OK, so admittedly I’ve let things slide. I’ve never been someone who has been at the pinnacle of physical fitness but I always used to think I could hold my own.
I’ve done some fitness challenges in the past: cycling the 127 mile Liverpool-to-Leeds canal in 2007, Oxfam’s 100km Trail Trekker across the Yorkshire Dales in 2009, the 30th Athens Classic marathon in 2012 and a number of 10km runs on and off over the last ten or so years. Recently though, I have really let things slide.
I could sit here and make hundreds of excuses about why I haven’t taken care of my health over the last two years. Sure, I’ve tried the odd fad diet (juicing is something I will never forget) and done the odd spate of exercise, usually coinciding with getting a new gadget or pair of trainers. But have I had the focus to stick to anything long term? No.
Now, this isn’t a cry for help or a sob story as to how I was force fed hot dogs as a child. My mum gave up work to look after me and my brother and she always prepared healthy meals for us. I was always encouraged, borderline forced, to play outside and be an active child. I’m also far from being the size of some people you see on programs like The Biggest Loser. What I have suddenly realised is that I was unhappy.
I was unhappy with being tired all the time, with having no energy, with getting out of breath when I walked upstairs, with the poor quality of sleep and with the increasing level of stress and negativity I was feeling.
It was time I did something about it, but what?
As I sat on the couch, comfortable in the buttock shaped groove that I had impressively worn in to the fabric, I realised I needed to move. Just move and make a start. Like Forrest Gump when he suddenly set off running across America.
I stood up.
I took a step forward.
I walked over to the window; the rain pouring down outside. I took my phone out of my pocket to check the weather wasn’t lying to me.
Then promptly sat back down again in a state of disillusionment.
I needed to do something though. So with my phone still in my hand, I text a friend to arrange a walk the next weekend. This was a good first step: I’d arranged to get out of the house at the very least. But I needed something more to keep me focused. I needed a challenge of some sort to work towards.
The challenge came out of a discussion on that very walk. Mike, who I was walking with, had been bitten by the cycling bug last year when he bought his first road bike. He loved it and was now hitting regular rides of 40 miles on an evening (when I would be sat in my pants watching TV).
I wanted to have that. That sense of accomplishment on a regular basis. That competition against myself to spur me on. Watching numerous box sets of Dexter, Suits, The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones over the winter period had taken its toll and I needed to change.
What better way than to plan a cycling challenge. A challenge to cycle the 140 mile coast-to-coast challenge, in one day. I’ve know people who have completed the Whitehaven to Tynemouth route over three or four days and that wasn’t enough. I needed a challenge so big to me that it scared me. And doing it in one day certainly scared me.
They say that people who write their goals down and measure progress against these goals on a regular basis are more likely to be successful than those who do not. So, this blog will act as my diary, my conscience, my training buddy and will document my learnings as I work towards my goal of becoming fitter, healthier and happier.
The goal: to cycle the coast-to-coast cycle challenge in one day in 2017.
Now to figure out what I had signed up to…