“That’s awesome”. This was what Gary Rolfe, Head Coach of the Bilbys said when I told him about my second 2 km time trial. I had improved a fair bit over my first one seven weeks earlier. That’s nice of him to say that I thought. But when I thought about his comment a bit more, I realised it summed up my Bilbys novice program experience.
As a new father and coming off the back of a serious illness, I looked at myself and thought I had better get fit. After all, I not only wanted to be around for a long time for my kids but be fit enough to actually play with them. I also have a chocolate addiction and I could see my waistline expanding and my energy levels falling. I needed to do something. I started training. I enjoy cycling so I got out on the bike and did some riding. I also thought I should do some running, so shuffled around the block a few times huffing and puffing. My fitness came up a bit, but as the Canberra winter set in, the loneliness of training alone started to be boring. My progress wasn’t as good as I hoped. My enthusiasm started to wane and my training fell away. There had to be a better way.
Someone suggested I try the Bilbys Novice Program. I expected it to be hard, particularly at first, and it was. But the training fixes that quickly. The sessions are designed to ease you in. You improve rapidly and this is rewarding in itself. You suddenly notice that you can run a bit easier, swim a bit faster or ride up a hill a bit easier. This gives you motivation to keep going and you improve some more. The emphasis on proper technique and doing things safely is also good. I felt like I was in good hands. Not only that, there was a group of novices of varying levels of fitness and ability, all in the same boat. They are all great and supportive of other novices. These things I all expected.
What I didn’t expect was the encouragement and understanding I would get from the coaches and just other members of the club who came to various sessions to help us out. I have many fond memories of advice and encouragement. The President of the Bilbys followed me on Starva and sent me lots of kudos. I have many great stories of encouragement from the Bilbys coaches and club members. One Sunday morning run early in the program, I was struggling and had fallen off the back of the group. Molly, one of the established Bilbys running with us, dropped off the group and came back to me. “Don’t stop”, she said, every time I looked like I wanted to. She kept me going, chatted away to distract me and soon the run was finished and I hadn’t stopped for a rest, for the first time ever on a run! On an early bunch ride, I was struggling up the hill to the intersection of the Federal Highway and Horse Park Drive. One of the Bilbys dropped back and got me up the hill (including a bit of actual pushing). I hadn’t swum for many years and was a bit nervous about this discipline. But Guy, the swimming coach soon had me going, corrected my stroke a bit and soon I felt like I could do the distances in the race. I could go on with many stories like this.
It came to our first race and lots of Bilbys turned out to cheer us on. The encouragement as I went around the course lifted me and I am sure made me go better. While I have a way to go, I am now fitter, leaner and having lots of fun.
So if you want to get fit have fun do it in an encouraging environment while meeting some really nice people, sign up the the Bilbys Novice Program. It’s awesome.