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15 Things I Learned from An Endurance Athlete

Recently, Venari Partners sat down with Sean Conway to learn all about his life, early career, incredible accomplishments and all the little things he discovered along the way.

For those that don’t know – Sean Conway has held the record for the World’s First person to Swim the Length of Britain, The World’s Longest Triathlon and The World’s Fastest Cycle Across Europe (not bad for someone who “isn’t very sporty”).

Outside the big 3 of First, Farthest and Fastest, he has a long list of always impressive and occasionally amusing accolades. You can see them all here.

We met the man himself and listened intently as he covered topics ranging from endurance and resilience to motivation and mindfulness. Here are 15 things that I learned;

  1. It’s important to have a BIG DREAM, start there and work your way backwards. Break things down into smaller chunks and focus on those, but NEVER lose sight of the big picture. Dreams can shift a centimetre at a time and if you don’t keep your eye on it, you can end up really far away from where you really wanted to be.

  2. British waters are home to Lion’s Mane Jellyfish. A group of them is known as a ‘Bloom’ and being stung repeatedly on the face hurts A LOT. Peeing on jellyfish stings as an antidote is a myth. Big Ginger Beards are an effective layer of facial protection from Jellyfish stings (and they look very cool).

  3. Don’t always listen to the people that tell you NO, it can’t be done, you can’t do that, it’ll be too hard and much to the same sentiment. Sometimes this can come from a place of concern, most of time this comes from a place of jealousy.

  4. Similarly, never let other people’s perception of your capabilities become your own. No one else knows just how far you can go and just how much you can achieve. You don’t even know yet. Don’t let people stop you before you even start and more importantly, don’t stop yourself.

  5. Professional Adventurer is an acceptable job title for official government documents.

  6. It is ALWAYS sensible to be prepared. To train, to work out logistics, to measure and improve. That being said, sometimes you can figure things out on the way and still achieve incredible results (such as swimming the length of Britain…without ever having swam in the sea before).

  7. It’s never too late to start. Sean only really kicked off his adventuring at the age of 30, with -£3 to his name, living back at home with his mother. It doesn’t really matter where or when you start, as long as you know where you want to go.

  8. Endurance adventurers eat A LOT. There are over 1,200 calories in a footlong Chicken and Bacon Ranch Sub. Before ranch dressing.

  9. You don’t need to have the most money and best tools, equipment or tech to be a success. Sean completed adventures on a bike made from bamboo, slept under roads in drain pipes and took an ice bath in a fisherman’s catch of the day bucket. “ I can’t do X because I don’t have X” is a naughty lie.

  10. Life happens and it can be unpredictable, unanticipated and unwelcome. Don’t let that stop you. During one of Sean’s attempts to reach his “fastest” goal he was unceremoniously hit by a pickup truck and hospitalised for over a month. He didn’t see it coming. Neither did the driver. Sean recovered and carried on.

  11. Competition can be healthy. Whether it’s against real people, real targets or your own best performance, find something (or someone) that pushes you in a positive way.

  12. People are, overall, pretty great. In the world, there exist a number of people shouting very loudly and arguing about completely polarised views. This is not reflective of the entire population - most of the world tend to sit in the middle, leaning slightly one way or the other, but generally happy to crack on, help others and have a good time. That’s OK, and quite nice actually.

  13. Excitement is contagious. Surround yourself with enthusiastic people and watch your own confidence grow. Great ideas come from conversations with positive people.

  14. Duct Tape is a global brand. It is also surprisingly difficult to find at any given moment in time.

  15. To achieve anything, you need a bit of madness, a dash of levelheadedness and a bunch of resilience. Dream big, keep your head straight when things are going well, don't lose your mind when things are going badly and most importantly, just keep moving forward – you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.

Sean continues to embark on his own adventures, constantly helps others to tackle their own, is an accomplished author and a very motivating motivational speaker.

I’d strongly recommend you check him out. See what you learn.


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