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Five-minute breather with… Rod Johnstone

Growing up on a farm and heading straight into the army, when Rod Johnstone returned to civilian life and started his own construction business, his motivation for fitness dropped and the kilos crept on. That was until a charity challenge from a friend steered him towards triathlon, and the euphoric experience of completing his first Ironman 70.3. He’s now planning to get leaner and shave down his time from last year, plus has just taken his passion for helping others up a notch by joining the committee and becoming the major sponsor of the Banish the Black Dog Charity Ride for the next three years.

Bearing in mind everything I’d done to lead me to that 70.3 medal; you couldn’t buy it from me. All the hours of training and pain and having your family there – it was outstanding.”

Occupation: Director of the Rod Johnstone Group.

What are you doing to get moving at the moment? Training six days a week for triathlons. My next major goal is Ironman 70.3 Cairns (1.9km swim, 90km ride and 21.1km run), plus I’m aiming to do a marathon (42.2km) later in the year, with the view to doing a full Ironman (3.8km swim, 180km ride, 42.2km run) in 2017. I want to do the 70.3 half-an-hour faster this year (aiming for about 05:20). I lost 14kg last year, but I’ve put 5kg back on, so I want to lose 8kg by June to be lighter on my feet.


What activity makes you the happiest and why? Competing in triathlons because supportive and positive people are everywhere in the sport.

How did you discover it? I signed up originally to Ironman 70.3 Cairns last year to raise money for Mates4Mates — a mate was meant to be doing it with me, but he pulled out. I’d only ever done one triathlon before and that was a sprint distance (750m swim, 20km ride, 5km run) in Julia Creek. Signing up to such a big goal gave me a D-Day – a day of accountability. I joined the Free Radicals Tri Club shortly after and now my son Damon is also a member, so it’s great being able to do that together most Sundays.

Have you always been active? Growing up on a farm I was always doing something and couldn’t sit still. I played rugby league, union and did athletics in school, then spent 10 years in the army where I was training every day. But once I got out the army my activity declined, I put on weight and I was looking to do something that would give me purpose, but also a sport that had longevity and I could do as I got older.


Are you a morning or afternoon mover? Morning for sure. There’s too much that can go awry throughout the day!

What’s your favourite thing to do on a weekend in Townsville? Camping and fishing with my family and friends. When there’s water, we have about three spots at Herveys Range that we like to visit about six times a year during the cooler months. The trick is balancing training, work and my love for camping!

Your most motivating tune? “Walk” Foo Fighters.

Motivational quote? “You can’t build someone up by putting them down”.

How do you pep yourself up when you’re craving the couch? Visualise yourself achieving what you have been working hard for by being committed.

Do you prefer to get active solo, or with a buddy? Both depending on the day.

Most annoying fitness fad? Ab swings!


What’s your greatest fitness achievement? My first Ironman 70.3 in Cairns last year. It was a steep learning curve — I didn’t own a wetsuit before then, I’d never done ocean swim, and I only got tri bars for my bike a few weeks before. But I was absolutely addicted to it straight away – I was euphoric. Running up that big red carpet with your friends and family cheering, you can’t beat it — nothing would make you stop. Bearing in mind everything I’d done to lead me to that 70.3 medal; you couldn’t buy it from me. All the hours of training and pain and having your family there – it was outstanding.”

What’s your arch nemesis and what have you done to conquer it? Excess body fat — I train my arse off!

What’s something we don’t know about you? I once jumped a fence in Brisbane to get past the security guards and get an autograph of Kix Brooks from “Brooks and Dunn” after a concert.

“The Black Dog ride raises funds and awareness for mental health and its treatment in our local community, which is a cause that’s very close to my heart”

What’s your next goal? The Banish the Black Dog Charity Ride in May (Saturday, May 28 to Sunday, May 29). This one will be my third year, but the first time I have been on the committee and now the Rod Johnstone Group is the major sponsor. The Black Dog ride raises funds and awareness for mental health and its treatment in our local community, which is a cause that’s very close to my heart. I have family and loved ones close to me who are affected by depression and anxiety, including my wife who had a particularly tough time a couple of years ago. Plus it’s a great event to be involved in — you cycle 260km to Ayr over two days and meet some fantastic people. It’s well organised, well catered, safe, and you’re doing something to help others.


Most embarrassing moment on the go? None… yet!

Who would you most like to train with (e.g. famous person, or someone you look up to)? Boxer Danny Green. He’s such a great ambassador for young kids by being dignified in what he does, like being involved in the One Punch Can Kill campaign.

The training advice I wish I’d listened to was… Don’t push too hard too soon. Also, in terms of triathlon training, you need to balance out each leg. Try to be as strong as you can across them all, because if you focus too much on one area, then you suffer across the next. If you come out of the swim and you see three bikes left on the rack, it becomes a mental battle. So much of it is in your head – your mind does what it says it will do.

rod-hamoMost treasured piece of fitness gear? My bike — a Specialized Tarmac Elite.

My best local fitness tip is… Train early in the morning as it’s not going to get any cooler in the day around Townsville. If you’re time poor make it 4am when everyone else is in bed.

Tell us a joke (why not?) What do you call a fly without wings?
A walk! (Father-in-law joke that one, sorry).

Last words? Let everyone you love know how you feel in case tomorrow never comes.

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Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz is combining two of her great loves — writing and getting active. Previously working as a journalist, sub-editor, and editor in newspapers and magazines; she is editor and co-founder of TheGo Townsville. She stays active with the staples of road cycling and yoga, but has recently discovered triathlon. And become addicted (apart from the swimming part). She also has a Cert III in Fitness and is passionate about improving mental health through physical activity.

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