Ryan Farquhar: When I've been so close to death, it doesn't matter if I'm a stone heavier

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: motorcycle racing ace, Ryan Farquhar

Professional motorcycle road racer Ryan Farquhar, from Dungannon, holds the record of the most Irish national race wins of any one rider
Gail Bell

1. Up and at it – what is your morning routine?

I have to admit that I would be classed as a mobile phone freak as it’s usually the first thing I look at it the morning – to firstly check emails and messages then take a quick look through Facebook and Twitter. Believe it or not, social networking has a big impact on my business. It's then time for a quick shower and breakfast with the wife – usually, by this stage, my kids are up and away out to school and it's time for us to start our day. Since my accident in May last year [when Ryan suffered multiple serious injuries in crash at the North West 200] this routine has changed dramatically as I would normally be up before everyone else, out to the gym and back, showered and out in the workshop before Karen and the girls would be out of bed.

2. What might you eat in a typical working day for...

Breakfast? Usually in the morning it's porridge, or if Karen is feeling keen, she might put me out a good healthy fry – bacon, eggs, mushrooms and beans.

Lunch? Lunch is usually a sandwich – I like good food, nothing processed.

Evening meal? Karen makes us all a good dinner where we sit down as a family together; this would consist of spaghetti Bolognese, chicken curry or potatoes with mince and veg. I love my food and I get grumpy when hungry.

3. Is nutrition important to you?

Since my accident, I haven't taken healthy eating just as seriously – when I have been so close to death, it doesn't matter so much if I'm a stone heavier.

4. Best meal ever?

This isn’t an easy question to answer, as there are so many meals which I have enjoyed, but I’d have to say it’s my Christmas dinner which is always hard to beat.

5. Do you have a guilty pleasure?

I have to admit to enjoying a weekend at home with the the family and over-indulging on crisps and nuts, along with a few glasses of red wine or a couple of Jack Daniels.

6. Have you ever been on a diet? If so, how did it go?

I have been on many different diets during the past 20 years, especially from January to May, but during racing months I didn’t need to be as strict because the racing itself was keeping me fit. November and December were always months to enjoy and I pretty much ate what I wanted.

7. Do you take health supplements?

Yes, I’ve always been one to take many herbal remedies and vitamins and I’m a strong believer in aloe vera gel, which I drink daily, and turmeric – both are said to have many health benefits. I also usually take a vitamin C drink a few times a week and cod liver oil to help the joints.

8. How do you relax?

Since my accident, I began competing in another sport which, luckily for me, doesn’t entail too much fitness – clay target shooting. It's something I enjoy and something I can do which isn’t bike related, so it takes my mind off things. I also enjoy a good game of golf or snooker with friends.

9. Teetotal or tipple?

I do enjoy a little beverage or two... it's hard to beat a good bottle of red wine with a nice meal or a wee JD.

10. Stairs or lift?

Again, my situation has changed over the past year – the stairs were always the first option but now, with low energy levels and a bad ankle – for which I'm awaiting surgery – it’s the lift for me.

11. Do you have a daily exercise regime?

At the moment, because of injury, I'm unable to do any form of exercise, but I'm looking forward to being able to take it up again. I was always a keen cyclist and runner and I trained with a kick-boxing coach. I also enjoyed getting out for a run on the scrambler with mates which is a great form of exercise. Hopefully, the day will soon come for me to get back at it.

12. Best tip for everyday fitness?

If you're fit and healthy, make the most of it; eat as healthily as possible 80 per cent of the time and do a little exercise each day.

13. On a scale of one to 10, how fit do you think you are and how fit would you like to be? I'm very unfit at the moment – I lost a lot of weight after the time of my accident and any weight which I have gained is all fat. I've no muscle at all. Hopefully. in the next few years when Im properly recovered, I will be as fit as I used to be.

14. Have you tried, or would you try, alternative therapy?

Alternative therapy is something I have never thought about, but I'm always up for pretty much anything, especially if I thought it was going to be of benefit to my health.

15. Were school sports happy times or do you have a memory you would rather forget?

I always enjoyed 'sports day' at school. I was always extremely competitive and eager to win. Sports was one of the few things I enjoyed at school.

16. Did you ever have a health epiphany which made you change your lifestyle?

I've always led a pretty healthy lifestyle, but now because of life-changing injuries, everything about my life has changed. I'm not physically fit to do what I use to do and so I rely on the help of others a lot.

17. Best health/lifestyle advice you were ever given and would pass on to others?

I believe you only get out of something what you put in; my advice is to always remember that.

18. Who inspires you or who would you try to emulate in terms of fitness / attitude to life?

I've always done my own thing and trained in my own way. It's important for each individual to do what they think is best for them.

19. What time do you normally get to bed and do you get enough sleep?

I can't do without my sleep and need as much as eight to 10 hours per night. I try to be in bed before 11pm, but at the moment I have trouble sleeping, so I'm wide awake during the night and then, during the day, I'm completely knackered. I believe sleep is so very important for your health.

20. Would you say you have a healthy attitude towards your own mortality?

I feel like I've lived my life to the fullest. I've competed for many years in a dangerous sport where my wife and children supported me. There were many highs and many lows, but I've no regrets. I woudn't change a thing.

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