Former Narrandera athlete Renee Kiley has a remarkable story to tell about her transformation to a pro athlete.
Renee is the daughter of Peter and Sharon Kiley of Narrandera. The Narrandera-born 36-year-old, who now resides in Queensland to train with Cam Watt and the Hills District squad, famously lost 40kgs and quit chain-smoking to become one of Australia’s most inspirational citizens and one of the country’s newest professional triathletes.
After years of succumbing to a sedentary lifestyle and indulging in poor eating habits and destructive vices as recently as 2013, Kiley flipped the script for a complete and utter about-face. Kiley is now a perfect picture of good health and positivity. She makes it look easy racing triathlons around the world, even racking up a fifth-place result at Ironman Estonia in just her third full distance race as a pro.
Kiley finished in a time of 9 hours 11 minutes, just seven minutes off the podium — 16 behind the winner — and a whopping 22 minutes faster than her previous Iron distance result.
But despite her rapid rise to pro ranks, like many fearful of taking the first step toward fitness, Kiley found her early days quite daunting.
“In the beginning, I was so frightened of what people would think of me when I first started triathlon,” Kiley told Triathlon NSW. “I was over 100kg at the time and extremely body-conscious not to mention unfit.
“There were times I was so nervous and anxious about joining in group sessions when I first joined a tri club that I would shed a few tears in my car and had to give myself an internal pep talk to get on with things instead of turning the car around and going home.”
Overcoming her initial fears — and getting back on the bike for the first time since she was a child — was the beginning of what would be a three-year metamorphosis that would see her shed much more than weight on her way to a healthier, happier existence.
“Once I had been doing the sessions for a few weeks I was no longer afraid and that is because I just enjoyed what I was doing so much I didn’t have time to think about it,” she said. “I always say to people once you find your passion, the thing that sets your soul on fire, the desire to do what you love becomes greater than any fear you may feel.”
When asked about her “secret” in shedding the weight and transforming from couch potato to fitness fanatic, Kiley claims there is no one element of success but rather a cumulative approach.
“I didn’t ever go on a diet,” said the self-confessed “nomad” who still considers herself a New South Welsh-man at heart.
“I was in denial about how overweight and unhealthy I was. I just started doing triathlon and immediately fell in love with the sport.
“And so, my journey became about getting better at triathlon and as a con-sequence, I lost weight. My activity level went from zero to maybe 10 hours per week simply by getting into the sport.”
Now finding herself in the best shape of her life — both physically and mentally — just what keeps Kiley motivated and on the right track? One word—goals!
“Having both short and medium-term goals is key to keeping me motivated,” she said. “I think goal-setting is one of the most underrated essential factors when it comes to success in any aspect of life.
“Goals should be realistic, but at the same time seem difficult enough they scare you a little. I am a highly motivated person in general, so I have to admit I don’t really struggle too often with a lack of motivation in regards to getting my training done.
“I have days I might struggle to get out of bed when my alarm goes off or want to skip an easy recovery session because I am tired and sore but they are extremely rare,” Kiley concluded. “I would say I struggle more with food and diet. However, I am getting much better at that and it is my short-term goals that help me refocus and find the will power to stay on the right track.”