It occurred to me after entering Ironman Switzerland that the magnitude of the challenge of 226km is something that every person views differently. Generally this is based upon their personal experience of endurance sports or lack of it, or their knowledge surrounding exercise in general.
To some hardened triathletes, it seems just another race to go to and rack up another medal, whilst to others a superhuman achievement with a long, hard and extremely disciplined road to get there, and with failure a very real possibility in their own minds.
With the extremely saddening news of fatalities in our sport last year, it became a very sobering thought that this could be the one that beats me, the one that finally became a step too far, beyond my limit perhaps. This was confirmed by the reaction of my nine-year-old daughter upon finding out that I had entered IM Switzerland.
She simply asked: "Will you be OK?"
Not being one to ponder too long on doubt as to whether I can achieve a physical goal, I was taken aback and my mind started to conjure up real doubts. Doubts as to whether I could and should actually do this, as to whether I had been selfish in entering without considering the potential impact on my family should the worst come to pass.
Suddenly, in my mind the challenge changed from ‘just another challenge’ that would be overcome through hard work and determination, into something that was far more serious, a survival test in its most literal of sense.
My response to my daughter – alongside a huge hug – was: "Yes, of course I will."
But then, what else could I say? I meant it though, I will be OK.
I thought about this an awful lot whilst out on the bike afterwards and this is why it suddenly became day one of my specific training for Zürich. It felt right and suddenly the motivation arrived and slapped me around the face.
Throughout the years of training for events, once I had reached the point in training at which I could achieve the race distance, it became about the time. I could do the distance, that wasn’t the challenge anymore, just how quickly could I do it?
The challenge ahead is different for me this year, it is purely and simply about coming home safely. I may consider the distance and also the time, of that there is no doubt. Really and truthfully deep down though, every stroke in the pool, every turn of the cranks and every stride in my Asics will be part of an insurance policy. A policy that delivers me back to the ones that care, in one piece, alive and well after 226km.
Whilst a completely different type of motivation to that which I am usually driven by, it is one that will prove to be extremely powerful, of that I am sure. There will always be a reason to get out and train or continue training when I feel enough is enough. It’s definitely a different reason, but maybe a far more important one than any that have driven me on before.
When things get tough, I’ll remember that little voice asking me if I will be OK. That will make the last kilometre or two of any training session just that little bit more achievable.
Ironman Switzerland will be held in Zürich on July 27 – for more info head here