The Journey

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

During a health check late in 2004 I weighed 120kgs and joked that, “I’m large...not overweight". The concerned looking health professional tactfully informed me that I was in fact obese, and if I weighed much more I would be classified as morbidly obese.

It would be fair to say that the conversation left me a little shell shocked. My ego was dented, and any illusions I had of being healthy at the time were well and truly extinguished  To be frank, this was probably rock bottom. Several aspects of my life changed during the Christmas period that followed. I started to watch what I ate more closely, and significantly I realised that alcohol wasn’t something I wanted as part of my life.

And I started to cycle.  Yes.

In January 2005 I entered the inaugural (101km) Graperide event. I turned up feeling prepared, having completed 30km and 40km rides in my ten full weeks of preparation for the April outing. I had so much to learn - and learning would follow.  Firstly however, I'd place 74th of the 76 finishes in my category at the Graperide Solo. It would be fair to say I was left with plenty of material as I later searched for reasons as to why it had all gone so terribly wrong.  The reasons were obvious, and as it happens with life, I simply needed to live through the smaller moments to reach the larger ones.

One underlying conviction I had from that first race was that I had screwed up.  That feeling lingered.

It hadn’t gone wrong in reality though. In fact, I had turned a corner. A life of excesses would soon have me focusing on healthier options and a happier outlook. I continued with rides and events, and over time my weight started to reach a level which I was more content with. Now I needed a smarter way to train, so I spent a great deal of time searching for information about approaching training systematically. My only 2 criteria involved me firstly using an empirical training program, and secondly I needed sustainability. This was no ‘quick fix’.

Throughout 2007 (while training for the 320km Taupo Enduro) I tested a more scientific approach to training, and despite still having my stomach hanging over my cycling shorts I arrived at the event injury free, enjoyed the race, and felt confident that I could improve.  Smarter training, sensible nutrition, and incorporating 'recovery' gave me an inner sense of achievement.  I was enjoying my chosen sport, and in turn it was adding to the quality of my life.  

The subsequent training and events are outlined in this website.  Every single time, I was in the very place I wanted to be in this world - whether it was swimming, cycling, running, or wearing a 20lb vest during a workout - every time was a new opportunity to challenge myself.  Not to 'win'.  Rather to 'live'.  That is a prize worth pursuing.

I am passionate about people taking control of their lives through getting healthy, and being fit enough to enjoy their chosen sport(s).  Also - being fit enough to enjoy their life.

The finish line is not a white line on a road somewhere.  It's not somewhere down the track.  Nor is it in November, April, or any other month of your choosing.  It's not a line reserved for those deemed to be 'Elites'.  And it's certainly not the end of the journey.  The finish line is the six inches in front of your face.  It's deciding to carry on when it's easier to stop.  It's getting out of bed when sleeping will make you happier...for the next five minutes.  The finish line is knowing that you can do better, and one day deciding to find out how far you can go.

The finish line is a mindset.  Once found, a universe of start lines will find you.

Believe in yourself.  I look forward to hearing from you.

kia kaha

Stu Downs

Me before cycling.

How fitness is gained

'Taupo' - Solo (160km), Enduro (320km), and Maxi Enduro (640km).

Exercising the mind

The approach of 'periodisation'.  (Aka - 'Incorporating rest').

On the way to breaking the New Zealand 24 hour (outdoor) track record in 2012.

Exercising the body

So what do you do after the weight is lost?? You live...


ClubDes said...

Crikey Stu, with before and after pics like that I'm surprised the Subway road team haven't come knocking on your door....

Keep it up mate.


gtveloce said...

Impressed is too weak a word to describe what I feel reading this! Fantastic, absolutely fantastic!

merider (M.E.-rider) said...

Wow! You look great. Congrats. I must read your ride reports. :-)

Kim Totten said...

Very impressive! I look forward to following your new adventures. Hopefully I will have the opportuntity to meet you some day. Very inspirational story. Keep up the good work!!