Jedrzej Kurylo is a software engineer at X-Team based in Poland and one of the most active X-Teamers when it comes to sports. Get a glimpse into his life as he talks about his passion for sports and what drives him to push himself forward with every new training.
Hi Jedrzej, thank you for taking the time to talk to me. Can you tell me a little bit about your love for sports? What's your favorite sport and how did you get into it?
My favourite sport is running. It's what I focus on most when I train. I started running many years ago. I think I simply wanted to lose some weight, get in shape, etc... Now, I’m addicted to being physically tired - it might sound strange, but it's a great feeling.
But I do lots of other sports too. I try to do some scuba diving whenever I travel to a good diving area. I did a free diving course in Thailand, for example. I also do weight training in the gym, I go to crossfit classes (fun!), I sometimes go bouldering, and I used to do mountainboarding when I was younger (snowboarding, but down a mountain without snow). When I travel, I try to do as many outdoor activities as possible: kayaking, hiking, etc...
And I do triathlons. In fact, I just completed the 70.3 IronMan triathlon in Gdynia, Poland, which was my biggest sports achievement so far. I love triathlon, because it combines three different sports, which makes it really challenging. Complicated logistics and the need to actually plan the race and have a strategy make it an even bigger challenge.
(the 70.3 stands for the total distance in miles. A 70.3 triathlon is 1.9K swim, a 90K cycle, and a 21.1K run)
I learned that if I don't exercise frequently, I get sad and grumpy. I feel bad, both in my body and mind. So endorphins for the win! I guess this is why they’re called nature’s home-brewed opiates 😆. And there’s no better feeling than crossing the finish line of a big race you’ve been training for.
I can imagine! And on a regular week, what does training look like? How often do you train, do you train in a group, etc...? What's the reasoning behind it?
I mostly run. I usually run 60-75 km a week, with 4-5 running days a week. Until this year, my running wasn't really structured. I just went out and ran at a comfortable pace whatever distance I felt like doing. This year, when I started to train for the 70.3 IronMan, I decided to redesign my running routine to make faster progress.
So I now use what's called the Daniels running formula. Jack Daniels is a running coach and a coach of Olympic athletes. Using his training plans, I do long runs at an easy pace, interval training, sprints, etc... I've started making a lot more progress.
Most of my structured runs I do on my own, but I also attend runs organised by the triathlon club from Warsaw: the Warsaw International Triathlon Club (WITC). Joining WITC has really helped me find more motivation to train. We train together, we go to races together, and we hang out together. I got to know a lot of great people through the club.
I don’t cycle that much. I usually do a longer (50-70 km) ride once a week with WITC. And I use my bike as a means of transport, if the weather allows for it. This year, I finally started enjoying long bicycle rides more, so I plan to do more cycling training in the future.
I do even less swimming. Only recently, I started attending swimming classes. I’m such a terrible swimmer. During a triathlon, I’m usually one of the few that does breaststroke. Everyone else does front crawl. So I really hope to learn front crawl this year. I want to improve my swimming and start enjoying swimming more.
It's brave to do a triathlon when you know you're not a good swimmer. And have you traveled abroad to race?
I only did one race abroad: my first (and so far my only) marathon. I really wanted to do a marathon, but I didn't enjoy long runs all that much back then. So I thought I’d do a marathon once, just to cross it off my running to-do list. And because I planned to do it only once, I decided to go big and do the original marathon from Marathon to Athens in 2018, despite the course being quite hard, with most of the course slowly going uphill.
It took me much longer to complete than I'd hoped for, but I really enjoyed it and, of course, I decided to do one marathon a year. I’m doing the Budapest marathon at the end of September. Another race abroad I've planned is the IronMan 70.3 in New Zealand in December this year.
Wow, they all sound like tough endurance races in beautiful places. With all this, how have the Unleash+ budget and the XHQ bounties helped you with your races and training?
I use the Unleash+ budget to pay the entry fees for some of the races I did. I listen to audiobooks when I go for longer runs, for which I use the Unleash+ budget as well. Completing bounties doesn't have that much impact on my running, but seeing others completing them and having a chance to encourage others to run because of the bounties really motivates me to keep running.
That's really good to hear! What are some of the racing goals you want to achieve?
My next milestones are to run a marathon below 4 hours and to finish the 70.3 IronMan below 6 hours, both of which I hope to achieve this year. My goal for next year is 5 km below 20 minutes. In 2020 (or more likely in 2021) I want to complete a full IronMan.
Excellent goals. Finally, for people reluctant to start working out or reluctant to race, what would be your advice?
Find a running/sports buddy or join a running/sports club. Having people around you to train with helps a lot. Training is more fun and long runs feel shorter when you have someone to talk to. It also gives a lot of extra motivation. It’s really easy to find excuses not to exercise. Having someone waiting for you to run together really helps there. Additionally, celebrating big and small wins also feels better when you do it with people who understand the feeling. I learned that people who don’t exercise find it hard to understand why getting tired can make you happy.
And start slow! In the beginning, it’s better to run often than to run far. Just to get into the habit of running. It’s also important to rest and not push yourself too hard, as this will only end with injury or with you starting to dislike sports. Let go from time to time. Train on a regular basis and the results will come. Celebrate even the smallest races, the smallest wins, and the smallest improvements. And never compare yourself against others, as there will always be people around that will be better than you. Only compare yourself against your former self.
Some wise advice. Thank you so much for the interview, Jedrzej. Best of luck with your races!