplines so therefore didn’t have time to train on the bike. Two days after we were back from our honeymoon, I entered a local Aquathlon. I was very jet lagged and was advised by a friend who is a sports scientist not to do it but I still did. I ended up coming back in 5th place and was happy with that. I took many positives out of it and then decided to set my sites on qualifying for the Great Britain Aquathlon squad.
By the time September came I had already taken well over 2 minutes off my Aquathlon race time and it was time to submit my time for the GB aquathlon team. After being accepted in the GB team I was very nervous and excited at the same time. I thought I best get some swimming training to improve my swim, although my swimming wasn’t bad I still needed to improve it. During the winter months of 2016 I was training for Manchester Marathon and my target was to go for the elite marathon time or the sub 3:05 GFA time for London. I didn’t really want to do it, I just wanted to try and get into London as it’s an amazing experience. I hated the training and didn’t really enjoy it, I struggled with stomach bugs and this hampered my training so I decided to try and just get around the 02:50ish time. Cut a long story short on the day so many things went wrong such as not drinking enough water and just getting to the start line as it started. Up until mile 21 I was on for my target time but I started to get really tight calves so I saw others stretching and I thought this would be good and then my hamstring cramped up and I was limping back. I learnt a lot in that race and if I ever do a marathon again I have the experience. I finished in 3:14:44; I know it wasn’t the time I aimed for but I did it.
After the marathon I kept training and working hard just not to be last in the Nationals and Europeans. I turned up to the National Aquathlon Championships in Leeds and didn’t really have any goals but to just enjoy it. I came out the water in 45th place and as soon as I came out, I started pushing the run as it’s my strong point. The course was very hilly but I kept targeting people 1 by 1. So when I crossed the line, I had no idea I was in 3rd place. When I found out I was third I was very proud and shocked.
The European came round quickly and I knew I was in a lot better shape because training had gone well. Although I had a nasty cold a few days before the Europeans I was relaxed and just didn’t want to come last. The time came to start the race and we were told prior no wetsuits allowed as the lake was 26 degrees. The swim was 1000 metres so a bit further than my normal races. We started with a large crowd watching and at the 500m point we had to get out and run back in; I noticed I had a large group in front of me so I pushed hard to get close to them.
Once I came out of transition I then started my run and just went for it. I was picking people off throughout the run and I then saw two guys in my Age Group in front of me at the last 400 metres. I somehow found something extra and sprinted passed them to take 3rd on the line. Another Bronze medal and another achievement I never thought would happen. I was over the moon and something to tell my children in the future; my wife shed some tears and she was very proud of me. She comes to every race with me and has been there from the start since I took up Aquathlons and has been very supportive. Words can’t describe how happy I was and it was an amazing day for me.
Finally, last year was a great year for me and because of my National championships success I was able to compete at the World Aquathlon Championships in Mexico, where I came 28th in my age group. I do believe no matter your ability or setbacks, if you train smart and train to the best you can be, your goals will be achieved and exceeded. It was never a goal for me to compete at this level, I didn’t even think I would ever be in this position. I Hope this inspires others and please continue to read my blogs.