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“I am an Ironman” – Self Confidence 

“Believe in yourself”

“Follow your dreams”

“You can do anything you want to do”

Some of the most cliché phrases on the market. But how much truth is there in it? As I’ve said time and time again, I’m a big believer that hard work gets results, but just how far does self confidence go?

I’ve personally watched both males and females push themselves far beyond their believed physical limits just by telling themselves they can. We regularly watch things in the news whereby people break limits others impose on them, and in interviews they just reply ‘I told myself I’d do it, so I will’.


On a more relatable scale, personal achievements in the past can fuel your future. It was only yesterday that ex GB rower Pete Robinson, a friend of mine, pulled a personal best on the rowing ergometer. No big feat you might think, but after disk issues in his back 3 years ago ruling him out for what he was told would be life, he believed he could come back stronger, so has.

Run a 10k, a half or a marathon, cycle 50 miles, do an ironman – full or half, and it will change your life.

Now let me explain why.

“I am an Ironman”

Great, we’ve all done stuff. Yes yes I know, but these words alone carry massive momentum.


It’s a phrase I hear my best friend Alex Lightfoot (pictured right) use quite often. And rightly so. He’s swam 3.8k, cycled 180k and run a marathon in the 31 degree French heat. Back to back.

The 6’5, 100kg beast now most often seen curled up in front of the tv with a bowl of coco pops is now over 6 months out of training, a man that should have no fitness, yet still whips up to uni on his bike the odd day, and runs rings round people training for bath half.

Well how? Is he just ‘naturally athletic’? Well yes possibly, but at least 70% of it is in his mind.

He doesn’t let people beat him because he’s completed an ironman. He’s reached a level far beyond the average person, and will never let himself give up.


It’s regularly said that over half of sport takes place in your head, I’m a firm believer in this. If you’ve accomplished something in the past, why wouldn’t you be able to do it again? What’s stopping you?

So train hard first time, and you’ll never regret it.

Believe and you will succeed.

Go get ’em.

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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.

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Jan De Jonge – The Man Who Saved Me.

If there was an award for the nicest man ever, Jan De Jonge of People, Business, Psychology would 100% win that.

Monday 14th December, a normal day by all accounts. The Bath uni Basil Spence project was behind us, so it was time to crack on with some Christmas fitness, after all, the treats are earned. My Achilles was up to 80% so I decided to see what my legs had got and start with a cheeky 90k.

11am and I set out, chilly but dry, ready for a decent few hours in the chair. 55km down and I got a flat. Questions on winter tires, specialized armadillos letting me down, nonetheless armed with 2 spares and 3 gas canisters I was ready for the job. So I changed the tire and set back out on the job.
1.3km down the road, and it popped again. After 4,500km without a flat, I wasn’t convinced by this coincidence! So after rigorously checking the inside of the tire for the 4th time I put in my final spare tube. Popping as the gas canister inflated it, I was a stranded man.

So what to do. 50km from Bath and 15km from the nearest bike shop. Not allowed to run due to the Achilles, I was in serious trouble.

Stuck outside a row of terraced houses, I decided to try my luck on the doors. No answer to the first door, a lovely elderly lady at the second that unfortunately couldn’t help. As they say third time lucky, and that’s when I met Jan.

Unfortunately unable to provide a new inner tube, the worlds kindest man offered to drive me the 15km to Devizes, to find a bike shop for a new tire and inner tube.
Slightly taken aback by the offer i didn’t know what to say, but in true Christmas spirit Jan drove me to Devizes where I was kindly provided with a spare tire for the remainder of the journey home before sun set.

I can’t thank Jan enough for his kind deed that day! I’d have had to spend almost £100 on taxis or walk until the following morning! I was thoroughly touched by his sentiment. Not many people would have carried out the deed he did that day, I’ll always remember his help!  And definitely help any others I find in a situation like mine.

Its days like this that restore my faith in the human spirit.

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Cycling – free transport? 

I constantly find myself making promises to visit friends in remote parts of the country that I sometimes really struggle to keep.

I mean don’t get my wrong, I’d love to visit all of them! But for up to £70 a train, huge bags and 3 hours of hopping on and off, not to mention the rush to fit in a morning session. I’ll pass thanks.


However if it’s within cycling distance, well that’s a different story.

Granted everyone has different achievable distances. In the summer I rode 240km home without a struggle, today id struggle to ride 24km without needing a break. But if the party is within your distance it should seriously be considered.

It was only in summer that I found myself stuck in Bath while one of my best friends had his 21st planned in Northampton. Well, £50 train tickets or 160km each way is a tricky decision.

But none the less, I neatly folded my tuxedo into my rucksack, made sure I had all the vital accessories, last check for a toothbrush and off I went!

Yes I had to ride with a bit of food, £2 for a couple of belvitas, and yes it was a 5 hour shift in the chair, but to save £48?! Riding back off 2 hours sleep and a hangover wasn’t the prettiest day of my life, but it’s all in your head right?

Most people that want you at a party are happy to let you use their shower. They’ll usually even let you borrow a towel! How nice of them eh.

Nobody expects you to sit through the party in your sweaty cycling kit, nor carry 3 days provisions on your bike. But reducing carbon emissions, saving money and keeping fit. Can’t go wrong!

So next time you’re thinking its a nice a day and rushing around trying to get yourself sorted. Pack a small bag or rucksack, even give your clothes to friends to take. And get out and enjoy the ride! You’ll feel much better for it when you arrive I promise. And you’ll have earned that beer!

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Bad Weather or Bad Gear?

Many cyclists are familiar with the velominati rules. You don’t have to get far down the list to come across rule #9:

Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
Fair-weather riding is a luxury reserved for Sunday afternoons and wide boulevards. Those who ride in foul weather – be it cold, wet, or inordinately hot – are members of a special club of riders who, on the morning of a big ride, pull back the curtain to check the weather and, upon seeing rain falling from the skies, allow a wry smile to spread across their face. This is a rider who loves the work.

 

the top of bannerdown

 

However you don’t necessarily have to love the work, but love the sport and riding your bike. Even my parents at the age of 50 will still not be deterred by a light shower here or there. “The weather is bad” or “I don’t want to ruin my bike” are the most common excuses heard in cycle clubs nowadays.

It was just earlier today that I looked out the window and saw a wet, bleak, January morning. It wasn’t icy like yesterday, meaning there was no danger of slippery roads. Instead of deciding to miss the session and head back to my work I headed over to my chest of drawers, pulled them open and started to rummage for the days kit.

 

a similar outfit last year

 

Winter leggings, 3 thermal tops, 2 pairs of gloves, a gilet, 2 pairs of socks and my thickest overshoes later, I set out into the misty morning. Is there such a thing as bad weather? Or do we just need to wrap up, stay dry and stay warm?

As I was riding I encountered numerous other riders, something not uncommon for a Sunday morning surrounding Bath. However one thing that was uncommon, unanimously 100% of the riders returned my greeting with a wave or a hello.

Only a small difference however it made me realise that in this moment of bad weather, the people that really love the sport, it’s community, the opportunities it provides are always there come rain or shine!

The riders weren’t all riding fast, riding road bikes or training like me. A trait that doesn’t necessarily have to be replicated. But all out to enjoy themselves, with a smile on their face remembering why they do it. An example that should definitely be followed!