There isn’t a shortcut to the end

Lols, lmao, brb, ttfn…..

Sorry, but if you are sold on the idea of getting a fast fix from reading something strange and unusual, this isn’t it, I am most certainly not a LOL kinda guy, I am not sure if that makes me ineloquent, or long winded, perhaps I like to take my time when I say something, so if you are going to come back and read my scrawling ramblings of misguided and confused thoughts, cleverly disguised under the title “Theres no rule book of life”, with it’s bad spelling and lumpy grammar, you will need a modicum of patience to say the least.

I am 2 weeks from Ironman Langkawi 2014, my virgin Ironman, some mornings I wake up and want to swim, some I just want that extra hour in bed, even if I had 8 or 9 already, some evenings I want to cycle and run, some I just want a cold beer and a steak. I just listen to what old Robs body has to say and take it from there. It’s been doing alright so far for 42 years, in fact I think it is a lot better trained and physically “smarter” now, compared to when I was in my 20s and the engine was a lot less “used”. Of course in my younger days, I could party till the early hours of the next day, but, that would incur a sleep of 12 to 14 or even 16 hours, we look back at our youth and say “Oh, those days I could go out and party, sleep 4 hours and do it again the next day”, but we seem to forget that “catch up” day, when our body just said …..”hey.. enough” and you shut down for some crazily long sleep.

I don’t party like that now, I don’t care for it, I get my buzz from sport, adventure, hey, I even like cooking too. I have been around a while and rather than slowing down, I am just refining what I like, understanding better, what I can eat or drink, what makes my day great and what screws it up.

I don’t watch sport unless it’s a major event like the Olympics or maybe the Word Cup final, the Commonwealth Games etc. I actually really detest watching football, it’s quite probably (for me) one of the most boring things to do, except for watching snooker or even worse… chess… I like to play, but watching is abysmal. I don’t play snooker or football.

I am not in essense a triathlete, I like trail running, I like horse riding, caving, fell walking, triathlon and duathlon, leisure cycling and sea swimming, I rarely play badminton, my wife likes Uno.. with a passion…

Well, I am digressing here, there is a point, it’s just one that had a few pints of beer and is staggering along the road trying to get back home…..

I’m not here to tell you how to be a triathlete, nor am I here to tell you how to run your life. I am one seven billionth of the population of the planet, a dot.. a microdot… albeit a 6 foot 3 inches tall, 85kgs dot, but I am just one of you.. one of us all. I just wanted to share what I had learned along the way, in the typical, sarcastic, synical, long winded and hopefully amusing way I think.

If you agree, good for you, if you don’t… well… good for you too, the name says it all “There’s no rule book of life (apparently)”.

So, 2 weeks to Ironman and I am doing ok, I have done a 4.2km swim recently, a 170km cycle and I ran 37.5kms in training, in the heat of the Malaysian mid afternoon, less than a week ago. I have regularly used my Elite Qubo Hydromag turbo trainer in my office to get my bike legs built up and get some hours in and I have run at least a half marathon every week around my factory, to build up the distance and endurance necessary, to get me into a finishing condition. Yes, that’s right, if you think I will be racing 3.8kms swim, 180kms cycle and 42 point blah blah blah running, you are mistaken. 18 months back I stood on the edge of the lake at Putrajaya Malaysia, ready to start the Xterra Malaysia 2013 sprint triathlon and I have gradually, hesitantly, built up my endurance to the level of finishing an Ironman … hopefully… well, it’s my full intention to finish it, I am not going there to “try”… I am going there to finish it and not have wasted 18 months of long, hot arduous training.

I hate training, or I hate specifically training. If I have to run, just for the sake of training, I get a mental block, however, if I had to train, but went trail running because I like trail running, that’s a different matter altogether.

I am a Hasher, it’s got nothing to do with smoking pot, go look up the Hash House Harriers and you’ll see it’s “a drinking club with a running problem..”.

It started in Malaysia in the 1930s and has spread worldwide, we are extremely lucky here in Malaysia as Hashers in that we have some amazing forest and jungle to run in. In fact if you like mountainbiking, there are some beautiful and very technical trails to ride that are equally popular with trail runners, in Kuala Lumpur, places like Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) or Kota Damansara and Seti Alam Eco Park are great places to run or get on the MTB.

So, I don’t see Hashing as training, though it is if you are doing it consistently and have a rest and repair program to aid your improvement. The beer at the end of the run, is wonderful, but not necessarily the perfect way to replenish your bodies nutritional requirements, however, it’s tonnes of fun and there are Hash groups running in extremely varied locations every night all over the place, so you are rarely short of a group to join, or if like me, you are used to an area of forest, you can just go on your own, though, with safety in mind, I would recommend two or three minimum as a trail group. Why? There are snakes, wild boar, big thorns, holes, huge tree roots, falling trees and illegal rubber tappers that live in some of the forests, getting robbed is one option, the others involving snakes and wild boar or falling trees are even worse to imagine and deal with, especially alone. Getting lost is also a problem, we Hashers, though reputed to be strong beer drinkers are also well seasoned and experienced at travelling in forest and jungle, but we recommend using GPS, marker tapes and always having a minimum of two people for safety.

Anyway, again digressing slightly, so I better stick to the program. Training…. There’s no shortcut, you have to put in hours, do the distances, pump the weights, drink the water, get the sleep, have the supplements, from vitamins and fish oils, to things like chondriotin and glucosamine for us old folk (depends on your needs actually, not your age), electrolytes and proteins,though on the other hand, you can try and do all that with natural foods, which will be cleaner but will take some volume to get what you need.

So everything, from diet to sleep, to the physical effort you put in, everything is training and there is no shortcutting it. That said, you might want to consider my philosophy of training without training.

Sounds a bit mystical or even cryptic right? Nah, it means find things you like to do. Don’t spend 3 hours a week on a turbo trainer if you hate it, it will eventually get you down and you will not want to cycle, don’t purposefully go to the track to spend 2 hours running in circles unless, you actually like the place and enjoy the exercise.

I went swimming in the sea a few times, especially with my wife as she was learning, there are several reasons;

1, the triathlon/Ironman swims will be in the sea,

2, you can swim long distances (usually) without all that turning around

3, the sea means a trip to the coast.. I like the seaside…

4, there is a deep and shallow end, but once you are out there it’s a long way to the shallow end, so there is no excuse for not swimming or mastering the art of floating in dangerous situations or times of exhaustion.

We have a pool where we live, so there’s no problem to swim everyday, it’s fun if you let it be… If you attack it with the “I must train.. this is training” mentality, it might not work as well as saying, “ok, lets try a nice slow 1.5kms, no rush, no push, just enjoy the water” then when you have done your own required distance, try some short sprints and even if you only do a couple, well, hey, it will get better with time if you want it to.

For my cycling there are few places that are actually safe in Malaysia, because the standard of driving and awareness for cyclists is extremely poor, people dont care and are often rushing or using mobile phones, so we are limited, to the places we can cycle. I go to the rural areas on the outskirts of the city, they have great climbs, lots of swaying palm trees, monkeys and gibbons, small shops if you need refreshments and relatively quiet roads with other cyclists. I love the areas but they are a little bit limited in their number, so you can end up doing the “same ole, same ole” time and time again, but given the beauty of the areas, such as Genting Sempah and Hulu Langat, it’s hard not to keep going back. The Broga loop is close to 160kms and is a lovely rural road cycle with intermittent villages and a couple of small towns, as well as a few decent ascents. The main thing is that’s they are pretty, if you like nature….

Running?  Well, I am a  Hasher, so I am spoilt for trail choices, but I do run around my factory, when the physical buzz takes me in the evenings, so I can practice my cycle to run “brick” at the factory when I am working late, as I currently am. This involves a lot of patience, as a 10km run will mean 31 loops of the factory, there are a few trees but it’s not like there’s much to see, so I shut off and think happy thoughts and get on with it… That is what I call training…

I don’t go to the gym, I don’t care for it, I have a small 11kg weight in my office which I stare at sometimes and on occasion, I pick it up.. In the apartment, I have a large set of free weights, which I rarely use. My intention, after Ironman is to start weight training, to improve my muscle mass and strength and to have a better looking physique, but right now, there simply isnt enough time.

It’s interesting to note, that I know a voluminous amount of people who own sports equipment from cycle trainers to those ab curler things, to weights and running machines, who buy them with the belief that that machine will make them fit or help them lose weight.. do you know how many of those items become a place to store the laundry when it’s dried, or that end up gathering dust or wind up at a car boot sale with a sign that says “Nearly new” or “Hardly used”?

I think everyone that’s out there is either a victim of this or knows someone who has done this right? Just get out, go for a walk and after several walks turn that walk into a march and that march into a jog and that jog into a run, look at the sky, see the clouds, see the trees, smell the fresh air, maybe join a club or group, otherwise, it’s going to be a long hard and very slow struggle.

Sorry to anyone who makes those kind of fitness equipment, it’s not about the equipment, I think much of the stuff out there is great, it’s about the user, how much they can do and what they can achieve alone with the TV on stuck in the house, pedalling away with no goal other than dropping some weight, probably looking in the mirror daily and weighing themselves daily, wondering whats taking so long, then eventually losing faith or interest and then….  all hail the great dust gathering investment…

I set a few goals and told a few people that I was going to do some things, this served two purposes, one, I have a goal to train for, hopefully, along the way I get fitter, lose weight, get healthier (as fitness and health aint the same!!) and the second purpose, I incriminate myself, letting everyone know I have a goal, so now, not only can I not let myself down, but how can I not do this when I told everyone I was doing it….

I didn’t set off planning to do an Ironman, I just fancied triathlon and then met some Ironman finishers, was very inspired and felt I needed to see what level they were at….

In two weeks I will see.

Rule 8……..

Set goals and find ways to enjoy achieving them (and if you don’t achieve them, good.. you can enjoy the journey some more)

You don’t book a cruise for the end destination, you book it for the journey, otherwise you’d fly…..  when you book a cruise, you specifically don’t want to shortcut and end up back home as quickly as possible, you want to take your time and enjoy reaching your destinations before you head for home, in the same respect, make your goals as much about the journey as they are about the goal itself, after all, who wants to be told “that’s it, you did it, there’s nothing more to acheive”? Not me… I’m enjoying the journey….






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