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While riding 100 km's a day for a month or participating in an 8 hour adventure race might not be every-ones cup of tea, our Body Leader of the Month Andrew can't get enough of these challenges. On August 18th this year Andrew completed the Cycle For Hope, riding 100 Km's a day for 31 days. It wasn't just the personal feat that he reached, he also raised a total of $2000 for Nakuru Hope Project, helping his parents reach their goal of raising $50,000 for the project. Paul recently caught up with Andrew to discuss what he does as a body leader. 

Q1. What inspired you to initially start looking after your body?

I was always fit into my early twenties until personal and work pressures caused me to experience depression and anxiety disorders. For six years I tried not to "drown" until June 2011 when I decided enough was enough. Exercise and being outdoors have given me a positive focus in my life, and a discovery that I enjoy ultra-distance activities.  Through exercise, I can keep the depression and anxiety away. 

Q2. What do you currently do to look after your body?

I am honest about my abilities and needs as an amateur outdoor athlete. So I don't "train" because that makes me stressed. Instead, I go out and play on my mountain bike, cruise along without a watch when I run, take a spin on my road bike, hire a kayak to glide along the water or I hit the trails for a bushwalk without worrying about speed or performance - I just accept what my body will allow me to do that day. 
And I keep my body strong by getting a massage once a month or after a big event. Without that massage my body would probably get really run down with all the boundaries I push. 

Q3. What motivates you to continue being proactive about your body? 

I remember what life was like when the depression and anxiety ruled my life, and I never want to go back there. So I stay fit and injury-free to allow me to stay healthy. 

Q4. What is your favourite form of exercise?

Anything solo, long and outdoors. It's a tie between road cycling, mountain biking, trail running, kayaking  and bushwalking. I don't care if I'm slow - so long as I'm out in nature. 

Q5. What is your top health tip?

Do what is right for you and your body. Don't try to be someone else because everyone else is taken. Exercise should be a form of play not an obligation or punishment. Find what you love and don't be afraid to change your form of play if you get bored. Your body will thank you for it. Also, make friends with your physio and other health professionals. Having them on your side to help you achieve your goals is priceless.  

Q6. How do you know when your body is asking for help?

My lower back and left calf are usually first to give a niggle. When that happens, I slow down and get myself onto the massage table to work out what's going on so I can get back out there. 

Q7. What strategies do you find work best for you?

Stretching in the shower every morning and night, and at just about every other opportunity I get. Rolling out my muscles on the foot ease. Triggering when I am sore. I never used to stretch, let alone squeeze or trigger. Learning these techniques has taken me from being chronically injured to being able to keep looking for the next adventure. 

Q8. What is your greatest physical achievement?

My first marathon at the City to Surf in Perth in August 2012 was a huge confidence boost. But Cycling for Hope, in which I cycled 100km every day for 31 days while still going to work and uni, taught me that I can achieve what seems impossible and that my body will adapt if I just stay my course. It was physically, mentally and emotionally the toughest things I've ever done. 

Q9. What is your goal for the future of your body?

To stay injury-free and keep pushing the boundaries of my endurance. I want to run a 100 miler within the usual 36 hour cut-off, cycle a 1,200km Audax road brevet within the 90 hour time limit, complete the Geoquest 48 hour adventure race, mountain bike the 480km Tasmanian Trail, and hike the 973km Bibbulmun Track solo and unsupported. I haven't set a time limit for achieving these goals; it's all about the journey.  

Q10. What is your definition of a Body Leader?

Someone who listens to their body, and takes personal responsibility for staying healthy and injury-free. Part of that is learning as much as you can from the people who help you keep your body working. 

We'd like to thank Andrew for his time and providing us with an insight into what he does as a body leader. You can check out Andrew's blog for more photos and stories from Cycling For Hope at http://transtri.wordpress.com/cycling-for-hope/Keep a look out for next month's Body Leader - it could be you!