2016: time to reflect 

2016.

Check your watch and you’ll miss it.

Well where did that even go?! Gone in a heartbeat I’m sure 2017 will be the same.

Is it just me that feels like time moves faster the older we get?

Well lots has happened this year, two of my best friends have got engaged, and not to each other.

We graduated, somehow all got degrees. Few races here and there, a vicious amount of miles, and into the big wide world.


19,529km cycling.

988km running.

232,212m swimming.

And a few gym sesh warms.

Curls get the girls right?


Hamstring curls obviously.

Considering this time last year there was talk of scratching from euros to focus on my degree as I hobbled round the architecture building, I managed to pull it out of the bag.

Let’s start with the degree. Despite returning to training in march, just under 3 months before we finished, i managed to get my head down and pull some work out.

Sessions 6 days a week, studio for up to 15 hours a day, sleep was limited.

After getting the degree out of the way, 2:1 in the bag, it was straight to the drawing board for the summer season.

How do you prepare for a stacked summer of racing with average fitness and a running ban.

Miles.

And miles.

And more miles.

We had to think, what am I good at? Cycling.

So what am I gonna do?

Yep.

Cycle.

Up to 1,000km a week in the chair, with high quality sessions coming from the time trials my legs were starting to pick up some form.

And that’s when i got the weapon.
From strength to strength on the canyon, I knew my cycling form was strong. With only 3 weeks of running before euros I knew I wasn’t going to be catching anyone up on the marathon, so I’d have to set the bike alight.

And that’s exactly what I did.

A comfortable 4:46 cycle brought home a silver medal.

But it just wasn’t enough.

I mean, yes, that’s a quick bike leg. People can try for years and never go sub 5. But it was a weak swim and a very poor marathon.

Moving on to set two club records for Bath Cycling club, my summer was only heading one way.

500km, 600km, 550km. Miles in. Second, first, second, third. Results in.

But my swimming & running just weren’t in the same room.

Now in January, if you had offered me a bronze medal at worlds. I’d have laughed in your face, and told you that would be a dream end to the season.

Which it was.

But it was so bitter sweet.

Take away the medal, and the bike. And I was poor to average.

So what for next year?

Another sequence of injury already holding back my running form, it doesn’t make for a promising start to the year. Along with some added Christmas weight to shift.

But the miles are getting done, especially in the pool. And fingers crossed for a spell of injury free training.

Because looking at my training peaks account, if I can get my running fitness back to normal. Next year could be a lot of fun!

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If you didn’t win – did you lose?


So this video went viral this week, causing all kinds of arguments and throwing up some really heated discussions. If you haven’t already, just watch the video before you proceed.

Well this is quite a touchy subject, for many, as they disagree with the video and the message that it’s trying to send out.

If you didn’t win, did you lose?

and really, it’s so subjective that there isn’t really an answer, but here’s my stance on the topic.

And obviously you’re also entitled to your opinion, so I won’t call you right or wrong!

To lose: a verb in the english language meaning ‘the failure to win’.
If you lose, you are therefore a loser. The associated noun.

So if we’re talking techincal details, if you didn’t win.
You lost.
And you are therefore a loser.

Now in modern society the word ‘loser’ is more commonly associated with a derogitory term. Used by bullies and other intimitidating personalities to talk people down. It’s thrown around as an insult, a harsh term.

And thus, the word loser is something people don’t want to be associated with. Nobody wants to be known as a loser.

Now I believe that what the Louisvilles basketball coach is trying to get at, is that if you won’t be associated with the term loser, how are you going to improve? As he quotes ‘you gotta have a will’. Everybody thinks they deserve things without work, without sacrifice, without dedication. People don’t and shouldn’t be rewarded for finishing last, or only turning up, merely taking part.

Life can be tough, really hard, that’s no secret and won’t come as a great shock to many people. But tough times don’t last, tough people do.



And yes, I hate cliches as much as the next person. But more I spend time with high class athletes, influential business men & women, the more I begin to believe them. To realise there’s actually so much truth involved.

Local primary schools are currently trying to promote the idea of a growth mindset; that hard work gets results. And if you’re not there yet, you will be if you try hard enough.


If you take the example of an olympic podium. Most athletes are absolutely ecstatic with a silver medal, as they rightly should be. For many, it will be the pinnacle of their lives. Everything they have strived towards, all their hopes and dreams, coming true. There’s a reason there is so much emotion on an olympic podium.

Although for 80% of these bronze & silver medallists, it’ll last weeks, possibly months, before it just becomes fuel for the fire to attain the gold medal, four long years later.

Every day, pushing them further and further on. To do more than they thought posisble, exceeding the boundaries and reaching new limits. Because they didn’t win last time, they aren’t quite winners yet.

But are they losers?

In many sports, including my own, you can complete a whole season and not feel the need to race a single person. Sure, there will be lots of people in your race. But if you’re constantly striving for that personal best, them extra few miles, that constant self improvement. A few seconds off the park run, an extra 30 metres in your hour swim test.

So if you hit a PB every time, but cross the line last, are you a loser?

And I know what you’re thinking, no, don’t be stupid, of course they’re not losers.

No, the olympic silver medallist is not a loser. No, the person that finishes last at the park run is also not a loser. And the slowest swimmer included. They’re not losers, they’ve pushed themselves to the limit, and consequently they’re that little bit better.

And it’s the taking part that counts right?

Right?

Ah.

If only that was the case.

Unfortunately, life isn’t that easy.

They lost.

If me and you go for a job interview, and you get the job. I’ve lost. There is no second place. I don’t get paid, I’m still unemployed and I’m out of money.

I’m a loser. I don’t get a medal for taking part, I don’t get a certificate. I have to try again, and again, and again. Until I win.

I might have to rethink my CV, change the way I dress, improve my first impressions, gain more experience. There are many things that might have to be worked at.

But slowly, we start to become like the park runner, like the athlete, needing to improve, striving for the best out of ourselves. Everybody starts from the bottom. But that doesn’t mean you can’t reach the top.

Slowly, we can transform from being a loser, to being a winner.

Realistically, in any scenario there is only one winner. 2nd, 3rd, 4th, they can be great, but there’s still that bit of room for improvement.

So that leaves us with a middle ground in which, we are still losers. And until we win, we are all losers.

But I don’t think that’s a bad thing. If you’re happy losing, and happy settling where you are. Take home the medal for taking part, wear it with pride.

Although you won’t have pushed yourself, you’ll never know what you’re capable of.

So accept the fact that you’re a loser. But embrace it with a smile on your face. A smile because you know that that’s not the end, you’re not going to be forever a loser. And it could take time. People work for years before it pays off.

But believe in yourself.

Because it will pay off.

And losers, become winners.

“Rise and rise again. Like the Pheonix from the ashes. Until lambs have become lions”

 

 

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Crikey – they look good!

The classic pre-race anxiety is hard enough let alone when you psych yourself out over what your opponents looks like. And nine times out of ten, you’re wasting your energy. And this is why.

What are you actually perceiving when you pre judge someone? You’re basing their ability entirely on the aesthetic they have.


And yes, we all do it.

In fact I’m one of the worst for it.

But 80% of sport is won or lost in the mind. So don’t talk yourself out of it before you’ve even started!!


But are you even racing them?

The beauty of our sports is that there can be 25,000 competitors. And you’re still only racing yourself.

If you come home with a smile on your face at the end of the day, you’re the real winner.

And yes, in the new debate I am on the side that believes if you finish last, you are a loser. And that will follow in another blog.

However if you have worked hard, improved and taken a step forward, that is to be commended.


I remember being at the start of a team time trial in Wales, Port Talbot 4up.

Now I was always going to be nervous, first team time trial, first 25m time trial, two men that had just finished 10th at nationals to follow and only my third time on a time trial bike.

Safe to say I was laying eggs.

This wasn’t helped when half way through the warm up team bottrill purred past, full matching kit, perfect precision in their line, all 4 with slick disc wheels singing the slow, deep “vroom, vroom, vroom” sound we all love.

They looked sharp. Really sharp.

But why were we worried? Just cause they can afford nice kit, didn’t mean they could use it.

And often people are looking at you thinking the same thing.

I mean, this year I rode a brand new canyon, bambino helmet and a sharp skin suit. For anyone looking at a 12 year old on gear like that, they’re either fairly nippy, or just too rich.


Just too rich.

A common phenomenon in cycling.

As the middle aged, mid life crisis cyclists begin to get more serious, the competitive racing side of the sport is evolving rapidly.

And people have realised that by throwing money at some nice gear, it does make a big difference.

But.

That doesn’t make you fast.

Miles do that.


Anyway… So as we stand in port talbot expecting to have team botrill plow through us. I was petrified.

But my legs really wanted to play.

Dropping the 4th member of our team 15km in, meant we were a 3 man job from a long way out.

15km left one was hanging on.

And the last 8km was the Schofield choo choo train, dragging the boys home.

My eager, over excited legs having to control themselves.

A very bitty, jumpy first ttt. Not one to be proud of.

But we finished second. One second behind first, and almost 20 seconds ahead of team botrill.

And it made me remember, yet again.

There’s so much more to our sport than fancy bikes, shaved legs and middle aged men in Lycra.

Attitude, resilience, personality, the list goes on.

If you believe you can succeed, you will.

On that start line, there will always be people with a nicer bike, nicer gear, bigger legs, whatever else you judge them by.


But you will always be you.

And you will always bring it.

So stop worrying about the fanny with a 15 grand pinarello, he’s probably worked hard in other aspects of his life to deserve that.

Most of the time, you’re not even gonna be in the same race.

Just worry about yourself.

Lay it all out.

Hit that pb.

And go home with a smile on your face.