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Tim Davis is the author of TRIPOLAR: The Story of a Bipolar Triathlete, which chronicles his journey from childhood trauma into multiple addictions until finally recovering and discovering triathlons and ultrarunning as important tools to help him stay sober and in recovery. He is a high school science teacher and coach in Los Angeles, CA. He’s happily married with 3 amazing children. He has been competing and coaching in triathlons and endurance races for over two decades. He has completed 12 Ironman triathlons, seven 100-mile endurance runs, 1 double-ironman triathlon, and several 24 hour races. He is a strong and proud advocate for mental health and mental health awareness.You can follow Tim on his website at www.ultratimdavis.com
To begin, what Inspired you to write Tripolar? Was there perhaps a specific moment in your journey that set you on this path to writing this book?
My biggest inspiration to write Tripolar, was to share my own message of hope and inspiration with others, and especially with those who are struggling or have struggled with the issues that I have – which include childhood abuse and trauma, alcoholism, addictions, bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, and being overweight. I used to weigh 250 lbs eleven years ago, and I’m only 5’9” tall. I managed to lose 60 lbs in 6 months in 2009 and have stayed around 185 lbs ever since my “weight loss crusade”.
In your book Tripolar, you refer back to a point in your life where you felt as though you were at your lowest. It’s very common for students to feel as though they are in this same relative position. Whether it’s getting rejected by their dream university or falling into a cycle of bad habits, what advice do you have for students on how to move forward from this ‘lowest point’?
Great question! My advice would be to never give up and keep moving forward. I have several mantras which I’ve picked up from others along the way and that I still use regularly, such as:
- Dream big or go home!
- Never give Up
- If your dreams don’t scare you, your not dreaming big enough!
- Easy does it
- First things first
- Take baby steps
- If at first you don’t succeed…(you know the rest, right?) try, try again!
I would also remind them that one locked or closed door ultimately leads to another opportunity. Too often we get so focused on only one way or solution to achieving a goal we have set for ourselves. As a kid, I always did well in school and almost always got straight As. I dreamed of going to Ivy League schools, but when the time came around – I didn’t even apply to them, because I was afraid I wouldn’t get in because I only got a 1430 on my SAT. I don’t let past regrets rule my life anymore, but if I could go back in the past and talk to my 16-17 year old self, I would have made sure to convince him to apply to those schools too. You’ll never reach the sky if you don’t aim for the stars. So apply to all your dream schools, but be sure to apply to other schools too – and be prepared to accept wherever the chips may fall as they say.
As for bad habits, I would definitely say take baby steps again and/or set SMART goals. For me personally, I had several bad habits of drinking, smoking, overeating, and doing drugs for over 20 years. I finally embraced 12 step support groups to get the help I needed to overcome them one day at a time. So I would also tell them to not be afraid to ask for help and seek out therapy or support groups if they are having trouble dropping bad habits. You don’t have to do these things alone.
As someone who is an avid runner and athlete, how would you say the qualities you have developed taking part in events such as Iron mans and Ultramarathons helped you in other aspects of life? What are the cross applicable skills associated with these activities?
In order for me to become a successful Ironman triathlete and ultrarunner, I had to do research, planning, and networking. I went to the library and bought many books written by others who had done ironman triathlons and ultramarathons; and I talked to friends I made and networked with them to pick their brains for advice and tips that helped them become successful at events like those. I used the knowledge gained to design and plan training plans to prepare me for my big races. I joined the California Triathlon Club and met many other triathletes there. I joined several Facebook groups for triathletes and ultrarunners there, where you can post any question you have about training and racing that other experienced veterans respond to and share their experiences with everyone there.
It also takes hard work, grit, and determination of course!
If you could leave the youth with one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to dream big and shoot for the stars!