Working at EtchRock has really opened my eyes in terms of what it means to challenge yourself. On a daily basis I see stories of people pushing their bodies to the limits with the purpose of reaching mind-blowing goals. I would think to myself, “How on earth did they get to that level? What motivates them to do that training day in, day out”? I couldn’t answer these questions myself so I went looking for a little help. I got the chance to sit down with our new friend Ben Pollard who is currently training towards the London to Cambridge 100km Ultra-Marathon. First, let me tell you a little about Ben and why his story is so significant when it comes to looking at the evolution of a challenger.
18 months ago Ben weighed just under 24 stone, he was unfit and a heavy smoker. It was around this time that Ben decided that enough was enough and ‘something had to be done’. He stopped smoking, enlisted the help of a personal trainer and got cracking. When I asked him what his first big challenge was, he answered ‘My first challenge as silly as it may sound was admitting that I was overweight and that I needed to do something about it’. To be honest, I didn’t think his answer was silly at all. I know personally what it means to look at yourself and say something’s got to change. Without being able to realistically evaluate your own situation, you are always going to struggle to achieve your goals.
So Ben starts his training, he is loosing weight and becoming much fitter.
His first OCR event was South West Tough Mudder, which he absolutely loved. He got a taste for OCR and has never looked back. In fact, he is taking on six OCR events this year throughout the UK. I asked him why are you taking part in so many events? He gave me three answers, personal reasons, fundraising and enjoyment. He explained the reasoning as, ‘I am doing these challenges as a personal goal for myself, I want to be fitter and healthier so that drives me forward but I also really enjoy these challenges. Getting covered in mud, jumping into freezing cold water and pushing myself is a great way to get fit’. He then went into further detail about the reasons for his fundraising. Unfortunately, Ben’s uncle suffers from ataxia. Ataxia is the name given to a group of neurological disorders that affect balance, coordination, and speech. Ben described watching his uncle loose precious years of his life because ataxia affected his everyday living. He explains, ‘I will do all I can to help people like my uncle and the families that live with Ataxia and fundraising gives me a great platform to do so. It’s enough to make me think, stop moaning and get out there and get on with it!’
Ben is currently training for his biggest challenge yet, a 100km Ultra-Marathon. Going from sitting on the sofa to running an Ultra-Marathon is no easy task. His training involves a slow build up of distance running. Once his OCR events are completed, he will start gradually building up the strength in his legs that he requires to cover 100km. What I found amazing is he is doing all this training whilst also running his own business. I asked him, how is this possible? Ben explains, ‘I find that running in the mornings before I go to work actually works well for me, so I get up at 5AM and get cracking. I can do interval training for my upper body and core in the afternoons when I finish work, I just have to balance it as best I can and get on with it’.
Just in this short time chatting with Ben I have found his story to be a real inspiration. His ‘Take it as it comes’ approach is refreshing. He knows that there are going to be bumps along the road but at the end of the day you just have to get on with it. I asked him, ‘If you were to give advice to anyone who wanted to undertake a challenge what would it be?’ He answered, ‘My advice to someone who wants to take on these challenges is do it, if your umming and ahhing about it then take the plunge and sign up and do one, its so hard to explain the feeling you get when you cross the line after beasting yourself for 8 miles because all you want to do is start again’!
For Ben, his journey is only just beginning. He already has his sights on a 100 mile Ultra-Marathon in 2016. We really wanted to share Ben’s story with all our challengers because it goes to show that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. The key is having the motivation to dedicate yourself to your training and putting the work in, day in and day out. The journey won’t be easy, that’s for sure, just ask Ben. But with a little dedication and perseverance you too can reach heights you never thought you could reach.
We also want to hear about your evolution as a challenger. What obstacles have you overcome to get where you are? Have you got any big challenges coming up soon? Leave a comment below and let us know!