, , ,

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.

img_4419-1-1



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.

img_4395-3
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.

img_4381
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.

img_4410-1
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).

img_4411
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!

, , ,

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.

, ,

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.

, , , , ,

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?

, , , ,

Training: A Healthy Pastime or Horrible Addiction?

This is a topic I have just written a 3,000 word university essay on, as it is currently being marked I’ll have to save the publication of that for a later date.

There’s a certain amount of admiration given to all athletes, be it the guy that won the high school race or the olympic champion. People pay respect to the people that work hard and get the results. And after all, like we’re taught from a young age, it’s the taking part that counts, right?
medals.jpg
It’s 5am and you wake up to the horrible drone of the iPhone alarm, quickly hitting snooze so it can pleasure your ears again 5 minutes later. 
Training is in 30 minutes but you still can’t bring yourself to go down for breakfast or brace the cold, wet morning knowing that your bed is warm & dry.
You just about conquer the step out of bed, pull on some kit and head down to the kitchen, praying that in some miracle a full english has been cooked waiting for you. However the morning weetabix taste surprisingly similar to the day before, but you know it’s gotta be eaten. Flacking in training is not an option.
FullEnglishBreakfast.jpg
Healthy lifestyle, healthy mind.
Arriving at training you look around and that couldn’t seem farther from the truth. Dull and weary; everyone is feeling the same. There’s some comfort knowing that the rest of the team are going through the same thing, but all with the same question on the mind.
‘why are we doing this?’
717e82c652735200416212b36445f0d441c4dcd5df61e017d1c0c40428d7dcb3.jpg
If you miss training you feel guilty, groggy, lazy. You know it’s not been done, you’ll never make that time back, the goals are one step further away. 
So you go, you go because you have to, your mind won’t let you not. You want to be faster, bigger, stronger, better, whatever the aim of the session may be, “you’ll feel better for it afterwards”.
An hour, how hard can it be? A OWA. 1 hour. Of my life.
10 minutes in it still feels easy.
20 minutes in you want it to stop.
30 minutes in you’re ready to stand up.
29:59 left, I can do this.
29:50….
29:45….
29:30…..
It goes through your head that you’ll quit all sport the moment you finish. You’ll never do this again, it’s pointless, pain for no reason. I’d much rather be out on the lash, or tucked up in bed.
Eventually, in what feels like a few hours later, it ends. You feel tired, achey. But there’s a strange feeling in your chest, a relief, a happiness? that it’s finished. You’ve improved and feel better for it, you almost want more. But are you getting better, or just fuelling the addiction?
current.jpg
So off we go to Kaha’s next destination.. work/uni/home. We feel tired and hungry ticking away the seconds until we could have a little nap or a bite to eat. Resisting the urge to eat the protein bar in your pocket until you know it’s time, constantly making trips to the water fountain to maximise hydration.

Off out for lunch, finally! everyone gets a pint, you’d love to but the voice in your head won’t let you. You’ve got training. You can’t do it, you have to be the ‘boring one’. Fantastic. You know desert is too unhealthy & just a main won’t fill you up. Lunchtime becomes a constant strain on your wallet.
When-someone-says-food.jpg
And so we go again, work, then off to the second session. This is even harder than the first because you have the fatigue lingering in your legs. We could just miss it though right? The little voices battle for a few minutes before you finally reside yourself to just getting on with it.
“Just do it”