If there’s one thing that I’ve learnt in endurance sport it’s that you should never limit what you believe you can achieve: often it’s a mental barrier that stops us when the body is definitely capable of more.
This is most acutely obvious during those challenging events as the going gets tough and the pain and suffering are ratcheting up and we need to dig very deep, mentally, as much as anything else to continue. However, in this case, I am thinking more about long-term goals and aspirations.
In 2006, at the age of 25, I did my first triathlon (Blenheim) and duathlon (London) and really caught the bug. An ACL reconstruction in 2007 put a dent in my progression but I was fully recovered in 2008 and took part in a typically wet and windy duathlon at Castle Combe in May of that year. Despite it being the usual 2mile-10 mile-2mile sprint affair, I finished a full 10 minutes behind a certain, Lee Piercy. Lee is a living legend in duathlon: countless age group World championship victories, British champion and Powerman Arizona winner amongst his triple figure duathlon wins. Lee was so imperious that day in the rain at Castle Combe that my wife took a photo of him coming into transition! I couldn’t believe that a guy could go that fast. I was in awe. However, over the next 5 years with tonnes of training and improvements in equipment, I gradually improved my run and bike times, gradually getting closer and closer to Lee. Then in 2014, after 8 years of hard graft, I actually managed to beat him at Clumber Park in an age group World championship duathlon qualifier. He and I are good friends now having raced each other a fair bit over the years, so as well as reminding me of his significantly greater age, he also assures me that he wasn’t well that day! But a win’s a win in my book!
Since then, I have continued to get quicker and was selected alongside Lee, Julian Lings and Peter Ellis to represent GB in the European Elite Middle Distance Duathlon champs in May of this year. I placed 15th overall, less than 20 seconds behind Julian, the first place Brit (Lee didn’t make the start line due to a mechanical issue with his bike). You can read about the race here. I was very proud of this achievement and wouldn’t have believed you if you’d told me back in 2006 that I would do it!
You often hear from people in sport, ‘that anything is possible’. I wouldn’t agree that anything is possible, but I certainly believe that it’s possible to exceed personal expectations with commitment, discipline, time, and as importantly, belief.