It has been 5 months since I took part in the Ironmind documentary that aired on RTÉ 2. Bressie had a vision to make the link between mental health and physical health, bringing four of us on a journey to preparing for an Ironmind Triathlon. It was a powerful life changing experience and it created a lot of awareness around the area of mental health in Ireland at the time. I tripped, skipped and staggered over the line in Lanzarote and now I want to touch base with everyone to highlight the great beginner’s Triathlon event taking place in my hometown of Mullingar on July 9th.
So what has happened since?
Well on a personal level I am doing good. I have good and bad days but far more good than bad thankfully. I have been working in the same job for over a year now which is great, it was a big milestone for me considering the last few years. I have made good strides with my relationship with my parents. Watching the documentary where I spoke to my parents was very hard watching for me. I had huge regret at the time that I had to do it on camera as part of a documentary to get it done. In fact I was not completely honest with my parents as I told them that all the other guys had the same chat with their parents on camera, but it was the only way at the time that I could get myself to sit down and be honest. It seems ironic that I found it easier to open up in front of a camera than away from it. Since then we have been getting on great, we realise that it’s okay not to feel okay and I try and give myself a break and not fight it when feeling down. My extended family have also been great.
On a physical front I have been doing a lot of running. As I write this I am 5 days away from doing my 3rd half marathon since the documentary, along with a few 10km races. It is in Blackpool in the UK and my brother Conor, who lives over there, will be doing it with me. It is his first one!
I have not gone back playing football but I do keep my hand in with what is happening in the club and have taken on a more administrative role which is good. My weight is an absolute pain. I am running over 100km per month and putting on weight! I am thinking it may be something to do with the medication I take. Weight gain seems to be the no. 1 side effect. The medication is good, no doubt about it, I no longer have the terrible lows that used engulf me but unfortunately it works the other way too where you do not really get excited about much. Medication levels these peaks and troughs. It is like I am made of stone to someone who does not know, showing very little emotion at the saddest and most happy of times!
I am with my GP next week and I am going to go through all the options with medication, coming off it, trying something new, lowering the dosage. I am open to all suggestions but I will take his advice as he has been bang on so far and has given me some great advice around mental health.
So, this beginner’s triathlon taking place in Mullingar July 9th! It is a great idea! Bressie is a man of vision and him and the team have worked tirelessly to get this organised. It is in my hometown and I will be very proud to show it off to everyone. It is an opportunity for people of all ages to dip their toe into the world of endurance sport. Little did I think that I would be advocating such a sport 18 months ago when getting out of the house was a struggle but I could not urge people enough regardless of fitness, age, weight, ability or mental fitness. Try this out, it is manageable, it is achievable and it will be the best experience you have this summer!
My top 5 tips for training and completing this journey:
- Make the plunge early.
- Get into water as soon as you can, even if you are just standing there!
- Do not over train at the start.
- Sports Med Ireland have drafted a suggested program for training for the tri, these people train Olympians, professionals and amateurs alike, they know what they are talking about better than anyone else in the country. If you train too hard at the start, you will not peak when you need to further down the line and could get injured.
- Times do not matter.
- If you stress over times then you are only going to pi$$ yourself off. Enjoy the activity. Don’t say “I didn’t break 30 mins for my 5km” say “I ran a 5km today, my lungs are full of air and I feel great!”
- Be safe!
- Do not cycle without a helmet, do not go swimming unsupervised and do not run on a road that is dangerous for pedestrians.
- Congratulate yourself.
- You are doing great, even if you are crawling on your hands and knees – you are still lapping the people standing still.
I will check in with everyone next month to see how the training is going and to give an update on my own progress.