Years of Fitness

As the year closes in it s a perfect time to reflect on what has been accomplished, below are the fitness highlights of years past and a brief summary of what has been achieved this year.

Highlights rather an exhaustive list:

  • 2008- Fist Half Marathon Reading UK
  • 2009- First Triathlon London UK
  • 2010- First Ironman UK 13.37
  • 2011- Half Marathon Pb Christchurch NZ: 1.31
  • 2012- Half Ironman Wanaka NZ 5.35
  • 2013- Half Ironman Auckland NZ 5.12
  • 2014- Ironman Pb Zurich CH 11.08
  • 2015- Etape De Tour FR
  • 2016:
    • (First Child Born)
    • Half Marathon 1.33 Wokingham UK
    • European Masters Swim Champs  50m/100m Freestyle London UK
    • Sprint Triathlon Reading UK

Time to set some 2017 Objectives


Too Fast and Too Long

When your setting a time objective for an upcoming endurance race or setting a target for an event in the season there are two questions you need to ask you self

  1. Can you ride/run/swim as fast as you need to go to achieve this time in the event?
  2. Can your ride/run/swim for as long as you need during this event?

Too many people turn up at a race and either expect their body to suddenly be able to:

  • Race at a speed faster than they have never raced at or
  • Expect their body’s to endure a longer duration than they have ever endured before.
  • Worse they ask their body to do both.

In order to be successful in achieving your target time you need to prepare your body accordingly.

  • Set sessions where you build up to race speed and then extend the amount of time you can handle racing at this speed
  • Set sessions that are slower than your race pace but are longer in duration (not necessary in distance) this could be broken up over a day and split into chunks.

This way when you turn up on race day your body know’s it can go as fast as it needs to go and is at least prepared to go for as long as you need to go.

The Fox and the Grapes

The Fox and the Grapes

Driven by hunger, a fox tried to reach some grapes hanging high on the vine but was unable to, although he leaped with all his strength. As he went away, the fox remarked ‘Oh, you aren’t even ripe yet! I don’t need any sour grapes.’ People who speak disparagingly of things that they cannot attain would do well to apply this story to themselves.

The above is a famous Aesop fable that every one can relate to in some part of their lives. Have you ever thought to yourself:

  • I’m just big-boned/naturally heavy
  • My parents didn’t give me the athletic gene
  • I don’t have time to train
  • I could never be fit
  • I don’t have the ability to succeed
  • I am happy being unfit
  • I’ll sort out my fitness when I’m older

If you can relate to any of the above then you are living the same story as the fox, a classic example of cognitive dissonance  where you have conflicting ideals,beliefs or values. It is easy to read all the information out there that proves scientifically how you can get fitter, healthier or perform better. But once you see what is truly required to succeed you create a story as to why you are an anomaly and why the rules shouldn’t or don’t apply to you.

Maybe its time to take a step back and think, is it the rules don’t apply to me? or is it I am not applying the rules? are you a sour grape?

Forced Recovery

I train everyday. At least I aim to. Today was an example of why  I aim to do this and don’t plan in a rest day. In theory today was what I call a “forced rest day”.

My day started the same as any other day at 5am with a shower, an espresso, followed by a pitch black freezing cold dog walk until 6am. I had an early meeting today over 70miles away so I was on the road by 6.30 and between visiting a client and visiting the office I was in the car for 6 hours not returning home until after 6pm.

That’s when I crashed! Crashed on to my bed (not my car) I had all the intention in the world to swiftly hit the gym in 30 minutes time but instead mid clothes change, I collapsed onto my bed and didn’t wake until an hour later missing my gym session and feeling pretty upset about it.

But this is when I realise that there are days you need to rest and today was one of them. Over the years I have found resting when my body forces me to do so a much more effective approach than strategically planning rest days when I don’t even know if my body needs it. This way I manage more training sessions in a week with out wasting a recovery day when I don’t need it.

Everyone is different and some body’s will thrive off regular rest planned into the week, If your like me, maybe you should assess how many rest days your taking and if the amount is optimum for you. Maybe you too could plan to have no rest days and take them when your body lets you know, or like me when you collapse into your duvet.


When You Train You Focus.

Today due to some conflicts in schedules I missed my 6am Monday workout and attended the evening class instead. I’ve spoken before about the benefits of rising early and training  and one thing I mentioned was there were less distractions to take your focus away from the task in hand.

Although the evening session was enjoyable and the outcome was positive below are some observations I had on what distractions where going on around me that I don’t normally experience in the morning.

These are not things that directly distracted me but were clearly distractions for others involved in the session.

  • Guy checking his phone in between sets (would he be receiving messages if it was a 6am session)
  • A coach from the next session heating dinner towards the end of the session
  • Members using the Gym as an open gym talking to members involved in the session
  • People coming in and socialising in preparation for the session after ours.
  • Coaches debriefing each other during handover
  • New member inquiring about membership to the coach
  • Late members to the session.

This is not me complaining by any means, some people enjoy the buzz of a busy session and are able to remain focused despite what is going on in the environment. I just want you to consider how much your progression could be hindered, or how your focus may be affected by environmental noise that in theory you could easily change. Take control and build the surroundings to support your goal.

Work is Hard. Distractions are plentiful. Time is Short.

Adam Hochschild

Focus On Your Strengths. Don’t Dwell on Your Weaknesses.

“Don’t dwell on your weaknesses. Everybody else is already doing that for you.”

Gary Vaynerchuk

How many times have you been asked to come up with a development plan at work? or how many times have you had feedback on what you need to improve? If you’re like me then it is way more frequently than someone asks me what I nailed? or what or what I could not have done better?

It’s not just isolated to work it can also be prevalent in your athletic or fitness pursuit. It’s easy for somebody else to look at your performance and pull apart everything you did wrong, sitting in the observer seat makes it easy to be critical

Your strengths will highlight your errors.  For example if you can run or swim a fast first lap but can’t hold the pace on the second lap, then in comparison to your first lap you second lap looks poor and to an on looker endurance would come across as a weakness.

Rather than instinctively thinking you need to improve your endurance (which may be one of your physiological weakness). Why not spin this analysis on its head and say; I know I am incredibly fast. I just need to find at what time in the race is best to utilise this speed.

This in turn will mean you won’t switch your focus from what your are good at (speed) and begin to spend hours or months trying to improve your weakness (endurance) that may actually be beyond your reach.

I love it when I hear people recommend this way of thinking. The best boss’s and coaches I have had are the ones that made me focus on my strengths, not dwell on my weaknesses. It not only ensures your performance is focused on areas you can deliver, it is also a massive moral boost which in turn will motivate you to develop this strength further.

Below is a clip from Gary Vee with his take on the topic.