It was late February 2018, I had just finished another night-shift. I hadn’t been sleeping well and to top it off, I had made three late-night trips to McDonald’s throughout the week which was becoming my norm. In fact, thinking back, this sense of “normal” may have been going on for much longer than I realised.
My monotonous routine wasn’t helping me manage the increasing pressure I was feeling not only at work, but in my personal life and in my head; I was suffering in the lonely and helpless world of being an alienated parent, with my 3 older children.
I felt fat, lazy and unmotivated; I was barely coping but I was as much to blame for being in this rut than any external factor. I knew I had to take some action and stop making excuses for myself.
So on a sunny afternoon on March 1, 2018, I went for a run. I knew I would have to start out slow. I had never been a good runner and to be honest I hadn’t done much exercise since my last game of football in 2011.
I aimed to run 3 kilometres. I made it maybe half-way and had to sit down on a park bench because I was blowing hard. It was official, I was out of shape. I had to walk/ jog the rest of the way home.
At that point, the temptation to give up was strong, but I was determined to change, so I continued with my running. Slow and steady, each time I went for a run it got easier. I felt better and eventually I was able to run that 3 kilometres without stopping.
A few weeks into my new fitness regime, I thought I needed something to keep me driven with my running goals. I still didn’t know what those goals were, but I knew that for me to maintain and hopefully improve, I needed something to strive for.
A few days after the race at Noosa I was told I would not be seeing my older kids on a week over the school holidays. I organise all my leave around my kids. I didn’t take the news well. To be honest, I had a near break-down. I thought my running had been helping me release some of the pressure that had been building, but it was merely masking the pain. I needed a complete overhaul.
I changed what I ate, I changed the way I thought, I started listening to motivational speakers and tried meditation. I also continued with the running. I think I had been naïve to think it would be the magic pill that would solve all my problems, but it certainly was helping.
My “overhaul” was like my running, slow and steady. But with the support of my wife, I noticed my mindset was shifting, I began looking for positives or opportunities to grow in every situation no matter how bad they seemed, and I started becoming the person I wanted to become.
My running gathered momentum and after completing the half marathon at the Melbourne Marathon in October 2018, I set my mind towards a full marathon. I gave myself 6 months to train and build up to this event, something I thought would never be possible for me.
In April 2019, I competed in the Canberra Marathon, running the full 42.2 kilometres. My wife and son were waiting for me at the finish line, which made the moment so much sweeter.
But I wasn’t finished. I wanted to prove to myself that I could withstand any pain that life threw my way and I was curious to know what my full potential was. I was learning to believe in myself and be more comfortable living outside my comfort zone. Next came two ultra-marathons; one in the dead of winter in a paddock in country Victoria. I ran for 12 hours, half of that in the dark. All this work was preparing me for my biggest challenge…I signed up to run in the 100 km ‘Surf Coast Century’ race, which I knew would be a bigger test of my mind than my body.
September 21, 2019 arrived, Game day, and I was ready. My wife and my entire family had made the trip down to support me and at 7am I set off from the main beach at Anglesea.
18 months after that night-shift and I had totally transformed my life. I had lost a total of 18 kilograms. I was enjoying work, which meant I was a much more productive officer. I was more willing to help other members because I was generally more enthused with life. My confidence levels were higher and my head was less cluttered. I was calm and in control.
This change helped in every facet of my life.
Change is hard, but believe me, it will be worth it.