From lunchtime run to Ironman - Liam's fitness journey
When Liam Walker, a Customer Service Assistant in Accommodation and Commercial Services (ACS) signed up for our University team in the Virgin Pulse Global Challenge (VPGC) three years ago, he didn’t anticipate that it would eventually take him to the Zofingen Powerman World Championships in Switzerland. Yet, this is only the latest competition in a growing list of challenges he's embarked on during the last few years.
When he moved to Sheffield in 2014, Liam thought the annual 100-day VPGC competition - which recruits volunteers from across our University to track their activity with a pedometer - would be a great way to get to know the city on foot.
But since getting involved with the competition (then known as Global Corporate Challenge), as well as Juice activities like Bootcamp, Liam has taken his fitness to inspirational new heights.
He earned seventh place in the Sheffield Half Marathon, won a Half Ironman challenge and finished first in the Rother Valley Duathlon. His most recent challenge was representing Great Britain in the Zofingen Powerman World Championships in Switzerland in September 2017.
Without opportunities to get fitter at work, there is no way I would have become involved in Triathlon training.
Before starting the VPGC, Liam had a reasonable level of fitness, having completed 10k runs, but says he didn’t expect to reach the sporting accomplishments he has achieved since committing to more exercise.
“Without the opportunities to get fitter at work, there is no way I would have become involved in Triathlon training. I had tried running before, but I gave it up as it hurt too much. That shows what challenges like the VPGC can lead to, and the impact they make. I threw myself into the responsibilities of motivating and being part of a team,” Liam explained.
“I found our Juice programme to be a really valuable resource in making fitness a bigger part of my day. And as with anything in life, you get out what you put into the classes. They can be challenging, but the instructors are fantastic. Without the lunchtime Juice Bootcamp sessions for example, I wouldn't be as physically strong as I am now.”
Powerman World Championships
Liam’s latest challenge was to represent Great Britain in the Zofingen Powerman World Championships in Switzerland.
A gruelling test of endurance, the long distance duathlon event consists of a 10km run, a 150km cycle ride, and a further 30km run, covering steep hills and difficult terrain. Competition is tough, with both professional and amateur athletes from around the world taking part each year.
Liam’s race got off to a strong start, and he entered the cycle lane in a good position and feeling confident. However, as the relentless pace and incline began to take effect, Liam needed to harness all his strength to cover the distance.
With an impressive finish time of 7 hours and 35 minutes Liam placed third in his age category, earning a Bronze medal for Great Britain. This fantastic achievement qualifies him to take part in the race again next year, as well as at the Powerman and Standard Distance European Championships.
Liam’s athletic triumph comes just two years after he began training as part of the Virgin Pulse Step Challenge with Juice, and he describes stepping onto the podium as the “moment of a lifetime.”
Read Liam's race report for a full account of the event.
Liam's tips for fitting some fitness into your day at work
- Focus and determination: For me, it’s about going out there and doing the session as best I can.
- Keep your schedule flexible, and be honest with yourself: Our days can change for a multitude of reasons. Rest and recovery are key parts of training so respect your limits.
- An eye for improvement: I always have a drive for self-improvement and look for things I could do better - you can't let disappointments get you down.
- Diet: I always aim for 5-10 portions a day of fruit and vegetables, good fats, wholegrains, and proteins and I try to keep a good balance. I feel psychologically better when I've had a treat and I love pizza, so I include it!
- Don't be afraid of failure: We'll all fail at things in our lives. What's important is your response (combined with setting realistic but challenging goals). If you're afraid of failure or never step out of your comfort zone, you'll never truly develop or reach your potential.
- Most importantly, enjoy it!
Liam's athletic pursuits have led to prizes like first place in the Rother Valley Duathlon (top row, left) and age group winner at Oulton Park Great Britain qualifying race (top row, right).