Oh Captain, My Captain

I think I’ve discovered what it is to be an actual adult. The key component to being an adult is that no matter how much you achieve in a day, week, month, whatever; no matter how hard you work, that to-do list never shrinks. It just gets longer, every day. Being an adult is realising that you’re not bailing water out of a boat with a bucket, you’re trying to force water to stay in a colander. It’s silly. There’s just no real-life chore of cling film to allow that. Being an adult sucks.

Monday: Rest day. A new housemate was sought and achieved in one night, because London’s rental market is fucking mental like that
Tuesday: 1 hr 5 mins each way cycle commute, 40 mins running, 15 mins cycling each way to Goodgym and back
Wednesday: 35 mins running, 15 mins S&C, 50 mins swimming
Thursday: 1 hr turbo, 20 mins swimming
Friday: 1 hr 5 mins turbo
Saturday: 5 hrs 20 mins cycling, 25 mins brick run
Sunday: 3 hrs 30 mins cycling, 50 mins running

It’s been another one of those weeks that seemed very unremarkable at first glance, but on further analysis, it’s actually been pretty significant. This week, I have transcended the boundaries of being a mere athlete. I have become a leader: a John Connor for the modern, fitness-obsessed, slightly less murder-roboty world.

It started on Tuesday, when I turned up to Goodgym to be offered/ordered leadership duties for the night. I have led Goodgym groups in the past, and ran a session in December, but that was on a training basis. This time, I had to get a crash course in creating invoices – fortunately, (irritating voice) there’s an app for that – because I’m now a paid running coach. My own definition of semi-pro has been criticised in the past, but by the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of ‘Semiprofessional’ as “paid to participate in a sport or activity but not doing it as a full-time job”, I can add running coach to the list of things I have gone semi-pro with. This list also includes musician, dodgeball player, and male model. Yep, you read that right.

I don’t talk about my job much on this blog, because it’s dull. There was one amusing moment later in the week, though, when my manager wheely-chaired over to my desk (our team works in a close enough space that wheely-chairing is not only the only accepted modes of inter-desk transport, anything else is just an inefficient use of space and time). Great, I thought; here comes another complication with some project or the other I’m meant to be working on instead of browsing Slowtwitch. He proceeded to ask me for running advice: how to structure weekly runs, what he should be working on, how to build towards a 10k. Apparently I’ve become the fitness guy in the office, which is surprisingly easy when you work in a)work in IT b) work in local government c) are training for an Ironman d) are a semi-pro running coach. I hope the vague, very generally applicable advice I gave was enough to preserve my aura as a vast repository of mystical athletics wisdom.

This morning kicked off with me taking up my Captain’s mantle and leading a recce of the Thames Turbo sprint tri course (aided admirably by Coach Tim), which is the first race of the London League season. It’ll also be my first race of the season (after Worthing Half Marathon fell through due to injury). I think my sudden-onset neuroticism showed when I turned up with half of last year’s race pack scrawled over a small scrap of paper.

I have never been a great leader. Obviously, duh. I’m a massive introvert. Particularly, I think my history of depression and isolation itself has left me with a strong, fierce independence that’s pretty hard to overcome. Do I know what motivates myself? Yes, if the massive burst of enthusiasm I felt after last week’s overly self-indulgent pep talk is anything to go by; yes, I damn well do. But I don’t really know how to translate this to other people.

This, combined with the usual social anxiety stuff of not being comfortable when put on the spot, and a general innocence (perhaps naivety is a better word) about how normal people function socially, leaves me kinda stumped on the whole leadership thing. On the one hand, it’s very good that I’m getting these opportunities, clearly; practice is the catalyst of perfection, or something equally wanky-quote sounding. On the other, these things take a lot out of me, because it’s exhausting being neurotic.

Ah, sod it. Apply the above two paragraphs to any social situation really, not just the ones where I have a nominal position of responsibility. There’s a reason I like writing so much; it’s a very solitary activity. You can’t group write. It’s like me being able to have a conversation with no-one in particular, where I can take all the time I need to dictate the subject matter and not have to feel pressured by anything (other than my own terrible time management skills). Also, I can sit here and snack my way through an entire box of Zipvit energy bars ‘trying to find the best flavour’, without anyone making judgement eyes at me. What? At least it’s not ice cream.

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In the moments of the week I’ve not been in the limelight, I’ve almost had a great week training. Almost. This is the result of yesterday’s long ride, which involved some downright heinous hills, and a rear mech that wouldn’t give me my lower gears – a fantastic combination. I haven’t wanted to throw up so much from sheer physical exertion since I used to do silly face-punching sports. Obviously I’d forgotten to switch off my hulk strength at the top of Whitedown because I snatched at a bottle with such gusto that I managed to, somehow, snap metal. No, I’m not entirely sure how it happened, either.

The running has also progressed well, with a very punchy brick run yesterday, which whilst short was pretty pleasing considering how tough the ride was. The problem this week has been the swimming. Wednesday’s set went well: a new 8:26 400m PB, encouraging CSS test results (I’m suited to distance swimming, I can’t pace myself for shit), happy with that. However, come Thursday, I spent twenty minutes meandering in the pool before deciding my head wasn’t playing ball. Today’s set was a dud before I’d even started, as I’d left it so late getting to the pool post-bike ride that I wasn’t allowed in. Apparently it was only open for Disability Swim, and while I self-deprecate a lot, I don’t qualify for that.

So I’m a bit pissed off with how the swimming has gone this week, considering everything else has gone fairly well – swum well when I’ve actually managed to swim at all, but my time management has let me down again. You have to learn to accept missing the odd session when you’re pulling fifteen hour training weeks, but it’s irritating that I missed them both in the same discipline. I’d like to try and at least make up the set I missed today some time during the week, but there’s no rest day coming up soon and I really don’t know where I’d fit it. Argh. Little else to do but learn from it next week, I guess.

A side note: because there’s probably someone reading who hasn’t already found out – no, I didn’t get the Ashmei brand ambassador position, unfortunately. It’s a shame, but as I mentioned last week, neither an unexpected one nor a particular pertinent one in terms of the year’s main goals. It’s a yearly thing, so I imagine I’ll apply again next year (certainly at the time of writing I intend to), but until then I’ll be looking elsewhere for someone to market this pretty face of mine. Any ideas?

(Yes, I’m still working on pursuing this in terms of writing, but the whole Ironman training thing is getting in the way… I need to take some time off work, dammit.)

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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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