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I decided to quit smoking because nobody wants to be the slowest man. I was smoking 20 a day and it was beginning to affect my training. Five minutes into a jog and my breathing wouldn’t be great, I would be coughing and then I’d have to start walking. I knew I’d have to quit if I really wanted to improve my fitness and put everyone else to shame,” admits Andrew.
Smoking since he was 11 years old, Andrew confesses that he was young when he started but cigarettes were easy to come by then and his friends were all smoking too.
Andrew does a quick mental tot and says: “I was smoking for ten years and that’s a sizeable length of time. Before I quit smoking I would have smoked 20 cigarettes a day and more on a night out with the lads.”
It was during his time in McKee Barracks that Andrew really noticed the side effects of smoking on his health. “I was based in McKee Barracks in Dublin in the Infantry Section of the Reserves. I joined when I was 17 and stayed until I was 23 years old. It was during this time that I really noticed how much smoking was taking a toll on my health. We’d be carrying an extra 40kg of weight between the jacket, rucksack and rifle during training. The non-smokers would be jogging away fine and I’d be hacking up a lung,” says Andrew.
Since quitting Andrew talks about the benefits it has had on his health and running. He is the first to admit that he is not a person who gives up easily and was determined to quit smoking. To help overcome the cravings at the beginning Andrew took up jogging. “To help with the cravings, I would jog the 30 minutes it would take me to get from Finglas to the Phoenix Park and then jog back again. I never kept an eye on the distance, it was more about the time spent jogging,” comments Andrew.
Andrew also feels he has re-claimed some control over his life. “Now I don’t wake up craving a cigarette first thing in the morning. Before, I would wake up in the middle of the night –
Andrew’s main tip for other smokers thinking about quitting is to gather their arsenal of will-power, self-belief and support:
“You have to have the willpower to quit but I think everyone has enough willpower to quit smoking. Within 21 days you’ll have broken the habit and all the chemicals from the cigarettes will be leaving your body. Another tip is to surround yourself with people who will support you in your quit attempt".