Race Fast, Live Slow.

“What have you been up to mate?”
“Not a lot. Adventuring, writing a book, working out what success looks like, getting really really fast.”

DJI_0344Nothing too dissimilar to normal. Sounds quite fun on the surface I suppose, but behind the scenes there’s been some really hard graft going on. 16 hour working days, triple training sessions, sleep hasn’t been high up the agenda, nor has food.

I didn’t think I’d ever see a 1am working evening again, let alone 3 in a week. The most depressing thing is, I haven’t even started writing the book in that time. I’ve been working crazy hours on the businesses, on the podcast (the morning after the life before), and creating a new vehicle where the books will be released.

But I’ve made time to adventure in the coming weeks – as well as a couple of weeks ago. I’ve also been diving headfirst into wild blue photography – with new enquiries daily which have been amazing. The characters I’ve been encountering that are letting me take part in such a special moment of their life has been great!

As you’re probably already aware – if you’re here for the usual triathlon related ramblings – you’re in the wrong place…

So what’s been getting me through?

_MG_6481Well the cats out the bag, I’m writing a book, actually two books… It’s a really exciting project that I’ve been formulating over and over in my head for the last 18 months. How it’ll look, what the space for that is, how people will interact with it, the story it’ll tell. Sure, it’ll obviously be a picture book. Partly because, like me, my audience have a limited reading ability… and partly because I take nice photos – or so I’m told. Well – Mitch took half the photos – so that’s 50% that are guaranteed to be good…

But as it slowly starts to take shape – it’s a constant self assessment. Am I doing this for the right reasons? Who do I want to connect with? How do I want to do that?

I’ve been assessing and analysing all areas of my life in close detail to better understand the space they occupy and the way the different pieces work. The way the people close to me influence that, and those that are in my wider support bubble that I couldn’t go without. How the books may give back to them. How they can play a small part.

DSC03585Side note: one things for sure, I’ve realised my biggest peeve in life is working hard with or for people that don’t work hard. Yeah nothing angers me more. Crazy huh.

I now understand why I find it so difficult to settle into big teams or allow a member of the group to coast through. Why I lead from the front and won’t wait to be told what to do. Why I’m constantly questioning what I’m told to do and why I’m told to do it.

I’m not sure lazy people and me will ever see eye to eye. If you can’t do your job properly, don’t ask me to improve mine, especially when the phrase “hard work” – means half the day pushing your pen around or chasing the mouse around a screen. That being said, it is something I’m working on and learning. Understanding and trying to be more patient.

I do enjoy working with people – they’re my favourite part of my job. For people is a different story.

Lifestyle.

In the 21st century we’re completely absorbed by the lifestyle others lead. We want to be just like them, have just what they have. It’s accelerated as it echoes and bounces off the walls of social media. Before we know it, what we see reflected back to us is so rippled and warped from the starting concept – it turns out it’s absolutely nothing like we originally anticipated. We’re becoming so materialistic in the western world, we flick through media at 100mph. Photos come and go in seconds, friendships whistle away while people kid themselves they’re finding the mundane lifestyle in some way fulfilling wishing they were Sally the Influencer in Barbados.

452A9244The average millennial spends 5.7 hours a day on their phone. And those of you that are getting on a bit aren’t much better any more at slightly below 5. How is that in any way producing the next generation of worker bees that add value to those around them and society as a whole.

People that understand the concept of being present, enjoying the company of those around them and the beautiful places we’re lucky enough to have so close. You only have to climb to the top of a mountain to see everyone capturing it on their phone. This isn’t promoting the connections between people that we’re quickly losing. And it’s fast uninspiring me personally.

What I’ve Learned:

In these ramblings and reflections over the last few weeks that I’ve worked out the direction I want to move forward in. Through the meetings, the conversations and the adventures – the water has become less hazy. In sport it’s always been so clear to me. Do a fast ironman. And that is still the single biggest goal I have. Though I work every day towards it, I’ve had to assess what’s important to me outside of sport.

I’ve found it so hard to articulate the things that are important to me to those that are close. And today, on my morning run (which was an absolute ripper in case you’re still here for the triathlon)… it came to me.

All I want to do is race fast, live slow.

Work hard when I need to, but slow the pace of life. Add value to the projects that interest and excite me. As well as those that will help me grow as a person. Sure some of those have to be financially, but some will be emotionally, technically & physically. There are so many things I’m yet to learn, but I’m so eager to try and apply myself wholly.

452A8993Help the people that inspire me. Work hard for those that set an example in the way I want to live. Give something back to those that invest endlessly into me. And I want to forge deeper connections with the people I encounter – as that’s where I find the most fun and excitement. It’s the values I’ve been better understanding that inspire my work and my businesses.

I don’t want to make money for lazy people. I don’t want to make money for the sake of making money. I don’t really want to make money (Sorry E.W.)

What’s Next Then?

I want to add value, I want to be good at what I do, I want to work hard, I want to dive in head first and I want to feel fulfilled. As we all do. But from that I’m sure will be born something amazing. I’m tired of chasing someone else dreams. I’m tired of fulfilling someone elses story of success.

DSC03835And so, the books were born. There’s something about physical media that really appeals to me in a fast progressing digital world. A new skill set, a scary prospect, but something that will challenge everything I’ve learned as well as me as a person to take the skills to the next level.

So adventure has been high up the agenda, through the long days and late nights. There’ll be less than 100 copies of each book, so come Christmas make sure you ask Santa really really nicely.

Over the last few weeks I’ve sat, watched, listened, felt. I’ve walked, run, ridden, swam & lay. I’ve absorbed, learned, reflected – and beyond grasping lists of pretty words – I’ve worked out the things that are important. Hard work is what makes me tick. If I’m not applying myself fully, I’m restless. I have to be all in, all the time. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t space to live slowly. Explore the area around me, sport has always offered me and endless list of new places that some people will never have the privilege of seeing. The outdoors is what brings me to life – and if I can in some way bring a small piece of that back to those close to me, and learn a thing or two in the process – this project will be a success.

452A9932So while the racing is cancelled, and although I’ve been getting really really fast, it’s been the new adventures that have been getting me through. And I’m really really excited for the next pages to be written (excuse the awful pun).

If you actually made it to the end of that, you probably deserve a medal. But here’s a present instead.

https://imgphotography.co.uk

Coming soon.
Watch this space!

Injury or Opportunity?

I’ve not exactly tried to hide it, the last couple of weeks I’ve struggled with an injury. It’s something I’ve known has been coming for a while, but been a bit too lazy to sort. Though in part I should cut myself some slack, with gyms shut it wasn’t as easy to do thorough strength & conditioning!

452A2303It’s not your classic injury: overtraining, lack of rest or an unfortunate accident. Instead it’s more an imbalance and a shift in my body, that’s causing discomfort on the bike. 

There’s no real issue, nothing me or anyone around me are worried about. But a lack of gym work over the last few months has uncovered a past demon that I’ve not been vigilant in correcting.

So what does that mean? Well, a bit less cycling, a bit more gym work and a change in focus. Working on other areas. My run, swim & some exciting business prospects.

A couple of weeks ago I tied up a 100km running week, we’ll 98km if you’re counting… something which I’d have been close to anyway, but a fun milestone none the less. An extra 8km I ran Saturday shut the gap further – into marathon training we go! 90km, 80km, 90km, just clocking up miles Monday to Saturday, then going all in on a key marathon session Sunday mornings.

452A2267At the moment there’s an overriding sense of calm. Unusual for an athlete that can’t train fully due to injury?

It all fell into place for me a couple of weeks. I was heading to Kettering for a bike fit. A 2.5 hour drive each way, followed by some work in the afternoon to make up lost time. 

I had a 75 minute run to do with some hard hilly tempo. 

All the usual questions, how am I going to fit it in? Could I swap days? Will I manage it? What if I did if there? How tired will I be in the evening? What will I eat before it?

452A3594In the end it was a fairly simple solution. A 3:40am alarm. 

A slow breakfast, followed by an hour of work while my stomach settled, into a 5:30 start, and a big hit. An hour of work already ticked off, I was ready to dance.

It was probably about 6:05am when the penny dropped.

I was rattling across the roads half way up Bosley cloud, a fairly big hill just out the back of our town. Not a person around. I’d completed an hour of work, watched the sun come up and I was now hammering my way through 20 minutes of hard running in the hills, squeezing out everything I had. 

My lungs were burning, legs were tired, heart racing. 80% of me wished I was still in bed. But I felt so alive. I was getting faster, and you were still asleep… (probably). 

It takes a different breed to wake up at 3:40 in the morning. Well really, that’s the middle of the night. And it just reminded me of a younger, more naive version of myself. We used to be on the river to row at 5:30am, 4 days a week. We never questioned it really.

Now, nearly 7 years on, I was back at it. We never trained for races, medals or kudos. Not to impress others, brag about times or achievements. But pushing to the limit and testing the motives. Bringing out the best version of myself, regardless of anything else in the world.

452A2806It was there, in that moment that I remembered just how lucky I am, and how much I love everything that sport gives me. How there’s nothing that’ll hold me back from applying 100% of myself to the task at hand – getting faster. Day in, day out. All 366 of them this year towards the same goal. 

Since then it came full circle. A week dragging myself out of bed, hauling myself out the door and battling through each session. Nothing feeling quite right, never ticking over nicely, never the effortless spring in my step that the great sessions bring.

A never ending work load hanging over me, limited sleep and too much on outside of training. But still, day in day out, I’ve been ticking the boxes and working towards the goal. Some days you roll out of bed at 3:40 ready to knock it for 6. Other days I’m up at 10, breakfast, hydration, coffee, , tv, work, phone calls, another nap, and it’s 2pm before I’m ready to go.

I never let myself make excuses, I never cut myself the slack, I’ll never be the athlete that “just” missed one session. I’ll never give my competitors the satisfaction of knowing I was having a forced day off while they were out there crushing it. Because when it comes to crunch time, these are the times that’ll pay.

When you know the why, the how is pretty simple. 

So a small injury and no bike? No worries. I’ll still be hard at it, and I’ve got other opportunities to be working on.