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Return to Fitness – The FAQ Section

Hello!

How’re you?

Are you well?

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I know, I know, it’s been a while. I’m sorry.

In the mean time I’ve been trying to convinced the next generation to get out on their bikes & try something new.

I’ve been really struggling with this knee injury. Diagnosed at a 2 week recovery, it’s now been 5 months ongoing! So I know there’s been lots of unanswered questions, so just a quick update on where I’m up to, how everything is going & what my plans are moving forward.

 

 

 

How’s your knee?

Erm, well if I’m honest. It’s sore. It still hurts 80% of the time, maybe a 2 or 3/10 pain so nothing too much to worry about, but it’s not completely fixed. The problem is we’re not entirely sure what is cause the inflammation, so we’ve kind of been working in the dark to get it fixed up. But I’m in the best hands now and we’re confident it’s moving forward.

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Have you been training?

If you follow me on Strava you’re probably missing my regular updates & crazy adventures. Don’t worry, I’m missing them just as much! If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I’ve been out on the bike, I’ve been in rehab for 3-4 weeks now, but in that time I’d say I’ve done 3/4 sessions I would count as training. The rest are just making sure that my body is working properly & trying not to aggrovate the knee. 20-30 minutes here and there.

Are you planning on racing Canada/Kona?

I’d love to say yes, but in truth I have absolutely no idea. Canada is only 4 weeks away & I have an anti-inflammatory injection booked for August 14th, so I suppose we’ll see how that goes. I may bumble round the course for a long training day, similar to Tony Weeks, who medalled with me at last years World Champs. These things happen, but now it’s time to look to next year.

Kona… I’d like to say yes, I’m planning on racing & navigating the course. Whether my fitness is up to scratch we’ll have to see. I won’t be “racing” this year, but that was never the plan anyway. I don’t want to jinx anything, but I am planning on seeing what the event is all about.

 

What’re your plans for next year?

Well I’ve been in lots of discussions with a lot of people, and I think we’ve come to the decision that I won’t be racing any full ironman events next season. The plan is to target a late season Ironman such as Wales or Barcelona. I’m planning on working hard with Ric my swim coach, & my new running coach at City of Stoke AC to push the boundaries through the winter & into the early season to really see what my legs are capable of. That will hopefully lead me to lots of middle distance & maybe even some olympic distance early season.

 

I will be running a marathon April time.
I will be trying for a fast half ironman time.
I will be having another go at BBAR and a fast 12 hour Time Trial.

 

*injury dependant.

There are also rumours of me making an appearance in some international duathlon races.
For those of you that don’t know, it’s like a triathlon without the swim…. I don’t think I’d be very good at that though, so will currently neither confirm nor deny these rumours.

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18880341_1149315725175152_1739032410084837259_oHave you sold your Canyon?! (Sad face)

It’s true. I have in fact sold the canyon.

However I’ve got a new weapon of choice. Over the next couple of seasons I’ll be working with Cyclestore.co.uk and they’ve provided me with some shiny new kit all round. So I currently have a Giant Trinity Advanced. It looks just like the canyon, but is black & blue, not black & white. Cyclestore only sell the best gear so I’m very sure that it will be just as quick if not quicker than the canyon. But you’ll have to watch this space for confirmation.

 

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You were doing a lot of running races this year, will that continue when you can ride?18056679_1115158271924231_5447854826666611028_n

 

Absolutely!


I’ve been absolutely loving running  recently. & when I could get the long miles in I was really enjoying myself. Asics have provided me with some great gear and a top set up. The Asics Frontrunners are a seriously slippery group on a running course. So i’d like to try and keep up with some of them guys at races. I loved the 10k I did and I’m really keen to try a park run. I’ll be joining City of Stoke as soon as my fitness is back to full strength and I can’t wait to see where they can take me!

 

 

 

 

 

So what’re the next steps?

 

  1. Get fixed up. August 14th is my injection so hopefully around then I’ll be back.
  2. Get my fitness back. This will take 6-12 weeks to get me back up and running.
  3. Do something crazy. Got a few crazies in the bag, maybe cycle to london first.
  4. Train really hard – I move up an age group next year so need to be fitter than ever.
  5. Repeat.

Stay Tuned!

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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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The Chronicles of Northern – My First Three Day Adventure

All it takes is an off-hand comment, a little joke, someone probing me and my mind is off. Crazy adventures spring out of the most ridiculous situations, ideas that just grow and grow in my mind, ideas that become plans, plans that quickly come round to reality.

It must be about 6 weeks ago that I came up with this one, I needed miles in my legs for the fast approaching Dragon Ride, and a kick start to the freedom of post uni life.

My ankle was bad, but that’s a minor detail.

I had decided that the first week post hand in I was going to do some miles. Some serious miles in the chair. I’d created the starve routes, told my sister, told Lightfoot, told my mum, I even told Sian and Polly at the filming. The idea was slowly being mulled over and over in my mind.

750km, in 3 days. Bath to Cheshire. Cheshire to Bangor. Bangor to Bath.

Easy right?

But I’m only 12 weeks back into training, and my ankle is still very sore… but I was determined to give it a crack. I’d cycled home in the past but remember barely being able to move the next day. 250km home I knew I could probably make with a solid day, a flat 160km over to Bangor as a rest, and then the big one. Bangor to Bath, 340km passing right through the centre of Snowdonia. The length of Wales.

It really didn’t take long for the 6 weeks to come round and me to find myself checking over the cannondale, making sure I had enough rations to survive the journey. Saddle bag on, pockets packed with Belvitas, a couple of gels and bananas, and I was off.
The 8am start didn’t feel too bad, and I started off in my home territory, the Bath/Bristol bike path. Legs quickly into a chunky rhythm and I was purring along the bike path, set for a solid days riding.

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The first few hours were pretty boring. Nothing different to a regular training ride, quite reserved not putting all my cards on the table, I was quickly through Gloucester and up into the unknown. I was following a route on my Garmin Edge 520 so the roads I was using were fairly quiet and reasonably surfaced. The next point of call was Worcester, Tewkesbury, 120km in and I knew I was half way, still making very good pace. I stopped at around 130km to refill the water bottles, have a quick pack of kettle chips and some magic juice.

Ohhhh the magic juice.

Those of you that know me well will know I’m caffeine sensitive. The slightest drop of caffeine and I’m a very hyper boy. So what better to knock back than a 500ml bottle of cherry Pepsi Max. It did’t take long for it to hit me and I was off again on my way to the North.

160km back and I knew I was into the unknown. I hadn’t ridden this far in a day since Ironman Wales back in September 2015, my ankle was still very sore but my power balance was at 50:50 so I knew it wasn’t misbehaving too much. So head down I cracked on. It was at this point that I realised I hadn’t left my big ring all day, my cadence very low as usual, I knew this would be draining my legs of power. Although I hadn’t encountered any real hills, just the odd lump.

At 180km the legs started to struggle and I hit a slight dark patch. Still riding somewhat reserved to my usual self due to my ankle and the looming days ahead, I kept ploughing northward, cutting through the beautiful English countryside, I think I even had a conversation with myself.

It’s at this point I realise that the story so far is quite boring. Boy sits on bike. Boy spins legs, eats a few biscuits. Few hours pass. Boy arrives at destination.

Sounds about right for the first day really. Nothing exciting happened and within 40km of home I was back in my own territory and knew exactly where I was. Mum quickly whipped a steak on, tub of Ben and Jerry’s at the ready and it wasn’t long before the three of us were watching pointless, while I stretched with the cats, oh I can’t wait for the next year…..

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So I finished the first day very uneventfully, with no mechanical errors, no real bonks (running out of nutrients) at 30.6kph and an average of 220 watts. A very successful day.

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But we hadn’t even scratched the surface.

The next day was tough.
160km on heavy legs, again into the wind like the day before, in the overwhelming sun. My ankle again started very sore but I had little choice but to get my head down and crack on.

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The first 60km I knew very well, the back lanes of cheshire and over to Chester, soon to become my hunting ground, not many people love them more than me.
Pan flat, well surfaced roads, perfect for the fresh legged rider. But not today.
Time went slow for the first 60km, I was enjoying myself, but I was having to work. My heart rate was unusually low due to the fatigue and the sun wasn’t helping the situation. I was trying to keep my water consumption low so I didn’t have to make too many stops, an error I won’t be doing again.
I was soon on the Chester millennium Greenway. A beautiful sus-trans cycle path that took me across the border and the river, and onto the north coast of wales. Very flat and a joy to ride, I would thoroughly recommend this route to anyone looking for a gentle day out on the bike.

The north coast of Wales. Well theres a strange place.

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A mixture of beautiful coastal views, perfectly surfaced cycle paths, strange holiday resorts and plenty of retired biddies. Still only making my way through one bottle of water, the heat started to get to me. I stopped to put my arm warmers on. Arm warmers? if you were too hot?

They were actually a life saver.

Taking the sun off my skin, stopping it draining my energy and cooling my arms and I was quickly back to it. I didn’t really enjoy much of the route through north east Wales, it was windy, my ankle was sore, my legs were struggling and there wasn’t much of a view.

But the second I passed the station at Abergele and Pensarn my breath was taken away!

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The cycle path to the west of there is something I recommend anyone that possibly can to run, walk, crawl or cycle on a sunny day. Views that I can honestly compare to the sea front in the south of France.

All the way across to Conwy castle I was mesmerised.

 

I stopped at a little cafe on the coast to fill my bottles up, had a chat to some local riders and quickly got on my way. I managed to keep the days stoppage time to around 30 minutes similar to the day before, including traffic lights and junctions.

30km from Conwy and I had quickly slotted into Bangor. Up their ‘little’ hill and I was greeted by a hungover but smiley little sister. Packed with goodies for me, we enjoyed them in the sun, before I cooked her dinner, watched a film and she headed out for another lash with the gals.

Oh to be a fresher again. Another successful day with the average over 30kph, somewhat lower on the watt front but I had to be reserved for the final day.

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And then the real party started.

34okm.

That’s a really long way.

I didn’t actually know if it was possible, if I’d manage it. Sure I know people that have done it, some people do it quite regularly. 440 people on strava have done it this month. Out of nearly 200,000 people signed up to the gran fondo challenge it didn’t fill me with hope.

I knew people that had done it with friends, on wheels, in groups. People that had support vehicles and flat roads. On fresh legs at the start of the week. But unsupported, solo, on very heavy legs, starting through the highest peaks in Wales. I actually didn’t know if I was going to do it.

But that wasn’t going to stop me trying.

‘Who we are is why we win’

Snowdonia.
“Snowdonia is a region in northwest Wales concentrated around the mountains and glaciers of massive Snowdonia National Park.”

Thanks wiki.

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It’s big. It really big. I started at 7am after cooking a great bowl of porridge for breakfast. Laura grumbled a hungover goodbye from under her sleeping bag on the floor and I was off. 7:30, later than I’d planned to leave, but I had lights so wasn’t scared of getting caught in the dark.

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It was bitter morning. The shorts and jersey I’d be riding in the sun for the past couple of days, (washed by Laura and Mum, legends), was wearing thin. The higher I climbed the mountain pass the thinner they came. I found some solace in the beauty of the landscape, a very different but equally impressive spectacle to the day before.

It was already almost too much. By 60km I’d been riding almost 3 hours, that’s very very slow. I couldn’t feel my face, hands or feet. I was in a bad way.

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I kept ploughing on, 3 bananas and half a bottle of water down and I was struggling. It was really, really, really cold.

As the A5 dropped beyond Snowdonia and into the valley beyond I found a bit of warmth. Spinning my legs with all I had to avoid the juggernauts speeding past me my body began to thaw, and I started to find a rhythm.

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Now and again I would check my distance and average speed, it was slowly creeping upwards. Onto the A49 after Shrewsbury and I text mum, I knew she’d be worrying. My legs were beginning to warm up a bit, maybe they would spring to life soon. Ambitious.

The next 100km was a bit of a dead zone. 340km is a long way. But in my head it was 60, 60, 40, 30, 30, 50, 70.  Make sense?
Snowdonia, Shrewsbury, 100 miles, furthest ever week, Hereford, Gloucester, Bath. That’s how I broke it down.

Never once did I think ‘I’ve cycled (x) distance already today, I should be really tired’.. instead the mindset was ‘only this far to go, you can do that easy’. until the next checkpoint, and the next, and the next.

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The dead zone to Hereford took quite a bit of time. 120km down, 120km to go afterwards, 100km mid section. I span through 100 miles and my legs were feeling ok, they’d warmed up, my ankle pain had taken a back seat and I was just cracking on. At 190km I had a little chuckle to myself. I’d now cycled further than I ever had in a week, in my life, and it was 2/3pm on a Wednesday afternoon. Legend.

And it wasn’t long before I was in Hereford. But I wasn’t in a good way.

I was tired, hungry, weary. There’s only so long bananas and belvitas can sustain you, and I was uncontrollably shivering. The route of A5/A49 had been successful, only a few points of dual carriageway and scariness. But I’m a big boy.

I bought a set of size 10 womens lycra leggings so I could stop crying about my legs. And knocked back 2 Cookies, 3 sandwiches, 2 cream brownies, 2 bottles of water, a pack of salt and vinegar crisps and a bottle of magic juice.

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And my word. My legs came to life.

They sprung into action like they were fresh off the shelf. I made incredible time to Gloucester and steamed right through. Before I knew it I was trundling off the A38 and choo chooing towards the bike path. And then I was in my element. I don’t know where all this energy had come from.

I raced myself faster and faster and faster down the bike path. I was actually laughing. I just wanted more. And more. And more. My legs could have just kept going, I really don’t know what had come over me! And before I knew it I was back. In Bath. In a day.

I’d cycled from the north west coast of Wales, through the whole country, and I was back in the kitchen. I could only laugh, I didn’t think I’d manage it! An average speed of 29.6kph, and I can honestly say I could have kept going. If the saddle sore and dodgy ankle had let me. But I was going to hurt in the morning.

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Quite a boring story really. Boy rides bike. Stops, sleeps, eats, rides more.
But somewhere in there there’s something useful to be taken from it.

It’s easy for people to tell you you can’t do something. To tell you it’s not possible. Make excuses for you, hide behind the excuses. They make themselves feel better about not doing it by telling themselves nobody can do it.

Regular boy cycles 750km in 3 days, with torn ligament, after 11 weeks of training.

These kind of people don’t want to hear that, because they want to believe they can’t do it themselves, that they’re not just being lazy. But there’s no audience for hard work. Nobody was there watching me cycle, supporting through the rough points. But everybody was jumping to ask about it, congratulate me, ask how I did it, any tips I can give.

So don’t forget:

A) back yourself. If you set your mind on something, chances are you’re gonna be able to do it, no matter what other people say, or think, or do.

B) Don’t give up. It would have been easy for me to take a day off, stop in Gloucester, get the train. But by keeping going I’ve discovered what I really could be capable of. And I actually had fun in the process.

C) Don’t listen to the internet, they’re stupid. Find examples of why you can, not why you can’t.

“Big thinking precedes great achievement.”

— Wilferd A. Peterson

 

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Too Pro to Say Hello.

Let’s just get ourselves started by saying you’re never too pro, to say hello. It’s just not a status that can be achieved. Nobody was born pro, nobody woke up one morning and was suddenly worlds best. Everybody has to work hard to get there.

In the world of cycling there are many different forms, road cycling, time trialling, mountain biking, a Sunday family ride, a quick mooch on the hybrid.


What separates the different kinds?

Not a lot really!

They like riding a bike, you like riding a bike. So why aren’t we all just being friends? Maybe it’s the north shining through, whereby anyone you encounter from commuter, mountain biker, road racer, they’ll all share a smile or a wave. Stop to say hi if needs be.

Strangers chat on trains, say hi on buses. Can you imagine talking to the person opposite you on the tube? They’d look at you like you shot their sister. Why are you talking to them, you’re not their friend. You don’t know them.
But do you need to? I’ve cycled past the odd pro in my time, obviously going different ways, and one thing is the same, they all acknowledge you. Whether it be a smile, nodd, wave, hello. They’re humble and know you exist.


So who are these people that are a cut above the rest?

Surely ignoring else returning a greeting is just basic common manners. You wouldn’t turn down a handshake because you for some unknown reason thought someone was beneath you.

I can understand if you’re time trialling, head down, work on, suck up, tuck up and shut up. I know the drill, but even our chaingang manage a little wave!

So next time you’re out for a run, ride, or something similar. Lift your head sligtly, say hi to the cyclist opposite or passing you.

You never know who you might meet!

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Being Healthy – an athletes advice

Weight loss, a healthy diet, a trim waist. One of the most common objectives for people in modern society.

Constantly on and off diet plans, struggling to find one that works, missing the treats you once had so much you just think what’s the point?

Believe it or not I can absolute relate. Having joined a gym and put on 24kg preceding rowing, before losing 16 for triathlon, I’ve learned a thing or two. So here are my most basic tips and tricks for a good diet and weight loss!

For an effective diet you’ll need the following 3 things:

  1. Patience
  2. Self Discipline
  3. Belief

Based on these 3 things, a very effective diet can be created. Weight loss won’t happen over night, or 2/3 days, or a week. But over a period of 2/3 weeks, visible weight loss can be achieved. How? you might ask, you’ve tried everything. Well, patience, self-discipline and belief.

So to lose weight calories in has to be smaller than calories out, you already knew that and it’s not as easy as it sounds right! So for a start, stop weighing yourself every day. Weight loss is carried out on a daily basis, however it should be measured weekly or fortnightly. Pick a day, probably rest day or the day after and jump on the scales! Otherwise, don’t worry about it. Weight fluctuates so much from day to day with food, water retention, sleep, exercise, it’ll only stress you out if you keep checking. Be patient, follow your diet plan and the results will come I promise!

Second of all, don’t completely cut yourself off from nice food. Complete isolation doesn’t work. After 4 months off running with injury, I’m not going to be able to run a marathon tomorrow. Trying to jump head first into the worlds most strict diet isn’t going to work. Treat yourself but be careful with your treats, pick a day once or twice a week that you’re allowed them treats so you don’t feel guilty. Plan to break the rules so that it’s under control, this can be best used if it is after a long session of exercise and the treats feel earned.

  Self discipline. This is the tricky one, when your body is running heavy deficits it can be hard to turn down treats. But if you replace chocolate, sugar, crisps, with something more healthy like salad, pickles or nuts. Again don’t over do it because any of these in abundance can be just as bad for you.

Alcohol. Oh it’s the devil! We love a drink, love being sociable, our lives can seem to evolve around it.

Alcohol is the downfall of most people, the calories contained in alcohol is astronomical, replacing the alcohol with a soft drink can really help this weight loss goal. I know drinking is sociable but you can learn to have just as much of a good time sober. Try a dry month for charity and you’ll find at the end of the month your inclination to alcohol is much lower.

The next is what to eat?! Cheap, healthy meals are hard to create. And finding meals tailored to your needs can be a tricky one and breakfast is always the hardest! Shopping weekly or fortnightly is a sure fire way to keep costs down and make it much easier to avoid unhealthy snacking.

I tend to find avoiding bread and cereals for breakfast is the best start to the day. Well how do you do that you might ask?! Low fat Greek yoghurt is a great way to start. Oats, raisins, nuts and honey are just a few ways to make this meal slightly more exciting! Porridge, fresh fruit or a smoothie are other excellent starts.

A snack to get you to lunch isn’t out of the question on a diet! A small healthy snack to boost metabolism would be ideal here. Graze boxes offer some great ideas here. Or low calorie breakfast bars too! Even make your own flapjack/granola to get you through the week.

What happens next in the day varies from person to person. If you’ve got a heavy afternoon lined you might need a big meal to get you through, leaving a lower calorie meal for dinner. Alternatively a light bite at lunch before a big dinner can also work!

The trick is to eat a regular healthy volume of low calorie food, rich in nutrients. Soup, salad or an omelette are a great way to achieve this. A big enough meal to satisfy your stomach without the guilt of excess calories is what you want, not a depressing 30g salad!

The biggest bit of advice I can offer is keep yourself happy whilst you’re dieting. If you feel constantly run down, tired and depressed it’s not going to work out. Fact. you’re probably giving yourself too few calories anyway! Enjoy cooking fresh meals, trying out new food combinations and treating yourself. Treats don’t have to be bad.

However… you should feel hungry while you adapt, it can take a while for your stomach to shrink!

I’ll be posting over the coming weeks on my own diet and how my weight loss is going, so stay tune…

don’t forget, believe in yourself! You can do it with patience, self discipline, belief. It gets easier I promise..

And most importantly keep yourself happy!

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What is a healthy diet? 

Diet. The word is enough to make people shudder, and is unanimously one of the most common questions I get asked when I tell people I do triathlon. “Are you on a diet”, “are you really careful with what you eat?”.

Having moved through the sports from a 60kg young ballet dancer to a 94kg rower and back to a 78kg triathlete I’ve experienced a vast range of nutritional techniques supporting and detracting from sport at a variety of different levels.

   

 Well for a start, what actually is a diet?

I’ve got friends that are lactose intolerant, so they avoid foods that are going to flair up their symptoms, is that a diet?

I’ve got friends that are power lifters, so eat everything they see to gain weight and power. That’s a diet too right?

I know people that don’t do sport but have a diet rich in vitamins and minerals to stay healthy, also a diet no?

As well as people that just don’t eat to stay as small as possible, they’d also argue they’re dieting.

And I have friends that are trying to lose weight like myself and they regularly ask me what they should eat, a topic I’ll be covering in my next blog. But this is the most stereotypical form of diet, weight loss.
So right now I know what you’re thinking…. and yes I actually have friends.

But what ticks the box for a healthy diet? Arguably the most healthy of the above options is the natural diet that gives the body optimum sustenance with none of the sometimes damaging effects of sport. Avoiding illness and keeping your body well looked after, giving it everything it needs to function.

A very narrow minded Google defines diet as specifically weight loss, however controlled weight gain is also a very popular form of diet.

Stating the obvious for one to lose weight calories in < calories out. Fact. Therefore to lose weight you’re starving your body of the nutrients it needs to function, encouraging it to adapt to perform using less calories and burn the fat that already exists in your body, and naturally some of the muscle too.

But starving your body to encourage the depletion of healthy stores that your body has saved up doesn’t sound very healthy to me? Although it is dieting.

   

A lot of people that know me will know I love a nice meal out with friends and have a heavy soft spot for sugar, but having lost 11kg in 10 weeks for Ironman Wales I’m no stranger to the diet world. A slow sustained weight management diet can prove healthy and beneficial however it takes time, resilience and patiences and won’t happen over night. It can also be hard, harder than going to the gym or exercising, because the will to say no and resist temptation can be almost impossible when your body is running deficits.

So a diet is just eating specific foods, but a healthy diet? Be it losing weight or gaining weight I would define careful nutritional management for constant benefit as a healthy diet. Eliminating harmful substances and not using the radical tactics some people take to punish their body hoping for imminent effect. Careful control over the nutrients supplied to body should be what a diet is. This way it is also most effective and can actually be defined as healthy.

So to answer the original question, what is a healthy diet?

A healthy diet is not harmful. It is careful nutrition, self discipline and time.

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Bad Weather or Bad Gear?

Many cyclists are familiar with the velominati rules. You don’t have to get far down the list to come across rule #9:

Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
Fair-weather riding is a luxury reserved for Sunday afternoons and wide boulevards. Those who ride in foul weather – be it cold, wet, or inordinately hot – are members of a special club of riders who, on the morning of a big ride, pull back the curtain to check the weather and, upon seeing rain falling from the skies, allow a wry smile to spread across their face. This is a rider who loves the work.

 

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However you don’t necessarily have to love the work, but love the sport and riding your bike. Even my parents at the age of 50 will still not be deterred by a light shower here or there. “The weather is bad” or “I don’t want to ruin my bike” are the most common excuses heard in cycle clubs nowadays.

It was just earlier today that I looked out the window and saw a wet, bleak, January morning. It wasn’t icy like yesterday, meaning there was no danger of slippery roads. Instead of deciding to miss the session and head back to my work I headed over to my chest of drawers, pulled them open and started to rummage for the days kit.

 

a similar outfit last year

 

Winter leggings, 3 thermal tops, 2 pairs of gloves, a gilet, 2 pairs of socks and my thickest overshoes later, I set out into the misty morning. Is there such a thing as bad weather? Or do we just need to wrap up, stay dry and stay warm?

As I was riding I encountered numerous other riders, something not uncommon for a Sunday morning surrounding Bath. However one thing that was uncommon, unanimously 100% of the riders returned my greeting with a wave or a hello.

Only a small difference however it made me realise that in this moment of bad weather, the people that really love the sport, it’s community, the opportunities it provides are always there come rain or shine!

The riders weren’t all riding fast, riding road bikes or training like me. A trait that doesn’t necessarily have to be replicated. But all out to enjoy themselves, with a smile on their face remembering why they do it. An example that should definitely be followed!

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The Student Athlete – When work gets too much?

Written 2.11.14!
So while I’m sat on a flight to Porto on the west coast of Portugal, eating breakfast & drinking a recovery shake, I’m starting to wonder how bad student life can be?

Work? Some students will ask you what that even is! Gone are the days of being a fresher or sitting in our room keeping ‘entertained’ until training comes around. Some having more fun than others in Ben’s case.


Yeah ok the government are conning me out of £9,000 a year, my rent is more than my maintenance grant & the athlete’s food bill could feed a family of 4. We’re just under 4 weeks into term and I’ve been in the studio working past 12 at least 20/30% of those nights. But all we do is train, drink & sleep right?

If you asked Bath Spa what we do at university, they’d tell you we don’t go hard.

If you asked the locals, they’d tell you we ruin the crescent & other nice landmarks drinking & littering.

And I suppose if you asked our parents what we do at university, they’d tell you on the average day we’d wake up at maybe 1 or 2, eat a meal sat in our pants at the kitchen table, before returning to ‘the cave’ for another hour or so. Maybe do our first session, turn up to the odd lecture here and there before training a second time. Go out for dinner with our mates or see the girlfriends before starting pre drinks. Going out & blowing all our money on ludicrous amounts of alcohol that we don’t need before returning home in some mindless trance, maybe not alone. Get some sleep, & repeat the process. Easy life.

However… This couldn’t be further from the truth!

Balancing student life with sport is a tricky game as any student athlete will tell you, & with a degree like architecture/…pharmacy?, this is no easy feat.

The 8am wake up, all sounds rather easy really, quite laid back day compared to the regular 6am start for the other athletes. But the sleep is most definitely needed.

After getting a thorough breakfast before training I make sure I have everything I need, usually packed the night before & jump on my bike. Depending on the weather & how fresh the legs feel and the looming 9am session, I’ll choose the most suitable route to campus & decide the intensity of the ride.  After all, with fresh legs and a mileage session, it’d be rude not to see what numbers you can push on Strava.

So I arrive at training, usually the morning ergo to keep the rowing muscles crisp, get my recovery shake in and then head over to studio around 11. Already 2 hours behind the rest of the flat on work, I know I’ve got to get my head down.

12.30 comes around and my stomach starts to rumble. It’s been 2 hours since my recovery shake and my body knows it’s time for some more food. So I take a quick lunch break before powering on with the studio drawings, desperately trying to catch the volumes of work everyone else has produced.

At 3 I’ll start to tire, a cycle up, session and 4 hours solid working start to take their toll. Drop Pan a quick text, he’s got too much work to train. Turns out we’re not the only course that actually does something on campus.

So I return to the gym for the lonely second session before it gets too late for my body to handle. 5 and it’s another 3 hours work before heading home for dinner at 8. I’m already a step behind with the work, and a step behind on training as I wasn’t completely fresh like some of the other athletes, which has to give?

8pm, 12 hours into the day. Right about now we’d be looking to finish the ironman in Nice and we’ve completed a cycle to uni, cycle home, 2 sessions and 7 hours of work in the studio.

But still the day goes on. 9pm and it’s time for a few more hours work.

Through the early days of the project it’ll be a short-lived work session before off to chill for the evening with a friend. Sometimes pre’s before the others go for the late night lash. After all, nobody can complain at good company. Going out is off the cards, as you can’t run the risk of ruining training the next day. On a schedule like this, catching up sessions isn’t something you want to be doing.

In the later weeks of the project it’ll be back to studio at 9pm before returning home somewhere between 12-2 ready to sleep and recover for the next day.

So the average day seems to consist of:

20 minutes to wake up & get ready

40 minutes – 1 hour of commuting & getting changed.

3 hours eating or cooking.

4 hours training, stretching and showering.

12 hours working.

1 hour chilling.

And then of course 8 hours recovery sleep for the athlete.

4.. 8… same thing right?

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Training: A Healthy Pastime or Horrible Addiction?

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

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

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