An Ultramarathoner Got Me Out of Addiction and Into The Gym

    The Beginning

    I’m an immigrant that arrived in Australia when I was four years old. Growing up in an area where at the time, it was dubbed the heroin capital of Australia. There was even a study done on the matter, which was conducted in the town that I grew up in.

    This is now a long time ago, 20 years to be precise. The town has grown into a multicultural masterpiece now, however, when we first arrived in Australia it was hell. There would be dealers and people who collapsed in your building or on the streets. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

    Growing up and hearing about drugs was very much the norm for me, most of the people that I knew in school have dabbled in it in some way or another (Whether using or selling). As such, as you can expect from your bigger influence (your peers) it wasn’t long before I started to experiment as well as I entered high school.

    Cut a long and ugly story short, I got sucked in. I won’t talk too much about the drug of choice or anything graphic as I believe it defeats the purpose of the article however I can say that I had multiple addictions as a result. Drugs, gambling, and alcohol. The entire trifecta.

    As you hear with most addictions, it starts to lead to anxiety, depression, and poor life choices such as getting into more debt. I feel that I have a somewhat powerful mind, in the sense that not many things affect me. Even when I make mistakes, I get over them fairly quickly.

    Getting Married and Having A Child

    Once I met the woman of our dreams, she knew I liked to have fun and party but she could also see that it gets taken overboard a lot, although she trusts me. I’m an honest person and don’t go out to affect anyone but have been riddled by problems with my finances and addictions. Eventually, my then-girlfriend fell pregnant and we were expecting a baby girl.

    I was naive to believe that getting into the family life would fix me. Getting married, having a kid, and doing all that I often dreamed of sounded like an amazing idea. I was going good for a while too. I kept my head down and saved up for our wedding. We got married and had our daughter two months after that. I was doing good for a while, but eventually, I started to fall off the rails again and was heading back down the same path.

    At this point, my pain tolerance levels couldn’t handle it anymore because as I mentioned previously I don’t feel much when I affect myself. But, if I start affecting those around me that need me to be the man of the house then I will start getting emotional.

    At this point, I was already feeling lost, trying aimlessly to quit, and even though there’s no chance that I can and that I should just stop wasting everyone’s time around me.

    I wasn’t happy with who I was as a person and knew something had to change, something drastic. 

    I started looking frantically through the internet for answers I could find. Reading people’s addiction stories and knowing I’m not alone helped. I was really going to the depth of the internet until I found someone that was sharing a message. A message so strong that it engulfed a kindling. Afterward, I wanted to turn it into a massive fire. A massive fire that will drive me, and get me out of this mental mess.

    This man is an American-Ultramarathoner named David Goggins.

    Who is David Goggins?

    As mentioned above, David is predominantly known for his running. David often competes in Ultramarathons. Ultramarathons are anything longer than your standard marathon (26.2 miles). David has competed in races as long as 240-miles such as Moab 240.

    David Goggins also holds the previous record for the most number of pull-ups done in 24 hours. He managed to do 4,030 pull-ups in 17 hours. This record has since been beaten but it is no doubt impressive. He had to do it on his third attempt, with other attempts leaving him with hands that were badly messed up and cut. The point is, the man doesn’t give up.

    Even though Goggins is mainly known for running, his actual history is in the military. David is a retired United States Navy SEAL. He was also a former United States Air Force Tactical Air Control Party member and has served in the Iraq war.

    Whilst his resume is impressive, David wasn’t always known as a total hard man. David was, unfortunately, a child that got physically abused by his father and faced a lot of trials and tribulations that no kid should have to endure. David has copped a lot of racism throughout his early teens and suffered from learning disabilities.

    Through trying to fit in, in any way that he can, David lost a sense of who he is. He created a character, whilst deep down he knew he had so many psychological problems. Soon after school, and working for a job spraying cockroaches. David physically and mentally had enough.

    This is when David was watching the Discovery channel and noticed that there was a documentary on Navy SEALs. They were in hell-week which is a 1-week long grueling event that seals go through with minimal sleep in order to test their mental aptitude. He saw these men as strong individuals, and with him sitting on the couch at 297 pounds, he felt anything but that.

    What happened next is nothing but amazing, he went on to lose 106 pounds in 3 months in order to be able to qualify for the SEAL training program. As you can imagine, David broke himself immensely in order to do this.

    David managed to become a SEAL after 3 attempts. He also had 3 attempts at the world record for pull-ups. Nothing comes easy and nothing comes fast is the message I got from this. You need to stick to your goals and continue fighting for it.

    David didn’t want to stop there. He liked the life of constantly challenging himself and striving to be better. It brought him peace. Through physical suffering, David was able to bring his mental state into a much better place. As you can imagine, David used this to get through his Ultramarathons, Ultra-man, and his world record pull-up record.

    How David Goggins Changed My Life

    So after I found the video online of David Goggins (see it here) that got me to look into him more. I found out that David Goggins has a book called Can’t Hurt Me which I also wrote a review on. If you’re interested, then check out my review on David Goggins: Can’t Hurt Me.

    Davids’s book is a self-help memoir that goes through David’s life from an early age all the way up to his retirement from the SEALs and into ultra running. Throughout the chapters, David tells the story of his life and provides the reader with the tools that they need to start taking control of their own. 

    I made use of all the tools in the book and have read it twice. What happened to me was that I instantly picked up a spiral notebook from the corner shop and started writing up everything that was bothering me, what I needed to fix, and of course – a training plan.

    I have been to the gym previously and I did do boxing before however I never really got serious into it. My gym stents were always a few weeks and then let the membership run.

    In the first week, I wrote out a full plan. Two days were dedicated to running and calisthenics whilst three days per week was allocated to the gym. Through sweating, a release of endorphins, and staying accountable with my spiral notebook I was able to get into a routine.

    I documented everything that was happening to me. This allowed me to look at my life through a microscopic lens, staying present, and being able to think through situations more clearly. Although, after 3 weeks something weird happened.

    I started receiving panic attacks. I wasn’t sure if this was because I’ve been coming off some of the drugs that I’ve been using or if it was something else but I had two of them in the same week. I decided not to think too much into it and kept documenting things and training.

    I found out I wanted to sign up for something. I wanted to do more. I saw a race that runs through the Blue Mountains in Australia that goes for 24-miles. However you needed to qualify for it, and the qualifying race for it was 2 and a half months away. This is only after 2-3 weeks of training. I signed up anyway. Oh god.

    Running A Marathon And Staying Consistent With Training

    I signed up for the marathon (Which by the way, is a midnight marathon) and started training. I took my training up to the 15-mile mark before I started a recovery. Even if I didn’t finish the marathon I was extremely ecstatic that I was able to run 15-miles! Though I wanted to finish the marathon, I wanted it badly. Here’s me at the race (Before things got tough!) 

    There was a catch for the race that I wanted to ultimately sign up for though, it required me to finish the marathon in 4 hours and 20 minutes. Whilst this an average time, it’s still very hard to get your body to that level in only 3 months. Like I said I gave it a go anyway because I thought the process of training for it and the lessons I get from it would be valuable either way, even if I failed.

    I will spare the details of my training. I managed to keep consistent with 3 days at the gym using the best workout machines for weight loss and 2 days doing cardio outdoors. In short, I was able to get my pull-ups from nothing to getting them above the chest and being able to do 20. 

    My bench went from 80 pounds to 130 pounds and I even managed to free up 9 kilos. I did a DEXA scan as well and got my body fat down to 16%. Whilst I don’t know where it was prior to that, I couldn’t even see my belly button so it was surely over 20%. I felt fit, I felt great.

    However, I was not ready for this.

    I got to around the 15-mile mark (Where I wrapped up my training) and I couldn’t do it anymore. This was a trial run with roots and rocks everywhere. I was used to running on the road or on the grass. This was new to me and I started to feel my glutes and my hamstrings at this point. I couldn’t run anymore.

    I started to walk, I wanted to finish the race even though I wasn’t going to take the time if I continued walking. Even though I wasn’t happy, the fact that I was even attempting it is what drove me to keep going.

    I walked the last 11-miles and managed to cross the finish line. I couldn’t walk. Let alone use the stairs. I was done. However, I felt satisfied. At least for that day.

    This is when the trouble started to bloom again. Because I finished my goal and didn’t set up a new one after it, I was sort of just floating in limbo.

    Wanting to “celebrate”, heading out with mates and getting into a few drinks again started slowly taking me back down the same path. The feeling of having not accomplished the direct goal, as well as being worn out from the marathon and not having a subsequent goal lead me back down the same way.

    I had a dark 2-3 weeks where I managed to create mistakes again. I started to feel lost once again. However, I had an event coming up in 3 weeks where I was going to meet David in person. Most of what I did was driving me for that goal. I wanted to tell him what I accomplished in 3 months however I didn’t feel comfortable doing so. I even got high the day I was supposed to go to the event. I was a mess again.

    Meeting David Goggins

    I would say that this is where it all changed for me. I met David Goggins at Upgrade Your Life 2020 in Sydney, Australia.

    I managed to go up on stage and share my story with hundreds that attended the event and got to say it in front of David. I was vulnerable enough to say the truth that I slipped again. I think, going back. This is what helped the most. Being able, to tell the truth, in front of hundreds of people gave me strength. 

    When a young boy reached out to me after the event and expressed gratitude for my story it made me feel very good inside.

    Since that day, I wanted to share the message to everyone that through fitness, healthy living, and clean eating that we can all aspire to be the ultimate versions of ourselves. I do so now with my blog, The Ultimate Primate.

    By spreading the message that we should all look after our bodies and getting people to chase their goals I’m hoping to change at least one life.

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