Life goes beyond the digits on the scale and your body is capable of so much more! Yahoo’s #Fitspo of the Week series is dedicated to inspirational men and women in Singapore leading healthy and active lifestyles. Have someone to recommend? Hit Cheryl up on Instagram or Facebook!
Name: Luigi Castelli (@luigi_runs)
Occupation: Sales Manager
Food: A unique combination of ginger, beetroot, carrot and orange aligned with a predominantly Mediterranean and plant-based diet, emphasising plant-derived proteins over meat consumption.
Exercise: I don't adhere to a particular exercise routine. Instead, I stay active every day by engaging in activities like tennis, cycling and maintaining an active lifestyle, such as frequent trips to the supermarket with a full IKEA bag of groceries.
Q: When you were younger, were you active in sports?
A: Yes I was a sports enthusiast. When I was a spry youngster, I dabbled in all sorts of athletic escapades. I dove headfirst into the world of swimming, kicked and chopped my way through karate classes with the family, and you know, football was practically a religion in my Italian household.
Then there was my wild rollercoaster ride through the realms of inline skating, and I even hopped on a skateboard from childhood. It's safe to say I was a regular sports sampler.
What did you get into as you got older?
While working in China, I was introduced to the world of badminton, which I loved for its unique combination of speed and technique. It amazed me to see how easily elder players could beat the younger ones, with a simple wrist movement. I have been happily involved in playing badminton for a few years even after being relocated to Singapore.
In the last few years, when the pandemic was restricting social gatherings, I gradually gravitated towards running. It offers greater flexibility in terms of selecting the location, time, and of course, distance.
When did you start getting more serious about running?
Until around three years ago, I was just the typical, run-of-the-mill casual jogger. You know, the type who would jog for a few kilometres just to relax my mind and get some fresh air.
But then fate intervened in 2021 when I stumbled upon an article about a British athlete who – in Singapore – shattered the Guinness Book of Records for the longest triathlon. He set the bar to a total of 7,519,670 kilometres split as per the triathlon ratio (majority of the kilometres are devoted to cycling, then running and swimming respectively). Time and time again, this athlete feat keeps returning to my mind. Without my awareness, the seed of what would become a major personal endeavour was planted.
And there you have it, my epic journey from a slow short jog to becoming a long-distance runner started.
What made you decide to attempt the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest triathlon by a male?
I decided I was going to do attempt the Guinness Book of World Records (GBWR) for the longest triathlon and I started it in mid-June this year, with a goal to finish it within the next year. It is a challenge that requires strategy, a well-thought-out plan and most importantly, an iron-will discipline. Taking on a record like that is like trying to turn the impossible into something that's just “I'm possible”.
It's all about pushing the limits of what your mind tells you and realising that with a change in your mindset and a dollop of determination, even the most epic feats can be turned from "You're insane!" to "You did it!". Quoting Danesh Daryanani in his article about my GBWR journey, “My I can” is about “I can” and “we all can”.
I am also raising funds for two charities on this journey.
What were some of the challenges you faced when you started preparing for this attempt?
My initial challenge was to familiarise myself with the three key disciplines of the triathlon – cycling, swimming and running. This task felt like attempting to master three distinct skills simultaneously, akin to learning three different languages at once. Transforming into a well-rounded athlete was no easy feat, as it required conquering unfamiliar territory and each section presented its own unique set of challenges and risks.
Running for thousands of kilometres proved to be very demanding for the knees and the leg muscles in general, Swimming for hundreds of kilometres was as daunting as preparing for an underwater odyssey, especially considering that the water conditions are highly influenced by tides, wind and underwater currents.
To become proficient in cycling, it's essential to grasp the basics of a racing bike, including its inherent risks like being clipped to the pedals and manoeuvring through Singapore's congested traffic.
The preparation for the challenge spanned over three years, with the primary goal of achieving a reasonable level of comfort in each discipline, while also handling the daily demands of extended periods of exercise.
When it came to developing endurance for the entire triathlon, it felt like managing a complex equation that required careful planning and unwavering commitment.
It was a test of pushing my boundaries and embracing the unfamiliar, even when my heart and mind were screaming "No!", I challenged myself to face these intimidating sections head-on, refusing to be defeated by my initial discomfort.
Gradually, with perseverance and determination, I transformed from an apprehensive newbie into someone who was somehow comfortable in taking on the triathlon challenge and set the bar one level up.
How did you overcome these challenges?
First, having a plan was crucial. It wasn't just a casual sketch, it was a meticulously detailed roadmap. I had to strategise every step, from my training routines to my nutrition and even recovery. Training was a significant part of the equation. I put in countless hours every day. Discipline was the unsung hero of my journey. It was about sticking to my training regimen, even when my inner voice tried to negotiate an extra hour of sleep.
In those moments, I had to summon my determined mind to shush my procrastinating tendencies. Once my body was conditioned, it was time to wrestle with the mind. It was about convincing myself that the triumph of crossing that finish line was worth all the sweat, pain, and dedication. So in essence, overcoming these challenges was a multi-faceted journey. It required meticulous planning, relentless training, unwavering discipline, continuous self-motivation and a lot of mental strength to put it all together and emerge as a triathlete.
You spent about three years preparing for this. How did you know you were ready?
Three years of preparation, and still the certainty of being fully ready is elusive. You don't truly grasp your readiness until you take that first step. It's about minimising risks to a manageable level, just like preventing muscle cramps or ensuring your bike is in good shape.
You can be reasonably confident that you're prepared to start, but reaching the finish line remains uncertain. That's the thing about such endeavours; the shadow of uncertainty always looms. It's about having faith in your own readiness. Waiting until you feel 100 per cent prepared is a never-ending waiting game, so the key is to take the plunge and trust in your preparation to carry you through.
When you were younger, did you experience any incidents that made you feel insecure about yourself?
I think it is safe to say that most of us have faced some forms of adversities during our youth. What really matters is how we interpret these challenges and use them as opportunities for our personal growth. These experiences act as essential life lessons, moulding us into the strong individuals we've become today.
When did you feel the least confident about yourself?
I firmly believe that the focus should be on the efforts made to achieve a goal rather than dwelling on moments of self-doubt. Confidence is often a fluctuating aspect of one's journey, and it is natural to encounter moments of uncertainty.
However, what truly matters is the determination and commitment put into pursuing your objectives. It is not about when we feel the least confident, but rather, how we channel our efforts to overcome challenges and to work towards our goals with unwavering dedication.
Did you ever struggle with your body?
I have come to accept and embrace my body, recognising that it may go through changes at different points in time. Instead of struggling with these fluctuations, I have learned to appreciate and love who I am in the present moment. It is about embracing self-acceptance and recognising that our worth is not defined by our body or weight, but by the content of our character and the love we have for ourselves.
Are you satisfied with your body now?
It all boils down to self-perception. I firmly believe that when you have a sound mind, you naturally have a sound body. I am content with my body in the present because I have found a harmonious balance between my physical well-being and my mental state. This triathlon challenge has played a significant role in fostering this equilibrium between my mind and body.
If you could change anything about yourself, would you?
I have reached a point in life where I have learned to fully embrace and accept myself just as I am. It is not about seeking changes or alterations in who I am but rather about living authentically and allowing others to do the same.
This perspective is grounded in the belief that authenticity is the truest form of self-expression and it is a gift that we offer not only to ourselves but also to the people we encounter on our life's journey. So, rather than being concerned about potential changes, I choose to focus on living as my most genuine self.