Ironman South Africa – Tracking Information

It’s here! Race time. After a long winter, it’s a real blessing. 

I’ll keep this one short – the time for talking is over. It’s time for business..

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Tracking info: the best way is the download the Ironman app. Allow notifications. Hit South Africa and search for Jack Schofield or 148. You’ll see a nice little picture of me and mum, track me and off we go! 

It’s really that simple. Hopefully it works this time!DSC02222

To answer the common questions:

Yeah I feel great. Prep has been good, the bike is handling ok and we’re in for a tough day.

I’m racing with no expectation – just the expectation of racing as hard as I can with the cards I’m dealt. If that’s misfortune I’ll deal with it, if not happy days.

The numbers have been great the past couple of months, which is nice. But my training doesn’t do the race for me. I have to get myself as fast as possible around 226km with a combination of 3 sports. That’s all that matters now. 

Thanks to the huge team behind the scenes that have worked all hours to get me to the start line. And put up with all my winter tantrums – it really is hugely appreciated. 

This one’s for you! 

Instagram Without Followers – A New Start.

After a couple of emails at the weekend and today concerned that my Instagram has seemingly “been hacked”. I decided I write my reply openly, for everyone to read. To gain more understanding of why I’ve deleted Instagram.

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“Thanks for the concern, though it seems you didn’t read the single new post!

I chose to delete my Instagram account and start again. This is for a variety of reasons – the majority of which are listed below.

DSC_9264I decided moving forward a rebrand would be far more beneficial to me and the brands I work with.

I’ve been thinking a lot on the subject recently. I’ve really lost taste in Instagram & Facebook and the way my accounts have been running. My followers are completely disengaged and I haven’t been enjoying the content I’ve been posting. I feel like I’ve been posting for the sake of it and it’s gone completely flat. And that’s completely against everything I stand for.

So I’ve decided to reset my Instagram, keep the same handle and go back to zero followers. In the hope of building a more authentic approach, true to my character, with an engaged following, be it small or large. Do more of what I love and create original content through my photography business, and train/race hard for the love of it as I always have regardless of social media.

I have a lot more to offer any brand than a few Instagram followers – though it seems that’s all people are interested in. Being a content creator, an active community member offline, one of the countries top age group athletes and still only 25 all seems to get overlooked for a single number. A number of disengaged followers. Why are we so trapped by this?

DSC_7786Therefore I took the decision to start again. Though short term I may lose relationships, support or exposure.  Long term I’ll forge more valuable ones and be in a better place. I’ll be able to work with people that share my values, believe in my journey and have faith in me as a person.

It wasn’t a decision I took lightly, though I’m sure you’ll understand.”

Jack

And I’ll finish with one of my favourite quotes:
“It’s much better to walk alone, in the right direction, than to follow the herd, walking in the wrong one”.

February – Like baking a cake?

We’re a little over 40 days into 2019, and I’ve already had three of the biggest training weeks my body has ever been through. Backed up by some very high quality sessions, in some very uncomfortable zones. And why? Because I’m back in love with the process.

DSC01739Not that I ever wasn’t, but reinvigorated by my 2018 season, I’m hungrier than before. Hungry to go fast, but focussed on working hard. 

It’s easy to say that these early building blocks, joined up with the hard work in November and December are possibly the most important of the season. 

And you’d be right, they are. They’re fundamental to a successful season, but I think February is probably the most important month of the year.

If you think of it like baking a cake. A tasty cake, is a fast race. You have to be careful to get all the right ingredients, mix them in the right order, and in the right way. Without this, it’s impossible to get a nice cake.
You have to set it up well from the start.

DSC01569But then, the cake has to cook.

And February is time to cook.

It’s easy to be motivated at the start of the season, you’re eager to put right any wrongs or bouncing from a successful season. You’re hungry, motivated and ready for a big winter. Then In December you have Christmas and family time to break up the miles. 

DSC01591Moving into January and winter hits, but fuelled by resolutions and a New Years kick, it’s going to be your year. It might be time for camp or some sun, or just a big boost.

But February is tough.

The cake is in the oven, you can’t open the door, or mess with it, you just have to leave it. Let it tick over, let it grow.

The miles have to sink into your legs.
Race season is still quite far away, you might be still in a big building block, or letting the first 3 months of the year properly hit your legs. Keeping healthy, injury free and away from sickness is the most important thing. Winter is still here, it’s often hard to find motivation.

DSC01236And for myself, that’s difficult when I’m away a lot, working hard, and training harder. That’s when it’s easy to be careless, overlook the nutrition, sleep, prehab and rehab. The little exercises and stretches that make all the difference on race day.

Having just landed back from Gran Canaria, last week saw me training with some of Britain’s top athletes. It was great for me to watch everyone else push themselves to the limit, and how they conduct themselves in and out of training. And one thing we all had in common – the drive to work hard, and keep smiling. But a real love for the process. 

DSC01560Those of you who follow me closely will know I’ve been disappointed with the way I’ve been cycling in 2019, not quite finding my feet I’ve been searching for answers. But one thing I do know, if I keep working hard, they’ll find themselves. 

And this could be the month for that. March will be easy to motivate myself with more sun and a real drive to be ready for race season. 

Icing the cake, decorating it to look pretty. Adding the final touches. Jumping through the last through hoops to find that top end race form.

With the new bike position slowly dialling itself into my legs, I haven’t quite managed to hit a lot of my numbers so far this year.

DSC01646A less experienced version of myself would hit the panic button here, and to some extent I did have a minor wobble. But I have patience and I trust the process. You can’t be at 100% all year round, and the miles add up. Day in day out I just grind away, ticking over in the hope that in 8 weeks time, some form finds my legs.

The last few weeks we’ve had a real focus on my run, looking for consistency and high quality. And that’s beginning to show. My running legs are starting to come back, and they’re here to party. In this period, keeping the consistency is at the top of the menu.

Though the numbers haven’t been consistently there. I’ve been worrying more about the process of working hard, and that’s all the matters. And through that, occasionally there have been glitters of something different, a new form, something beyond where I’ve been before.

DSC01821Every day, ticking the boxes. I’m really loving the hard work day in day out, and the support is in place to allow me to do that. To be the best possible version of myself. 

A lot can happen between now and race season, and nobody knows what cards I’ll be dealt.

One thing I do know, is every day I’ll control the small things I can. And session by session, we’ll get there. 

Exceptional performances are made of hundreds and hundreds of average sessions. 

Bake the cake, the time to eat it is fast approaching.

Do your miles, Eat your greens, Don’t let girls be mean to you.

As I write this, I’m sat in the Portuguese sun looking back on what’s already been a very punchy start to 2019. With big personal goals for the year, I’ve really started as I mean to go on. 

DSC01017But what does success look like? What’s the real recipe? Though I’ve not quite tasted it myself yet, I’m often surrounded by some of the worlds best. A fantastic opportunity to see what they invest, and just what it takes.

And I’ve decided no matter what your goal, in or out of sport, the recipe is in fact this:

Do you miles, eat your greens, and don’t let girls be mean to you.

And I say not just in sport – because that’s the recipe for life. You’re welcome. 

DSC01044But before you shut it down and think the training has fried my brain, hear me out…

On paper the last week has been my biggest ever training week in terms of stress score on the body. I’ve done all the training solo and unsupported – and I’ve learned a lot about myself. Since the start of the year, I’ve been flat out. 1,179km on the bike in the last 19 days, 16,000m climbed. Already nearly twice Everest. 226km running, a whole Ironman, on foot. And 25.8km in the pool. 

This has reminded me anyone can work hard, if they set their mind to it. But working smart is better. 

20180624_11491You can work flat out for a week, or two, or three. But when you can’t work at all on the fourth and fifth week, you fall back. And it’ll stress you out. You won’t be moving forward any more, instead you’ll be overtaken by those that pace themselves. Those that just tick over, consistently day in day out.

They’re the real winners. 

I could have completed this quicker, harder – gone further. But I’d be burned out. I’d be injured and flat. I’d miss a weeks training if not more and we’re back to square 1.5.

DSC01067Success is a combination of consistency with a bit of luck.

So the consistency metaphor is obvious – do your miles. Just tick over. Stick at it! Some days it sucks, and all you want to do is lie in bed and not move. Trust me, I’m not a robot, I feel all the same things you do. And it’s hard, it’s really hard, but you have to get it done. 

But what allows you to do your miles? What let’s you work hard? What let’s you accomplish what you set out to do? 

Eating your greens. 

DSC01116These are the things that happen behind the scenes. The little things you can’t always see. Waking up early – and going to bed early. Long days don’t benefit anyone. Not enough hours in the day? You’re not managing your time well enough. This is an argument I see all the time. I know people working three jobs and training 20-25 hours a week, racing at an international level. And you’re telling me you can’t read a book for 15 minutes a day? Behave.

Eat your greens. Look after yourself. Let yourself recover. Stretch, do yoga, find some sort of relaxation whatever that may be. Give yourself the down time you need. The time away, time off. 

DSC01122Drink with friends, enjoy a nice meal. Go for a walk, catch up with people you haven’t seen in a while. Make time, make effort, get away. You can’t work at 100% all of the time, success is a balance. 

But balance is the key word. You can’t have treats all the time; you have to make sacrifices. The candle can’t be burned at both ends. What did your parents tell you? You can’t have dessert if you don’t eat your greens. 

And don’t let girls be mean to you. 

DSC01126And by girls, I mean anyone, anyone in the world. Who cares? This is something we see all the time, unfortunately despite all the amazing connections social media brings; it also brings a world of negativity. Real life has just as much of it. It might be a little comment that someone didn’t mean, it might be flat out spite – but honestly – why do you let yourself worry? Will Doris that things I eat too much cake to be an athlete stop me achieving what I want to this year? Do the people that thing I’ll never be able to swim fast enough have an impact on my life?  Does the people that think they’ll always be quicker than me stop me trying? No. And I know some days it’s hard to ignore, and some days you believe it. You let it in.

But think about the bigger picture. Remind yourself where you’re going and what you want to be. Anything is possible; don’t let someone else’s narrow vision cloud yours.

DSC01140And some times – even the people close to you need a bit of a nudge in the right direction. But they’ll support you, and they’ll come on board. A 2016 version of myself had to fight tooth and nail to convince my parents to let me leave architecture and pursue sport. It’d be a very different conversation today!

You can be successful. Anyone can:

Do you miles, eat your greens and don’t let girls be mean to you. 

2018 – A Brief Summary.

With 2018 drawing to a close, it’s time for a bit of personal reflection. It was a year full of ups & downs for me both in an out of racing.

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A broken toe & 2 bike crashes getting in the way of both of my A-Races… and moving up an age group making racing that extra bit tougher. Ironman Barcelona didn’t quite go to plan, and I didn’t have the running legs to do anything special at worlds. But that being said, I’d definitely class the season as a massive success.

I achieved everything I set out to do, I wanted to prove to myself that I could really be competitive in the higher levels of the sport, and despite still being held back by my swim, I’ve managed that.

The Racing:

20x30-CAAN0053My biggest successes this year were both in the Netherlands. 

Finishing 8th overall at Ironman Maastricht speaks for itself. A fantastic result when I was least expecting it, showing that I really can keep up with some of the top age group athletes.

Though overturning a 35 minute swim at Challenge Almere, churning out the 4th fastest bike split, followed by a 1:20:14 half marathon off the bike to finish 11th overall was the highlight of the year for me. Not the result I wanted, but a performance way above expectations. 

I’ve set numerous PB’s in the pool as well as PB’ing at both half and full ironman distances in the water. I’ve set a new bike PB in terms of speed and power for both full and half ironman, a new FTP, and personal bests in all running disciplines both off the bike and straight.

A personal best over an ironman and half ironman course, mean there isn’t a single discipline I’ve entered this year, where I haven’t set a PB… that’s quite some going! And a positive for the future, with more records falling behind closed doors since the season ended.

A win at Storm the Castle and Wilmslow sprint tri were good confidence boosters and I’m excited for what early 2019 will bring.

The Numbers:

452A0299This year I’ve completed:

832 hours training.
19,419KM travelled.

466,749m swimming.
16,771.4km cycling (144,315m elevation)
1996km running, (13,769m elevation)

This consistency has really paid off, and I’ll leave you to work out how far that is in distance…

What’s Next?

97_m-100832874-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2235_068630-19178256Well more of the same hopefully! Keep the consistency, improve the strength. Turn my weaknesses into strengths, and my strengths into weapons.

You may know my race schedule, if you don’t it’s available on my website. And it ends June 9th. After that is a big question mark, depending on how the races go. It’s not a secret that my main goal for the year is Kona, but that’s not the main focus. I can’t control whether or not I qualify, I can only control how hard I race.

The illusive “perfect race”, has never come around for me, so I’ll chase that perfection this year. Maastricht was the closest I’ve come, being happy with my result crossing the line, knowing I had nothing else in the tank on the day.

452A4077There are a few unanswered questions in my head, and I’ll leave you with a few of them:

How far into the red zone can I go, before my body gives up on me?
Can I swim sub 1 hour in an Ironman?
Can I match the pros on the bike?
Can I run around the 2:55 marker off the bike?
Am I capable of a 1:15 half marathon off the bike?

Lots to continue to work on for 2019, and I’m not even close to where I want to be. But for now I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, the people I’ve shared them with, and what I’ve been able to achieve. 

Ironman Maastricht – Race Report

Where to start?! From start to finish it was the race I’ve dreamed of since I decided to pursue ironman. Granted my swim massively let me down – but to overturn a 1:10 swim to finish top 10 overall is something I’d not quite imagined possible!

The boring bit will follow – but the race panned out pretty much how I expected it to.

2_m-100832874-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2235_000572-19178161One things for certain – I’m absolutely overwhelmed with the amazing messages from everyone supporting. I’ve always said that one of the main reasons I manage to perform is because of the phenomenal team I have around me. Sponsors, family, friends, acquaintances. I’ve never been one to race for people that doubt me – I left it all on the course for every single person that’s believed in me over the past year. And when I was really up against it – it was the support that got me through.

As per usual – I was wide awake when the 4:30 alarm buzzed. The lack of sleep doesn’t worry me any more – in fact I think I’d be more scared if I slept well the night before the race.

A decently sized breakfast preparing myself for a long day of nothing but energy gels, coke and electrolytes – I knew I’d have to make the most of the real food.

As we bumbled down to the start I was finally beginning to get my head around what I was in for. People spend years training to finish an Ironman, and I was about to try and complete another. Yet again in 30 plus degrees of sun.

The announcement was made 1 hour before the race – no wetsuit swim. Never ideal but everyone had to do it. I managed to forget my water bottles on the way to the start – but a quick trip back to the car quickly solved that – and we were up and running.

7_m-100832874-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2235_006432-19178166Though I was nervous – I was also very relaxed. I only made it out of the portaloo queue 8 minutes before the start of the race – and I still had to sort my special needs bags and drop my dry kit off – but I knew I had time. A quick photo stop with TPS and we made it down to the start.

The swim was good – I felt smooth, comfortable, confident. Probably because I wasn’t swimming that fast at all. But on a day where a lot of people added 3/4 minutes – I was happy to take an Ironman distance PB. Equalling what I did in the Kona practice swim. I picked good lines and good feet – and although there is so much work to do in this area of my race – I was happy I didn’t completely throw it away.

On to the bike and I was quickly making ground on the rest of the field. The surfacing was awful and it was a very very technical bike course. It took me a long while to get into any form of rhythm and through the technical descents I was losing a lot of time. This really highlighted to me the importance of checking the bike course before the race!

Despite the awful surfaces I managed to stick to my nutrition plan to the letter – and not lose the bottle on the bumps!

32_m-100832874-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2235_025566-19178191I stuck to the game plan and slowly picked people off one by one. The first half of the bike loop were where the hills were – and the second half was pan flat – so I knew this was where I’d make my time. Having a great battle with the eventual winner of the AG – we were back and forth for the whole second 90km of the bike – it was a real battle.

My legs started to feel the pinch in the last 30km so I let the power come down but kept working and ticking over knowing I’d still be putting time into a lot of the field. I knew I’d have to stay resilient and stick to the plan – no matter what.

Coming off the bike and it was a super warm day – at 30 degrees from the moment I stepped onto that run course, I could feel it. I knew I was in for a long one.

Laura told me I was off the bike in 5th, but I was confident in my ability to run a couple down. The legs were good and I was up for the suffering.

69_m-100832874-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2235_049633-19178228One by one I ticked people off – but I was overheating fast. There was a real lack of aid stations on the course and I hadn’t planned my run nutrition. A mistake I really paid for. Every opportunity I took ice and sponges – doing everything to keep the core temperature down and keep the legs ticking.

Unfortunately the lack of aid station from KM 30 – 34 absolutely ruined me. Then I took on far too much fluid to even contemplate holding the pace of the winner when he came through me. No wonder I was so ill when I crossed the line.

I’d fully come to terms with the fact that finishing 4th was a phenomenal result, so to find out I was actually second was an amazing result.

After coming out of the water barely in the top 200 to move through the field and into the top 10 is a race I’ll never forget. I’m gaining more and more confidence race by race and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season and the future hold.

55_m-100832874-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2235_046816-19178214 78_m-100832874-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2235_056512-19178237 102_m-100832874-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2235_068635-19178261 97_m-100832874-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2235_068630-19178256 100_m-100832874-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2235_068633-19178259

Ironman Maastricht #99 – Straight back at it.

It’s barely been 3 weeks since the ITU world champs and I’m straight back in at the deep end – an Ironman. 

It’s a strange feeling when you spend your whole time preparing for an event, for it to be out of the way and your focus has to instantly shift to the next one. 

With my next big goal being Ironman Barcelona it’s been very hard for me to focus in on this event – or even comprehend what I’m about to put my body through. 38444815_262771104324519_5349182369016315904_n

I’ve not applied myself with the same discipline I normally do leading into a big event – but I’m not worried about that. 

We’re in for a very warm day on Sunday, pushing 30 degrees which won’t benefit a slightly over weight version of me. I’m up 2kg since Denmark, though that has certainly helped recovery and training through the last 2 and a half weeks, it won’t help me on that marathon. But when have I ever made weight? 

My recovery has been good – I’ve managed to shift most of the issues I carried into Denmark and my training has been consistent and strong. 

I’ve just gently ticked over – with a few big sessions in the mix, nothing out of the ordinary.

So how does the race look? 

Well – I suppose the obvious thing is this race will be a lot longer. Denmark took me a little over 6 hours to complete, whereas here I’m hoping for a little over 9. 

And where is that time coming from?

38404522_1470977033004164_1671550307521265664_nWell, luckily not the swim!

The swim is meant to be 800m longer – which means it could be anywhere from 600 to 1200… but even on a bad day, that’s only an extra 15 minutes. 

I should be on the bike an extra 90 minutes – 2 hours – plenty of time to make ground on the rest of the field. A hilly course doesn’t benefit me in my current condition – although I’m sure there’ll be plenty for me to get stuck into. 

Then there’s the case of the marathon. If I held my Denmark pace it would take me and extra hour, and I have much more faith in my legs after some really strong run sessions in the last 2 weeks. 

As always – the real tell will be nutrition, and who can hold themselves together at the end of a long day. 

So obviously the old motto of “don’t try anything new” on race day applies…. right? No?

Of course, that would be far too sensible.

20180520_11141So this time we’re going to completely revamp my nutrition plan. And going to do the whole race on only energy gels, no “real food”.

Yeah it probably sounds as crazy to you as it does to me. So we’ve done the maths, and at my current weight I’ll need 28 energy gels to get me through the day, what’s the worst that can happen?

There is plenty of method to the madness of course – and if my body can stomach them then I think it could be the solution I’ve been searching for.

And if not – I’ll probably leave my stomach somewhere between mile 15 and 20 of the marathon. 

Hopefully the day won’t look too dissimilar to anything I’ve done in the past:

Shocking swim.

Very strong bike. 

See how much ground I can make on the run.

I’ve had plenty of mishaps this season – so I’m not worried about that happening again, I can only control myself and my effort, so that’s what I’ll do. If I get a mechanical or find myself in difficulty – I’ll adapt and react appropriately. This is where the experience is slowly starting to show. 

I’m number 99, first time down in double digits has to count for something right? 

It’s super easy to track on the Ironman app – or their website if you’re old school and my sister will be fuelling the social media hype.

So for now I’ll get my head down, rest up, eat more pastries than I should and see you all on the start line. 

And from the moment I come out of that river – I’ll be on the hunt. 

Long Distance World Championship 2018

Tomorrow sees the first of my two ‘A’ races this season. All the prep, all the long sessions, early starts, missed social events – all focussed in on these two events.

It’s a very strange feeling when you’re this close to an event that has been through your mind multiple times a day for the best part of 9 months. I’ve played scenarios over and over and over in my head of how the race could pan out.

The reality is it’ll probably unfold completely different to every single one of them!

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As always – this is where I owe a huge shoutout to everyone that has worked tirelessly to get me here.

The people behind the scenes that keep my bike, brain, body and bank account in one piece – despite my best efforts to break them. It’s been a bumpy road but provided I don’t do anything stupid in the next 3 days, we made it…

I’m currently enjoying a nice taper. Good food, sharp sessions, lots of rest. As are the majority of the athletes that will be toeing the start line Saturday morning.

You can track the race – there’s a live tracker somewhere on Triathlon.org or Sportstiming – click here for the latter. And there’s also a TV link somewhere though it’ll be following the pro race. I’m number 5040 – so you can go from there 🙂

So the big question that everyone keeps asking – how do you feel? How you gonna do?

Well your guess is as good as mine. With two big prep races this year I was confident that I would come into this race knowing how I’d perform, how my racing legs were holding up after a long winter.

But considering I didn’t start one, and didn’t finish the other, it’s a bit of a black hole!

The Swim:

The absolute worst part of any triathlon for me. I just don’t enjoy it. Although that being said – I’m super confident in the gains we’ve made this winter. It’s an area of my race that I’ve worked really really hard on, and while on a good day I could still come out 10 minutes down on the top guys in the age group – it’s nothing on last years 20.

The Bike:

As usual – the bike will without doubt be the strongest part of my race. This is where I hope to put the most time back into the field! I’ve had a few issues recently with mechanicals & obviously the crash – so I’m hoping for a good hard consistent bike. I’ve lost a little bit of confidence in the bike itself after the numerous mechanicals. But the legs feel ok and the numbers have been good. I’ve been moving well at the local TT’s and if the wind picks up I’ll certainly have a smile on my face. I know I’m capable of some good numbers here so if can get round without having to stop for some reason – I’m definitely confident I can get myself back into the mix!

The Run: 

Obviously having 6 weeks no running was not ideal prep for a world championship. I’m only slightly off where I was but I’m starting to move really well again. It was only a couple of months ago that I had a tough day at Manchester and still came round with a 2:42:29. Although I know athletes like Josh Holman are capable of running 5 even 10 minutes back into me on a good day, but if I can find a nice rhythm and my legs hold themselves together – I can certainly give a lot of people a run for their money! Excuse the pun.

I’m hoping for a good, uneventful race. Do what I know I’m capable of, and what I travelled out here to do. I can’t ask any more from myself than to get round in one piece, leaving it all on the course.

Nobody wants to lose cause of a bad day, and nobody wants to win at someone else’s expense. So I hope everyone has a good one, and I’ll see you on the other side!

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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.