Last Thursday (11th June) I set off for my first lap of Centennial Park at 3pm. I finished 24 hours thereafter.
Total Distance: 710km
Riding Time: 22hrs10mins
Potatoes Consumed: 2kg
Riders Who Joined Me (no more than 10 at anytime): 50
I had the pleasure of all seasons in one day/night. With sunshine one minute, and torrential rain the next. Without the support on the day, I wouldn’t have gotten through some of the dark moments. It just shows what you can achieve when you have a network of great people around you.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their kind donations. As I write this I have raised over $12,000 for the Black Dog Institute which is absolutely awesome. For those who would still like to donate, you can do so via the link here.
As I chatted with folk on my way round (...and round), a common question I got asked was “Why?” So I decided I would get something down in writing. I hope it resonates with you, and if nothing else encourages the great work that Lung Club is doing in promoting the benefits of physical activity on mental well being.
When I finished up playing rugby in Reading, UK towards the end of my time at University, I was offered some parting advice by the Chairman of my club, Gary Reynolds.
“Make sure when you get to London you keep playing rugby.”
As a young lad I looked up to Gary a lot. He is a highly successful self-made businessman and a significant figure of the local rugby community. But I remember thinking, “why does Gary care? Is he worried I am not going to stay in shape?”
With the benefit of time, different jobs, cities and experiences, I finally cracked the puzzle Gary threw at me. Seven years on and I would be interpreting his message as, “stay active, and set yourself challenges outside of work.”
I fell into the trap of the big city life. Work during the week, party on the weekend, repeat. I went from playing rugby every day at University, being around the lads all the time, to an office job where I barely snuck in a run at lunch. For me in terms of lifestyle, it was like going from 100 to 0.
I went back and forth with sport, whether it be rugby or my new found passion, cycling. But in truth, I never really stuck with either seriously (or consistently).
We all get a bit wiser as we move through life, and my light bulb moment came a few months into living in Sydney. It was as simple as this – take part in sport regularly and your mental well being will improve.
Though I had never run further than 15km, I decided to enter the Sydney Marathon. This was the introduction to my new therapy - endurance sport. I downloaded a free training plan online and before I knew it I had structure, goals and a passion again. I will never forget crossing that finish line. Looking back I had no idea what I was doing in respect to training and nutrition but I got the job done, and the finish line feeling was immense.
Since then I have committed to taking on new challenges, every week. A challenge for me is not necessarily racing an Ironman, City2Surf or any other race for that matter. It may be something as simple as setting out to run a certain mileage one week, beat a Strava PB on a particular hill or even explore a different route.
A lot of the time I fall short of the challenges, but I love chasing the endorphin high. Having the goals outside of my career keeps me balanced, and they give me the ability to manage the curveballs that working life can throw at you.
The inspiration for what turned out to be my biggest challenge to-date came after witnessing my friend Ed Jennings achieve greatness of his own, "Everesting" on a hill in Bondi. This was also to be the birth of Lung Club, so I was keen to get behind it and give something back through sport.
The 14 hours of darkness, cold weather and a monotonous 3.8km loop was made all the more bearable by sharing most of those laps with good friends and the knowledge I was raising money for a great cause. One of my personal highlights was a mate joining me at 3am to tick off his first 100km, especially given he'd only taken up the sport a few months prior. The heavens had opened at this point, but we cruised around, talked nonsense and had a couple of beers over the weekend to celebrate. Epic!
The Lung Club initiative implores the narrative above. It doesn’t matter what the challenge is, think of something, commit to it, and I promise you will feel great on the journey to pursuing that goal.
Put simply, taking on these challenges is just training our lungs to help the mind. It is not a perfect formula, but I have found it goes a bloody long way to improving my own mental well being.