5 Minutes with The Ninja

How did he get there? Was he training with me all along? I never saw him coming and he is right here! Those are the usual questions everybody asks when they bump into The Ninja on a training session.

Today we spend 5 minutes with the ever consistent and very resilient athlete, Michael Egan. Training with Mick means that you might be in the middle of a swimming session on your own just to raise your head and see him in the lane next to you.

Over the last couple of months, Michael has been planning a fantastic challenge. With a strong affinity towards mental wellbeing, Michael is trying to emulate a long and very challenging ride to raise funds for Lifeline, one of the most important mental health organisations in Australia who focus on Suicide prevention.

Through the hundreds of kilometres ridden, Michael is sending a message of self-awareness and awareness of each other, of people around us who might be struggling at any moment of life. This magnificent ride Michael is doing is a call for us to reach out and help each other, as only by working together as one, we will get out of every physical and mental challenge we face.

NESTOR: The first question is the one we ask every athlete, how did you get in this sport?

MICHAEL: Triathlon was a big step for me. I couldn’t swim. I mean like, I struggled to get to the end of the 25m pool and if I did, I was gasping for air. I had done a little bit of running. Having done the Great Ocean Road Half Marathon and then kept training and did a Marathon in Melbourne and then in Paris. Although I never really liked running. I knew that I liked riding a bike, as I used to commute by bike when I was living in London, but my real challenge was the swim. So, my idea was that having a Triathlon goal would focus my effort to learn to swim. Honestly, learning to swim was a regular ego crushing experience, but I kept going. The run and the bike sessions didn’t feel quite so bad.

Overall, the key to my progress was joining a triathlon beginners group led by Steve Davis. Steve was patient, and still is, but most of all it was the great beginners group that I joined. Those people were (are) really awesome! They were motivated, but not pushy, supportive but not patronising and most importantly they all wanted to do well for themselves and each other. I think that they still do.

Since then, I have done a few triathlons with varying states of preparedness, across many distances, up to Half Ironman (Challenge Melbourne, Edinburgh and Taupo and with a great team at Geelong x 2). I have learnt a lot about training and about myself.

NESTOR: Triathlon is a sport that transcends the physical and has a very high level of mental and emotional side to it. What do you see in the sport that brings you joy?

MICHAEL: I really enjoy seeing people being happy with their performance. There are so many pressures on our time just getting to the start line is an achievement and I really enjoy the excitement of events and seeing people achieve their goals. Hopefully we can get back to real life events soon.

NESTOR: About your challenge, what is it exactly? What is your objective? Are you trying to achieve something beyond the physical challenge that it represents?

MICHAEL: Right now, I am doing The FULGAZ French Tour.

The Tour is a virtual event held across 21 iconic cycling destinations in and around France, Belgium, Switzerland and England. Of course, it is a physical and mental challenge but more importantly we are raising funds for Lifeline Australia.

Lifeline is a national charity that provides all Australians experiencing emotional distress with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.

When times are dark and life feels overwhelming, it can be critically valuable to be able to talk with a trained crisis supporter. Someone who can listen confidentially, without judgement and provide a safe space to discuss needs, worries and options for support. I was shocked to learn that every day, eight Australians die by suicide, so I felt compelled to join this fundraising effort.

The virtual rides (on my Tax Neo 2T connected to my Apple TV or PC for gradient simulation using FulGaz cover some really great French rides like, Col de Turini, 14.95km / Gain – 1083m; Col du Galibier, 17.98km / Gain – 1218m and Mont Ventoux – 21.28km / Gain – 1581m. It ends on Alpe d’Huez, 12.80km / Gain – 1065m. I will be very happy to get to the top of that one and hope to do it in the real life one day.

There are 21 rides in all and it needs to be completed by 18th September 2020, so I am currently on schedule with just two rides to go and have already completed around 24 hours of riding.

NESTOR: How did this come to be? What brings a person from riding to commute to work to doing such an extraordinary challenge?

MICHAEL: The challenge for all my training is consistency and so that was the real challenge for me on the French Tour. Raising the funds was compelling for me. I had used Fulgaz before but hadn’t really clicked with it. I feel much better about it now and especially being able to transport myself to another location.

Anyway, having accountability (and posting about it which doesn’t come naturally to me) helped me with consistency, but most important was the clarity of purpose in committing to raising the funds.

NESTOR: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

MICHAEL: Two things I would like to share. Firstly, my deepest and sincere thanks to all those who donated funds. It is so appreciated, and I know that it will be used positively to impact the lives of people at a critical time when trained support is needed. Thank you!

Secondly, on a similar theme, while everyone agrees that the Mental game is a critical part of all sport and perhaps even more so in endurance activity, where is the credible guidance on mental training? I am still looking for ideas on how to do that well and I found some good value in Mental Training for Runners by Michele Ufer. Check out his site. He has an interesting story to tell and some crazy ideas.

If you want to help support his cause and the great effort he is putting in, you can donate here. Any donation will be greatly appreciated.

If you’d like to see by yourself some of the fantastic stages Michael has been riding, click on any of the following links:

Rides:

Finally, remember that there are many options for you if you feel you need support or health from someone around, help is just a call, a click or a message away:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800

Sane: 1800 18 72 63

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

Davey Black also offers Counselling sessions. The main goal of seeking out a counsellor is to help improve an individual or a couple’s clarity, confidence, and physical and mental wellbeing. We are here to support you and help you gain insight into the particular dynamics at play in your daily life or in specific situations that are causing you concern.

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