So I have been doing basic training, touching base regularly on all three disciplines for a new sport, Paratriathlon (triathlon for people with disability) and I have even booked in for an arthroscope on my shoulder and knee for two months time. The doc will be sending in a little camera to review all the damage, then make two more incisions so he can poke around in there with his little tools to repair the torn tissue. It is the only time I will let another man poke around inside of me. Ha. Better than abusing cortisone I guess. I have locked in that my professional training will commence later this year. I’m actually excited, but I have to plan my comeback properly. What is the best way to do it? Why am I doing it? These were the questions rattling around before I committed to a comeback. This is what I have written down on my old trusty butcher™s paper. I call it ‘Sam’s Seven Step Comeback Strategy.’ Man, I am a wanker. Fucking use this. It can work for anyone and for anything. Anyway, here it goes;

Numero 1: Why did I piss it all off in the first place?

I knew I had to be black and white about this. Be completely honest. I quit swimming because I got bored. I was thoroughly enjoying the relationship with my new coach and I grabbed international gold, but I was not in the right head space by the end of it. I wasn’t ready for when all the hard work actually mattered “ to make London. I procrastinated throughout and struggled to even turn up for training. I woke up one morning extremely tired. I drove to the pool and simply could not get out of the car. I couldn’t go back home because people would know that I didn’t train, so I parked the car down the street, pulled the picnic blanket out of the boot and slept in the car. If I am being completely honest, I even used my shoulder as an excuse for lack of mental dedication. I accepted that the end of my swimming career was a disaster and that it was all on me, no one else. I was completely done with swimming.

Numero 2: What did I learn from end of my swimming career?

I definitely learnt that I was bored with swimming, completely disinterested. I learnt that I couldn’t force something and went totally against my own rules of enjoying what you do™. So from that I have looked in and out of paratriathlon. I love the running. It i™s so unfamiliar to me and I am learning so much. It’™s exciting and I’m not too bad at it either. The cycling is ok. Nothing too riveting but I don’t have to do too much of it. The swimming bit is easy. It’s only a 750m swim in open water, a cake walk for me (or cake swim?) considering I use to do 7km swimming sessions. The main thing is that I am excited about it. I have a huge lust for training and an urge to hone my skills and transform myself into the fittest I can be. I also learnt that my comeback to swimming was shit house. I must have a new approach with my comeback to a new sport. I definitely partied too hard and my social life never lagged during my final swimming days so I need to cut that shit out. I need to inform my friends and family properly about what I am doing and what I want to achieve. I will also utilise my resources better this time round. Resources like the sport institutes, sports medicine and even movies that pump me up! You can never go wrong with a good documentary or Rocky movie.

Numero 3: What am I going to do to ensure that that shit doesn’™t happen again.

Pin point exactly where my major stuff ups were, stamp out the bad habits and do work! I just wanted to type that because it sounded authoritative. I know that I became distracted and didn’™t do the work. Socialising was my second major downfall coming in behind the fact that I didn’™t enjoy swimming anymore. I partied too much. I was always worrying that I would miss out on a social event and not be the centre of attention anymore. I need to get over that. I am lucky now that myself and most of my friends work full time so the partying has definitely curbed itself over the last year or so, but I still can’™t be drinking – at all in fact. I have been cutting back on the amount of alcohol I drink lately anyway because I was turning into a fat bitch. My real plan to protect my fitness and ensure that the over socialising and boozing doesn’™t take precedence is to sit my friends and family down and tell them what I am trying to achieve (this plays into numero 5 anyway). They will listen and support me no matter what, if they don’™t I will just have to move into a nunnery or something. Terrorise some nuns.

Numero 4: Commit to Paratriathlon and map out my path.

I really do like the combination of disciplines in this sport. I’™m not going to be modest, I can kill the swimming leg. I’™m not a bad runner and can easily pace myself over a five kilometre distance. I just need to work on my cycling. I can’™t just say that and hope for the best, as simply just ‘liking’ the combination of disciplines is not enough. I have to want it, which I am starting to develop as my training intensifies. I already have my overall goal – make the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Now I need to strategise. By setting mini goals and tasks, I can make the overall process of achieving my goal a heap easier. I know right now that my first steps are to get back into regular training and lose some more weight. I think I am painting a blobby picture of myself here. I am actually still in shape and have managed to maintain a good physique (I think so anyway). I am only four or five kilos heavier now than I was when I was competing. These are my initial plans thus far. They will develop as I go along;

Ultimate Goal: To make the Rio 2016 Paratriathlon team
SG 1: Train hard
SG 2: Eat well
SG 3: Utilise resources
SG 4: Better plan my social activities
SG 5: Better manage my injury
SG 6: Sleep better

I will break down my sub goals into more achievable mini-tasks. I will also be sticking my own five tips throughout my journey: be realistic, order and priorities my goals, write them down, tick them off and finally, be patient.

Numero 5: Communicate with my tribe.

Everyone enjoys talking about themselves, I do too. I am not a narcissist, but I almost want to host a meeting with all my family, friends and colleagues (anyone who I surround myself with) and inform them about what I want to achieve, my plan and how they can best support me. There is no way how I am going to put such a weird mix of people into one room, but I will be making a conscious effort to better communicate. My hope is that they feel like they can take part in this journey with me, like a stakeholder but with no financial gain“ clearly. This process sounds easy but it’™s not. I have this awkwardness about talking to people about what I am doing, I feel as though all I am saying is: “I am trying to achieve something here. You’™re a good person but I need to reduce whatever it is we do to ensure my success. I will see you when I’m ready.”

That’™s not what I am saying at all. As I said earlier, my goals are never better or worse than anyone else™s. We all have our own shit and ways to get there. Some of my mates have cut back on socialising because they want to perform better at work and prove themselves. My mate Mick is the best example of this. As soon as he finished uni and secured his first full time job in construction management, he started going to bed early during the week and only gives his liver a punishing on a Friday night so that he can recover in time for work on Monday. I replicated that too. It’™s so good to have Saturday and Sunday to have as relaxation days. I personally think that we should have three day weekends (so does everyone actually). My relationships with my friends and family differ greatly from one and other, so I really have to do this properly. What I am really trying to say is that I need every one of them to make this work.

I have never blamed anyone else for my failures. When people do that, it turns into a vicious cycle and increase the chance of the same mistakes happening again. I am a big boy and I could have said no at any point in time. We are in complete control of our actions and I will critique myself thoroughly along the way. We are our own worst critics and it is bloody helpful as only we truly know inside what is right and wrong what actually sits well. I will never blame myself, either. It’™s just self torture and resolves nothing. The best option is to move forward and talk to people who have been through a similar situation.

Numero 6: Make clear and sound decisions.

I will be making time in my life for these decisions, perhaps starting with by dedicating a few nights during the week to have ‘me’™ time. We all know that sound decisions – combined with will power, are always efficient. It cuts out the ˜um and ahhing. I’m a bit of a free willy, but everything that I do from now on in regards to my ultimate goal of making the team will be calculated and thought out.

The best way that I know I can commit and sustain will power is to reward myself for sound decision making, no matter how small the achievement. I will be marking down on my butchers paper every time I do something right. I’™m not a machine (well I guess my left sort of is), but I need rewards. We all do. Giving myself little rewards along the way assists in staying motivated and on the ball. My bad habits will be slowly rubbed out by rewarding myself, like a dog pissing outside rather than inside I guess.

We all have reasons behind any bad habit. One of mine is biting my nails, but I justify doing because it helps when I get nervous as if it gives me something to do to distract myself. At least I have found out what it does for me so maybe I can find another way (a cleaner way) to distract myself when I get nervous. My mate Toohey fingers his belly button, by the look on his face I know he gets some form of satisfaction out of it (but there is nothing else on his body that he can finger that will be any more socially acceptable.)

Not that it is a bad habit, but I prefer watching a movie over doing work because I get more satisfaction from it. If I watch too many movies I will slip on the latter. I am more satisfied with my work than watching a movie when I do something productive and obtain results, so I now make a list on my whiteboard in my office when I have a win. I like seeing wins on my whiteboard, so whenever I feel like I am getting carried away and turning things into bad habits, I will think about the whiteboard. In regards to my training diet, if I eat too much to comfort myself and get fat, I now think of other things that can comfort myself and indulge in those instead. Every bad habit fulfills something, so it is now up to me to fulfil my needs with more productive and effective things. In short, bad habits can be managed.

Numero 7: Do the work and prove the œnay sayers wrong.

In the end it is totally up to me to make this comeback work. I have achieved and succeeded in the past so there is no reason why I can’™t do it again. The proof is in the pudding ladies and gentlemen, I just have to knuckle down and do the work. The best direction that I can take is one of satisfaction. I enjoy sport and I enjoy this new sport the most. I told a mate about my comeback to professional sport and he basically laughed in my face. I told him to watch this space. I will be laughing in his when I prove him wrong.

Am I nervous when thinking about if I’™ll make the team or not? Of course I am. I am busting my balls to find other ways than biting my nails to keep my nerves under control. And I have adopted a few new ones to deal with nervousness (these all fall behind the satisfaction I get from biting my nails mind you). It’™s the only thing that truly calms me. See how I didn’t say “overcome” nervousness? That is because there is nothing out there that can make you instantly calm (except for drugs or being stabbed in the arm with horse tranquilizer).We can never get rid of nerves. The secret behind dealing with nervousness and calming yourself down, without drugs, is in repetition and practice. These are some ways that I practice which puts me into the comfort zone.

The best way that I can deal with nervousness is to know that I have done the work. I do this by recording my progress. Knowing that I have done the work gives me assurance and keeps me motivated. I then try and put the whole thing into perspective, if I am doing everything in my power to succeed then what is there to be afraid of? Go kick some fucking ass!