A lot of things go through your head when you overdose. I remember the thoughts I had on one occasion: the building anxiety towards the monumental act you’re about to make. The perverse excitement for the same reason. The moment of bloody resolve, a culmination of a long-running argument in your own head. The surge of relief when it’s done, you’ve crossed that threshold, and it’s all out of your hands now. The slight incredulity of it all, like you never thought you’d get to this ridiculous a stage in your life. The rising terror as it starts to dawn on you – you fucking idiot. What have you gone and done this for? It’s not nearly enough to kill you, of course. But it is going to be really, really painful. And then your stomach drops and you start trembling, and the rest is history.
So imagine my surprise when, on Friday evening, all of this comes back. I’m sat at the dining room table, eyeing an email on my iPad with a certain level of apprehension.
You fucking idiot.
My mind was racing so hard I barely slept that night.
I only really got back into some kind of exercise last August, when I started running a couple of times a week. That progressed into joining one running club in September, then a Tri club last February. I’ve done a couple of sprints, got a couple more lined up… And now I’m signed up for an Ironman next year. That escalated quickly.
2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling, and 26.2 miles of running. Or as I prefer to think of it: two hours of swimming, followed by biking the equivalent of a small country, and then running a marathon. All in one race. It takes a special kind of stupid to compete in endurance sports. This takes the cake.
My qualifications for this aren’t too impressive:
– in my first pool session of the year in March, I couldn’t swim 25 metres of front crawl.
– until February I hadn’t ridden a bike since I passed my driving test (at 17, eight years ago).
– while it turns out I’m a pretty speedy runner, I’ve never raced longer than 5k.
– As of today I have competed in two sprint triathlons, a sprint aquathlon, two short distance relay running events, and a handful of 5k parkruns.
So yeah, there’s a bit of work to be done. But since this year, apparently I just love a good challenge now. Having finally finished therapy in a positive manner, I’ve started trying to forge myself more into the kind of person I’d like to be, rather than the kind of person I had been for the past decade. I’m pretty confident that no one would have seen this turn of events coming, say, this time a year ago.
An Ironman, of course, is a little more than ‘a good challenge’. It will be extremely taxing physically and mentally (not to mention fiscally). Having a year to prep seems incredibly daunting; I can’t really contemplate a nine-month training plan.
It strikes me, though, how worryingly similar an endurance-athletics mindset can be to that of a self-harmer. Completely anecdotal, because I’m only really basing it off my own thoughts and experience here, but there’s more than a little overlap. And thinking about this has led me to consider in more depth about how my deep-rooted depression and my sporting drive interact; hence this blog, where I aim tackle this blurred dichotomy and provide my own cutting insight into the world of a long-term depressive, some of the psychological and philosophical thoughts that cross my mind in terms of my progression through life, and some no-doubt hilarious anecdotes about my wacky attempts to convince the world I’m an athlete.
So here it is: one man, one year, one really really long triathlon, and a lot of baggage.
Welcome to half-rust.
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Also, part of the reason I’m doing this is to raise funds and awareness for The Maytree Respite Centre, a small charity in North London that provides support for people going through a suicidal crisis – so if you’d like to support my fundraising efforts, please click here. Thanks so much!
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