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Top Tips for your First Endurance Event

Entering your first endurance event can be daunting. No matter what the discipline or distance, I’ve given you all a little help along the way. Hopefully for when the time comes and you all line up next to me on the start line!

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Logistics:

 

Many things come under this category. But the main one is do you know where you need to be, when and how you’re going to get there? Check for all the hidden costs. Things you might not think of if you’re staying a bit further out like how are you going to get to registration the day before? check in/transition, the start line. All these places require transport to and from, and if you’re doing a triathlon your bike is involved too. These simple things are often the ones you overlook when trying to plan an event.

Is your accommodation suitable? A young party hostel maybe isn’t ideal, nor is the 9 bed mansion 2 hours drive away.

 

 

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Have you got everything? You can find great checklists online but mainly you need to stick to what you know. Have you got your race kit. swim stuff? Bike stuff? Run stuff? Easy but important. Then the second tier items. That help a race go smoothly but aren’t as essential. Sun cream, a cap, sun glasses, Vaseline.

 

 

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This is the downfall of almost every single beginner, but don’t worry, we’ve all been there. The most important rule is yet again that you stick to what you know. Don’t do anything you haven’t tried in training, and the main one. You’re out there for 5/6/7 hours if you’re doing a half ironman. Up to 17 if you’re doing a full. Let’s be serious about this, you can’t survive on energy gels and water for that period of time. Even a half marathon gets a bit funky if you’re not taking in the right stuff. It’s just not doable. Think about alternative approaches, breakfast biscuits, fruit & but bars, even sandwiches aren’t a terrible idea! For the extra minute you spend eating them, you’ll save 20+ at the end of the run when your stomach tries to rip itself apart.

 

20863752_345034489253868_1053004376_nClimate:

Check the weather, it’s a better idea to choose a race based on climate, but I know that’s not always possible. Races in the south of France, Italy, South USA are glorious, baking sun, but if you’re not used to it, you better be prepared. Electrolytes are key here. The biggest mistake people make is drinking water the 2/3 days before a race. You’re not hydrated, you’re full of liquid. You need to start to replace the salts and nutrients you’re going to lose through sweat on race day. Are you covered in sun cream? Fill your top with ice, take measures to cool your core temperature, you’ll thank yourself for it later.

If it’s a cold event, a swim, or long run. Do you have enough layers on? Do you need a wetsuit? Have you trained in these climates. Are your feet going to blister in the rain. Better to be prepared because otherwise that 4 hour race is going to feel like a life time.

 

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Relax:

This is an important one. It’s easy to get swept up looking around at all the gear, all the super skinny lean looking athletes, the all show no go middle age men.

No matter what anybody else does in the race, it’s not going to change your time. Forget about them. Interact, chat, be friendly, they’ll help you out & make you feel better. But don’t psych yourself out. You’ve probably trained hard for this & may out perform many of them! I found at my second ironman and also my first half, my gear was very sub par, but I put in some exceptional performances. And it didn’t change a thing anyone else did, so you learn not to worry.

 

 

Achievement:

This ones important, especially for everyone out there that’s done one or two races and is now hunting for an ever elusive pb. Maybe you’re trying to gain a few minutes here and there. What you have to remember is where you started and how far you’ve come along this journey. The majority of the population don’t complete endurance events, so getting them done is something to be proud of. Taking a step back and giving yourself some credit is often helpful to keep perspective. It’s only a race at the end of the day!

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Hard Decisions – Dropping Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until then, rest, recovery and rehab!

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

They’re wheely good!

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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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Trying Trail Running 

“Jack you should definitely try trail running” I’ve heard it said numerous times. If I’m honest I don’t really see the appeal, wearing twice as much kit, slipping and sliding everywhere to run some slow miles. Nobody ever got a kick from something they did badly! I can see the appeal, low impact miles, gentle for the knees and a more relaxed version of training.

img_1510My bathroom window view

Looking out the window, it seemed a nice day. So I slipped on my running shoes, opened my mind and set out onto the bath skyline.
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And my oh my was I surprised.

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Running through open fields, woods and up and down muddy trails made me feel 12 again. Granted I was slow and granted my kit is going to take 3 washes to get out the 5kg of mud I picked up, but I had all kinds of fun!

And let’s not forget, miles are miles, and miles make champions.

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Running through the wilderness experiencing untouched nature first hand as intended absolutely took my breath away. A crisp but clear 2 degrees in Bath saw the countryside open up in ways I’ve never seen! And before I knew it I was 10k down and still rearing to go.

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The university campus is surrounded by a vast array of fields, trails and tracks perfect to lose yourself for a quick 20 minutes to an easy 2 hours! As soon as the washing machine has my kit sparkly and new ill be back for more!