From Couch Potato To Ironman

From Couch Potato To Ironman

This is an article by Kirk Robertson.

Five years ago, after a chance encounter with the 2007 Ironman World Championship while channel hopping on his TV, Kirk Robertson started on his own Ironman journey. Blown away by these athletes pushing themselves over such immense physical boundaries, Kirk decided to make a change.

On the 23rd March 2014 at 7am, Kirk will take his first strokes from Frankston pier in his very first Ironman. Good luck Kirk!

In this article, he takes us through his journey from the couch to Ironman, and offers his top three tips for getting through your first year of training as a triathlete. 

Over to you, Kirk…

The memory is crystal clear. There I was, on the couch, eating and watching TV. As I flicked channels, the 2007 Ironman World Championships started. I was captivated in disbelief as the commentator described the distances involved (Swim 3.8km, Bike 180km, Run 42.2km). I continued munching chips while asking myself ‘how does anyone do this?’ Then a man called Scott Rigsby was introduced, that day becoming the first double amputee to complete the Ironman distance. If you want inspiration, check out his story . ‘Wow’, was all I could muster between handfuls of chips. Here I was making excuses every day, and this guy had just completed an Ironman with prosthetics below both knees.

The next day I went for my first ‘run’, consisting of walking 3km and jogging 400m. My heart throbbed, legs felt like jelly and I was in pain all over. That was 5 years and 44kg ago.

With hard work and a serious diet change, I eventually began commuting the 4km to and from work, walking in the morning and jogging home at night. Then I progressed to jogging both ways each day, before one Friday evening I jogged past home and kept jogging for a total of 12kms. The furthest I had ever run. I felt alive.

The next morning I signed up for a half marathon (21.1km). I shook at the thought of running more than 20kms, but 3 months later, I crossed the finish line of my first half marathon (1:44:56) and could barely walk. It took me 2 weeks to recover. From this, I set the next goal: 220km over 2 days on a bike to raise money for cancer research. I had 3 months, no bike and hadn’t ridden in 10 years.

I negotiated with Brisbane City Council the complimentary use of a ‘CityCycle’, (a novelty bike for commuting around Brisbane City, a biking scheme initiated to reduce inner city traffic and certainly NOT for riding 220 undulating country kilometres) and set about training. These bikes weigh 22kg, have 3 gears and a basket. Needless to say, I got a lot of attention and raised a lot of money while experiencing a very tough two days of bike riding.

It was time, so I took the leap. Over the last 12 months I’ve jumped head first into the triathlon world. I started by completing my first super-sprint triathlon (Swim 400m, Bike 10km, Run 4km) in January, followed by an Olympic Distance (Swim 1.5km, Bike 40km, Run 10km) in March then Ironman70.3 (Swim 1.9km, Bike 90km, Run 21.1km) in September.

Since watching the 2007 Ironman World Championship, it’s been a long, challenging and very rewarding journey  to where I am now, 5 weeks out from the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship in Melbourne. During this time, the questions have been constant and if you are anything like me, these questions are eventually Googled at work, in line for a coffee, before you go to bed or while you should be working.

So I thought I’d share what I have learnt from my journey from couch potato to Ironman…

Turn to the next page for Kirk’s three best tips for anyone starting out in triathlon….


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