The Philosophy of Variety: What a triathlete can teach you about personal fitness

Irish triathlete Con Doherty talks about his own fitness journey and how he ended up on the international stage

BY Cian Roche 12:52 Wednesday 12 April 2017, 12:52 12 Apr 2017

Image: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

By now, statistically, there's a good chance your New Year's resolutions have failed.

Statistics show that 42% of those made post-Christmas never make it past the six-month mark. Most resolutions revolve around fitness, getting healthy and improving your all round general well-being.

Google searches for gyms surge around the holiday season and the fitness industry receives a boost. Many struggle to stick to a routine that suits them for more than a couple of months and ditch their effort to achieve their desired weight, fitness level or personal fitness goal.

Irish triathlete Con Doherty explains that militantly sticking to one sport or fitness regime was something he decided against when he began to take his sport seriously.

"You don’t know where you’re going to go or where you’re going to end up," he tells Newstalk.com. "That’s my philosophy for nearly everything else in life.

"I get in trouble for doing it quite a lot and people call me spontaneous but fixing yourself down a single path is a dangerous road.

"You limit yourself to one or two options and what if you fail?

"If you don’t lock yourself down to one thing or a couple of things, it’s easier to take up different opportunities."

By incorporating swimming, cycling and running into his weekly regime, the 21-year-old has retained his love of physical activity.

As a child, he excelled in swimming, while also taking part in horse riding, karate, boxing and rugby.

"I wanted to try everything I could. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to do anything that caught my attention.

"I never really considered it as sport, but just more part of the daily routine."

Con Doherty representing Ireland at the 2014 SPAR European Cross Country Championships in Samokov, Bulgaria. Image: ©INPHO/Sasa Pahic Szabo

His love of triathlon stemmed from a simple walk with his family and he explains how it grew into something through which he could represent his country.

"I went out for a walk when I was 10 or 11 with my family and I started doing a bit of running. I don’t know what it was, but I had never liked running as much. After we came back from this walk, I set this crazy goal of doing something mad like running across America.

"My dad asked if I had ever heard of an Ironman event and said that an event like that would be a bit more realistic. I started looking into it and at 13 I wanted to be an Ironman.

"I took up running properly and, with my confirmation money, I bought myself a road bike. It slowly started to come together. I had never even done a triathlon. I was just doing the three sports.

"I went to an event which was similar to a scouting event and got chosen for the Irish team. It just went from there."

The Mayo native now studies product design in UL and says that at times, his day-to-day life is akin to that of "a monk". He dedicates 25 hours out of his week to training and preparing for events.

"Basically I get up, train, go to the studio, work throughout the evening and get the rest of your training done.

"By the end, you just eat and go to bed. It feels sometimes like a monk’s way of life - the routine. It’s enjoyable all the same."

He maintains, however, that variety is most important. While it may not be a feature in his daily life, it keeps him balanced to perform at the top.

"There’s so many variables in life that you don’t quite know what’s going to arise. That correlates to triathlon.

"It’s another philosophy of mine that you should procrastinate because that way, you do what you want to do.

"I wake up and procrastinating to me would be going swimming. Even though I might be tired and it’s nice to stay in bed, I want to swim.

"I do what I want to do."

On 7th May 2017, Ashling Thompson, Thomas Barr and Con Doherty will hit the road simultaneously with tens of thousands of runners worldwide to help find a cure for spinal cord injury, thanks to the Wings for Life World Run App. The app allows anyone, anywhere in the world, to join the global movement, sharing the experience right down to a Virtual Catcher Car and your name on the Global Result List. Registration is now open for everyone at wingsforlifeworldrun.com.

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