Triathlons take a different kind of strength - a sport that’s just as challenging mentally as it is physically, so the fact Paul has taken on more than one of them is bloody impressive. He turned to triathlons after a bad breakup and has been hooked on endurance sports ever since.
As well as raising money by taking on these events, training helps Paul with his own mental wellbeing too. It gives him something to focus on outside of his work and has helped him out of some difficult places:
“I got into endurance sports because of poor mental health a few years ago. I needed to make a healthy choice because I found myself ruminating in my own thoughts, nothing really dark, but I wasn’t happy.
“I saw an advert for Ironman back in 2016 but I’d never done a triathlon at that point. I trained in 12 weeks and managed to do it in 12 and a half hours. I shocked myself really and that’s when I got a bug for it. In the industry I’m in, things are so inconsistent, so if I have a goal away from work then I don’t take my value from the industry.”
But it’s about more than goals for Paul, who actually finds the training relaxing. Not really the yoga and meditation type, Paul admits he’s not good at sitting still, but training in three different sports also helps him feel like he’s not stuck in a rut.
“Changing things up helps keep things interesting and stops you getting into a stagnant routine. I think when someone feels they’re in a rut, they struggle because they feel like they’re not going anywhere.
“I know things like yoga and meditation have a lot of benefits, but I find it easier to get that feeling from swimming. There’s zero impact on your body and you have to tune into your breath in the water. After swimming I always feel relaxed, not just because I’d been moving my body, but because I’ve spent hours focusing on breathing in rhythm.”
“Relaxing” probably isn’t the word Paul would use when taking on an Ironman triathlon though. He has to battle his way through a 2.4 mile swim, 112 miles on his bicycle and a 26.2 mile run (that’s the length of a marathon).
The average Ironman takes a gruelling 13 hours, so we wanted to know how Paul gets through them mentally:
“So many things can go wrong in a triathlon and you’re always in the pursuit of the perfect race which never happens. It’s about dealing with things that go wrong. It’s like a metaphor for problems that come up in life because sometimes you need to ask for help. It’s very humbling and when you do cross the line it’s the most emotional experience. ”
Paul’s continuing to support CALM this year, taking on a half marathon this December to raise even more cash for our life-saving services.
If you need support, our website is full of useful stuff for your head, or our helpline and webchat is open every day from 5pm until midnight.