Instagram Without Followers – A New Start.

After a couple of emails at the weekend and today concerned that my Instagram has seemingly “been hacked”. I decided I write my reply openly, for everyone to read. To gain more understanding of why I’ve deleted Instagram.

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“Thanks for the concern, though it seems you didn’t read the single new post!

I chose to delete my Instagram account and start again. This is for a variety of reasons – the majority of which are listed below.

DSC_9264I decided moving forward a rebrand would be far more beneficial to me and the brands I work with.

I’ve been thinking a lot on the subject recently. I’ve really lost taste in Instagram & Facebook and the way my accounts have been running. My followers are completely disengaged and I haven’t been enjoying the content I’ve been posting. I feel like I’ve been posting for the sake of it and it’s gone completely flat. And that’s completely against everything I stand for.

So I’ve decided to reset my Instagram, keep the same handle and go back to zero followers. In the hope of building a more authentic approach, true to my character, with an engaged following, be it small or large. Do more of what I love and create original content through my photography business, and train/race hard for the love of it as I always have regardless of social media.

I have a lot more to offer any brand than a few Instagram followers – though it seems that’s all people are interested in. Being a content creator, an active community member offline, one of the countries top age group athletes and still only 25 all seems to get overlooked for a single number. A number of disengaged followers. Why are we so trapped by this?

DSC_7786Therefore I took the decision to start again. Though short term I may lose relationships, support or exposure.  Long term I’ll forge more valuable ones and be in a better place. I’ll be able to work with people that share my values, believe in my journey and have faith in me as a person.

It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, though I’m sure you’ll understand.”

Jack

And I’ll finish with one of my favourite quotes:
“It’s much better to walk alone, in the right direction, than to follow the herd, walking in the wrong one”.

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Training camp? Completed it.

On the way back to the UK after my 5th of 5 weeks on training camp. Yet again it’s been a success, with my third biggest training week of all time, backed up by a second, very solid week.

DSC02077All 4 camps had very specific purposes – and we planned them well to achieve that. Spain & Portugal were to build the base. Big miles, consistent training, heavy volume.

Gran Canaria was about adapting to the new bike. Chasing some amazing cyclists up the mountains and starting to find some run form on heavy legs. Those Ironman replica sessions that have become the bread & butter of my training.

And Lanzarote was for racing. Rolling roads, fast efforts & heat. Really hunting for that top end speed I only really see on race day.

452A40913 weeks to Africa and the race plays over and over in my mind. Each time more specific than the time before. 

I’ve rigorously checked the course, decided where the most crucial points of my race will be. Planned my nutrition, my gear. The pain and elation of Barcelona still echoing in my mind. Reminding me that it can all go wrong so quickly, but a pleasant nod to the fact that no matter what, I’ll race through. And as always the reality is – it’ll be nothing like any of the 964,732 scenarios I’ve already thought out. 

This winter I’ve worked harder than ever. I haven’t always hit my numbers and I haven’t always wanted to train. I’ve dragged my feet, moaned at those around me and been very very tired at times.

DSC_9687But one theme has been constant through – a relentless consistently. No matter where I am, what I’m doing, who I’m with. Training has been first on the menu and when I start, I’ve carried out every session with complete focus. Left the baggage at the door, and got to work. 

I’ve been more disciplined in my recovery, I’ve worked hard day in day out – and finally, I think I’m starting to be ready to race.

So far in 2019 I have:

Swam – 31 hours. (109.9km)

Cycled – 129.5 hours. (3,737km, 54,319m elevation).

Run – 52.5 hours. (717km, 5,645m elevation).

20180520_11141And my average weekly TSS since starting the season in November has been 1,112. For those of you that don’t know – that’s some solid work! 

And my legs know about it. But hopefully, three weeks today, the results sheet will too. 

Exceptional performances are made up of hundreds and hundreds of average sessions. Trust me – 90% of my training has been very very average. 9% has been pretty poor.

But there’s the magic 1%. The region where I’ve shown signs of form that have never been there before. A PB swim on a heavy body in Lanzarote. A pb half up a climb in Gran Canaria. A time trial effort into the wind. 

DSC02054They peak out now and then, remind me that it could all be worth it. 

All that’s left is two light weeks, and one final big push to ensure that I really am in the best shape of my life. Both physically and mentally. Hopefully the British weather does its best to play along through the final push. 

It’s strange being ready for a race. I’ve always performed my best when I’m not quite expecting it. Wales, Canada, Maastricht, Almere. If you’ve followed my short triathlon career you’ll know I’ve always managed to race the best, when I feel the worst.

DSC01646Though I’m scared, really scared about it all going wrong. Finding myself looking up at the sky in another bike crash. Getting yet another flat. And I have to remain realistic – you don’t get a prize for turning up at an Ironman. 

If I stick to my race plan, it’ll be the most testing day of my life. But I’m ready for that. And if it doesn’t come off. If it does go wrong. Then I’ll learn the lessons, and be ready for the day I get it right. 

Discipline. Focus. Graft. 

2019, here we go!

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Another Week in My Easy Life?

It’s a strange one, this triathlon game.

DSC02077On the surface, it’s the dream. New week, new place, new people. But underneath, is it as easy as it looks?

452A40934 weeks out from my next race. Arguably the biggest of my career so far, and one I’m really hungry to perform in.

I’ve just completed my third biggest training week, ever, and had my bike not thrown a wobbler, it could have been bigger!

4 weeks out, and the pre race jitters are really beginning to set in.

We all have it… that awful feeling that begins to set in… whether it’s for a work deadline, a big occasion, a new venture. We get cold feet, is this really the right decision? Is it what we want?

DSC02171Not sure if the training has paid off, if all the sacrifice was worth it. I’ve worked harder than ever and put more into this winter than I ever have in the past. But so much will still come down to chance.

So far this year, I’ve been quite fortunate. I’ve been out of the country more than I’ve been in it, but that’s only making me more uncertain, more dis-satisfied.

The more we invest – the greater the hit if it doesn’t come off. And it is a gamble. All this added pressure, and I’m not even close to being a pro yet!

It’s easy to see how on the surface, I’ve got it quite easy. Floating around the globe, bit of training here, bit of training there. Never doing any work. But in fact, at the moment, at this stage in my life, everything is the most uncertain it’s ever been.

DSC02073I look around my closest friends, buying houses, getting engaged, buying dogs, getting promoted, pay rises. It all just oozes contentment. And don’t get me wrong, I’m really, really happy for them. And they often tell me how hard “real life” is, and how lucky I am, how easy I’ve got it… but both sides come with their struggles.

While I’m working a 45 hour week half way down Africa, away from everyone close to me, whilst trying to push my mind and body further than they’ve ever gone, beyond all limits I know. I often ask myself, is this really worth it? And is it any different to anyone elses scenario?

DSC02068I mean, I’m not stuck in an office 9-5. But I don’t work any less, in fact, work never shuts off. And if you count training as a job, which it hopefully one day will be, it’s even worse.

I don’t get time away, I don’t get weekends. Christmas, bank holidays, birthdays. You go out to celebrate, I go out to train again.

I can’t afford a house, I can’t afford rent. Some months, I can barely afford to put petrol in my car.

I don’t see my friends, I don’t get to socialise often, I can’t go out on the weekends.

There are times that I really, really struggle.

DSC02048I’m completely committed to being the best possible athlete I can be, and everything else is there to support that. But there are a lot of days, when I don’t move quickly. When I perform very, very average. When I’m not where I should be, not hitting the mark. And it is hard to take. Sport comes with some phenomenal highs, but the lows are intense. And in the set up I currently have, it’s easy to get isolated very quickly.

In Portugal I went a whole week and spoke face to face with three people. The week where the demands on my body were the highest they’ve ever been.

In Krakow, I had to spend my best friends stag do sober. Not because I wanted to, because it gave me the best chance of being fast on April 7th.

DSC02039And when I finally got some time off, to go to Sicily and spend a nice long weekend with my girlfriend, I had to spend 12 hours working, and 6 hours training.

I know what you’ll tell me. You’ll tell me that’s my choice, that’s what I’ve decided… and that’s partially true, but that doesn’t make it any easier. By the same thread, you choose to go to work 9-5, I bet you still moan on a Friday!

All I have is some marginally oversized legs, a nice camera and two expensive bikes. Though mixed with a support team that I wouldn’t trade for the world, some days I believe that this little set up, might actually work out.

DSC02067There’s no guarantee I’ll get good at this triathlon thing. Or the photography thing for that matter. And juggling setting up your own business, whilst staying committed to the “normal job”, mixed with trying to chase the best in the world at three different sports, is taxing.

Contentment has never been a trait I’ve had. Trust me, I wish it was. But in the pursuit of excellence, there is no room for error. No time to cut yourself some slack.

I’m my own biggest critic if I’m not on the mark. I’m never satisfied, I’m always hungry for more.

And don’t get me wrong, I know I don’t always have it hard.

452A4088I have a fantastic network of support to allow me to do what I do. And I’ll always be grateful for that. And I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to explore these amazing places, to do these amazing things. Even if I do spend 95% of the time staring at a little computer screen that tells me I’m not pushing hard enough.

But it’s not always as fun as it looks.

I’m just one of a new generation, amongst a phenomenal amount of people trying to pursue the things that make them feel alive. Brought up being told we can do whatever we want to, being reminded that we don’t have any limits. Being shown that we deserve nothing but the best.

We see it every day in social media, on TV, in the news. People doing new and exciting things, careers in the things we’ve always dreamed of. We often assume that because people “have it better than us”, that they’re sorted. That they’re content.

But the reality is, none of us have it any easier than the next, and we’re all fighting our own, individual struggles.

And I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of making excuses for ourselves, and not considering just how everyone else is actually feeling. Not engaging with their vulnerabilities. If you do nothing else today, call your friend/friends that you assume have it all sorted. And check in, check they’re alright, ask if they want to talk.

Because some days, they might!

Don’t worry, I’m fine… I’ve been prodded a few times to write this! Though if you this made you feel like you should have asked, then maybe next time, do!