Run Fatboy – Run

65kg, lean, leggy & from a small kenyan tribe is how we envisage most high end distance runners to be.

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Even the occasional white athlete high up in the distance rankings appears to be running to find a sandwich. Before they slip through a grid in the road.

It’s easy to watch these guys knock out a marathon faster than you can walk to the shops, and assume all runners are like that.

That running and athletics clubs are made up of 95% Usain Bolt like animals, and a few coaches that breath fire and will judge you for being slow.

But this really isn’t the case.

In fact, 80% of the running community is the opposite, and you should check it out.

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Some of you may find the title of this blog slightly offensive, I promise that’s not how it’s intended. I’m the “fat boy”, in this scenario.

This month I have run my first marathon, 10k, duathlon and got my first 5k lined up soon.

I’m 84/85kg, 6′ 1, and wide. You don’t have to look far in a 10k to pick me out from the field. Instantly out of place.

For a competitive runner, I’m considered heavy.. very heavy. But I’ve been out there getting it done.

And it’s all kinds of fun.

It all started 4 weeks ago when I ran the fabulous Manchester marathon for my new partner, Asics.

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Now I’ve ‘run’ 4 marathons after 180km on the bike and 3.8km of swimming.
Easy pickings for a man like me.You’d think….

With a 25mi time trial on the Saturday, 5 hours sleep and a greasy fully English. I was on the start line Sunday morning thinking, “why am I here?”.

Having planned to run with asics team mate, the incredible Nick Butter, www.nickbutter.com I quickly found a comfortable rhythm, and decided I had the legs to push a bit.

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So, off I trotted, leaving Nick to waltz round, stopping at Tesco for an ice cream. As you do mid 3:20 marathon?!

Around the 10k mark I found myself up with the 3 hour pacer and decided I’d push beyond, seeing how much the legs would stretch.


Picking up Tomas B, another top ultra runner around the 15k mark, we decided to hold a firm 4:05/km pace, and chat the mid section away.
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At this point I knew I was moving well, even hauling around my excess shoulders & big frame, I knew I could string together a solid time. So at 35km I kicked out, opened the legs, and hit the gas button.
Then as expected, it hurt. It hurt a lot. Pushing and pushing, gritting my teeth and chasing down runner after runner, I crawled my way through some of the field in front of me, crossing the line in a very respectable 2:53:53.
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And it gave me confidence.

All kinds of confidence.

I knew at that point, that everything I’d heard about the lightweight runners, was a myth.

Sure, if I want to be competitive at big races, kona, marathons, halves. I need to shred the weight. Lose the excess.

But James Cracknell just ran a 2:43 at London marathon near 100kg, so what’s the excuse?

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Off the back of my new confidence I decided I’d play, push it to see where I could get to.

Seeing the asics boys running 120km+ a week, I started to build and up the miles.

I was lucky enough to visit my best friends parents out for Easter weekend, and momma Lightfoot’s birthday. To ensure I didn’t miss training, Alex came out on the bike for a chat, so I could run accompanied.

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I ended up running a 1:31 half marathon, with more in the tank. Not the ideal prep the day before my first ever 10k!
None the less we turned up in Regent’s Park, weary eyed & full of 4 Easter eggs each. To see what my legs could produce.The regular comments on the start line as I shuffled to the front, “he’s a big boy”, “backing himself there”..

A wry smile spreading across Alex’s face. He knew the drill.

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And as expected, 500 runners set off at 10am, me & 3 immediately off the front, hard at it.

Having never run a 10k I didn’t know how hard to run, what to do, how to pace it. So we’d come up with a plan.

Run on the heels of the fastest guy. And stay there.

How hard can it be?

Lead by a strong runner from St. Albans, the 3:35/km pace was just right to feel the pinch, without feeling burned out.

Sat on the back of the 4 I was sticking to the game plan. Lap one, 3.3km down. All 4 runners still in the game.

This could get real fun I thought. But these boys can run, they’re playing with me. Half way and someone was gonna open up that gas and ask all kinds of questions of our legs.

So I just held the pace, sat on the heels, kept the speed.

4K, 4 becomes 3.

5k, 3 becomes 2.

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Half way and I was feeling good. Hurting, but I knew I had a lot more.

And there was only two of us left?!

I couldn’t hold this guy the end surely. Lean, skinny, athletic. Clearly seasons from many a 10k skirmish.

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So I tried to hold him for lap 2/3. And managed to stay in contact, just sat on his heels. The awkward athlete that you just can’t shake off.

That’s when I passed Lightfoot. I couldn’t see the runners face but a crisp not from the main man, and I knew. I knew he was hurting, clearly more than me, so I could be in with a shot here?

If I could hold him to 8km, I could be in with a shot here.

The last 2km is just a viscous mind game, no matter how fit you are, how fast you’re going, it’s gonna hurt and you’ll have to dig deep.

But I had an advantage, my brief few years in rowing had taught me how to race side by side. A position few road runners or triathletes ever find themselves in.

The track mentality, knowing the mind games.

8km, I was still there, and he was looking around, worried, what was I going to do.

So I waited, picked my moment carefully. And as we split ways to pass a group of runners, I kicked out.

And for the first time in my life, I felt like I was running. Really, really running.

9km, 5 metres ahead.

Just two sentences on repeat in my mind.

“Don’t fudge this up, don’t fudge this up, don’t fudge this up”

“Go go go go go go go go go”

And I ran, and ran, and ran. Emptied the tank and came home a comfortable distance ahead. With a first ever 10k time of 35:18. Another very respectable start for a ‘big boy’.

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And the duathlon played out much the same. A bike course record even after 3 weeks off the bike, no shocks that was my strongest discipline.

Coming off the first run in 4th, off the bike in second. With gas still in the tank I ran the fastest second run leg, causing a bit of a stir amongst the athletes at the top end of the field.

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Who is this tall, unusually overweight man snapping at our heels?

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But the most important question, just because you think you’re heavy, are you?

The running community is one of the most welcoming in the world. Fellow Asics frontrunner Matt Rees showed that at the London Marathon carrying a fellow runner over the line in a video that fast went viral.

 

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Whether you run 5k in 15 minutes, or 50 minutes. Almost every club will welcome you with open arms, and have runners of your ability! You might not even think you can run 5k. It does not matter.

They’ll encourage you, help you, teach you tips and tricks. Chat to you, learn about your life, your interests, your hobbies. And before you know it, you could fall in love with the sport.

And you’ll ask yourself, what was I so scared of?!

Nobody will judge you. Because if you’re out there, getting it done, and striving for self improvement. You’ve already won the battle.

So get online, look for your local running clubs, find one with a time that suits, and go have yourself some fun!

I promise, you won’t regret it!

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”

 

 

3rd in the world: A few Thankyous

So my 2016 season has finally come to an end.

I’m sat in a bar, in OKC, with a beer.

Yes. A beer.

An alcoholic beer too!

it’s been a bit of a crazy season and looking back at what I’ve done it’s hardly been a bad one!

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So the world championships.

Well the swim was none wetsuit, 4.75km. Yes 750m longer, in the worst conditions I’ve ever swam in. And that was probably the best thing that happened to me all day.

Getting out of the water in 1:45 I thought that was it. Race over. I knew everyone would be so far ahead, I’d never catch them.

So I took the pressure of myself, put my head down and do what I do best.

Play cycling.

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So I set about lighting up the bike course. If I wasn’t gonna medal, I was gonna make a statement.

Averaging just under 40kph I was reeling people in like they weren’t moving. Passing 10-15 of my age group on the bike, I knew I was in the top 5 starting the run.

So I cracked on with the first lap, and in true triathlon fashion, I felt awesome.

Then it hit me like a train.

But I dug deep, and brought home the honey. Averaging 5:28/km in the heat. Overall a good day out.

Seeing as I completely missed winter there were lots of sacrifices to be made early on in the season.

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I missed a lot of big races along with hours of training, and getting back into it alongside finishing an architecture degree was a real struggle. Having only had alcohol twice since mid March, my already limited social life took a hit too.

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To get me back up and running I’d like to make a massive shoutout to Lucy for putting up with my moaning day & night and the studio morale support. Along with all the architects, despite constant training related abuse, they’re a great bunch.

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It literally wouldn’t have been possible without the boys in the flat constantly having a laugh through the hours we were home. And Lightfoot & Berry’s culinary workshops.

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And the forever mighty ‘famous five’ dinners that would put a smile on any food lovers face.

 

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Considering I started triathlon last year I still can’t quite believe I’ve broken two of the Bath CC records from 1993 along with a silver medal at European Champs and a bronze at the worlds.

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Not to mention a 25.07 BAR score in my first season racing anything over a 10 mile time trial.

Bath cycling club have been an incredible support throughout this and I’d thoroughly reccomend them to cyclists of any level.

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I owe a special mention to Jim at 73 degrees cycles and Darren, without who my bikes would (& did) fall apart.
img_3459 Getting back to it post injury has been hard, mixed with having my first international races in some really strong fields & local racing being barely easier, it’s been a bumpy season.

The local time trials have been great to keep me on my toes but a heavy race schedule with an average of 1.7 races a week since June it’s been really telling on the body.

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I’m more than excited to have some down time without having to perform at a high level for such a long time.

The normal life of a 22 year old with beers, catch ups & nights out are definitely on the line up for October. Along with some quality time back with these animals.

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Obviously only two beers though. Let’s not get carried away…

I’d really like to thank Congleton Town Council for their generous donation to help me race in America. Along with Federal Mogul who’s payment will be put to great use for next year.

I owe John Honey a thanks for keeping me fresh in the build up to Europeans along with afterwards and I’m excited to keep their support through the off season to keep my body in one piece through the high volume months.

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But finally I really can’t thank Cath & Rob Midgeley & vigilance QA enough for the support. Along with obviously mum, dad & Laura. Without this power 5, I wouldn’t even have made it to the start line of 80% of these events, and I definitely wouldn’t have made it to the finish.

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Although it doesn’t look like that hard a job.

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Fingers crossed I’ll stay injury free through winter & I’m excited to see what next year has to offer. Hopefully a mixture of hard miles, a full time programme and a new mindset will open more opportunities next season.
So stay posted for the winter blogs, that time we all love with bad weather, short daylight hours and dangerous conditions.

And if not. I’ll see you in New Zealand.

Meanwhile I’ll leave you with this:

New Zealand Course Records

#backyourself

#roadtokona

Who We Are is Why We Win.

“You can’t do that”.

A phrase in my life I’ve come to get pretty sick of, first off, why? why can’t I do it? Who’s telling me I can’t? Who makes the rules?
Now we’ve all heard the phrase, I do what I want. And yes, yes you do.

I remember one of the first times I was told I can’t do something, it’s still striking in my mind. One of my old rugby “coaches”… less one of the actual coaches and more one of the many self proclaimed, told me I’d never be able to dance and play rugby, it made me soft. Only a few months later I was one of the only players in the squad to make county trials, and not long after I was captaining our side whilst doing ballet 4 times a week. Who was he to tell me what I can and can’t do?

Now I know, that’s a minor story in the grand scheme of things. I was told in College by Roisin Dunn, the vice principle at the time, that I’d never go anywhere in life, never be anything. Since then I’ve earned a spot on 3 GB times and am due to graduate with a BSc in Architecture from one of the most prestigious architecture schools in the country.. She’s since been fired, who’s winning that one?


I was told you couldn’t do architecture and play sport. Sure, I’m not set to get a first, but I’ve had two good jobs, had my work complimented by many people and it’s certainly no worse than the majority of the year.. And I’ve rowed for the university first VIII for two years, finished two ironman’s and barely missed a days training.

I cycled 240km into a headwind at almost 34kph. in my first season of cycling, on a road bike, stopping once briefly for water. I didn’t think that was possible! Until you try, how do you know that? You read it? Some chop on the internet told you? Riiiiight.


So why isn’t that possible?
It’s because it’s tough. Life is tough. And people want to tell you you can’t do it. They want to make excuses, so they themselves feel better. Give themselves the excuse of ‘it’s impossible’ therefore they’re missing out.


Season two and I’ve done a sub 10 ironman, sub 4 100 miles, broken a 23 year old club record, pb’d on numerous 10’s & 25’s, all on heavy legs. We decided what’s possible for ourselves.

Would Ironman be growing so fast if it was easy? No. But is it really that hard? When 50 year old guys get round at the best part of 100kg… really ask yourself, how demanding is that? We turned up to an ironman, 6 months into triathlon, and in 31 degree heat all went comfortably sub 14. Huub told us we’d never go sub 14, they bet £200 and some doughnuts against us, well why not?

I saw a man in Wales, with one arm and one leg, go sub 10 hours. At some point in his life, he’s probably been told he can’t do it. Probably numerous times, but look at him. Setting an inspirational example, why can’t you do it?

A 13 year old and an 80 year old have climbed everest. Yes. it’s £50,000. Yes, it’s technically one of the hardest things to do in the world. But I’ll repeat, a 13 year old has done. Come on now, you’re not telling me that 13 year old is in better physical condition than some of the people I know?

Probably not.


Lets move away from me, and away from the crazy. Lets look at some more real examples. Sam Courty, she started rowing at university. 3 years later she was sat in the GB women’s 8 racing the Huskies in Washington for the Windermere Cup. People would say that’s not possible… well it is, she did it.

UW mens crew, ‘who we are is why we win’. They don’t listen to anyone. They’re a university that races international crews for goodness sake, they’ll tell you what they can and can’t do. And you’ll sit and listen.

Bradley Wiggins, Olympic medal holder, Tour De France winner, he was told a million times he couldn’t do it. Did he listen? No. Did he care? No. There are literally thousands of examples I could bounce around.


You can’t do it.

Just mull that over for a second in your mind. Ask yourself why? Literally. Why?

Lets take a step back, a big step back. To about 100 years ago. Flying was impossible, reaching the moon was impossible. For goodness sake electricity was impossible once upon a time. But it’s there, we have it, we can’t get rid of it!


So why are you letting yourself be governed by people that are in no better a position to comment than yourself? Try new things, take up a new hobby, let your hobby become your job. Believe in yourself.

The older I get the more I’m beginning to believe the cliches. They’re thrown around by mums, minders, grandparents. You can be anything you want to be, follow your dreams.


I hate cliches.
They make me sick.

But it’s unfortunately true. There’s so much truth in it. Take a step back and look how far you’ve come in life, everything you’ve achieved, everywhere you’ve been, everyone you’ve influenced.

And back yourself.
You decided what you can and can’t do.

Who we are is why we win.
“You can do that”.

European Championships – 2nd

Well the title doesn’t lie, and no I can’t quite believe it myself.

A few weeks out from the race I knew I was moving well on the bike, and fairly well through the water, but I still hadn’t had the all clear to run.

It was only 3 weeks before that I finally started putting one foot in front of the other and making progress. A good two weeks running, running a max distance of 10km (6 miles) was hardly the ideal marathon prep.

None the less I had no other choice.

The week of the race was a bumpy one.

I turned up in Poznan excited, eager and anxious. I started my heat adjustment, training in the sun, met the other members of the team and started to settle in. Standard procedures.

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Before id even made it to registration Id come down with a very chesty cold. Leaving me drained & achey I wasn’t sure what to do.

Could I race? Would I be ok? Should I rest?

It came on too fast to have caught it on the plane, I must have come down with it in Britain. A classic British cold.

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Determined not to make excuses and to race on the bigger stage I filled myself with orange juice & vitamin C, and sucked it up.

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When race morning finally came around it had improved to a sniffle and a small cough, nothing I couldn’t handle. So I put on my pre race playlist, had my oats, yoghurt & granola. And walked over to the start.

There was nothing more I could do from here, nothing that would change the outcome of the day. I knew I just had to trust my training, believe in my miles & pray the run didn’t blow up in my face.

The opening ceremony was soon out of the way & we were in the water, ready to go.

Game time.

The canon erupted next to us, sending a thunder of noise echoing down the lake and this was it. Head down and go.

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The swim was fairly smooth & felt over almost before it had started. The course was slightly short which I knew would play to my advantage. Barely seeing any other swimmers I knew I’d held off the next wave & kept myself in contention for the race.

T1 was a shambles.

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Tripping up the ramp and leaving my Garmin in my transition bag I had to re rack the bike and go back. A direction nobody wants to be headed.

None the less I was finally out on my bike and making strong progress.

I knew id have to keep my heart rate exceptionally low if I wanted to finish the marathon after only running 10km. So I was aiming for a 140bpm.

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I’d have to trust my cycle legs would still take care of business in this zone.

And I was flying.

Ticking people off one by one I knew they wouldn’t hold me off for long.

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After an uneasy patch on the second lap I began to build again. Turning on the heat as the others started to hurt.

And true to form I got out of the chair feeling fresh in a 4:45 cycle. 142bpm.

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Mission accomplished.

Now in the back of my mind was the infamous sub 10 ironman. Propelling me into the top 2% of ironman athletes. I didn’t know my current position but I’d assumed I’d need roughly a 4 hour marathon.

A comfortable target, when I’m on form.

I took the first 12k very steady, but before I made it to halfway, the pain came on. And it came hard. And it wasn’t stopping there.

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I was determined to not stop running. No matter what, no matter how much it hurt, I was just gonna put one foot in front of the other, and run.

By the third lap I was in tatters.

My legs had blown up, my head was swimming, my lungs tight & empty. I was in pieces scattered around poznan.

But I was still running.

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With a monumental will power, like nothing else I’ve ever had, I wasn’t stopping.

I wouldn’t quit.

And before I knew it I was on the final lap.

10km left.

The pain was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Every fibre in my body was screaming out.

And then it got me.

The cramp.

My toes curled up with a force I couldn’t control and my calves seared with pain.

Falling into the sand I curled up, was this it? Game over?

I couldn’t let myself stop 6km from the finish.

I managed to get up and keep going. 1km later it got me again, another brief pause. I could do this. Come on.

And with a final push I trundled round to the finish area, through the crowds not even managing a wave or a smile.

 

It was over, the clock showed 10:13 and I was done.
Curled up & whimpering into my family I finally stabilised and sorted myself out. Never again will I run ill prepared.

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A quick glance at the online results quickly revived the mood.

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9:58, 2nd.

In an unreal turn of events, the clock had been showing the male pro time and I had done it.

European championships – success.

Drinks all round it seemed.

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Let’s go get worlds.

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A Morning in Mossley 

I was quite anxious being invited to give a talk in Mossley school about growth mindset and the attitudes found in athletes as well as other people.

With no psychology qualifications, and only being a part of high level sport for 3 years, most of which was watching and training with far more developed athletes.. I’d hardly consider myself the perfect candidate.

None the less having rowed with people at all kinds of levels, been coached by some of the countries best coaches and ex athletes, I’ve been exposed to a great number of different approaches. Although the most successful all have one underlying feature. Even in the field of architecture and my degree the most talented people I have encountered share the outlook more commonly known as a growth mindset.

I entered the school armed with a press release for the paper, a short relatable PowerPoint for the children and a collection of medals and trophies I’ve gained over my short sporting career.

A growth mindset?

Well what exactly is a growth mindset and why is it suddenly becoming so popular?

The fundamental concept initiated by Carol Dweck of this mindset is the word yet. 

“you’re not there YET”.

I suppose you could call it an optimistic attitude.


Many people, children and adults alike, regularly experience failure. I personally experienced a big personal disappointment whilst racing Nice ironman. Other people can experience this by not attaining results for university, percentages for a sales job, children in class tests.

Now in this situation the pessimist  would be defeated. How could they ever do it? It’s not possible! The average athlete would settle, I can do better but that’ll do. The salesman will take his pay cheque a happy man, he didn’t need the bonus anyway.

But the one with the growth mindset won’t settle. They’re not unhappy, not defeated, but they acknowledge there’s room for improvement. An advanced version of themselves can manage this.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be the best of everyone, but the optimism to grow for the best possible personal gain.

And it can be hard when you’re down to pick yourself up. The children at Mossley referred to this as “the pit” but understood there is another side, where the grass is truly greener.

But as is said time and time again, there’s no substitute for hard work. A resilient character with a perseverance to give their best will find endless amounts of opportunities and doors open for them.

So I found myself presenting this idea in front of the junior section of Mossley school, 200 fresh faces staring back at me, reminding me of myself not too many years ago sat through a school assembly.

And I have to say I was thoroughly impressed by the reception and politeness of the children, and staff, in Mossley school.

Many of them had or will grasp the concept of hard work and reslience, knowing all they can do is their best. And that hard work can open endless opportunities for their future selves.

A set of children that should make the town proud and I look forward to seeing what this next generation of Congleton’s youngsters bring to the future.

The Student Athlete – When work gets too much?

Written 2.11.14!
So while I’m sat on a flight to Porto on the west coast of Portugal, eating breakfast & drinking a recovery shake, I’m starting to wonder how bad student life can be?

Work? Some students will ask you what that even is! Gone are the days of being a fresher or sitting in our room keeping ‘entertained’ until training comes around. Some having more fun than others in Ben’s case.


Yeah ok the government are conning me out of £9,000 a year, my rent is more than my maintenance grant & the athlete’s food bill could feed a family of 4. We’re just under 4 weeks into term and I’ve been in the studio working past 12 at least 20/30% of those nights. But all we do is train, drink & sleep right?

If you asked Bath Spa what we do at university, they’d tell you we don’t go hard.

If you asked the locals, they’d tell you we ruin the crescent & other nice landmarks drinking & littering.

And I suppose if you asked our parents what we do at university, they’d tell you on the average day we’d wake up at maybe 1 or 2, eat a meal sat in our pants at the kitchen table, before returning to ‘the cave’ for another hour or so. Maybe do our first session, turn up to the odd lecture here and there before training a second time. Go out for dinner with our mates or see the girlfriends before starting pre drinks. Going out & blowing all our money on ludicrous amounts of alcohol that we don’t need before returning home in some mindless trance, maybe not alone. Get some sleep, & repeat the process. Easy life.

However… This couldn’t be further from the truth!

Balancing student life with sport is a tricky game as any student athlete will tell you, & with a degree like architecture/…pharmacy?, this is no easy feat.

The 8am wake up, all sounds rather easy really, quite laid back day compared to the regular 6am start for the other athletes. But the sleep is most definitely needed.

After getting a thorough breakfast before training I make sure I have everything I need, usually packed the night before & jump on my bike. Depending on the weather & how fresh the legs feel and the looming 9am session, I’ll choose the most suitable route to campus & decide the intensity of the ride.  After all, with fresh legs and a mileage session, it’d be rude not to see what numbers you can push on Strava.

So I arrive at training, usually the morning ergo to keep the rowing muscles crisp, get my recovery shake in and then head over to studio around 11. Already 2 hours behind the rest of the flat on work, I know I’ve got to get my head down.

12.30 comes around and my stomach starts to rumble. It’s been 2 hours since my recovery shake and my body knows it’s time for some more food. So I take a quick lunch break before powering on with the studio drawings, desperately trying to catch the volumes of work everyone else has produced.

At 3 I’ll start to tire, a cycle up, session and 4 hours solid working start to take their toll. Drop Pan a quick text, he’s got too much work to train. Turns out we’re not the only course that actually does something on campus.

So I return to the gym for the lonely second session before it gets too late for my body to handle. 5 and it’s another 3 hours work before heading home for dinner at 8. I’m already a step behind with the work, and a step behind on training as I wasn’t completely fresh like some of the other athletes, which has to give?

8pm, 12 hours into the day. Right about now we’d be looking to finish the ironman in Nice and we’ve completed a cycle to uni, cycle home, 2 sessions and 7 hours of work in the studio.

But still the day goes on. 9pm and it’s time for a few more hours work.

Through the early days of the project it’ll be a short-lived work session before off to chill for the evening with a friend. Sometimes pre’s before the others go for the late night lash. After all, nobody can complain at good company. Going out is off the cards, as you can’t run the risk of ruining training the next day. On a schedule like this, catching up sessions isn’t something you want to be doing.

In the later weeks of the project it’ll be back to studio at 9pm before returning home somewhere between 12-2 ready to sleep and recover for the next day.

So the average day seems to consist of:

20 minutes to wake up & get ready

40 minutes – 1 hour of commuting & getting changed.

3 hours eating or cooking.

4 hours training, stretching and showering.

12 hours working.

1 hour chilling.

And then of course 8 hours recovery sleep for the athlete.

4.. 8… same thing right?