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August 6, 2020

My Leeds Virtual Challenge

Having decided to get fit and lose weight during lockdown, Vanessa Day signed up to the AJ Bell World Triathlon Leeds Virtual Challenge to push herself a little bit further.

“My husband did his first duathlon last year in Par in Cornwall and I supported him in that,” said Day. “He’s a member of our local triathlon club and he found out about the virtual challenge and signed up because his events had been cancelled this year.”

Having decided that she would try and get fit and start an active weight loss programme during lockdown, a few weeks later Day signed up too.

“I was over 21 stone and decided I needed to get fit,” commented Day. “Doing a duathlon sounded like a good challenge to see if I could do more than one sport as part of getting more active. I did little rides and runs beforehand to see how I’d get on with combining the two.

“I don’t like running because it can feel like people stare at you when you’re larger, and you feel conscious about the way your body moves and of other people looking at you. You feel exposed, but on a bike I feel safer.

“With this being a virtual challenge, my husband told me that I could do the run in a way that worked for me, whether that was outside, on a treadmill or in the garden.”

Day took on the sprint distance, a challenge which would see her complete a 20km cycle and 7.5km run, something she saw as the perfect challenge.

Above: Vanessa and her husband with their certificates from the challenge

“I love riding my bike, not fast, but at a pace that works for me so decided that the sprint distance would be a doable challenge,” added Day.

“To be able to challenge myself to do the duathlon was something I wouldn’t have been able to do six months ago, and it was really emotional when I completed it.

“It wasn’t the longest duathlon and I wasn’t the fastest, but that wasn’t my challenge. My challenge was to complete it and prove to myself I could.”

Having initially planned to split the challenge over two days, Day ended up going one step further and ticking off the total distance in one day by breaking it up in smaller chunks.

“I created a circuit around our garden and ran around that a couple of hundred times,” Day said. “My neighbours must have thought I was mad, but that didn’t matter to me because I was focussed on getting it done.

“For part of the run I also headed out to run in our local area, something which I was really nervous about, but I took one of our dogs with me for a bit of support to help me conquer my fears of running in front of people outside.

“When my husband got home from work that afternoon, I went out for my bike ride around our local area which, being Cornwall, was very hilly. The sun was shining, and I was determined to get the bike done, so cycled to a nearby town before looping around and back home to complete my 20km.

“When I got back home, I was met by my husband and my kids, and we were all so emotional. They were all so proud that I’d managed to complete it and do something that was so outside my comfort zone.”

This challenge may now be complete for Vanessa but, for her and her family, lockdown is just the beginning of their multisport journey.

“Having proved to myself that I can do this, I’m so excited to do more,” Day added. “As soon as I was finished I felt the exhilaration. Now I’ve started I don’t want to stop.

“I feel so much healthier and fitter compared to the start of lockdown. I use my inhaler so much less than before too. Combining running and cycling will help me to stay active and continue to get fitter and lose more weight, I’ve lost almost two stone over lockdown so far.

“My husband does triathlon and, because I love swimming, if I can continue to conquer my fear of running that’s my aim too.

“Our eldest two children love exercise as well and we go on family bike rides and long dog walks, so it’s great to be able to do it together. My husband’s parents have said they’ll look after our youngest two if we want to do longer rides, and it’s great to have the support of family and friends to help out.”