Part 1 – Getting Older…..

Following the birth of our second baby my dreams of being an “elite” triathlete evaporated as I had a more meaningful purpose. As those of you who have children will testify, you never appreciated how much time you had prior to kids and the same can be said going from 1 to 2 to 3 kids etc. especially considering the time and commitment an endurance sport takes.

So in Jan 16 I prioritised my training. Instead of 3 endurance sports I would concentrate on open water swimming. This would also tie in with my business venture www.openwaterswimcamp.ie. If truth be told I set up the business partly to immerse myself in all things open water swimming. To surround myself with like minded people and basically to legitimise my covert swim training to my long suffering wife!

Hitting that speed bump

I trained well and was aiming to complete the Galway Bay Swim in Jul 16. I was entered and ready for action until in May 16 I got a back injury which prevented me from training for 2 months. So I pulled out of the swim and accepted my faith. It’s at this stage reality hit hard when my physical therapist Ciarán McDonagh (never a man to shy away from straight talking) put it to me, “your getting older, you need to be doing core work to solve the back issue, there’s nothing else I can do for you for now”. Reality had hit alright….I’m getting older.

But am I old? At 37 most would say no, but sometimes I feel old, for example watching rugby, GAA or soccer, the players look like kids. Not that I get to watch much of these sports anymore!!! As a good friend who now has 4 kids put it, the only sport he can watch (or stay awake for) is MMA as its only a max of 15 mins! The players I would have known, played against or played with in my rugby days (a short and not illustrious time) are all since retired. In contrast, that is the beauty of swimming isn’t it? You just have to wander down to Blackrock, Galway any morning of the week to see fantastic people defying age (and weather) whilst swimming in the Atlantic!

The solution for an ageing endurance sportsperson?

Since summer 2016 I’ve done very little of any type of training. I have moved to the Middle East with work and put on about 6kg. But in the last 2 months I’ve started training again. My back recovery was a success (thanks Mc “Age is a number, knowledge is power“). The advantage of living in the Middle East is that I have time for training. To get myself back into the habit, I have put an initial programme of 8 hours (3 sports) a week together. In my experience the word “habit” is key to consistent training. To achieve a training “habit” the following (in no particular priority) is key to your lifestyle:

  • That you have a realistic aim.
  • That you have a programme of training for your endurance sport.
  • Join a club or have a training partner:
    • The benefit of peer pressure is hugely motivating in the right circumstances.
  • Plan your training on a weekly and daily basis:
    • We all lead busy lives, however with flexible planning and scheduling your training around work and family (the priorities after all). This adds to completing your sessions in an enjoyable and stress free atmosphere.

During the last 3 months I’ve had a mental battle with myself whilst training. Asking myself all the time, “this time last year you were doing this pace at this heart rate etc, whats wrong with you?

Until I realised how pointless it was….. I have accepted where I am at now…. I am now enjoying my training. I am getting fitter. I am a year older (shock, horror!) and at 37 I don’t know what Im doing with my life or what sporting events I want to do.

But that’s ok…..I think…..I hope!

Ill let you know how it goes.

Máirtín