Woohoo! I have just completed my first ever sprint triathlon. The whole event was a complete adrenaline rush and I’ve got the most amazing feeling and biggest sense of pride ever. In case you’re not sure, a sprint triathlon is made up of 400m swimming, 25km cycling and 5 km running. Now anyone who knows me will know what a journey this has been, but it’s a story I’d love to share with you.
Although, I like to consider myself quite active now, in my teenage years I did anything I could to get out of physical activity. After the triathlon, my mum was reminiscing about some of the letters she would write to get me out of P.E; I was obviously a very disease ridden child…
Unfortunately, my body didn’t agree with this lack of movement and combined with a seriously boozy fresher year my weight started to creep up – so things had to change. In the past, I have gone through phases of doing exercise (usually before a holiday) and then stopping (usually for the whole of winter, okay… most of autumn and spring too). Basically, my motivation was severely lacking. This was a combination of factors really: the fact I found exercise hard, I was fearful of doing exercise by myself, and I just didn’t really enjoy anything I was trying.
I always proclaimed if I had a bike this problem would be no longer. Well, my boyfriend came up absolute trumps, when his first ever surprise present to me was a bicycle, turning 2015 into the year of cycling.
I overcame my fear of exercising alone because the more you go out on your own, you realise that everyone does this anyway and there is absolutely nothing to feel self conscious about!
But alas, even though I enjoyed bike riding, after my last summer holiday and when the darker nights started to roll in, the cycling ceased.
Now fast forward to January 2016, exercise free for several months, the idea of a triathlon is suggested by my naturally gorgeous and fit friend, Rach. I reminisced about my summer of cycling and enthusiastically signed up (prime example of me not thinking things through as discussed in About Me).
I soon realised I couldn’t do front crawl without choking; 1km of running almost killed me; and the first trial run of the bike ride took us longer to complete than lasts years final position. It’s safe to say having a goal to work towards (and the fact I’d paid £40 to enter) really helped motivate me and I was determined to complete the triathlon regardless of the challenges.
Staying motivated wasn’t always easy and there were times I really doubted myself. On one bike ride Rach didn’t think I was going to get myself back up after we reached the top of a hill and I plonked myself down, exclaiming it was too hard. A proper adult tantrum!
Tantrums aside, I actually found having a fitness friend really beneficial. We didn’t necessarily train together but we regularly updated each other on our progress, shared our thoughts on the training and gave each other encouragement when needed – most useful when dramatic texts referring to death were flying around.
I don’t think I’m setting a particularly positive basis to start exercise here, but I PROMISE it got so much easier, and there were so many benefits- so keep reading!
In terms of self-encouragement, goal setting was essential. A goal should always be SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. For example, I slowly built up my run by 1km at a time. Setting myself unrealistic goals would have resulted in me feeling pressured and like a failure.
Whereas, SMART goals were massively beneficial because I could see my progression and accomplishments which made me feel in control: #IGOTTHIS became my motto.
Keeping track of my progress was also really important in staying motivated, especially when I was building up my running distance. I used the Map My Fitness app on my mobile – the voice telling me how far I’d run, made pushing myself that little bit further, much easier. Motivational talk was also a great tool to use at times when I was struggling during exercise – I’ve got a whole post dedicated to positive thinking if you want to read more.
Another factor that aided my training, was the kindness and help I received from others; whether this was pity or not, I don’t mind or care, as I can now swim and breathe at the same time. So a big thanks to the lifeguard who got the floats out and taught me the front crawl and to the other lifeguard who lent me her goggles until I bought my own!
Of course, there were still times I really didn’t want to leave that front door. All I can say, is just changing into your gym clothes, helps switch your mindset to fitness mode. Once you are out that door, you just do it and feel great afterwards.
Exercise has given me so many benefits, physically but more so mentally. It truly makes me feel more inspired, strong, confident, happy and positive. One example of how exercise has helped me is the fact I’ve started my blog. This was something I’d talked about for a while but never actually committed to, until after a bike ride, where I thought what’s the worst that could happen? I went for it and so far I absolutely love it!
I really believe I’ve finally begun to enjoy exercise and will keep it up. I hope this post has shown you that anyone can exercise – you just have to take that first step, literally. I’d love to hear what your fitness goals are for this year, how you stay motivated, and how exercise has helped you? If you have any questions you would like to ask me it would be a pleasure to answer them.