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The Next Step – Learning To Race

New Zealand was great.

Sunny, peaceful, relaxing.

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Finally back in the UK it’s time to reflect on the positives and negatives of the trip, pass judgements and decide the next steps moving forward.

Flying out to New Zealand I had one job:

Win the age group. And therefore – qualify for Kona.

Get that golden ticket that so many people spend a life time hunting for.

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And it’s hard for me to say I had a bad race, because I didn’t. I stuck to the plan and executed the result. So when people ask me am I happy with it? Well yes, on that day that was the best I could have done.

On one side of the coin, I biked a 5:05 into the wind. However on my side of the coin I finished the swim with 500 people ahead of me. Not a place to be competitive.

I am capable of so much more. My build up let me down, I was lazy with my diet, amongst other things I wasn’t quite as disciplined and regimented as I like to be.

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And there are so many unanswered questions.

You see, that was the first time I’ve ever ‘raced’ an ironman. By which I mean, pushed on from start to finish, holding an uncomfortable intensity, attempting to go fast rather than purely see the finish line with a smile on my face.

And I learned a lot.

But now I have a whole mind of curiosities. Unanswered questions about myself. So much unfinished business with what I’m capable of.

We can start with the obvious one. A 1:23 swim leaves so much to still be desired.

And what happens if I push the swim? Race myself for the best possible time, rather than just get to my bike. Will my cycle legs still hold out? Will it bite me on the run?

And the bike leg, what happens if I swim faster and get myself into a strong group? Could we use the 12m legal zone to gain 5-10 minutes? Maybe even more.

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My 3:28 marathon was solid, the proudest part of my race. That’s what won the age group for me and running it home down that finishing shoot is a feeling that will get me through a lot of hard sessions in the coming months.

But the medics weighed me at 83kg before the race, and I’ve only been running 6 months. So what can I run at 75kg? What’s my real race weight? Can I push a 3 hour with more training and more resilience? Can my transitions be quicker? Is my nutrition right? Can I handle more caffeine? A new bike position? Better prep? No niggles?

All of these things flying round in my head, and the real answer to a lot of them, is unknown.

But now. In my 3rd season in the sport I’m in the position where Im ready to learn. I can afford to attack races, make mistakes. Fall down, break, push myself too far.

I have to remember that this time last year I’d just started back after 6 months off. And it’d still be another 3 months before I managed to run anything over 5k. So I have a lot of progression still to come.

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It’s time to step it up, and try to begin the transition from a good age grouper, to a seriously competitive one.

And build up the pieces, create the jigsaw of the ‘perfect race’.

I may never find the perfect combination of speed and efficiency, I may never string together a flawless race. But the more mistakes I make, and the closer I get. The faster I’ll become.

And it won’t happen overnight, it’ll be a long journey, a tough process. Nobody likes losing, giving everything and it just not being good enough. A deflating feeling.

But you can’t win every time, and every time you lose it makes you that bit more resilient.

So my next big race is in 4 months time at ironman UK. Everything else will be used as a warm up, a test, an experiment.

I’ll be racing everything I can find from park runs, time trials, duathlons and triathlon. Of all distances, testing myself to work out what I am really capable of.

And as always, the most important part – don’t get injured.

July 14th. Ironman UK.

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See you there.

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Magic Numbers & Man Flu

Are you ready for it?

How fast you gonna go?

Are you going to win?

The favourite three questions regarding Ironman New Zealand, and if you want my honest answer, it’s that I have absolutely no idea.

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Until this week training had been going amazingly, but I have had to take a week off with flu, I’m quite heavy and I haven’t done a single race since worlds…

Either way I’ll throw you a few magic numbers to help you make a judgement.

Triathlon isn’t much different to many sports in that training scores indicate form and can be used as race predictors. The only difference is there’s three disciplines, and a LOT of exterior variables that can go wrong. 140.6 miles is a long way to nail the ‘perfect race’.

Almost all of my training is published on strava, I’m not one of the hidden athletes trying to hide scores and come out of the blue. Keeping finely tuned coaches training programmes sealed away from the outside world. So the data geeks among you will already know everything I’m about to tell you.

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A heavy few weeks

Predicting form is usually easy enough. Anyone that trains around you, sees your scores, knows your form, will be able to judge fairly accurately how you’re going to do. Race times are usually the best indicator.

GB just had their rowing trials this weekend, and the more curious coaches & athletes will have been able to predict the leaderboard correctly for 90% of the field. Sure, there’s always going to be athletes that have a bad day, make mistakes, and athletes that excel, step up to the plate and deliver the unexpected.

And as Chris Berry himself said ‘Jack is a master at under promising, yet over delivering.’

Forever an underdog.

So what is an ironman? For the less clued up among you, it’s a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and a marathon, 26.2 miles of running. Back to back, no breaks. We hope.

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the ironman logo

If you want that in new money, it’s 3.8km, 180km, 42.2km.

So what am I going to do it in?

Well.

Isn’t that the million dollar question.

Now we’re into the last 3 weeks, there’s isn’t a lot I can do to improve my race. A few tweaks here and there, a bit of zip into the legs. But otherwise I’m already set.

However there’s a LOT, that could hinder it.

In the next 3 weeks alone, before I even get to race day I have to avoid injury, illness (again), excess weight, adjust to the 13 hour time zone and make it through China!

Just to get to the start line.

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Then I have to execute all three disciplines to the right intensity, manage my efforts, nutrition, not get a mechanical fault on the bike and not get any time penalties or disqualifications.

Wouldn’t be the first time!

And all without a single race to test myself since world champs back in October. So really your guess is a good as mine.

But.

If I was to pull all of that off.

And string a solid race together.

My legs could deliver.

If I didn’t train a single day in the next 2 weeks, I’d still be fitter than when I did my sub 10 at Europeans, a day on which I had flu.

So the perfect race sees a 9:15 finish time.

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Bad races do happen!!

Sounds fast.

Really fast…. but does it?

Yeah ok I’ve had flu, and yeah ok I’m heavy. So maybe I’ll lose 30 minutes tops to the race  I’ve had in my head this winter.

But I’m looking for a steady 1:10 swim. Having worked on my swim through the winter, I know I’m capable of more but I’d just like to stay reserved and get to my bike in one piece.

A 4:45 bike split, a new New Zealand 20-24 record is the target. This is approximately 24mph (38kph). Just over 1mph faster than my 12 hour time trial speed, and the same speed I did a year ago in Poznan. Still being slightly heavy mixed with the fact I haven’t raced recently, this will be testing.

But not impossible.

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Then onto the run. A 3:15 is the target, a speed I’ve been comfortably running for the past few weeks. 4:40/km, 7:30/mi, ice been churning out 3/4 of a marathon at a comfortable 4:30/km, around 7:15.

Poznans 4:02 after 3 weeks back to running was slightly embarrassing and leaves much to be desired this year.

If it’s a warm day the extra weight will really work against me on the run. Currently weighing in around 3/4kg over my summer race weight, a figure I’m not too concerned about as it’s dropping weekly and there are plenty more races to come this year.

So add on the 5 minutes of transition and there’s your 9:15.

But with Ironman UK being my main targeted race for the season, possibly two world championships and the challenge Championship, New Zealand could end up being my 5th biggest race of the year.

So recovering from flu, on the other side of the world, in the middle of british winter. It’s unlikely that I will have an amazing race, and it is rather unlikely that I’ll win my age group.

But does that mean I’m slow? Or off the pace this year?

Of course not, I still have 4 months to piece myself together ahead of the various world championships and Ironman UK.

So if it does all fall to pieces. So what? 125 hours a month training are going to come round and catch up with me at some point I’m sure.

And when they do, it’ll be something quite special!

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Doing a Triathlon – 5 top tips from novice to beginner

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is:

“I’ve just signed up for my first triathlon, any tips?”
or
“Jack, I’m doing a triathlon, help”

So below I’ve compiled my top 5 tips for any new starter.

Whether you’re doing an ironman or a sprint distance, I’m sure these will help you in your quest.

I’m by no means an expert myself, having only started in the sport a little over two years ago, I’m still very much a novice. Learning a whole set of new tricks race to race, but I’m slowly getting there. So here’s my best advice for you all to complete that new years resolution.

1. Get the right gear.

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Now this is a very important one. No i’m not talking about spraying £5k+ at a bike, or £150 on running shoes that don’t fit your feet properly, or getting so much swim gear you make Michael Phelps look ill-prepared.
I’m talking about getting a solid bike, that fits. Go to a shop, chat to the workers. Chat to your friends that cycle. Anyone that knows anything about cycling, they’ll be able to help you buy a steady bike, that gets you from A to B in a solid time.

Yes, some bikes are faster than others.
And yes, some are a lot more expensive, but really, unless you’re attacking top end times, it doesn’t make a world of difference.

 

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I’ve got a £350 Pinnacle Dolomite 1, Evans Cycles bottom of the range bike. And I can keep up with almost any chaingang on it, it really goes!
Your legs are worth more than any bike can buy.

Now once you’ve got your bike, get it measured and fitted, this will make sure you’re comfortable and not setting yourself up from a fail from the get go.

Cycling or padded shorts are a very helpful purchase, you only need to spend £20/30 to save your behind from getting very sore! I don’t mean super tight lycra, any mountain bike shorts will do the trick.

(Heathen, sorry roadies!!!)

The second most important thing is running shoes. Again, go to a running shop, get on a treadmill and get a good pair that fit your running style. They’re there to help you, it’s their job, their lifestyle, they know what’s what.

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This is literally one of the best bits of advice anyone can give you. Running is where you will pick up all of your injuries.
Trust me, you’re chatting to the injury veteran.

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In my triathlon career I’ve spent more time on the bench and in the phsyio than running, so these are a fantastic investment. A good pair of socks will also go a long way to keep the blisters at bay.

Then get yourself a comfortable pair of goggles, and you’re ready to take on the world!

Stay warm through winter, don’t over dress through summer and you’ll be sure to have a smile on your face come race day.

 

 
2. Don’t get injured.

Now this sounds trivial. Duhhhh. Don’t get injured, how hard can it be?!

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Well, it’s tricker than you think. There are a few simple ways to keep the injuries down and the training up.
Firstly, don’t do too much too soon. I know you’ll think you’re superman now you’ve put down the beers for electrolyte drinks. But don’t let yourself get carried away.
Listen to your body, and take it one step at a time. Don’t run before you can walk, so to speak.
Next, make sure you stretch before or after training. This helps keep your muscles loose and reduces the likelihood of injury.
And lastly, if it hurts, stop.

The extra 3k is never worth 4 weeks off.

After all, recovery is 50% of training, if you don’t recover, you don’t get faster!

 

 

3. Play to your strengths.

This is one of the most common mistakes in triathlon. Most people start triathlon because they are strong in one of the disciplines but wanna branch out and try something new.
But don’t neglect that discipline.
If I use myself as an example, most people will know that I’m a cyclist, that’s what I do.

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And yes, I’m focussing very hard on my swim and run at the moment, to try and catch up.

BUT.

That doesn’t mean I don’t cycle. Keeping my cycling legs on top form gives me edge in that part of the race, giving me a bit more space to breathe in the other two. If you’re good at it, use it.
Also that makes you more likely to enjoy it, so do what you enjoy!! It’ll help, I promise.

 

 

4. Practice racing.

This is one you read in almost any internet post about starting triathlon. Don’t try anything new on race day, it could ruin your race!
From equipment, to nutrition to pacing. If you’ve not practiced it, don’t try it.

When you get to race day, you want it to be monotonous. Enter auto-pilot and enjoy the day. Soak in the atmosphere.

Not spend your race worrying about what’s gonna happen next!

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Train with the right nutrition, walk through your transitions and make sure you cover every eventuality.

Especially how to fix a puncture!

Nobody wants to end a race over something trivial that could have been covered at home the week before.

 

5. Eat your greens.

Now this will make a lot of you laugh.

Eat your greens?

You serious?

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Yes, yes i’m very serious.

Everyone rages on about protein shakes, carbs, high calories. Arguably you don’t need any of these.

Yes, recover and fuel yourself properly.

Yes, take food on your rides, actual food, not greens.

But the micro-nutrients vegetables offer you can do things for your muscles that you never even imagined. Spinach, pineapple, cherry juice, beetroot the list goes on

Ok, ok, I know they’re not green.

Clever cloggs.

But the point still stands, fruit and veg will make you feel fresh and clean, you’ll know when you’ve tried it. Not stodgy like the morning after a takeaway. You won’t regret it, and it’s guilt free calories, the unrefined sugars will make you struggle to put weight on!

There are obviously plenty of other things to consider when starting a triathlon. But if you keep yourself healthy & recovered through your new programme. As well as happy and fuelled, I’m sure you’ll do well.

I look forward to racing some of you this year.

I promise you’ll enjoy it, although your legs might not!!!

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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”

 

 

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Crikey – they look good!

The classic pre-race anxiety is hard enough let alone when you psych yourself out over what your opponents looks like. And nine times out of ten, you’re wasting your energy. And this is why.

What are you actually perceiving when you pre judge someone? You’re basing their ability entirely on the aesthetic they have.


And yes, we all do it.

In fact I’m one of the worst for it.

But 80% of sport is won or lost in the mind. So don’t talk yourself out of it before you’ve even started!!


But are you even racing them?

The beauty of our sports is that there can be 25,000 competitors. And you’re still only racing yourself.

If you come home with a smile on your face at the end of the day, you’re the real winner.

And yes, in the new debate I am on the side that believes if you finish last, you are a loser. And that will follow in another blog.

However if you have worked hard, improved and taken a step forward, that is to be commended.


I remember being at the start of a team time trial in Wales, Port Talbot 4up.

Now I was always going to be nervous, first team time trial, first 25m time trial, two men that had just finished 10th at nationals to follow and only my third time on a time trial bike.

Safe to say I was laying eggs.

This wasn’t helped when half way through the warm up team bottrill purred past, full matching kit, perfect precision in their line, all 4 with slick disc wheels singing the slow, deep “vroom, vroom, vroom” sound we all love.

They looked sharp. Really sharp.

But why were we worried? Just cause they can afford nice kit, didn’t mean they could use it.

And often people are looking at you thinking the same thing.

I mean, this year I rode a brand new canyon, bambino helmet and a sharp skin suit. For anyone looking at a 12 year old on gear like that, they’re either fairly nippy, or just too rich.


Just too rich.

A common phenomenon in cycling.

As the middle aged, mid life crisis cyclists begin to get more serious, the competitive racing side of the sport is evolving rapidly.

And people have realised that by throwing money at some nice gear, it does make a big difference.

But.

That doesn’t make you fast.

Miles do that.


Anyway… So as we stand in port talbot expecting to have team botrill plow through us. I was petrified.

But my legs really wanted to play.

Dropping the 4th member of our team 15km in, meant we were a 3 man job from a long way out.

15km left one was hanging on.

And the last 8km was the Schofield choo choo train, dragging the boys home.

My eager, over excited legs having to control themselves.

A very bitty, jumpy first ttt. Not one to be proud of.

But we finished second. One second behind first, and almost 20 seconds ahead of team botrill.

And it made me remember, yet again.

There’s so much more to our sport than fancy bikes, shaved legs and middle aged men in Lycra.

Attitude, resilience, personality, the list goes on.

If you believe you can succeed, you will.

On that start line, there will always be people with a nicer bike, nicer gear, bigger legs, whatever else you judge them by.


But you will always be you.

And you will always bring it.

So stop worrying about the fanny with a 15 grand pinarello, he’s probably worked hard in other aspects of his life to deserve that.

Most of the time, you’re not even gonna be in the same race.

Just worry about yourself.

Lay it all out.

Hit that pb.

And go home with a smile on your face.

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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

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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.

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A Tough Few Weeks

2016.

It’s been a strange one that’s for sure. A real roller coaster.

A bumpy start with 2 months out of training, then trying to balance finishing an architecture with starting training again.

A perfect end to my degree followed by a strong block or racing polished off with a fairytale silver medal at European championships.

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Throwing the canyon into the mix saw 2nd, 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 3rd… A real burst of speed I didn’t know my legs had. But it can’t last forever.

4 weeks ago saw me take on my first 12 hour time trial.

Yes, you read it right. 12 hours. On a bike.

It’d be my first ever 12 hour to go with my first 50 mile & 100 mile, both completed this year. This would give me a ‘best all rounder’ score. They basically take your average speed from these three races and compare it to everyone else’s. Cheshire doesn’t have any particularly fast courses, but it would be a start.

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So, Long distance. Crazy time scale. Going to hurt…..

Where do I sign up?

A tough day on heavy legs saw me come home in 5th. 269.99miles.

A mixed set of emotions surrounded the result. It was another new all time bath record. And an all time Bath best all round season record. Which was the goal.

But once I’d done it, I knew there was more. With people being peeled off bikes I felt like i should have really emptied the tank in the mid section. Having raced my sister the 200m back to the car an hour after the race, I knew I’d let myself down.

So back to the drawing board, back to what I do best. Hard sessions and long miles. Finishing August with 101 hours of training. The first time I’ve ever completed all the Strava challenges in one month.

2,221km cycling.

205km running.

30,000m swimming.

A good month complimented by some good results.

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A brief 4 day taper took me into the middle distance European championships. A beautiful race in Austria, where the wheels well and truly fell off.

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4:20-4:25 was the target.

35′ Swim. 2:20 bike. 1:25 run. With transitions kept to sub 5.

I entered the water feeling good. The washing machine start not phasing me. A stitch half way was all that held me back.

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Out of the water in 33:38 I knew I’d started well. A slight fumble in transition saw me lose a few seconds but I knew I was still on track.

As I entered the bike course I saw a LOT of drafting. And not a single ref. Knowing I’d be up against it I put my head down, and let my legs start to purr away.

Finishing the first lap in 1:08 with plenty more in the tank I knew I was moving well.

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What I hadn’t remembered is that I hadn’t eaten yet, had only drank 1 bottle and it was 26 degrees.

Idiot.

I finished the bike in 2:20:38, spot on target.

Made it through t2 in an electric time, barely pausing for breath.

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And then I fell to pieces.

My stomach felt like it was being torn in every direction. I was nauseous, dizzy. I had blown like a train.

My legs had so much to offer, they were ready to play, anxious to be let loose at the 5k laps.

But my stomach didn’t want to play. Some terrible nutritional decisions had ruined my race. A 1:43 half brought me home in 4:42 with my legs underworked.

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A bitter pill to swallow.

My slowest run of 2016, on one of the biggest stages yet. Leaving me well out of the rankings for my age group.

None the less, a promising swim and solid bike leg on a hilly course leave a lot of positives.

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It’s just a shame that 18 hours later, my 11km relaxed recovery run was 7 seconds faster per km.

Lots of reviews to read, attempt to dissect what can improve my IBS in the heat, and more discipline to stick to the game plan.

And pray I can resolve it in the next 3 weeks.

Until then, at world championships, watch this space.

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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”.

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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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