We all have different motivators for pushing ourselves to new limits, past what many feel the human body can achieve, often appearing as a hero in the eyes of many. I relish getting into work after a run or a swim, sitting down feeling a bit on the less refreshed side and being called crazy, mad or inspirational (depending on who you are).
I remember after Ironman Wales, my dad saying, in a sense of relief I had made it to the end, that it’s now Rachel, you have done it, you’ve got nothing to prove to anyone! But for me it’s not about that. I never have anything to prove to others. So why do I enjoy being crazy, other than my desire to always improve? Well it’s because so few people are. It makes me unique.
The best way I can explain this is through a clothes shopping experience. Most people opt for clothes that are in fashion that season, or the blacks and navy’s that help them to blend in with the crowd. I on the other hand, as you will see on my Instagram, go for the entire opposite. My wardrobe is bursting with bright vibrant colours, creating an automatic draw. For me colour provides energy and with my lifestyle, I need every last bit of energy I can get.
Dare to Believe:
Now for many people, just completing an Ironman is a dream. Getting to run down the red carpet, hearing those words, you are an Ironman. In turn, getting to Kona, even more of a dream, seeming somewhat impossible for most of us mere humans.
One thing I keep in the back of my mind, many of my heroes didn’t start out in triathlon. Lucy Charles recently uploaded a picture on Instagram of a #throwback Thursday, captioned ‘4 years ago when we thought it was funny to sign up for an Ironman’. Now look at her, so close to becoming world champion, and I honestly think she deserves it more than anyone! Weirdly this year, the women’s Kona World Champs race was so much more exciting than the men’s! How often can you say that in the male bias sport world we live in?
One of the biggest challenges I face, and again I’m sure lots of others, especially younger athletes, can sympathise with is lack of funds. Sponsorship opportunities are few and far between and are often given to athletes that are already competing at high level or are social media stars, less so for aspiring athletes, even those with high potential and drive.
Last year I bought my first ‘expensive’ road bike. I was (and still am) over the moon with it. I’m sure it has its own motor, making (most) hills feel effortless. Ok effortless probably is an exaggeration, but I couldn’t believe the difference that a carbon frame and wheels could make. It was more than I had ever spent on anything and is the most treasured possession I own.
Since working full time, I have discovered there just isn’t enough hours in the day to do everything! Considering how expensive triathlon can be, not working isn’t an option (unless you are lucky enough to have significant sponsors). One of the biggest enablers for me is having a well-planned out training & life schedule. I have this done for me by my wonderful coach, which takes away a large amount of the stress, especially as planning is not seen to be my strong suit…
In this planning it is crucial to factor in your food for the day. Ironman training burns a LOT of energy, which needs to be replaced. No point in going for an hour run before work, only to sit at work falling asleep for the rest of the day. At the same time, working in an office presents many sometimes-unhelpful treats, but life is all about moderation, right?
By effective planning you can make sure you fuel yourself with good wholesome food (obviously with a few treats along the way. One of the biggest challenges I have faced, and still haven’t nailed, is eating effectively for a long run after work, but I am getting there.
I have heard many people say: ‘see whenever I run, I just don’t really get hungry after’. While this isn’t something I can really sympathise with these days, as I am always hungry, and after a long run, ravenous, I did have this when I first started.
Ironically though, as you might have heard many times before, this is the most effective time to eat for building muscle. Additionally, if this run is first thing in the morning, that depletion in your body’s energy reserves can really come back to bite you later in the day. The same late at night, if you skip dinner/ don’t satisfactorily replenish, not only is it likely you will wake up hungry in the night (which has happened to me many times), but you are very likely to feel more sluggish the next day. This isn’t great when you are Ironman training and then have to get up before 6 the next day to swim, or cycle to work.
For a while I have been thinking about where my life is heading. I am pulled by sport, my whole body comes alive, this passion evident in every topical conversation I have. Someday I would love to work with other aspiring athletes to help them achieve their own goals and help them push past their mental limitations, after all the sky is the limit!
Until then I will continue to be the best I can be, keep my fingers crossed someone sees some potential in me or I win the lottery. I am not sure what 2019 holds for me, but part of me wants to give training full time a go to see what I am really capable of achieving!
As always thanks for reading,
Pocket Rocket Rach
I have set up a go fund me page, to help with funding my triathlon dreams, if you enjoy reading my blogs or would like to help support me it would make my year!