Life Underneath an Instagram Filter

Today started not too dissimilar to any other day. The 5:20 alarm buzzed to wake me, and I was quick to snooze it, bleary eyed and groggy, knowing I still had a brief time left in bed.

I’ve been having a rough week, swimming was the last thing I really wanted to be doing, but I know I have to. In the quest for excellence there isn’t anywhere to hide. Every time you miss a session, you get slower. Everyone else is out there, getting it done, making no excuses, feeling a millon dollars.

3_m-100779636-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2141_001833-10660446The guys I have to race don’t make mistakes, they don’t miss sessions, they never let up.

I finally got out of bed, had a small breakfast and made my way over to the Macclesfield pool. My toe was incredibly sore, my head wasn’t in the moment, I just didn’t want to get in the pool.

The moment I broke the water I had perfect clarity. My mind was clear, all my worries were gone. It’s so easy to hide here, behind the numbers and the work. I don’t have to be myself, I can just become monotonous. I just follow what the numbers say on the board, and don’t think any more than that.

Slowly the clarity began to become hazy and clouded. My toe was letting me know it hurt, conversations from the week creep back into my head, my body is tired, I haven’t really slept this week. What am I doing here?

I pushed on, into the main set and I’m setting the pace. Like normal we start strong, a testing pace that we know we can hold. Except it doesn’t feel like normal – there’s a battle in my mind. I’m not myself. I’m not hungry to go fast, to push myself, to work hard.

In fact, all I really want to do is get out of the pool, and go back to bed. Shut myself off from the world, and sulk.

But that won’t make me faster. That won’t get me where I want to be. If I’m not training, I’m getting slower…. right?

1/4 hard blocks completed. Just.

img_5743Into the second and I’m not pulling away like I normally do, I don’t have the will to push, in fact, I’m holding everyone up.

I fought on, it’s just a bad day. We all have those, you can do this.

2/4 done. Every turn was a battle, why don’t I just get out? I shouldn’t be here and I know it. But I just can’t quit.

I was using more mental strength to keep going, than I’d used to get round some races. And that’s when I knew something was wrong.

3/4 and at the half way point, I threw in the towel. I was done. Cooked.

And before I knew what was happening, I found myself on the side of the pool in pieces, genuinely sobbing.

Had you asked them before the session, I’d have been one of the last people pinned to get out early. Resilient, tough, robotic. Training & emotions separate – park it before the session, pick it up afterwards.

But does that mean I’m always ok?unnamed

As I’m moving forward through sport I’m realising more and more, it’s so easy to hide our emotions, so easy to lock ourselves away and so hard to just open up.

And it isn’t just restricted to athletes. It goes right across the board.

img_3080We can assume that because people are in a better situation than us, they have it easy. They don’t have any battles.

We live in a society where we’re made to feel guilty for having a bad day, a tough time.

Crying is seen as weak. Mental health is dismissed as “nothing” – and before you know it, you can be completely isolated at a time when the planet is the most populated it’s ever been.

On Earth it’s estimated that we can speak over 7,000 different languages. From the moment we’re born, we begin to communicate. You don’t even need eyes or ears to convey your intentions. We can talk to different species, and we’re sending communications to space.

But we can’t even ask the person next to us if they’re ok?

Is it that we don’t want to hear it? Or is it that we’re all so involved in our personal battles, that we forget to pay attention to the people around us?

As athletes we can forget about it all in sport. Numbers, data, training.

But other people can hide in work, deadlines, hobbies. Just hide behind a facade.

We act confident, we’ll tell you we’re fine. You’ll barely know anything is up, just a moderate silence. A quick change of conversation to move on.

20180520_11141And before we know it, it all gets a bit too much. We can’t hide it. And we need to release it.

If an olympic champion had a bad race, but still won – nobody wants to talk to them about the race. Nobody apart from their coach. If they had a tough day between the ears, you wouldn’t believe them & you wouldn’t wanna talk about it.

Everyone else wants to hear how hard it was, how tough they had to fight. After all, they bloody won, how can they possibly feel bad?

If a big city boss is wealthy – but the numbers are down with the business so they’re making £500,000 less… you don’t care cause they’re still rich. They still have money. Even though their life evolves around the business… how could they be sad?

And with social media, the whole situation is elevated. These “perfect” people that live the dream life – do they not have problems? They look pretty, travel the world and have fun. They don’t have issues at all…. right?

Who do all these people turn to when times are tough? Are they any different to me or you?

20160724_968Why are your problems any different to theirs? And why is this even relevant?! 99.9% of the population, me included, will never be in that situation, but that doesn’t make us any more or less isolated.

Yes, your problems may be different. But that doesn’t make them any worse, or any better. And that doesn’t make it acceptable to just isolate these people. Or tell them to “stop moaning”.

It’s not ok that they feel scared to speak out, feel like they’re being silly or ridiculous, because they know they have it good. And that in turn trickles down the tree.

Cause we’re all lucky, the fact you’ve read this means you’re in a better situation than over half of the planet.

We have a habit of glossing it all over, making it look ok. Telling everyone “we’re fine”. We don’t open up for fear of being judged, fear that they’ll tell you “you’re just a drama queen”. Fear that they just won’t want to listen.

So look after the person next to you, ask your friends if they’re ok. Genuinely ask them – listen to the answer. Find it out. Before it all gets a bit too much. If I can change one thing today, or get one person to check that someone is alright, then this post will be a success.

Even if you think they have it all under control. That doesn’t mean they do.

Because one day you’ll be in their situation – and you’ll want someone to reach out to.

But don’t worry. They’ll be there.

Why your PB time doesn’t actually matter.

I’ve had a few very interesting conversations with various people recently, and I’ve decided that actually, PB’s don’t mean anything.

img_5743I know, I know, crazy talk. But hear me out.

It’s that time of year where you’ve entered a load of races, you’re absolutely hammering yourself in & out of training to get yourself in the best possible shape to set a new pb. But why? What exactly are you doing it for?

So pb’s are great for a number of reasons. You’re only really ever in contention with yourself, and pushing yourself further and further each day to be better, is something I’m absolutely behind. Every day I push myself to new limits, just trying to be a better person than the day before. However… are you ever just in contention with yourself? Or are you really constantly comparing yourself to everyone else in a society full of external pressures.

The first question anyone asks me is ‘ooo, what’s your pb’. Or, ‘oo how fast could run x-km. How quick can you do this on a bike. What’s your best park run… What’s your best ironman time?

 

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Well first of all, who actually cares? I can move pretty fast, there are plenty of people that can move a lot faster. But second of all, surely every single time/race/course/person is going to be different. If you think you’re quicker than me, turn up at world champs, and we’ll race. Fine. A proper fair test, same day, same course, then you win the bragging rights…. if you win… until the time we race again.

EventPhotoHandler (17)But what if we race again on a different course, I win this time round, we’re both twice a fit, but we go an hour slower, same distance?

Are you quicker because your pb is quicker than mine… or am I quicker cause I just beat you, fair and square? And even though we both know we’re a lot fitter, we went slower. It was windy, raining, icy, hilly… but we’d have run rings around the athletes we were the year before.

Are we slower because our time is slower? Is that what you’re telling me by asking me what my pb is?

Now when people ask me what my best ever race was, I’ll tell them the World Championship in Canada. Not because I made the podium, not because I managed a good time, neither of those things matter.

But because I had a torn tendon in my knee, I’d only been back training 4 weeks after a 4 month break, and I’d spent 6 months coming to terms with the fact that physically I wasn’t where I wanted to be mentally. But I went out, and from start to finish I battled, and there was no way I was going to let up before I crossed that finish line. And that’s something I’ll hang on to for a long time, I really earned my stripes.

One of my most liked instagram posts recently was one where I made the statement “nobody cares how fast you were in 2017, or even 2016. While that will gain you respect on the start line, it’;ll mean nothing when you cross the finish, and only you can influence that… Get your miles in, cause 2018 is gonna write itself, with or without you”.

And there is so much truth to that. My friends love the saying “we’ve all done stuff”, and there’s a lot of truth in that.

Week in, week out people complete training, race events, test themselves. And that’s great, but I could turn up at a park run this week and smash myself to bits… maybe set a pb, maybe not. I could do the same course next week, in driving rain, ice & wind… on much better legs, but go slower. There’s so much more to this sport than a stop watch.

Be proud of what you’ve achieved, you worked hard for it! But don’t cling on to the times, the numbers, there’s so much more to a good performance than that. Remember your best races as the ones where you performed well beyond how you expected. Where you were mentally tough, you fought against the odds. The races where you influence other people, maybe you paced a friend to a pb and you hold success in that. Together, as a team you can enjoy the victory.

Don’t hang on to the time, hang on to the moment!

Couch to Athlete – why you can do it.

Some of you will know that recently I’ve started to dabble in the world of “coaching”.

I’m by no means an expert coach – and I wouldn’t even consider taking on any high end athletes. And not just because I’d be scared they’d beat me. But because the carefully managed, fine tuned programmes are something that can take coaches years to perfect.

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But that being said – by applying some basic training principles along with my knowledge in the three sports I’ve enjoyed over the last 9 years, I think I’m beginning to see a few patterns.

Maybe you’re reading this as an ironman, or an elite athlete thinking “I’ve been through this”, so now it doesn’t apply. But your family, friends, colleagues – the people that say “I couldn’t do it”, tell them they can!

First of all – I really believe that anyone can do it. You can be riddled with all the excuses in the world – but you’re not fooling me.

“My knees are shot” – find a cycle or swim event.

“I’m just not built for it” – that can be changed.

“I like food too much” – not as much as I do, trust me.

And what defines an athlete? someone that completes athletic events. I don’t care if you want to run a sub 25 park run, or get round your first ever marathon. I think you can do it. Even if they sound crazy to your right now.

img_5676Already the excuses will be creeping in, why you can’t, why you wouldn’t be able to.

I’m currently working with three women running their first marathon, all of whom separately believed they’d really struggle at a park run. And all of whom I’m fairly convinced, have the potential to run a a sub 4:30 marathon.

Why?

Because they want to.

And because who’s to say they can’t?

It comes from three basic ideas:

Number one – get your body used to training.

You have to want to do it. You have to want to be helped & you have to break down the barriers of “I can’t”. People aren’t born good at sport, it comes through hard work.

3But not the hard work you associate it with. I’m not talking 3 hours of running or 10 hours cycling. I’m talking 4 sessions a week, of an hour each.

Ask a trainer, find a coach, join a club, there’s loads of people that can help.

Get out of the door, and join the gym. Do 20 minutes on the bike. Go home, watch tv, do whatever you want. But you’ve started. You’ve made the first step, it’s much easier from here!

Start with 30-40 minutes of exercise, up to 4 times a week. Do park runs, classes, whatever you fancy. Find a routine, stick to it, make yourself accountable. And after 21 days, a habit sticks. You’re in, we’re go, you’ve got this.

One of the training programmes I’ve written started in October with the goal of London marathon, (6 months), and one started this week, with the goal of manchester marathon (3 months).

Sounds like a tight turnaround – but I’m very confident it can be done.

Block two is the worst of the three.

Teach yourself how to work hard:

combo3By the time you start this, you’ve done the hard work. You don’t sit around as much any more & you enjoy exercising. So you need to start exercising hard.

It sounds so daunting – but there’s a very easy way to start. Go to a gym, or run, and set yourself a time goal. Roughly 30-45 minutes. Maybe a park run. And go as hard as you can.

You don’t have to tell anyone how far you went, & even if you don’t think you worked as hard as you could, it honestly doesn’t matter. The hardest part is done!!

Now it’s a game. It’s a challenge, it’s a race.

img_1888You’ve set your bench mark, so next time, you have to beat it! Either go for longer at the same speed, or go faster/further for the same time. You have a target, go get it!!

And slowly it becomes a game, you race yourself, break records, set new limits. You can push this as far as you want. But you don’t ever have to do more than an hour, just make sure you’re absolutely flat out! Once you’re within touching distance of that personal best, you won’t let yourself stop.

By the end of the block, you’ll have nailed it. You’ll really know how to work hard, – how to test & push yourself. So when you’re up against it, you’ve been there before. You know how to cope.

 

Step 3 is the easiest of them all.

Practice – and go get it.

24_m-100793362-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2000_177477-12947444Whatever your end goal is, you’ll be able to reach it by now. So practice running, practice cycling, swimming, rowing… whatever it is. The event isn’t far away, so make sure you’re confident in yourself, how far you’ve come & where you’re going.

It might be that this is now just a stepping stone, you’ve decided you can do more, go better, further.

If you’re running a marathon, you really don’t need to run that much until this block, when your legs have to start getting more used to miles. You don’t have to do any silly 20-30 mile practice runs. If it makes you feel good, fine, but otherwise, just stay injury free & work on your fitness.

And when you’re nailing your event, enjoy yourself. You’ll have worked hard for it, the tough stuff is done!

Just go out, with a smile on your face and soak it up. You can’t change the outcome, whatever it is. But you can certainly surprise yourself. You’ll have come a long way – be proud of yourself.

 

 

Get used to training.

Learn to work hard.

Go and prove yourself wrong.

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Ironman – A Team Sport.

As the Ironman World Championships come closer, we’re now almost exactly two weeks out from the event.

I know you all really want to track the event instead of sleep on a Saturday night, I can just tell. So details of how to do that will appear here much closer to the time.

22156865_361850904238893_498181739_nI’ve spent a lot of time out on the infamous “Queen K”.
(The colloquial name for the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway on which most of the Ironman World Championship is battled out, and has been for the last 38 years, (This being the 39th edition).)

 

Hours spent cooking away, pounding mile after mile, day in day out has given me a lot of time to reflect on my season & short career in the sport.

 

I did a very interesting series of video interviews recently with a friend of mine all about the psychology of sport & triathlon including with what keeps me going, why I do it and what inspires me. The series will be appearing here over the next few months.

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For the most part of my career I’ve been one of the really annoying athletes that just seems to get it right when it matters. It all comes together in the nick of time to allow me to pull performances out of the bag that we didn’t think were possible.

 

Small moments of brilliance, just as I start to slip under the radar, that bring a race back to life. The Oklahoma bike leg, the Canada run, even the easter 10k. Sections of races, that transform the whole day.

And sure, I put a lot of it down to luck. Right place, right time, good legs. You could say it’s a good training programme (harder to justify that one this year), “talent”, a whole host of different reasons.

What do I think it is really?

It’s dedication, resilience and a belief so strong – that really there simply is no other option…

But don’t worry, not from me. I’m not talking about myself here.

I’m talking about my team.

One of the earliest lessons you learn in school, sport or elsewhere is that everything/everyone functions better with a team. It’s just more successful.

Now I know what you’re thinking, Ironman isn’t a team sport. It’s a solo event.

Sure, the athlete goes through the motion of training, races at the event, stands on the podium, all fun and games! You have to wake up early, work hard, eat properly (ish), get plenty of rest & recovery.

But behind the scenes there are a team of people working tirelessly to make that happen.

22119342_361850914238892_656800012_nAnd I don’t mean one or two people… I mean a whole host of people, that you wouldn’t even think made a difference.

There are the obvious ones that you could name instantly – the coaches, physios, mechanics, sponsors. Kit suppliers, partners, people I go straight to for advice.
Then obviously no less importantly, my family & friends, my training partners & the people who started sport with me, back when I was splashing in a different sense. (rowing). Some of who continue to influence & inspire me!

The people that if they weren’t there, it just wouldn’t be possible & I just couldn’t keep going.

My body wouldn’t function, my bike wouldn’t work, there’d be nobody to pick me up when I just think I can’t do it any more.
I wouldn’t be able to afford races, I’d have no food to eat, my recovery would be poor.

22140578_361851440905506_1308141462_oBut then there’s a third layer to the team. The substitutes bench, the people a bit further back.

The followers Social Media, Strava, you reading this right now.
The people I’ve raced against/with, people I’ve bumped into & people that just stumbled across me.
The people that you don’t really know care, the people watching from a distance, and the people that just want to feel a small part of the journey.

They all make up the team.

Because at the end of the day, in an Ironman race anywhere – Kilometre 32 of that marathon is a dark, dark place.

And what gets you through that?

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The team.

The people you don’t want to let down.
The good luck message/snap/post you got the night before.
The endless messages of support you come back to, no matter what the outcome.
The person that you bumped into 3 weeks before, who you haven’t seen for 5 years who just said “mate you’re doing great, keep it up”.

The people that have believed in you, every step of the way, even when you didn’t believe in yourself.

These are the things that pop into your mind, and when you’ve retreated to the back of your mind & every fibre of your body just wants to stop, it’s these small things that keep you going.

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22127493_361850917572225_586943722_nSo enough of the heavy stuff, why is this at all relevant to you?
Has he been on the medicinal herbs?

Well no, obviously not.

It’s relevant because it’s relevant to all of us. Great, I do ironman. But really, it’s no different to any other hobby, job, pastime.

If you’re having a bad day, it’s not your week, or maybe you’ve just not had a good September.

Have a look around & find your team. The people that care about you, believe in you, want to support you. Even if you can’t see them straight away, they’re definitely there, & they’re the people that matter most. The people that can pick you up & get you through it.

Reach out to them, have a chat, say thank you.

Because behind the scenes, without them, none of it would be possible!

Stay tuned for a more up beat post next week 😉

#myteam

Hard Decisions – Dropping Out

As many of you will know it’s been a tough few weeks for me. Since the week of Manchester marathon I’ve been struggling with a knee injury that I just haven’t been able to overcome, no matter how hard we tried.

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It’s put me in a really bad mind set for the last few weeks, I’ve been constantly trying to get myself patched up for a race, that I’d never have given myself time to be ready for anyway. Beating myself up and rushing back to training that I shouldn’t really be doing. I need to be 100% before I start thinking about racing, not competing for the sake of it.

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I’ve been able to run and swim, although not to my full potential, and I’ve been forced to take a full 6 weeks off the bike. Only breaking the curfew to race a couple of times, making the pain worse again.

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Because of this we decided it best for me to take a complete week off training, resuming this week and holding off riding my time trial bike for another 2 weeks.

And unfortunately the first morning after my test ride my knee was back to being very sore. Due to this I won’t be racing the 70.3 I had planned tomorrow as my practice race and an attempt to qualify for the 70.3 worlds this year.

It’s sad that I won’t be able to race, although we’ve known for a couple of weeks that I wouldn’t be at my full potential. And I have to look at the bigger picture. There’ll be plenty more 70.3’s for me to enter, and I now have unfinished business here in France.

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I’ve started to realise over the last few days that life is too short to worry about these things. I’m only 23 years old. I’ve got 5 years before I even scratch the surface of these pros. And scrambling around trying to string a few little races together isn’t going to help me get there.

So I think some time off, figure out the source of the problem and get myself fully fixed is on the cards. Not rushing the recovery, so I can put together I full rebuild to hopefully save the end of the season.

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It may mean that I miss the championship, my BBAR attempt, and possibly even Ironman UK. Even if it plagues the rest of the season, that’s not ideal for any athlete, and it’s not what anybody wants to hear. But I’ll be back. I have age on my side and I know this is gonna be a long slog, so I have to keep the focus, and know that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. And soon I’ll be back to smash through that 9:30 and 4:15 barrier respectively.

I’m hoping to rebuild the strength through my knee in the coming weeks so I can get stuck into the volume of training my mind and body love. Fitness will take time to rebuild, but it’s time I have on my side.

A big block could see me regain fitness just in time for Ironman UK mid July, provided I don’t encounter any more setbacks! But fate is a cruel mistress.

I’d like to thank my ever supportive friends & family for putting up with me and helping me realise that missing a few months of racing won’t end the world.

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Along with John Honey Physiotherapy for their fantastic work through this period to get me to the start line of races and optimising my recovery time. Hopefully we can work to get this problem solved.

If you’re local to the cheshire area they’re definitely the team for the job!

Until then, rest, recovery and rehab!

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Stay tuned over the coming weeks for a big announcement about my final 2017 sponsor.

They’re wheely good!

Winter – The Extra Mile

Winter.

Unless you’re a snowsports fanatic, toy shop owner or polar bear. It’s unlikely winter is your favourite time of year.

Yeah I can obviously see how you’d enjoy it, christmas, big hoodies, hot chocolate, mince pies. Especially mince pies, they should be available 365 days a year. Tesco, get on it.

The perks are all there.

But really though…. Does anyone actually like winter?

I mean, come on now.

Really?

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Short days, bad weather, training’s tough, if you’re studying you’ve got exams or deadlines, if you’re working your inbox is forever full and your commutes just seem to drag, and lets not forget the bank account takes the biggest hit of the whole year.

But you enjoy that?!

Fat from christmas, sluggish and slow, no imminent holidays in the pipeline, no sign of the ‘beach bod’. Just getting by hoping the summer holidays come round faster.

Summer racing, holiday tans and short shorts. Surely that’s more appealing?!

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So what really happens in the winter? Where does everybody go?

Unfortunately we can’t all live the professional athlete high life, South Africa for the winter, Girona for the spring. Constant sun and nice weather. Miles on miles of training, never a dull day. Or the CEO of some global corporate firm, playing golf or skiing the days away.

It’s often said that a good winter makes a good summer. Fact.

For the athletes, miles make champions. Fact.
For the students, revision gets the grades. Fact.

There is no gods gift, no magic potion. Hard work will beat talent if talent doesn’t work hard.

But when you’ve got 5 tops, 3 pairs of leggings, 2 sets of socks, the worlds thickest gloves and your face covered up to the brink of your vision. You do have to ask yourself:

Why am I doing this?

Is it really worth it?

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Well yes, yes it is.

For any endurance sport building a base is one of the most important aspects of the training programme. I’m aware that you need the high tempo, top quality sessions to get that peak fitness, and you also need ample recovery, hindered by a high volume programme. But the science is there, you’ve gotta build your base.

There are athletes that will go a season training 10 hours a week, and pump out a 9 hour Ironman. I’m not denying that that’s possible, I’ve seen it happen. But what you haven’t seen is the athletes 25 hour weeks, for 10 years previous to this. An endurance base so big, that it just needs topping up and maintaining through the hectic day to day life.

I know some of you will shun it as junk miles, but when the athlete that put in 10 hours a week more training than you cruises past you in the last 10% of a race. You’ll be the first to cry.

There are many similarities between sport and the business world, a blog that will follow in the coming weeks, but I think building a ‘base’ is one of them. And no, I don’t mean you have to start riding a bike, or run more. I mean going the extra mile. Putting in a bit extra here and there, helping others out when they need it, makes a big change.

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Everybody is looking for shortcuts. The easy way out. The quick way round. Well unfortunately ladies and gentlemen, if you want to succeed at a high level. There isn’t one.

And that’s where you need our good friend, The Winter.

Make your short days longer, your time to be out with friends enjoying the sun is coming, trust me. But you have to earn it.

Nights in the library, in the gym, on the treadmill, in the office… it doesn’t matter where your hard work takes place, it just needs to get done.

And unfortunately, there is no audience for hard work.

Some days are really, really long. Trust me, I know this one. I’ve been in the office past midnight. The studio for 3 straight days. Done 10 hours of training when your body just can’t take any more.

I know how it feels.

Work is just too much, your stressed, tired, hungry.. you’re not sure if you need 3 weeks sleep, 8 shots of tequila, 3 espressos, a hug or a combination of the lot.

But it will pay off.

This off season is the time where all the little changes you make, the little extra you put in, it’ll all swing back round.

And trust me.

Your future self will really thank you for it.

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Genetics or Hardwork? 

Many people will know my opinion on this one, hard work gets results, fact.

Genetics is a word thrown around by the many, to describe the few, as an excuse.

“He’s just genetically fast”

“She’s just genetically skinny”

No.

Let’s break this one down and have a proper look.


Yes, genetically Usain Bolt has the ability to run fast. Genetically Stephen Hawking was born with the capability of being clever.

And genetics play a big role in sport as they affect muscle size and muscle fiber composition which in turn affect strength & speed. They also affect your base anaerobic threshold (AT), and lung capacity.

One major limitation for endurance athletes is the heart’s ability to deliver enough oxygen to the muscles. Genetics play a large role in this ability.

But that doesn’t mean we were born that way.


I agree that some people are more up against it, some people struggle much more to achieve their goals.

Be it academically, physiologically or something else, there will always be people that pick it up faster. But 95% of the time, success is down to grit and determination.

Hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard.

Now I know some of you will be getting defensive, and you’ll be looking at me wondering what I know. And yes, understandably so as some things come quite naturally to me. However I’m born into a family line of diabetes, heart conditions and dietary problems. I only have to look at a chocolate bar to put weight on.

I know, you got me, I eat a lot of chocolate. But there’s a reason when my ankle was bad and I couldn’t train I put on 7kg in 4 weeks. I wasn’t eating thaaat badly.


The fact is, genetically everyone will be up against it in one way or another. It’s a well known fact that in Asia the average height is smaller, in Africa the best distance runners have slightly different ankle biomechanics, and an alternate bone density affecting their swimming.

But I’ve seen a man born with no legs run a marathon.

I’ve seen a 175cm Japanese basketballer in the NBA.

I’ve seen Galen Rupp win a bronze in both the 10,000m and the marathon in the space of a week.

Ok maybe he had a bit of questionable “help”.

But what about the 250kg people that drop their weight to 100kg, they’d have told you genetically they’re fat. But with hard work, they can change that.

I’m not going to argue that 10% of success is genetic, it can be that extra edge, the icing on the cake.

But the other 90% is flat out, hard work.

And there’s no audience for it.

So hang the excuses in the wardrobe. Pull up your socks. And get cracking.

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”.

Miles and W’s.

Miles. My favourite concept.

Do miles, go fast. Fact.

I can already feel the high intensity, low volume advocates amongst you squirming. Wriggling around in your chairs.

Miles are speed.

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It’s been a long week. A really long week.

As I check in during my rest between sessions, nothing makes me more excited than the thought of tomorrow’s rest day.

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Another 30 hour week to slot into the start of July, May and June checking out at both exactly 92 hours of training.

That’s a lot of miles.

So I’m overtrained, fatigued, off form, going slow, doing damage. Maybe, maybe not.

I took a rest day last Saturday, didn’t do a lot. Socialised at Henley, did a 3 hour drive, had a nice dinner. Easy money. And after just one day off, I turned up to the start of the Manchester and district 100 mile tt.

Now I’ve never done a 100 mile tt before. In fact it was only the 4th time I’d ever sat on a tt bike.

I’ve heard the rumours, read the Internet reviews. ‘Tt bikes take 3 months to get used to’… ‘It’s only on your 3rd 100 you get close to pacing it right’.

And in fairness, you cyclists & triathletes do come up with some absolute nonsense.

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I choo’d round in a comfortable 3:53:04. My heart rate not even breaching the high 60’s. Second to Ben Norbury, Congleton’s finest, by 20 seconds. Who was later peeled from the bike.

How? Miles.

So that started the week off nicely. An hour in the pool Monday, my first run in 6 months, and another pacey 90km on the road bike. Fine. Tuesday another hour and a 10k run.

They’re adding up these miles.

So on a heavy set of legs I span over to the start of the Congleton 10 mile tt, only to see a fresh Ben Norbury on the start line again.

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Well it was my mums birthday, so I couldn’t put down a bad performance. But everyone else’s rest was sure to help their legs. I smashed round with a heart rate of low 160’s, again not over 170 or even getting near my max of 190.

So I must have gone slow, because I’m over trained, right?

I checked in a pretty 20:45, a win. 21 seconds up on Ben and almost 3 minutes out from third.

How? miles.

Since then the week has developed into 610km on the bike, 65km running and a cheeky 9,000m in the pool. (Not including last Sunday’s 100).

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Ok ok you get my point, I do miles, but could I be faster if I brought back the mileage?

Probably not. It’s all about the base. The bottom of the pyramid.

8 hours sleep a night, 20-30 minutes of stretching and rolling a day. And a healthy diet closely monitored by the head of athlete welfare (my mum) and I’m fresh from day to day.

As I start to taper for Europeans in 2 weeks I have 4 races to really explore the speed available.

I haven’t had the time to run far enough to do any damage to the race. The miles just aren’t there. But as my fatigue comes down and my form comes up.

Watch this space.

#kahaarecoming

DCIM102GOPRO

DCIM102GOPRO

Injury and Rest – the dreaded rehab

Injury is every athletes worst nightmare, 4 months into an Achilles injury with at least 2 months to go until full fitness I find myself struggling to cope with so much time away from sport.

A constant too and fro with starting training and stopping again, constant physio therapy and lots of ice, how long does it take to really shift an injury?

A heads up from the physio only to find ourselves back at square one after the third week of a rebuild phase.

it’s a tough game

 

I mean if I was fully deabilhitated like David Moore suffering a brutal shoulder dislocation. Rumour has it he was wrestling a bear, however I believe it was more likely in the middle of one of his very heavy workout sets. Straight in for an operation a few days later and bed bound since. This is the kind of serious injury that I could understand such a set back. Although I’m sure with such an admirable mindset he’ll bounce back very soon.

 

The man himself!

It’s often said that if we didn’t train each time we had a niggle we’d never get any training done at all. It’s this resilient mindset that creates the base of successful athletes. The craving for success and the dopamine surge from attaining it.

I’m not talking about being the best or winning, I’m talking about a perseverance to improve. There’s no substitute for the hard work athletes put in, but just when is it time to stop?

Listening to your body is a fundamental lesson every sportsman goes through, but where is the line drawn between uncomfortable and painful.

Anyone coming back from injury will notice a decrease in strength for a short period especially in the injured area, but does this mean no training should be completed?

 

The dreaded view

I think managing any injury is always tough but sessions should be completed pain free. Coming back too slow is better than too soon meaning you’re not back at all.

A very useful tip when coming back is to remember you’re not always testing for pain that day. Pain can come up to 48 hours post exercise. So just because you feel fresh don’t push too hard.

I know it’s tough missing races, seeing opponents making easy wins. But even the best athletes recover from injury to come back fitter and stronger than ever.

 

The perfect set up!

In the mean time, rest, recover, stretch and roll. Get your long overdue chores done until you can manage some form of substitute exercise.

And remember, you will be back!