Motivation, discipline and commitment. It’s all about this when you want to reach your goals, a new personal best or just become a better you. The truth is – hard work knocks out the talent! But let’s start from the very beginning of my story.

The first contact with sports started when I was ten years old. My parents bought me a mountain bike for my birthday. Like every child, I was very happy about it. The coincidence that my birthday is in August was just perfect and I was able to make my first moves out on the tarmac in the hot summer of 1998. Thanks to my father who pushed me up some steep mountains at this age, I fell in love with this sport – the cycling. After my first rides I was hungry for more kilometers outdoors.

As the years of my puberty went through, I started to go deeper in the cycling sport. After school, I used to jump on my bike and ride, together with my father of course, in the mountains close to the village where I was living. For me, it was freedom to ride through the wood, smell the fresh air, and listen to the silence of nature. Naturally I was far away from any competitive level with my riding and endurance skills, but at that moment I was not interested in competing. Then, when I turned 16 and I got my first salary, I bought my first road bike. It was a Trek 1000. I was so in love with this bike, mostly because my idol at this time – Lance Armstrong –just won his third Tour de France in a row riding Trek.

As soon as I started cycling on this bike I became very fast and quite good. I was so good that I even got the possibility to start some “everyman” races. At the age of 17 I signed a semiprofessional contract with my cycling club mountainbiker.at and got the opportunity to start at various races. Very soon I discovered that my strength is in the mountains. I was able to push power in the deep sessions where I was cycling at. My biggest success was the victory at the national champs in U-18 in the mountain climbing category in Austria.

Unfortunately it was my last big success. I had to stop with cycling because of several reasons. Strongest for sure was the loss of my training partner in a race crash. He passed away next to me waiting for the first aid assistance. It is a scene that will be with me forever. Another stop was the obligatory military service that in Austria is for 18 years old man. Last but not least reason was that I was contacted by some dark circles which offered me performance enhancements to become better and to prepare me for bigger goals…

After 6 months spent in the army, I got an offer to work abroad in Macedonia. It was a great opportunity at my age to develop my skills in another country and get some working experience. As cycling was not in my focus, I accepted it. Everything was fine, great job, sweet life and unfortunately very delicious food in Macedonia. After four years in this cradle of civilization I ended up with 90 Kg, a figure I had never seen on the scale before. I was so shocked from this figure that I pushed the break in eating everything what came across my way and started again with what was leading me in my previous years – sport.

In Macedonia at this time it was a bit difficult to drive a bicycle, so I started running. Unfortunately I started my training somewhere in November 2014 and as additional motivation over the Christmas period 2014/15 I decided to sign up for the Vienna City Marathon 2015. So there I was – it was April 2015, I had lost 17 kg and felt really good at that moment. Ready to crash my first full marathon – of course never tried a half marathon. Driven by emotions, good cheering from the crowd I finished this challenge after 4 hours and 16 minutes.

I was more than happy – that happy that I immediately signed up for my next marathon –Frankfurt marathon in autumn. It was such an amazing race and it went very well, I cut more than 30 min from my previous result in Vienna. But for the first time after the race I faced a problem with an injury. I started having problems with my knees which burned a lot in Frankfurt. For me these moments are very important in sport. You might achieve new PBs, but do you give to your body enough in return for these efforts? Well, it seems I didn’t. I had to reduce my training for my next marathon in the first weeks. These weeks of winter 2015 I took the first view back in the cycling sport. Immediately I was interested again about all the technical and material changes which happened in the past five years since I was out of cycling. It seemed that, for example, training with power meter is the golden standard and it was possible to push your limits further. But returning into my running training, the just discovered cycling novelties were quickly out of my mind as fast as they came to my mind. I prepared myself the best I could over the winter period, started very fresh and with good in shape at the Vienna City Marathon 2016 –there I achieved my new and still current PB on the marathon distance, 3 hours 6 minutes.

Finishing Vienna City Marathon 2016 was for me the opening of a new chapter. Somewhere in my mind the discovered cycling news started to wake up and I decided to return into cycling. I bought a new road bike – of course with all the technical gears which were at this moment golden standard – such as power meters. Immediately I felt again the same good feeling I had in my younger years. I drove outside on the streets, climbed steep hills and found myself again back at this feeling I liked so much when I was young. It seemed that I was addicted to this sport so much, that it was only a question of time to return to this addiction.

Just there was one problem, I also got addicted to the running. Both, the cycling and the running got so much out of me, pushed me so hard that I couldn’t release any of these two sports. Because of the fact that I was still working in Macedonia, I had to make a combination of both sports. I was running from Monday till Friday in Macedonia and went cycling on the weekend in Austria. The weather wasn’t always nice to wake up early in the morning and ride, but it was the only possibility to satisfy my hobby and after 9 am be a good father to my two daughters which didn’t see me the whole week. Something new I discovered during the winter period of 2016 was Zwift. Zwift is an online platform for cycling training where you send an avatar of yours through different worlds. This magic tool was ideal for me. Now I could do my workouts independent from time and location. I got the possibility to train in Skopje on the home trainer during the week. Now it was much easier to spend quality time with my family on the weekend as I had already done my time consuming sessions during the week…

To be continued…

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Author: Stefan Trost