Tuesday 17 September 2019

‘As the weeks progressed, my fitness regressed’ - rowing beginner Ian Gaughran

Regatta Challenge: After a few weeks of slacking, rowing beginner Ian Gaughran is back in the boat

Ian Gaughran trains at Neptune Rowing Club in Islandbridge.
Photo: Tony Gavin 14/6/2019
Ian Gaughran trains at Neptune Rowing Club in Islandbridge. Photo: Tony Gavin 14/6/2019
Ian with trainer Prabhat Singh at Westpark Fitness

Ian Gaughran

WHEN I get a knock in life, big or small, I generally bolster myself by trying to get back on the horse as soon as possible.

However for the last month or so I haven’t been anywhere near the horse. Or in the gym, or in the boat. There was a family tragedy, and then a period of recuperation in the form of a much-needed holiday.

I had the best of intentions for my 10 day break in the sun. These involved getting out daily for a run or a cycle in the 30°C heat in order to keep the cardio ticking over, the reality was very different.

Training went out the window and the rowing challenge I had embarked on stalled. Which means that now I have a cloud of guilt hovering over me. 

Yes, instead of pounding the pavements of Nerja in the Costa del Sol, I pounded the tinto de veranos (think fizzy sangria), Cruzcampo, mojitos and ate in all the best local restaurants.

The guilt is due to the fact that I have taken on a challenge with Rowing Ireland to go from riverside to regatta, but as the last few weeks progressed and my levels of fitness regressed, I fell further into a hole.

It was a hole full of self-doubt, where a lack of motivation consumed me and led to me feeling sorry for myself. It probably sounds dramatic, but it’s a good reminder of the power of negative thinking.

I was getting ‘fluffy’, as I call it. I lost some fitness with my cardio levels dwindling and put some weight on, particularly around the stomach area.

I take pride in my appearance and like to look my best, in part so that I can feel good about myself. But this bump in the road tripped me up to the point where I made excuses around training, and therefore was not following through on my commitment.

Of course, sometimes we need a period to wallow in our grief and now I’m feeling energetic enough to embrace a change in attitude. My plan is to get back on the horse and see if I can turn my training around.

In truth I didn’t entirely waste my time in Spain. I read the book Can’t Hurt Me, written by a former US Navy Seal called David Goggins, which has had an interesting effect on me.

In a nutshell, Goggins has calloused his mind to the point where he refuses to let pain dictate his physical, or mental, limitations.

He refuses to let the voice inside his head tell him to quit as he believes that the average human being operates at a maximum potential of 40pc output.

So the kick up the backside that I needed came courtesy of this book and now I’m out of the rut. Indeed I’m back pushing myself and hoping this new mindset can help move me beyond my ‘perceived’ limits.

As I type on this sunny bank holiday Monday, my body aches.

Those aches though are most welcome as they are telling me I’ve worked hard over the last few days and remind me of how much more work there is to do if I am to succeed with my dual goals. Firstly, I want to make it to the starting line of the regatta and secondly, I’d actually like to win the race.

After slacking for four weeks, I welcome the pain that signals I’m training hard again. From this pain comes strength, and strength can help me win a boat race.

There is nowhere to hide when you openly commit to push yourself past your physical limits, especially on a treadmill or on a Concept 2 rowing machine, in a rig class or when hanging from a pull-up bar.

Thankfully, I have a partner who is encouraging me and I also have excellent facilities at hand in Westpark Fitness where I do the bulk of my training.

Every session now involves either 5km on the treadmill or 5km on the Concept 2, followed by a programme designed by my trainer Prabhat Parmar.

 It won’t be easy but life isn’t easy, nor should the challenges we set for ourselves be too easy either.

For the foreseeable future I won’t be taking any days off, which, hopefully, means it will be possible for me to return to peak fitness in a relatively short space of time.


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