After returning from an amazing 6 month trip overseas, our October Body Leader of the Month, Paul, knew it was time to get back into shape and take on some new challenges. After learning about the Kokoda Challenge Paul began training and successfully completed the race with his team mates. Since then, Paul has also taken on the infamous Tough Mudder which he completed in Sydney this year. With his passion lying in challenging events, Paul has learnt how to look after his body to ensure he can continue competing and keep his body pain free. We recently caught up with Paul to discuss what he does as a body leader.
Q1. What inspired you to initially start looking after your body?
I suppose what re-inspired me to start looking after my body was the result of a very enjoyable 6 month tour of Europe and America back in 2010. Flash back to late September 2010, my first day back to work. The day was met with rays of sun, rainbows and chirping birds; cue the gentle plucking of harp strings. My shirt and trousers were freshly ironed. I was pumped; rejuvenated from a well-deserved break. The day quickly took a turn for the worse when, no matter how much sweat, tears, huffing and puffing, gut sucking motions I conjured, there was no way I could force the button on the left of my trousers' fly to meet the button hole on the right. I knew I was a little out of shape and had intended to get back into my exercise routine but this was a wake up call.
I don't give up easily, mentally or physically. So I made peace with my trousers. They remained in my wardrobe and were never introduced to their larger cousins from the shops. There was only one way out of this, it wasn't easy, but results were rewarding and addictive.
Q2. What do you currently do to look after your body?
There are a number of pieces to this puzzle; exercise, diet, maintaining flexibility and knowing when to seek professional assistance for advice and to fix the little (and big) niggles that make their presence known from time to time.
Q3. What motivates you to continue being proactive with your body?
I want to maintain a lean, healthy and pain and injury free body for as long as possible. I've been through debilitating back pain and sporting induced tendon and joint injuries. I know the pain I've experienced and time and effort required to repair my body preventing me from enjoying my active lifestyle. Most of the injuries could have been prevented or lessened had I put in the effort to prepare my body accordingly.
I've built on those lessons and while I maintain my entire body, I specifically target those areas that I know will be put to the test or areas that I know are weak (thankyou gene pool). I want to continue competing in endurance events and other challenges and the only way I can give myself the best chance at finishing and working towards the next adventure is to maintain a body that can support me.
Q4. What is your favourite form of exercise?
My focus is now on being lean and mean. My workouts are focused on functional strength. I mix it up. I don't follow a set routine. I try to keep my workouts under 30 minutes, but those 30 minutes are intense. I want to cover muscular endurance, power and strength. Having a competitive training partner certainly makes the workouts enjoyable.
However, swimming it still my number 1. I grew up with swimming being my primary sport. It's still a great way to start a morning. It's low impact on my joints. I can use a session to stretch out after a workout the day prior, recovery from injury (eg. a strained patella tendon? No worries stick a pool buoy in-between your legs and a way you go) or I can step it up a notch and get the heart racing, lungs burning and arms full of lactic acid.
Q5. What is your top health tip?
Maintaining and increasing flexibility, core strength and stabilising muscles have become staple ingredients to keeping my body intact. But with anything I do, I have to enjoy what I'm doing, or know that I'll feel great after the fact, case in point - dragging myself out of bed for an early morning swim.
Q6. How do you know when your body is asking for help?
During preparation if I'm feeling fatigued or a niggle presents itself I know to take a step back and fix the problem early on, whether that be through rest, stretching or professional assistance (sports massage, physio, doctors etc) if I can't knock the issue on the head myself.
Usually though, the damage has already been done through the course of an event. In these circumstances I won't hesitate to seek professional treatment soon after and I've learnt not to wait to see if the problem fixes itself.
Q7. What strategies do you find work best for you?
As I mentioned before, flexibility, core strength and stabilising muscles are my focus. I've recently discovered the use of foam rollers and trigger point balls for myofascial release and for my ITB.
Q8. What is your greatest physical achievement?
This year I completed the Kokoda Challenge (not to be confused with Kokoda Trail) a 96km race through the Gold Coast hinterland traversing about 5000m of elevation. Our entire team of 4 crossed the line together after 29 hours of continuous walking. Not the time I was aiming for but we crossed the line together, a result not many teams achieve. It was as physically challenging as it was mentally. I got blisters in places and sizes I never thought were possible and my toenails are gradually growing back.
A few weeks ago I competed in Tough Mudder Sydney. It's basically a 20km obstacle course with such challenges as submersing yourself in just about freezing water, scaling 9ft walls, running and crawling through electrified fields (I did get knocked out once thanks to zap to the back of the head) and the obligatory eating and bathing in lots of mud. The camaraderie with fellow mudders was a lifting experience. Egos were left at the door and everyone worked together to get through the obstacles.
Thanks to Joell and the team my body will be repaired and prepared to line up next year to tackle the Kokoda Challenge, Tough Mudder and other crazy events and tracks that catch my eye.
Q9. What is your goal for the future of your body?
To maintain and increase my body's strength, endurance, power and flexibility so I can continue to enjoy an active, healthy lifestyle and of course, so I can continue challenging myself at different events or trails.
Q10. What is your definition of a Body Leader?
My definition of a body leader is one who takes an active interest in their own well being and lifestyle, knows when to and is not afraid to seek professional assistance and inspires, encourages and energises others to do the same.
We'd like to thank Paul for his time and insights into what he does as a body leader. We are all very impressed with his completion of the Kokoda Challenge and Tough Mudder and look forward to hearing about all his future endeavours!