A weird thing happened to me last September.
I got home after a summer working abroad and realised that I was sick of being a very skinny lanky ginger – okay, the ginger bit I don’t care about, but I was pretty fed up with how much I weighed and how unfit I was. At 21 all I did was eat junk food and watch TV, constantly tired from doing nothing and my tailbone would hurt from sitting on my ass all day. I was the definition of lazy and the most appealing thing for me to do was sleep all day. So this must be the part where I tell you I turned my life around right?
This continued for the remainder of 2014. I had said it to a few people that I wanted to change my act a bit, but I don’t think anyone took me seriously – I didn’t myself, truth be told. Then the Christmas holidays came and after meeting with old friends, I realised I hadn’t really anything worth mentioning about myself in conversations apart from college. I had nothing that made me stand out from the crowd and that was it, the lightbulb moment! From that point on, I knew that the talking was over: I was going to change my body and start challenging myself. I bought dumbbells and a skipping rope. In a perfect world my story would end here but no. If I just did that, life would be very uninteresting and boring and I’d just be the same lazy guy with the sore tailbone, constantly tired who occasionally skipped. No! I was going to need something to work toward, and what comes to mind when I think challenge? A marathon. That’s right, what if I train my body to run 42.195ks? That will take a lot of work and that will prove to myself and others that I can be taken seriously. Around the 29th of December I decided I would sign up on January 1st. In hindsight, I should have just signed up there and then, but the romantic in me said, “I’ll go on a massive session on the beer on new year’s eve and then sign up – new year new me!” The reason I look back at this and cringe is because I think it’s such a lazy attitude. If I want to run a marathon I should just go out and do it, if I want to fail I should go out and make excuses.
New Year’s passed and the hangover passed and sure enough I signed up (the hefty fee being a harsh reminder of how much the price of achievement is supposed to cost). I began lifting weights straight away in the privacy of my room, they were only 5kg but I struggled quite a bit, my right arm always clicked and the left failed to keep up and I just keep lifting until I get sleepy. My form is horrendous to say the least. I also started running from the get go, I started this on the back roads going home from college, not wanting to draw major attention to my level of fitness. First day out, I’m out of breath from my door to the entrance of the house, it’s a long entrance yes, but a pathetic first attempt. Now the fear of failure sets in. I tell my college friends that I intend to run a marathon. Some are supportive – others look at me with a face that screams and pigs will fly someday. Although they all mean well, this only drives me to the next stage, we’ll call it the Rocky 3 stage, you know, the one where Mr T suddenly looks invincible and Rocky needs to train with his old foe Apollo in order to achieve success. I needed an Apollo and my god did I get him. Shane McGregor, a very good friend of mine, always suggested the gym to me and I always just laughed it off but now was the time to take him up on the offer. I was blessed at this point when I began to realise how seriously he takes the gym. He began by asking me what exactly I want to get out of it! I told him how I want to bulk up my body and build my fitness and eventually work towards running the Dublin marathon. This the defining moment so far, because whether he realised at the time or not he seemed to take this as personal trainer role and started from the ground roots. We discussed everything from diet to how I would get my form right in the gym and build up.
I buy a tub of whey protein and start to double the amount of food I eat a day. My metabolism is insanely fast so in order to gain weight and build muscle, I have to eat a lot of food – which isn’t always as nice as it seems! Sometimes my body is really like, “no man this is enough,” but I eat regardless. This is not supposed to be fun. Shane and I take the gym as seriously as a job, going 3 times a week. Mondays for upper body, Wednesdays for arms, and Fridays the dreaded leg days. Admittedly, leg days have been skipped and we will have to make up these missed days at some point. We have been doing this for roughly 7 weeks now and the progress is something to behold, I remember day one when he took me to the gym and I was all, “yeah I can lift pretty much anything” – NO NO NO I can’t! After an embarrassing number of failed attempts on every bench and weight machine, I learned that I’ll need patience to get my form. This meant practicing bench presses and squats with just the bar, with really light dumbbells for the first few sessions and learning how to warm up and warm down at each sessions,
Fast forward 8 weeks and we both are comfortable around all the machines and have a really good routine and rhythm going. I personally have fallen in love with the gym when I arrive the excitement pumps me up for what lies ahead and when I leave I start thinking about the next session. This also starts doing wonders for my running, again with the help of another good friend Ciara Guerin. Each week I notice my body getting stronger and feel it is able to push itself more and more. This reflects in the running, I shut off my brain, blare my iPod and my body just works like a machine, the support network for this is invaluable!
Progression: it has been just under 2 months since I’ve started and I feel great and hopefully I can progress from here. It’s funny – I’ve noticed the numbers in the gym drop massively since January 1st! Some people on that New Year’s resolution band wagon!! I hope I can build and improve from here.
I’m posting this in the hopes that it can help people out there who maybe want to challenge themselves in some way or need a certain view on how to go about this sort of thing… I don’t know yet if I’ll be able to run the marathon but I’ll give it some hell of a go! I might post my progress on these blogs from now on. I ran 5.5k the other day – that’s something I personally am quite proud of. Just another 36.695 to go!