Even endurance athletes aren’t invincible

Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to receive some good news from my doctor: I don’t have Prostate cancer. Six weeks of uncertainty for me and my family, caused by a bladder infection, gave way to relief.

My only problems are an enlarged prostate and a slightly raised PSA level, which will be monitored. So, no big deal.

But I’m not alone in this. A staggering one in four middle-aged men suffer from an enlarged prostate. In total, one in eight British men will experience prostate cancer in their lifetime. Even more sobering, 11,000 men die each year.

This whole episode has been quite a journey – one which I don’t mind sharing with you because some of you will not be as lucky as me, and some of you will have partners who could be at risk. I have always wrongly believed that because I eat well, exercise regularly through endurance running and cross-training, I must be invincible – that this sort of thing would never happen to me.

How wrong I was.

The reason my doctor (who is excellent) was so worried was due to the length of time I had experienced symptoms but had done nothing about them. Like many men, I don’t visit the doctor very often and, when I started to have urinary issues last September, I simply put them down to my age! However, as my doctor rightly pointed out, I am only 50 so this isn’t the case. So, my advice for any men out there, whatever your level of fitness: visit your doctor if you experience a change in your urinary flow.

What have I learned from all this on a personal level?

Well, six weeks ago my doctor told me to be prepared for the worst. She wrote down a plan for me to follow which I understood, and then I calmly left the surgery and sat in my car – at which point I burst into tears. I texted my wife, as I rarely call her at work, and she called me back immediately. We were both upset, more for potential time lost with the kids than anything else.

The following day I was travelling to a meeting and was struggling to find a reason why the day and the meeting were important.

Back in 2016 when I started working with my coach Neil Thubron, I went through a process to establish a personal ‘mission statement’ – something very relevant and personal to me. Mine is ‘to be the best person I can be and to help those around me to be the best people they can be’.

Driving up the road that morning I was wrestling with why the day was so important when the number of days left for me could potentially be limited, or at the very least, complicated. I was telling myself that I need to get the best out of each and every day and to really be my best self, regardless. Then it dawned on me. By simply adding two words to my personal mission statement, I could raise my focus and desire to an altogether higher level: ‘every day’.

‘To be the best person I can be and to help those around me to be the best people they can be, every day.’

This genuinely helped me to focus on my work, my family, and on the day to day stuff of life during a time when I was carrying a major worry. It really worked!

I judge my contribution to work over the last weeks to have been sharper and more decisive; quite simply, why procrastinate? Another example of improved performance through focus is in my running. Although I have run 25% fewer miles each week so far this year compared with the same period last year, the quality of those miles has actually been better. Given that I only returned from a 10 week lay-off from injury in January, I was elated to complete the South Downs Way 50 two Sundays ago (as you’ve seen in the picture). Whilst my finishing time was my slowest time ever and only 5 minutes inside the cut-off, finishing the race felt like achieving a PB!

So two takeaways from me to you:

  1. Visit a doctor if you need to because none of us are invincible!
  2. Really do focus on being the best you can be each and every day. There is so much more we can all achieve for ourselves and those around us. Smile and engage those around you with an open mind. It is easy to forget that our time on this planet is finite. So, there is no time like the present to be the best you!

Have you experienced something similar? Or are you working through your own challenges to achieve something big – in life, in sport or at work? I’d love to hear about it – leave me a comment below. I also offer mentoring to help you navigate life’s ups and downs, in much the same way that my own coach has helped me. Email andy@lifeisasinecurve.com to find out more.

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