Your Past Does Not Define You: From Last to be Picked at Gym Class to Ironman.

Your Past Does Not Define You: From Last to be Picked at Gym Class to Ironman.


Why it’s not too late to get fit.

People running marathons were always fit right? You’ve got to have been running at high school to be able to commit to running 26.2 miles, isn’t that true? All Ironman athletes were high school swimmers, or at least they belonged to some swim club, correct?

No, no and no.

Forget everything you thought about people who do these things.

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Some people do them for fun! Yes fun, who would have thought you could count a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run as a fun event?

Look again at the people finishing these events and you will see mums, dads, people who work full time hours, people who commute, people who are overweight, people who have smiles on their faces because they are living a dream. If this is your dream, you can make it a reality.

Just because you hated PE at school, were always last to be picked for teams or found sport difficult as a teen, doesn’t mean you can’t give it a try now.

Here are five reasons why you can stop thinking it’s for other people and instead commit to get fit at any age.

1.  You will not be last, so quit worrying.

And even if you do come last, so what? It’s not high school anymore. No one cares about who is last and no one makes any judgments.

In fact, there’s likely to be more celebration of your finish than those who finish mid-pack. Have you seen the closing minutes of an Ironman? Or the 12 hour cut-off at Comrades?

There is a lot of admiration out there for back of the packers, mostly because you are doing something that they couldn’t dare to do themselves.

2. You have years left to peak and you will get faster.

Endurance athletes generally don’t come into their prime until they hit their 30s and even if you don’t start exercising until then, you will keep on improving for years to come until your performances start to diminish.

Non-elite beginners (ie most of us) can keep improving into our 40s and beyond.

As you age, factors like diet, body weight, time constraints, and stress, which we can manage, are just as likely to hurt your performance as is age.

3. Getting active now, rather than never, will have health benefits as you age.

Getting active late in life, compared to staying sedentary, is associated with improved healthy ageing, such as absence of disease, freedom from disability, high cognitive and physical functioning and good mental health.

A British Heart Foundation study found significant health benefits were seen among participants who became active relatively late in life.

4. There are other people like you.

It’s true, across the world there are people getting into sports like marathon running, ultra running and Ironman and coming at it from a complete beginner’s perspective.

Find your people and you will open up a whole new world. Look for triathlon training groups (both in virtual and real worlds) and social running groups.

You will not only have all your beginner questions answered but you might just find a new friend to train with.

5. You don’t have to ask mum and dad if you can buy another cool running top, or enter a race just for the bling.

Being a grown up and getting into sport means you can pick and choose what to spend your money on.

Run one awesome race in a faraway destination or pick several close to home? Splash out on the latest carbon fibre time trial bike or go secondhand and add a new wetsuit?

As well as the health benefits these choices will last a long time.

So what are you waiting for?

What is your dream race?

Draw up a list of five sporting achievements you would like to accomplish and go get them. Don’t limit yourself to PRs, think about the experience, the lifelong memories you will give yourself.

We are only limited by our imagination, so imagine that Ironman, Ultraman, Western States 100, NYC Marathon, Parkrun 100 t-shirt, whatever it is.

Just go out there and start working up a sweat.

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Alison King went from being the fattest kid in her class to four-time Ironman triathlete and multiple marathon finisher (she runs so much it's hard to keep track). She lives in paradise, aka Rotorua, New Zealand where she runs her own coaching business Run For Your Life. Follow her on facebook at www.facebook.com/runforyourlifecoaching or go to www.runforyourlifecoaching.co.nz to find out how she can get you race ready.

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