"Living in a van was certainly not part of any ‘5 year plan’ I might have had."
It’s a sunny Monday morning in Dublin County and I’m sat in front of my laptop, at the back end of Ireland’s first 8 weeks of Covid-19 restrictions. Or maybe it’s 9 weeks. Honestly, I’ve stopped counting. Before all this quarantine craziness started, my girlfriend and I were living full-time in a campervan. Maybe you would call it a motorhome or an RV. The terminology doesn’t really matter. Ultimately, it was our miniature home on wheels.
When I graduated from dental school in 2015, living in a van was certainly not part of any ‘5 year plan’ I might have had. So what changed? How did I end up here?
I suppose it all began with a question:
“What would happen if you took the resources of, say, Michael Johnson, and focused them on a freestyle kayaker?”
"What started as a fairly light-hearted conversation with friends, quickly turned into an all-consuming project."
Give them a coach; but not just one coach. Give them a team of coaches; but not just any old team of coaches – world class coaches. Surround them with professionals that have devoted their careers to understanding the various cogs in the machine of high performance. What would be the outcome of that scenario? I decided I wanted to find out.
What started as a fairly light-hearted conversation with friends, quickly turned into an all-consuming project. I started by recruiting my team. I essentially cold-called some of Ireland’s best strength and conditioning coaches, sports psychologists and performance nutritionists. The conversations often went something like this:
“Who the hell are you?”
“How did you get this number?”
As you might expect, some of them had no idea what freestyle kayaking was, much less an interest in it. Ok, so none of them knew what freestyle kayaking was. There were a few, however, who had the right balance of passion and expertise. I had found my team.
By June of 2017, I had everything I needed to press start on my experiment-of-sorts where I was the guinea pig. A lot has happened since then. I’ve been poked and prodded with hypodermic needles and skinfold calipers. I’ve survived the ear infection from hell and subsequently had my left ear cut off (and thankfully sewn back on). One Christmas Eve, I almost didn’t make it home because I wanted to get in an extra training trip to Nottingham. Perhaps the biggest thing though was quitting my job (on Friday the 13th no less), moving into the van and starting to train full-time.
That was in September 2019. For now, I'm going to keep following this path and see where it leads me. I've learned a lot so far, but certainly have more to learn. If you're interested in some of the things I've discovered, check out the blog. You might find something useful.
Otherwise, see you on the water!