WHY I WROTE “IRONMIND, AGAINST ALL ODDS”
Late December 2014, it was a few days before New Years Eve, I was sitting at home, gathering my thoughts when I grabbed a pen and paper for what has become a ritual in my life now. I started to write down my goals for the following year. This is now one of the most important times of the year for me as it pretty much sets out what I’m going to be busy doing the following twelve months. I cover everything in my life including personal stuff, family goals, business goals, health goals and physical challenges I set myself, which tend to get me out of my comfort zone, and improve my life allowing me to grow and stretch myself.
As the session came to an end and I was reading through what I had put down on paper, there was one goal that scared the hell out of me. This was to complete an Ironman triathlon in the following twelve months. It was at that goal setting session that I came up with my “Against all Odds” campaign, which was were I would set myself a target in 2015 to complete six tough physical challenges culminating in what is widely regarded as completing the toughest of them all, a 140.6 mile race through water, on the bike and running a marathon.
The plan was to train for six months and do a couple of triathlons, marathons, a half Ironman and then the full Ironman. I figured if I could throw in some events and stay injury free, my mind and my body would be in great shape for the Ironman. On paper it looked great, the events all spread out over nine months, but in reality I knew that it was going to challenge me like never before.
Many people choose one event like a marathon to train for and complete in a year, but there was me throwing in six for good measure, bearing in mind I was also living with MS everyday and knowing too well how unpredictable that can be at times.
I certainly was pushing the boat out on all fronts.
However the driving force and my five big WHY’s for doing this can be seen below;
1) I knew the training would keep me fit and healthy
2) I was hoping the lifestyle of constant training would keep my MS at bay
3) It would bring incredible discipline into my life
4) Mentally if I could achieve this, it would be incredibly empowering across a range of levels
5) It was a huge challenge, and that’s how I like to lead my life
So I knew I had enough reasons to carry through with what I was aiming to do, so all I had to do was get my head down and get on with it. Thankfully nine months into 2015, and at 22.05hrs on a warm September evening in the beautiful island of Majorca, I crossed the finish line in Ironman Majorca and became the Ironman, greeted by my family, which was extra special.
Finishing the Ironman is an incredible feeling, one, which is quite difficult to explain. You see that particular race is not just an endurance race; it’s an exercise of self-discovery and takes you to places in your mind where you may never have been before. It’s a rigorous examination of yourself, and if you pass, then the benefits it brings into your life, way long after the race itself are plentiful and extremely gratifying.
Back to December 2014, nine months previous and the goal on the sheet that followed the Ironman goal was to write another book. This book would document the training plan for the Ironman challenge, the six races within the program, and also share with the reader some information that they might find helpful for their own lives. Off course a few years earlier, I had self published “Attitude Is Everything, My MS Story” which was a wonderful experience and one which thankfully I continue to receive a lot of very positive feedback on, so writing another book was not something that particularly scared me, more excited me if I am being honest.
There are lots of people who say to me they would love to write a book, and my instant reaction is to say, “Why don’t you – go right ahead”. The problem being that too many people don’t have the drive, discipline and desire to carry through with a lot of what they think about on a daily basis, and there are often a range of reasons for this, which I would prefer to call excuses.
However for me as important as the six endurance races where on my goals sheet that year including becoming an Ironman triathlete, writing the book was by far the most important and potentially rewarding goal of the lot. Given the impact my first book seemed to make on many people, I knew if I could just get through all of the challenges and get my own personal thoughts and experiences down on paper post the challenges, it had huge potential to make a positive impact on other peoples lives lives.
Writing a book requires a plan to be put in place, lots of research, preparation and commitment so it’s not something that should be looked upon lightly. For me though it was another incredible experience where I enjoyed writing every word of it, and also as it was so personal it even allowed me to experience the actual process one last time, which again was very empowering and enjoyable.
So what where the main reasons for me writing this book;
1) Personal Growth - Firstly its not easy to write a book, anyone will tell you that, so it was another important challenge I needed at that time in my life. Writing a book requires quite a bit of commitment, discipline and dedication. I knew that if I could complete the project, it would add quite a bit of value to my life in terms of my own personal development. This was one of the key reasons for me undertaking this challenge, as I am someone who is constantly looking to improve, add value and grow in life. I got a great buzz from writing my first book, and I knew that if I could get this one done, it would be a tremendous achievement and extremely rewarding. I did everything myself with the help of a proofreader and my pal who designed the front and back cover. Everything else was done by me, myself alone. Another very satisfying fact, given the fact that many books on the market right now are not written by the actual person who claims to be the author. Many of the books you see have a full team of people involved in its production and distribution.
2) Ironman books – One of the most important parts of training for an Ironman is to do the research. This means that you should probably read as many books and journals about the race as you can find, to try and build a plan as to how you might deal best with the challenge. Whenever I came to my own research for my race, the truth is I read a few of the books on the market but I felt there was room for a book for people who had never done an Ironman before, who were maybe normal enough like me and wanted to read something that was quite straight forward, down to earth and easy to understand.
I struggled to find good reading resources myself, and felt that I could produce something myself that others might find very beneficial. Ironman is one of the fastest growing sports in the world right now and I was aware of the statistic that some 60% of Ironman competitors were first timers, so when I was writing the book, I wanted it to come across as if I was talking directly to that person who was tipping up at the start line for the first time.
3) Health - Exercising six days a week and eating whole plant based food everyday can only mean one thing. After a short period of time, both your physical and mental health will be in great shape. I was very aware given the many events I had taken part in over the previous few years, the benefits that come with regular training and good nutrition. We all know that when we exercise endorphins are released in the brain, which is an incredible feeling and extremely good for your mental health. Add this to constantly eating high volumes of healthy nutritious food, and you will find yourself feeling fantastic probably after thirty days. With 60% of adults right across the globe now reporting as being obese, and cancer diabetes, heart disease, auto immune disorders, and all kinds of illnesses exploding, a combination of eating good food and regular exercise and it’s benefits, is a terrific message to share with others.
Writing this book and releasing it to the world gave me an incredible opportunity to share the upside of such an approach with a huge audience.
4) Inspire others – I don’t particularly like to talk about how I inspire other people, however it was after my appearance on the RTE’s The LateLate show in 2013, that I really became to understand how powerful my own story of recovery was and the impact it had the potential to make, when thousands of people felt the need to contact me to tell me.
This is incredibly empowering and is one of the main reasons why I continue to set myself goals and challenges in life. I knew that if I could get this book done, it would carry a very powerful message to anyone who simply needed a little push with their own lives. Through my advisory business and over the last seven years, a lot of people tend to confide in me many of their own personal challenges they are experiencing in life. Through this experience I know that many people are looking for some kind of inspiration to push them on with their own lives.
For people with MS I was also more than aware that for the most part MS patients would not be expected to be in any fit condition to complete an Ironman race. However I also knew that if I could get this thing done and down on paper, it could literally light a fire underneath the entire MS community along with anyone else who believed a lot of things were impossible.
This was another major reason for me to write this book and document the entire journey, and thankfully given the feedback over the last twelve months I have yet again been proved correct with many people contacting me to tell me that by simply reading the book it has made an incredibly positive impact on them.
5) Accountability – I think one of the most important things in life as you get a little bit older is to be accountable. Taking responsibility for yourself and those closest to you is pretty much where it’s at. I knew that if I was going to write another book, I had to walk the talk and be accountable for what I was putting down on paper. No point doing the “against all odds challenge”, becoming an Ironman, if after that race I would just get back into my comfort zone and plod through life, seeing what happens. Sorry no interest in that.
This book is another part of my journey. It has become part of the process for me, the process of life. It’s a piece of work I am very proud of, and I’m thrilled others who have read it and listened to the content appear to love it.
I am at times humbled by some of the feedback I have received from those who have read it, particularly those people who post reading or listening to the book, have decided to take their own massive action in their own lives and even to the extent where a lot of people have contacted me recently to tell me they too are now plant based and have made permanent dietary changes to their own life along with implementing regular exercise. This is exactly why I wanted to write this book.
Here is what some of the people who have read the book are saying on Amazon;
· Fascinating read from cover to cover
· Truly inspirational
· Couldn’t put it down
· Five stars
· Must read for anyone wanting to do an Ironman
Go to amazon and check out the reviews in full but all are thankfully hugely complimentary.
Whenever I set out to write this book similar to the first book, I was hopeful that I could change one person’s life. The reality is I have been able to impact quite a few people’s lives and for this reason alone it was an incredibly important piece of work.
I am really pleased with all of the feedback to date on the book and extremely delighted in particular with the feedback on the audio version that is available on iTunes and Amazon. If you are thinking about writing a book, get on with it. Don’t sit around wondering if anyone will read it. Who cares how many people read it. Even if nobody reads it, you yourself will benefit greatly from the process.
I have to say that the experience of writing both of my books to date has been very rewarding ad I am looking forward to the years ahead where I can add to the collection.
If you have read Ironmind, or listened to it on audio, please let me know or leave a review on Amazon. I would love to hear from you.
Best place to pick up a copy is Amazon or if it's the audio you are after, Amazon or iTunes.
Over the last three years I have completed five Ironman races in total and at the present time I am in week 15 of a 30 week training program as I am competing in Ironman UK this year in Bolton in July. I am also competing in Barcelona 70.3mile race in May 2018, so clearly I have completely bought into the process and all that comes with competing at such a high level. The good news being I hope to go into this years races the strongest I've ever been and I am delighted to report I am experiencing my best period of health in over eleven years living with Multiple Sclerosis. Long may this continue.
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