Being TrueSapien is as much about challenging attitudes and beliefs as it is to be challenging ourselves physically. After all, the former is usually the catalyst to the latter, right? There is no right or wrong, only opinion based on your own core beliefs. What is important, in fact CRUCIAL, in enabling you to live your best life and setting a worthwhile example, is that you QUESTION YOUR BELIEFS, make them YOUR OWN, not just INHERIT them.
In the coming months, we will be featuring insights from TrueSapien and runner James Wilson on the above as additional food for thought. You can find out more on James’s fitness journey and the accompanying ideas and insights on his own site HuntingThirty.
In this first instalment from James, he gives us his insight into… ‘The Secret’ behind being fit and healthy….
You have a duty to be fit and healthy. Moreover, you have a duty to STAY fit and healthy.
This duty is: 1) to yourself – give yourself the best prospect of a long and vibrant life, free from ailments; 2) to your family – ensure you can ‘be there’ for them, and reduce the chances of becoming a burden (which would unfairly diminish their quality of life); 3) to the state – lessen the chance of being admitted to hospital or reliance upon health services, to minimise financial implications for taxpayers and the state.
Seeing through the myths
Many people talk of how you can get fit, stay fit or what training plans really work. They talk of how you can lose ‘weight’, keep it off, and what diets really work and an abundance of idle chit-chat about ‘miracle plans’, ‘miracle diets’, ‘miracle solutions’ and so on.
You could do worse than ignore this talk if you are a beginner who wants to improve their health and fitness, and fulfil their duty. That’s because all this talk is superseded by a goal that must be reached if someone is truly serious about changing forever.
What is the goal and ‘The Secret?’
Simply put, the easiest way for you to get fit and STAY fit, is to become DEPENDENT on exercise. Just as a compulsive gambler can’t resist a wager. Just as an alcoholic becomes desperate for a drink. If you exercise consistently enough, you too will acquire a DEPENDENCY. But it will be a healthy dependency. Once you stick at it long enough, and your body and mind begin to understand the numerous benefits associated with regular exercise. You will become DEPENDENT on it to make you feel good and keep you feeling good.
It won’t take long before your body and mind actually NEED exercise. And when you feed that addiction, you will indeed ENJOY the experience of exercising. From that point onwards, you will be the person you wanted to be, and you will begin to challenge yourself further. You will have to try very hard to break your new-found dependency and return to your old sedentary lifestyle. But why would you want to go and do that?
It’s a simple line. A line you choose to cross, then a line you must cross, a line that marks the start and the line that marks the finish.The problem with a Line is that it can have so many meanings. It can also be the line attached to the hook that draws you in …. then where do you draw the line ? A line you, yourself, have drawn in the sand….
Hello. They call me Rapid, or Rapid Rich if you want to be formal. I’ve been asked to contribute to this Blog because of my exerts. Not because I am an athlete, or a talent, or physically fit. Or even that competitive in my chosen sport, but because I cross that line.
I cross that line most weekends during September and October because that is when Hill Climbing season starts !
Before I explain the incredible sense of achievement and amount of effort that contesting a Hill Climb brings, I would just like to explain my story and how I became transfixed (some say obsessed), by this purest of sports.
Virtually 6 years ago to the day, I was 51 years old and creeping up towards 15 and half stone ( 98 kgs). Being only 5’8”, not only was I NHS ‘obese’ but much, much worse. I had to ‘un-tuck’ my shirt ! The other tell tale sign was that I didn’t recognise myself in photos. Surely that swollen featured human was not the ‘Rapid Rich’ that I had known since he was a skinny kid !
Although I did play a little squash and even went Fencing, I had no real fitness. I turned to ‘The Bike’. Initially I spent about £800 with the theory it was enough to keep me at it, but not too cheap that it was poor equipment. I need not have worried. I did a 6 mile Ride and fell off on my cleats as soon as I got home. It mattered not. As I lay, slightly embarrassed with a bleeding knee on the floor, I was hooked. That was the first Line I crossed.
My riding went crazy. From struggling to do 35 miles on my first ‘big run’ within 9 months I rode 200 miles in one day solo from Doncaster to Anglesey. And that was the day after my biggest Club ride of 126 miles! I even started Racing! I was getting fit for the very first time in my life since I lost my natural youthful fitness, and I loved it.
I found myself walking tall, feeling (and looking) good in smaller size clothes. I could even ‘tuck in’ again. Knowing very little about Cycling, the Sport or its history, a friend of mine introduced me to something you probably all know about now – STRAVA!
This was the next line I crossed. It gave me segments which are only ‘virtual’ start and finish lines, and this gave me quantifiable results and self drawn targets. I just had to improve. I had to go faster, harder. I noticed the best segments where I could excel were hills – especially short sharp ones. I simply loved the feeling of giving everything I had and as soon as I got home I would ‘upload’ my Ride to see my PBs, Cups and KOMs.
( You do however need to also consider this was in 2012 /13 and there were far far less people on Strava than there are today, so it was much easier to get top 10 places).
Now, I’ve raced Motorcross (badly), motorcycles and cars on the track (with some success). I’ve driven a Rally Car including doing the RAC Rally for 5 years. I threw away a brilliant result in 1995 of 27th overall in a 2 wheel drive non works car. Me and my Co-Drivers desire to drive ‘flat out’ resulted in a last stage crash with less than 12 miles to go. This meant we dropped down to 47th (still not bad). – gutted.
It is this competitive element to be the best or fastest that has not left me. As I said before, I am no athlete. The years are clocking up, but my brain is still of the 17 year old motorbike Racer that believes I am competitive. I am Rapid Rich!
Is this my problem? My brain will simply not accept that I am not competitive? So when I (almost accidentally) came across Hill Climbing, it was my brain, my competitive spirit that got me up those Hills. My brain, my desire to succeed, was my biggest muscle by far.
I’ve just finished my specialised, bespoke Hill Climb bike. Less than 5kg of pure beauty. A machine made to do nothing but go up hills. Fast. Although I have a fair engineering background, I’ve had great support, help and advice from Cycles In Motion on this project and it continues to develop.
A full season on Hill Climbing in 2017 gave me some fair results for my age. But seeing the efforts by the other talented Riders simply inspired me.
This was a sport that had no prima donnas. Each competitor was equal. Not in time and ability but in effort. That was the attribute I had most of; effort. The determination and an inner drive to make me push my body far, FAR beyond its own real limits.
The beauty of Hill Climbing is that even the top Riders give you total respect for pinning on that number. As long as you give it 100 % .I don’t mean 99%, that just does not cut the mustard.
I ride for 3RT Cycling. On Hill Climb events I’m usually accompanied by a couple of close friends and great competitors, Rick Bailey and Calum Brown. They have simply inspired and driven me to push myself even further. As a trio we are called ‘The Northern Shandy’s’ with the ethos of the name being ‘undiluted effort’. … As a true northern shandy comes without the lemonade!! #nails
So what is Hill Climbing ?
Well it’s a Rider and a Bicycle. Its two Lines. One at the bottom of a Hill, and one at the top. Oh, and a stop watch.
Its been part of the British Cycling scene for well over 100 years and usually tagged onto the end of the Race Season. But now it is a hugely important discipline in its own right. It’s a Time Trial basically with Riders setting off generally at 1 minute intervals on a Hill (obviously). The nature of the Hills can be very short and steep, 500m up to 5 miles. The longer Climbs are generally less of a gradient.
The short ones can have ramps of up to 30%. Most average anywhere between 10 and 15 %. Regardless, as you are still going ‘balls out’ and Racing they are simply the hardest single effort to do in Cycling. Pacing is more important on the longer ones, but the short ones are just a sprint against gravity.
No Quarter Given
You will see from the photos, that Hill Climbs demand maximum effort There can be no quarter given and they aint for the feint hearted. That said, however, there is a fantastic camaraderie between the Riders as we all know we are going to give our best on the day.
So how do you get involved I hear you ask ? Sorry ? SO HOW DO YOU GET INVOLVED ? That’s better!
Well you need a Bike. You also need to be a member of a CTT (Cycling Time Trials) Club and that’s it. It will help if you are good at hills or sprinting or you are very light but its not prerequisite. Neither is the bike. Nowadays there are many with bespoke Hill Climb machines built specifically for the job. Mine comes in at about 4.9kg with 11 speed and pedals and it was as much fun engineering this machine as it is contesting the event.
A light bike helps but as I have found out does not turn you into a winning athlete. It does help a few seconds or even a 10th here and there. The general consensus is once you got rid of the easy weight saving modifications like chopping bars, removing bottle cages, bar tape etc it generally costs about £1.00 to save 1 gram ! But this budget can be smashed with the fun of making, converting, buying second hand or borrowing parts. Most beginners simply stick with their Road bike and take off the bottle cages on the day. You make it as cheap as you want and its much more fun.
The other thing is first find a Hill Climb that suits you, there is no point entering a short sharp steep Hill if you are more suited to the longer Time Trial type of ‘sit down’ hill. Personally I love anything up to 1 min 30 seconds and after that I’m so far into the pain cave, I’ve lost my torch and cant get out !
If you are genuinely interested, try the UK Hill Climbing page on FaceBook which is full of friendly, helpful posters and great information.
This weekend sees the culmination of the Hill Climb season with the National Hill Climb Championship which is being held at Pea Royd Lane, Stocksbridge on October Sunday 28th at 11.00. 300 Riders will contest to win their various categories and have the honour of wearing the National Stripes for the next year.
The top contenders are simply stunning to watch and if you have ever ridden Pea Royd Lane you will simply not believe the speed and power these lads can hold. If your Strava time matches them, then I suggest you get entered for next year NOW !
I have my thoughts on this weekend’s Winners, but I will leave those personal. What I can tell you is that they will be crossing their own lines, they will be putting it all out and their best effort on the line and just hoping that they have done enough !
Whatever, they will put themselves through a completely different level of pain than you can ever imagine, unless you pin on a number yourself.
As I said before, I’m 57, I’m not an athlete, but I like to push myself.
For you stats people, I’m 5’8, about 78kg and can push about 1450 watts peak, 277watts 20 min FTP and can hold about 600 + watts for a minute. Although those are fairly impressive, I have no lungs or stamina and suffer with heart rate going straight up to 195 bpm + !
I was asked by a ‘non-cyclist’ the other day “Why do you put yourself through this pain?” I thought about it carefully;
Because it is simply the best feeling in the world !!!
You enter an event on a Hill that you are more than capable of Riding up but because you’ve entered, you feel sick for a week before with worry and you question your ability. I’ve even questioned myself if I can even get up it !
As the week goes by you’ve talked about it, discussed lines, gearing, weather, wind, tyre pressures and then ensured your bike is simply in tiptop shape. Sometimes you even recce the Hill and usually a sorrowful time puts you further into the depths of despair and self doubt .
Turning up on the day is a joy, maybe after a Road Trip with fellow masochists. It’s great to see the familiar faces of friends. Unlike many sports the Top Riders not only talk to you but give you mutual respect.
You Versus The Hill
The next minute you are on the start line .. it’s You vs that Hill …vs the Clock vs Yourself . All you want to do is see those number fall, stop the seconds, stop the clock. You want to use every fiber in your body, every muscle every breath, every beat of your heart, use up every ounce of energy that you have.
Once you start, the Hill fights you at every pedal stroke, it rears up in front of you when you think you have nothing left, it litters it’s surface with obstacles like change of surface or gravel, or pot holes that might slow you or puncture your machine. It sometimes teases you with a short respite, but as you attack again it’s riposte will be of another ramp to put you in a place of deeper despair.
There is only you. You and your machine that you have created, engineered and developed to work with you. Like a trusted steed to help you slay the tarmac wall of the monster that will kill you if you show any weakness. You feel at one with your machine, as the pain increases the distance to go always decreases, but the hardest is yet to come.
But you can see and feel progress. You are on top of your game, you will not be beaten and then you suddenly have allies – spectators. They can’t give you any more power or the oxygen that you crave, but the crowd are your friend. The encouragement, the faceless wall of noise, the recognition of your name, knowing your friends and direct opponents are all rooting for you. They give you your final boost, the catalyst that somehow, miraculously, gives you inner strength, the will to go on. The final push to the line, where regardless of time, regardless of the other warriors fighting the same battle and regardless of your position you have Won. You are a Winner. You have achieved and you beat the Hill. You crossed the Line ….
Fight To Breathe
It’s over but now another fight starts. The fight to recover, to breathe. The finish line is like a tap, an adrenaline tap that slams shut, and without this incredible, self dealt ‘drug’ you are a simple mess going through a natural ‘cold turkey’. But as the body revives, the feeling of exhilaration kicks in. The euphoria caused by endorphins flooding through your veins giving you another massive natural high. You see your time. You smile….
That’s why !!
Oh, and I’m not really that busy on Sundays !
The Dave Rayner Fund
This year, I have embarked on an idea to raise money for the Dave Rayner Fund, a fund set up to support UK talent to become professional cyclists.
The idea is called the #PBChallenge and I pledged £10 to the Dave Rayner Fund if I beat my previous years’ PB and £20 if I didn’t ! …. The only thing is, this really took off and people started to Pledge for me, so there have been tremendous donations. Out of the 11 contested so far I have PB’d 8 … 2 to go. Send me a pledge if you want!
Great talking to you and I hope I’ve inspired you to pin on a number.
Running Dads is the brainchild of founder Anthony Turner. It was born of his passion for running and the body and mind fitness benefits derived from it. But it doesn’t stop there. The aim is to also extend this passion and example to his son, so that he may also aspire to the benefits of an active lifestyle and to appreciate the meaning of setting personal challenges.
Anthony explains, You see, I am a runner. I’m a Dad. I’m a running Dad. And my idea is that, as I am not alone in that, there is a community of us out there who enjoy not only the body and mind fitness benefits, but also part of our motivation is to extend this to our children. Running Dads is a way to bring those people together; to share experiences, hints & tips, blogs or vlogs and to brag a little to those who will listen as to what has been achieved. Whether it’s a 5km or ultra, trail or road; it’s all relative to the person undertaking the challenge.
Setting the example
I want Ethan, my son, to know what it is to have an aspiration and challenge and be able to meet it. To achieve something through hard work, commitment and sacrifice and reap the rewards. To understand healthy mind and healthy body is equally important and that it isn’t about the distance; it’s the journey. That’s why I run. That’s why many of us do.
The Running Dads community
Running Dads has gathered much momentum in the months since its inception earlier this year. Celebrating achievements of like-minded people and offering advice through Anthony’s own experience and also from the wider community. They have a growing and varied social media presence and their blog is full of posts from the running community covering a diverse range of topics.
Most of the human race are lazy. Fact. Most of the human race are motivated by shallow, materialistic and meaningless goals. Sad fact. They don’t examine or question it because they gain a strange and distorted comfort belonging to the MAJORITY. They resent those that challenge this way of ‘life’ because they represent a more desirable version of themselves.
It was about 7:30 am and I was nearing the end of an enjoyable early morning, pre-work bike ride. Something I’d do a couple of mornings a week. Roads had been fairly quiet as I generally avoid busy urban streets for such rides. It was a familiar route for me. As regular cyclists will know, routes you cycle regularly consist of favourable roads and not so favourable, depending on factors such as visibility, width, business (vehicles), scenery and road surface.
I hit one of my favoured roads. It was wide, very flat and the surface was beautifully smooth and not one usually travelled by large commercial vehicles. I could comfortably travel at 23-25mph on this road, and car drivers, if feeling the need to do so, could easily overtake even with oncoming traffic.
After only 20 or 30 seconds my enjoyment was abruptly halted with two long, deafening blasts of a powerful air horn. WHAT THE FUCK! Despite nearly shitting my bib shorts, I managed to steady myself and glance over my right shoulder. A cab of an articulated vehicle was literally feet behind me attempting to overtake. I pulled over onto the pavement, fearing for my own safety to see the driver leaning across to his passenger window shouting, “YOU COULD FUCKING PULL OVER!”, followed by more blasts on the horn.
To say I was outraged would have been an understatement. I must have looked pretty fucking ridiculous in my lycra, shouting obscenities at an artic, challenging the driver to a fight on the pavement to settle the matter. Fortunately the driver continued on his way. Either he was in too much of a hurry, had deafened himself as well as me with his fucking air horn or, more likely, was an out of shape, lazy asshole that was nothing once of outside the safety that his vehicle gave him.
I was a bit ashamed of my reaction. I was angry. As I contemplated on the remainder of my ride, it wasn’t anger for my own safety. It was anger borne of frustration. For me, the behaviour of the trucker embodied so much of what is bad about our society. To him, I was a hindrance. A nobody. A faceless prick on a bike getting in his way and holding him up from his date with weak coffee and full English breakfast buttie at the next roadside café. I wasn’t a Father, a provider to four young children. A fellow human being, with many of the same challenges in life as him. Someone that would treat him as I’d want to be treated myself.
The Real Problem
Or maybe that was the problem. Maybe I represented what laziness or ignorance prevent him from becoming. His rage was incited by the fact I was doing what he knew he should be doing. I was in his face, making him confront his ‘nemesis’.
We can’t make people see that there is a better way, that there are meaningful goals and aspirations in life. Some will be inspired to change. Others will, over time. Others won’t because their attitude and beliefs are so deep seated.
So what is the answer? There is only one. Continue to set and lead by example to those we can influence. Those closest to us. Make questioning life and challenging ourselves a way of life, so that it may become their way too. Be TrueSapien. Challenge Life.
What is an Ultra Marathon? Even non runners will be familiar with the term Marathon but what makes a Marathon ‘Ultra’? How does it differ from a standard Marathon and what does it take to complete one?
Basically an Ultra Marathon is any race that is longer than a Marathon (26.2 miles). Some are several hundred miles long but most are in the region of 30-50 miles. Often off road or ‘trail’ based, popularity in these events has soared as they represent a further and enhanced challenge for se that have completed a standard Marathon.
Here, TrueSapien and ‘Explorunner’ Tim Caldwell kindly shares his experiences and insights gained from his first Ultra Marathon, a 50KM version of The NoMad Ultra earlier this year. Tim, a teacher by profession and a dedicated Father is a keen and avid runner and explorer (Explorunner!). He’s also deeply passionate about encouraging others to be active and to appreciate the great outdoors.
The ‘Ultra’ Challenge
Tim is a regular parkrunner and proud member of Long Eaton Running Club. He had previously participated in events from 5km up to the standard Marathon distance before committing to the NoMad Ultra Marathon that took place in June 2018. What additional challenges would this event pose?
“I felt fairly confident that my legs could take me to the finish line, as I had run over 50k in a test-run a couple of weeks beforehand, made up of a parkrun at Belton House and then an attempt to run home from there (70km away)” said Tim.
“What I was less confident about was my ability to run/walk and navigate myself along the course, whilst remembering to feed and water myself appropriately along the way”.
Many Ultra Marathons aren’t fully marshalled, due partly to their distance and most aren’t on city streets like most Marathons. The additional requirement of good navigation certainly adds to the challenge! “After just 2 kilometres, a fellow Long Eaton RC runner and I had to shout towards the speedier starters as they’d already got lost, running away from the route and effectively about to join the path we were supposed to be running away from! Inside, I felt sorry for these runners, but also slightly smug that I hadn’t (yet!) got lost”.
The mental challenge
Due to the heat and terrain, even reaching the marathon equivalent distance of 42.2 km had been far more of a challenge to Tim than the Marathon he’d run only two months earlier. But Tim still had nearly 10km left to go….
“It was only the fourth time I’d travelled this far in one go, so it was no mean feat. What makes me smile now looking back, is that at this point, my mind was now going, ‘Great! You’ve probably only got 10k left now after you got lost and you can easily run 10k in 40 minutes, so a sub 5 hour time is still on!’ Yes, brain, thanks for that. Your optimism delights the sh*t out of me. However, brain, let’s get this straight. I’ve ALREADY run 4 lots of 10k, plus a bit more, and right now, I just want to finish.”
Beyond the Marathon
So how did the additional distance to his recently accomplished Marathon affect Tim and how did he cope? How much more difficult can 10k be??
Tim recalls “As I continued with those last 10 kilometres, it took sheer determination and a monumental effort to keep putting one foot in front of the other. My thighs were aching, almost feeling like they were detached from my bones and ready to fall off, onto the road. I was grunting like a warthog and it was getting warmer with every step.”Why is this the case? On the face of it an additional 10k should be fairly straightforward right? Wrong. Being an academic guy, Tim has this helpful theory for explaining the ‘actual required’ effort to cover this additional distance. “A 50k Ultra marathon is actually equivalent to 42.2km PLUS another 40km (i.e. 8 actual kms multiplied by 5 because that’s how it FEELS to your body). So in effect, you’re running 82.2km. Train for that and you’ll be about good to go and enjoy your 50k Ultra marathon!”
Other lessons learned
As well as this re-evaluation of the required distance for which to train, Tim also learned other valuable lessons. Regular calorie intake is essential to keep your body and your mind from shutting down. “The pink and white nougat bars that I’d brought with me were sensational. I’ve never enjoyed these more and I scoffed an entire one as I walked through a golf course on the route.” Another valuable lesson learned was that of effective hydration. At one point, inside the final 10km he realised he’d entirely run out of water! At that stage, due to the hot conditions, almost constant water intake is necessary. He’d failed to fully replenish his supplies at the last checkpoint! “I felt I had plenty left, so I’d just topped up conservatively. I won’t make that mistake again!”
Post race reflection
By their very nature, a true challenge should leave a permanent mark on you and improve you considerably as a person and be capable of inspiring others to emulate your achievement. What were Tim’s post-race reflections?
“I really challenged myself with this Ultra marathon race. I learned a lot from the process of training for it, getting and testing the right kit, talking to people, reccying the route, navigating using a range of different sources and seeing what I’m made of both physically and mentally. While I was disappointed with my finish time of 5:36, the fact that I’d finished it without anywhere near as many rests as in my training run was a big positive. I’d run further in one day than I ever have before and other than one navigational issue, everything else had gone really well.”
Accountability is a personality trait that is fast becoming extinct in our modern day lives. It is leading to serious health issues, rising crime figures and countless other social issues as our sense of self-respect and respect of others is fast diminishing.
A Learned Attribute
Accountability and responsibility is a learned attribute. Once passed down from generation to generation either by rules and boundaries (these days almost none existent) or by the example set by our parents, wider family and friends. This is where the problem lies. Rules and boundaries are now seen as a fucking infringement on our human rights and as a result either no longer exist or are so diluted and wishy washy so as not to cause offense to the diverse and spineless masses.
I look around me in fucking despair, watching properties and entire residential areas falling into rack and ruin because residents have no self-respect. Gardens unkempt, paintwork peeling, windows dirty. And that’s just the outside. It might sound petty, but for me it demonstrates a complete absence of pride, self-respect and accountability. And what example does that set for the younger generation? They can’t then be ‘taught’ what is right and what is wrong. It just doesn’t work that way. It should be instilled by the subconscious example being set by their elders. What for the next generation, and the next…..?
I watch unhinged parent’s curse, scream and hit at their misguided offspring. They then wonder why the same child shows no respect for them or displays an array of behavioural issues. Parents moan about how children are not given the right guidance and discipline at school and then in the next breath criticise teachers and other authorities if they dare so much as raise their voice in criticism.
These days a child is subliminally taught that there are no consequences to their actions. Fat, lazy parents turn a blind eye to their equally wide and sedentary children or they again blame society or the Games Console (that they fucking bought them) for their poor state.
They practically force feed their kids processed fat and sugar because it’s convenient for them to do so. I mean, why should they go out of their way and make an effort to do the RIGHT thing for their children?Because it’s their fucking responsibility, they just refuse to see it!
They need to look in the mirror at the example they are setting and do what they are supposed to do. LEAD and take ACCOUNTABILITY. It’s our RESPONSIBILITY.
Set your targets high, develop your strategy and commit to achieving. That’s the TrueSapien way.
Bodyweight and Calisthenics practitioner Richard Blakeway epitomises and embodies the TrueSapien spirit. He recently set his sights on achieving one of the ‘holy grails’ of his field, the One Armed Handstand. The parameters being that he must be able to hold the position for 10 seconds. His initial estimate, bearing in mind he can already hold a full (2 arm) handstand comfortably would be 8 weeks.
Will he succeed? Let’s take a look at the initial stages of his progress ….
Initially Richard did what most would do. Attempt to achieve the objective right away. When the expected failure resulted it created a starting point that allowed him to evaluate where improvements need to be made and how to make them. During his first session he was able to move from a standard handstand to one armed and back, only momentarily. It was clear that a strategy would need to be applied, with incremental steps toward achieving the ultimate goal.
During his second session, Richard worked on reducing the transition from full to single handed by reducing the assistance on what would ultimately become the ‘free’ hand. He did this by using just a thumb tip rather than the full hand. His theory being that this would increase the load on his supporting hand to a lesser degree as an incremental step. By day 3, during a lengthy training session, Richard managed a maximum duration of 20 seconds using this technique. But his enthusiasm took its toll. The additional, recurring load on the right, load bearing shoulder caused severe soreness and Richard wisely took a rest day from the personal challenge to recover.
For the remainder of the first week of training, Richard decided to take away the crutch of the assisting supporting thumb. The resulting attempts caused a roller-coaster of conflicting emotions. Mainly frustration, disappointment and anger, interrupted by only fleeting moments of Joy and optimism. This is how Richard summed it up himself…
‘When I achieve my goal, for which I will have worked so hard and suffered so much, I will open up this little pot where I have stored all this frustration and by then the madness and rage will have fermented and turned into a beautiful butterfly of happiness….remember the route to success is always through persistent failure’
We will update Richard’s progress over the coming weeks. For more regular updates check out Richards Instagram feed (@richard_blakeway) which also contains details of his YouTube Channel.
We have a choice. Either be inspired and achieve more than you ever thought possible, inspiring others in the process. Or be jealous, and live a shit, pointless existence in obscurity and mediocrity. It’s the difference between being average and being TrueSapien.
Let’s face it, it’s nigh on impossible these days to avoid noticing the achievements of others. Social media determines that. From coverage of the exploits of elite sports people, to friends or friends of friends participating in Marathons, Ultra Marathons, OCR events or Triathlons.
On some level, have you ever felt jealous of another’s abilities, what they have achieved and the attention, sometimes even adulation that accompanies it? Even if it’s some total stranger that you don’t know from Adam. ‘how good it must be to be able to run that fast, cycle that far, look so fit’ you might think.
Well, it would be no surprise and you wouldn’t be alone. It’s natural to want what others have, that you have not. This emotion evolved within us humans to inspire one thing. Action to Progress.
For the average though, the overwhelming majority in the modern age, it doesn’t inspire this action at all. Instead, in shameless fucking ignorance, they persist in idly and passively observing the exploits and achievements of the TrueSapiens. In a desperate attempt to justify their own lackluster half-life, the average even criticize and mock those not accepting of the same mediocre, inhuman existence. They continue, in blissful ignorance, to piss away their potential.
There is a fine line between jealousy and aspiration. The difference being how the feeling is interpreted and the response it provokes. For a TrueSapien, it serves as a healthy reminder or prompt to reexamine what is important, what we want to achieve and how we’re going to do it. It creates discomfort, enough to make us attempt to eradicate it, to avoid it and in the process live a life of challenge, a life of purpose.
It’s deep-seated in our human nature that when stricken with failure, we pretend that victory wasn’t really worth it anyway.
Is this some lame way to save face in a world where we feel inadequate? Or a coping mechanism so that the hurt of defeat is more easily accepted and ignored?
The earliest public recognition of this inhibiting human characteristic was when depicted in a fable by Aesop some two and a half thousand years ago….
Driven by hunger, a fox tried to reach some grapes hanging high on a 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.”
The average and the mediocre fucking love the easy get out that this common attribute provides, and it also helps them with the perfect excuse to never set any aspirations or goals outside of their comfort zones.
My guess is that in Aesop’s day, although significant enough to be portrayed in a Fable, it was nowhere near as prevalent as in the modern day.
Now we see this occurring in our lives all around us, often going unnoticed so it’s regularity…..
The ‘suit’ that misses his promotion but then claims he’s happier in his current role (even though he spends all day fucking moaning about it), because it’s ‘less responsibility’ …
The grossly overweight dude that gives up on his exercise program because he’s ‘comfortable’ in himself just how he is anyway…..
The girl that dreams of running her own business, but after an early setback decides that being employed and working for someone else’s dream is ‘the more secure option’…
It is one of the most damaging and limiting human traits of all when it comes to personal achievement. It locks the user in to a cycle of mediocrity that is almost impossible to escape from. It prevents us from facing up to the hurt of failure, the same hurt that makes us grow, makes us hungry and makes us want to grab life by the balls and do something fucking great. Something that will inspire others, rather than presenting them with another excuse to be just as shit.
Learn to recognize this attribute of the average. Awareness could prevent you falling in to the trap yourself!
Injury sucks! They stop us from achieving our long term and short-term goals and at times, depending on severity, can completely disable our ability to do anything. Severe or mild, they often stress us out due to this inability to progress and / or move as desired. On top of that there is the crippling pain or annoying niggle that stresses us out even more. Well, they do me so I re-iterate; injury sucks…big time.
Injury is a stress…in many ways
That’s the rant over, now what can I do personally to ensure the impact is as little as possible and recovery is as swift as possible?! Well, I have recently had some niggles, some annoying and some pretty high impacting injuries. Regardless what they were, they all played some part to change how I go about my training and my daily routine. Repairing them is actually the easy part, or rather the easy to follow part: listen to the doctor/physio, treat at home with proven treatments (massage, ice / heat treatment etc…) and keep food & drink healthy to help the body promote repair.
As identified though injuries come with stress, and I have found a few things that help me keep focused and stress free. First and foremost, beyond all else, is I kept exercising. At my worst I was housebound for a while and struggled to sit up let alone move around the house. Any form of exercise seemed out of reach but that was short-sighted and the internet, here to the rescue again, had plenty of ideas to help.
Using the mentality of yoga to focus on what we can do and to respect what we can’t, Kino Yoga review this with Healing injuries with yoga article, I sought out what was in my ability. When it was a niggle I used yoga to strengthen, something more then yoga helped free up the area of concern and at my worst yoga gave me something to do, even if it was some neck and wrist movements. It provided structure and helped develop patience and focus; a bonus quality of the practice.
The time I had free, rather than the time I was incapable (trying positivity), got me thinking about what I am missing in my training. Mens Health’s recent article Are you breathing properly? hits the nail on the head “it’s surprising how little we think about how we breathe”. It’s back on the agenda, as well as trying out apps like BreathGuru and Calm I also did a few breathing exercises such as those recommended by Dr Weil and they do not disappoint. Breathing is important and most of us, regardless of injury, can do this. It kept me training and kept me focused.
Its not all bad
Another though to mention was to embrace the downtime. With some injuries it is a a balancing act between pain and a drug fuelled mind from pain killers and it is easy to sleep (a lot) and just wait and moan away days (I’ve done this). But I am still here, I’m frustrated because I can’t do what I want to do now…but I know I will at some point. Patience! That’s what I needed to tell myself. Watch those documentaries, contact those friends and sleep if I need to…its part of the recovery process. Point I made to myself was this is indeed a process, I’m not waiting, I’m progressing and every hour that passes is progress. I keep hydrated, keep entertained and keep a smile on my face…the latter may be the hardest part but like Elbert Hubbard said “If you suffer, thank God! It is a sure sign that you are alive.”
Treating the mind isn’t as straight forward as treating the body, the mind is after all way more complex. They are however very connected! It is the inability to use the body that affects the mind. We can’t do what we want and that itself is debilitating and demotivational. Doing what we can will not only help with the stress induced from injury but can also be highly enlightening and even improve our outlook and improve what we once thought was a cast iron training routine.
Being injured does suck but can give us a new perspective, it’s an opportunity to reboot and change what we do for the better as it enforces some form of downtime. Focusing on what we can do is a way of dealing with it and possibly helps us venture into new grounds.
Aims, goals, dreams, ambitions, aspirations, objectives…… However you want to describe them, these are the building blocks that collaborate to build the purposeful life. The mediocre would have you believe that ‘opportunity'(or in their case, a consistent lack of opportunity) is also also a major factor. But that’s another discussion.
But what is, possibly the main determining factor behind success with these building blocks?
Short-term pain, long-term gain.
Yes, this may be the cliched quote straight from the wall of a 1980’s Bodybuilding Gym or possibly some regurgitated business management spiel. This doesn’t mean it should be overlooked or explored however.
TrueSapien’s understand the value of applying this universal rule, be it through instinct or through habit.
Pay the price
TrueSapien’s know that to create the aforementioned building blocks, a price has to be paid and the price has to be paid UPFRONT. By repeatedly paying this price (the pain) TrueSapien’s achieve their goals and ambitions, in turn enriching their lives. If their aim is high enough they will reach their true and inherent potential as Homo Sapiens.
Suffer only for the good choices
So what’s the difference in the suffering of the TrueSapien compared to that endured by the average or mediocre? The average and mediocre will indeed suffer and they’ll certainly let everybody know of their plight too. They’ll complain bitterly about their suffering as though it’s through no fault of their own, blaming every man and his dog for it.
In contrast, TrueSapien’s will likely talk about their suffering with a positive pride and relish.
Why? Because TrueSapien’s suffer for the GOOD CHOICES they make, the choices that are required for them to achieve their goals aligned to their overall success.
The Mediocre suffer for the BAD CHOICES they make. the choices born out of laziness, ill-discipline and desire for short term gratification.
Spartan and other Obstacle Course Races (otherwise known as OCR) continue to grow in popularity and participation.
Spartan in particular has great appeal, encouraging participants not only to take part in an event but to adopt the ‘Spartan’ culture which has many similarities with the TrueSapien philosophy, so not surprisingly many TrueSapiens have gravitated toward them.
There are various race offerings to suit different fitness levels and experience.
TrueSapien Ben Comery provides a first hand account of his experience of a recent Spartan Race….
I was calm. I stood shoulder to shoulder with the best and I was calm. At the start line I was hurting, the Super the day before had left me bruised, sore and stinging. A few words from Karl the race director and then the count down…
“3” Calm concentration trying to keep my breathing even. “Hold back” I tell myself. “2” Hand on my watch, I breath out all the self doubt. “1” I AM A SPARTAN. The line surges forward and a few Athletes fly off the start line quickly hitting the first corner before I’m even settled. Lungs burning I calm myself, i settle in behind the more experienced racers as the pace starts to build. We hit the first obstacles (four foot hurdles and Over under throughs) and the pack starts to split. Some of the faster guys start to pull away but I’m not concerned, I up my pace to keep them in check. The pack comes back together as we progress through a long running section and then bunches at the top of a descent. I take my opportunity, dive through the nettles and drop down the hill like a stone. I hit the cargo net in 3rd but lose my footing as the net flails around me. Damn!
Back down the pack as we enter the barbed wire crawl but I attack again and regain several places. Another long running section gives me the chance to stretch my legs again and I quickly eat through the terrain. As I come out of the woods the farmer carries is next. I grit my teeth and power walk up the slopes and drop down the descents claiming another place in the process. I’m close to the front of the pack now, the leader enters the atlas stone ahead of me but both of us smash through it quickly and head straight in to the sand bag carry.
I pick the 2 sandbags up and push through the pain building in my legs. I climb the steepest hill and try to push but my breathing is laboured and my heart is beating out of my chest. Third place uses this and launches his attack, sailing past me while I struggle. We descend once again and I get rid of my sandbags and sprint to the hoist. I jump high and rip the weight into the air as fast as I can but 1st and 2nd have a slight lead already. Another punishing hill waits and all 3 of us have to dig deep. I push myself a long the next running section but the leaders are still increasing the lead. The z wall offers no problems but the plate drag feels heavy after yesterday’s beating.
I fly through the multirig and head for the tyre carry. AROO it screams in huge letters on the hill side, 1st and 2nd are over halfway through by the time I start but I dig deep and there lead doesn’t grow. Pain burning in my legs and sweat dripping in to my eyes I dig deep and find some more strength to finish the tyre carry strong. My friend is volunteering at the tyre carry and his shouts of encouragement pick me up and make the next hill feel easier. I hit a trail section and immediately start accelerating, I can no longer see 1st but 2nd is still in sight.
Dread starts to fill me, up ahead is the bucket carry that broke so many people the day before but I don’t let that slow me. I rush towards my doom, round the corner and the bucket carry has been removed. Yes!I look over my shoulder and 4th is no where to be seen. My head tells me to slow down and stupidly I listen, taking my time to ready myself before the rope climb. I ring the bell and drop quickly as 4th comes in to view. I smash through the monkey bars, mud bath and the slippery wall as quick as I can and charge in to the spear throw. 2nd place Jack is stuck in the burpee zone, he turns to watch my attempt. No pressure.
Aim. Breath. Release.
The spear sails beautifully through the air and gets lodged in to the hay bale. Jack finishes his burpees as I turn to leave. 15 yards separate us. I approach the Rope rig and Jack stops short and walks a few yards to the rig. I attack and we both enter the obstacle at the same time. I grab the rope keeping my feet high and my hips low, making my way around the inside bend my foot slips and I’m left hanging.
I grip as tight as I can and regain control, inching my way around I slip again but get a better grip and launch myself for the bell. I hit the ground running, 8 foot walls separate me from the finish line. My heart pounding in my head I race towards the wall and out of the corner of my eye I see Jack. We hit the wall in unison, I throw myself over and sprint for the next wall, my wife is screaming urging me on.
The wall looms over me and I jump. Willing myself over with ever increasing speed. I dig deep, ignoring the storm raging in my head. Lungs shrieking, legs bursting we leap, almost as one, across the fire and collapse on the floor. Much later in the day it is confirmed that I came 3rd and Jack second but we both know that doesn’t matter. The position is irrelevant,
Be better than you outwardly appear. Yes you read correctly. To non TrueSapiens this may seem odd advice, in a society where everyone around us seems to want to appear BETTER than they actually are.
People want to APPEAR more attractive, stronger, fitter, faster, richer, more successful. Desperate to prove themselves better than others. Social media unfortunately provides a convenient and accessible platform. It doesn’t matter whether they actually ARE any of the above, the shallowness and superficially biased society care more about what others think of them than what or who they actually are. This all results in inflated ego’s and a win at all costs mentality. It also results in a tendency and a temptation to take shortcuts in an attempt to desperately make rapid improvements.
TrueSapiens put their egos aside because they know inflated ego’s breed contempt and blockers to self improvement – ‘how can perfection be improved?’ Or ‘why should I improve when I am this good already?’ Seem to be the subliminal messages. TrueSapiens would rather BE better than they appear. TrueSapiens show humility and modesty in their achievements and speak of others fine performances and actions before their own. They accept praise and accolades with humility also.
There is no harm at all in showing how you’re challenging yourself. Be proud of how you’re challenging yourself but always do it with humility and WITHOUT ego. This is way more inspirational. This is TrueSapien.
James Hodgson is a Team GB Triathlete. This week he’s competing in the European Sprint Triathlon Championships in Dusseldorf.
He’s kindly shared with us one of his run element training sessions… Challenge yourself and give it a try!
This is a really good speed endurance session for 5K runners, whether you are competing in triathlons or pure running races. You need to be able to run for an hour or slightly more continuously and be physically able to work hard for the eight kilometres. However, if you are starting out or haven’t done a session like this before, don’t go diving into the eight reps. Start at three or four with extended rest periods and then build in the other reps before dropping the recovery time.
This is one of my ‘go to’ running sessions that I regularly perform to improve my triathlon running and to see where my running fitness is at. In most cases I perform it on grass to reduce the impact forces from the session and reduce the risk of injuries. It also means you normally end up running even faster when you transition over to tarmac as grass is naturally a slower surface, especially when it is damp (and often is here in the UK!).
WU – 10-15 minutes
Easy walking with full arm rotations, three/four reps of high knees, heel flicks, and hip abduction and adduction movements (opening and closing the gate exercises) for few minutes before building into an easy run. Build your effort gradually (through to heart rate zone 2 if you are using heart rate) and towards the end of 10-15 minutes of this easy aerobic running I like to put in 2-4 pickups or strides
MS – 8 x 1 kilometre (variable rest period)
Depending on where my fitness is at and where in the season I am my target pace for the one kilometre reps will vary, as will my recovery period. In most cases I am looking to hold at or quicker than my 5K race pace with easy jogging for anywhere between a minute and three minutes. I also aim to keep the pace between reps as similar as possible, with a bit of allowance for a slight upswing in speed once everything is fully functioning and switched on to the work rate (usually rep 3-4 for me) and then aim to hold that for the rest of the workout
CD – 5-10 minutes
Gradually slow the pace down to a walk before stretching, using a foam roller if you have one and replenishing the fluids and calories you have used during the session.
Being physically and mentally fresh as well as having adequate energy stores (i.e. eating 2-3 hours beforehand) is really important, as is a good warm up to reduce the chance of injuries. As mentioned, I like to run this session on grass and run a pretty flat course with only gentle and very short undulations (in most cases it’s only a few meters per kilometre) so that there is less external influence on my pace. However, if your upcoming race is undulating, you can perform this session on terrain that simulates that, as well as getting in specific hill reps.
We hope you find this insight into a training session of a Triathlete useful. As outlined above this is a useful training session either for Sprint Triathlons, pure 5k running speed or could be beneficial for short course OCR events. Give it a go and let us know what you think!
Why is it that people everywhere are systematically wasting their potential, seemingly happy living their lives completely within their comfort zones, never experiencing what life has to offer outside of them?
Just because modern lifestyles are made physically more comfortable to due technological advances, is it acceptable not attempting to use our remarkable bodies to the limits they are capable of? Acceptance Of Mediocrity is Like An Epidemic
How many people do you know that settle for mediocrity or even less when it comes to their health, lifestyle or physical functionality? Maybe you can even count yourself in this category or can remember the time you could.
It’s easy to see just by looking around you, whether at work, in the street or whilst out eating or drinking that it is the majority. They have turned their backs on their natural physical traits and lazily resigned themselves to never physically challenging themselves.
Maybe it’s symptomatic of a culture that no longer encourages healthy competition and a society that is conditioned to taking the ‘easy’ option at every opportunity and looks for excuses for underachievement.
Surely many of the negative health and social issues that are prevalent today exist primarily because society on the whole is nowhere near active enough and lacks the inclination to be so.
Buck The Trend And Reject Mediocrity
Because it’s how the majority choose to live their lives DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT.
It’s can’t be right to allow your body to fester in inactivity or without regular challenge. If this were so the human body would react positively to such environments and it clearly does not. The human body reacts positively to being pushed, to being tested, to being CHALLENGED! Not to mention the numerous positive psychological benefits too.
TrueSapiens reject mediocrity by repeatedly challenging themselves, pushing and striving to be the best version of them self. TrueSapiens respect and celebrate their physical abilities and seek opportunities to challenge it’s boundaries.
This is the TRUE spirit of the SAPIEN. Reject mediocrity, challenge life and BE TRUESAPIEN.
What is a Green Smoothie, how can they benefit me and how do I go about making them?
TrueSapien friends YemSmoothies give advice and answer some Frequently Asked Questions on the subject.
What is A Green Smoothie?
Green smoothie is a thick beverage made using whole fruits a liquid base and leafy greens. Dark leafy greens are nutritional powerhouses containing vital minerals and nutrients
Green Smoothies Are Bitter, Can I Add Sugar?
There’s no need to add sugar to your smoothies. Your solid green smoothie sweeteners are some fingers of banana, pineapple rings, mango chunks or dates.
What’s The Best Green Smoothie For A New Starter?
Lettuce leaves, Pineapple, Cucumber and Water. Lettuce leaves are quire subtle and will ease you in to the ‘green world’ quite gently. Hopefully you’ll graduate to using Kale and Spinach which are awesome green leaves!
How Do I Make A Green Smoothie?
Simple! All you need is a blender, come fruit, green leaves and a base (i.e. water).
Can Green Smoothies Be Used As A Meal Replacement?
Yes. If you are drinking a green smoothie as a meal replacement you should ensure that your smoothie does contain protein and some healthy fat. For example you could add some Chia Seed for Protein and a teaspoon of Coconut or Flax Oil for fat.
Remember any changes to your daily nutrition should be sustainable. Small, incremental changes that are long lasting are far more beneficial than drastic, short lived overhauls.
For further smoothie advice and a host of recipe ideas visit @YemSmoothies on Instagram and Facebook.
How can you prepare better for a Spartan Race or other OCR event? These challenges require specific preparation if you’re going to get the most from it and perform at your best! TrueSapien’s very own Spartan Race Guru and recent Spartan Elite Sprint podium finisher Ben Comery gives some secrets to his success.
General Preparation – Hills, Carries and Burpees!
For me preparation starts weeks before the Race. Spartan is know for a few things. Hills, Carries and Burpees.
Let’s start with hills. Make these your friends, go out and find as many hills as you can. I try and make all my Easy Pace runs have over 100m of elevation gain and my long runs are always hilly. Carries will try and kill you. They are diverse and plentiful in a Spartan race. Tyres, logs, sandbags, stones and buckets. You can’t just lift weights in a gym and expect to succeed. Lifting a weight is very different to moving through rough terrain with a weight. As with everything, practice makes perfect so grab something heavy and go for a walk, you’ll thank me on race day. Burpees are an Integral part of Spartan. If you fail an obstacle you will be rewarded with 30 burpees. The good news is you can train these at home and they will help with a lot of obstacles on the day. They train your whole body and help with getting over the walls that are littered around the course. A great work out to try is Death By Burpees, Start a timer and complete 1 burpee per minute until you cannot complete the number of burpees within the minute i.e 1st minute 1 burpee, 2nd minute 2 burpees, 10th minute 10 burpees etc.
Two Weeks Out
I usually perform a race or time trial of a similar distance just to get a feel for fitness. Spartan Sprint use a 5km race, for a Super use a 10km. For the Beast I would move it out to 4 weeks out at Half Marathon distance. From this point I start dropping weekly mileage by 20%, keep the intensity high but just shorter.
Drop mileage to 50%. Now is the time to rest, any training from this point will have little affect come race day. Use the time to practice your race pace and to really get a feel for how fast you want to go. I up my carbohydrates from this point aswell. 10g per lean kg of body mass is recommended but after a few days my hunger starts to disappear so I just make sure every meal has large amounts of carbohydrates in it. Hydrate. 1g of Carbohydrates can hold 4g of water! If you increase carbs but not water you will become dehydrated quickly and a 2% loss in hydration causes a 40% loss in performance.
Wake up early and eat. I usually eat a bowl of porridge and drink 500ml of water 3 hours before the Race. After this I usually sip electrolytes just to keep myself topped up. 10minutes before the Race I take caffeine (180MG of encapsulated caffeine) if you get anxiety before a race you should avoid this as caffeine increases nerves but if you can tolerate it caffeine is a great supplement.
Lastly have fun! I mean that’s why we do it, isn’t it?
So are you TrueSapien? What makes people stand out in life versus those that are happy to merely exist?
There is no exact definition as characteristics will vary from one person to another, depending on their individual beliefs, passions and preferences. For example, what sport or fitness activities appeal to you may be entirely different to another TrueSapien. You may have certain physical traits that lend themselves to certain activities over others. How you choose to challenge yourself may be entirely different to the next person.
Whatever the differences, the following points are universal and common across all TrueSapiens……
Do you consistently challenge your existing perceived limits,attempting to be the very best you can be?
Do you refuse to accept mediocrity?
Do you know your overriding purpose in life and your ‘Why’?
Are you an ‘encourager’ rather than a critic and do you admire others’ achievements rather than be envious of them?
Do you appreciate, respect and admire the world around you?
Do you place a higher value on your own functionality for purpose over simply looking good?
Do you take any ‘failures’ as setbacks and use them as a positive learning experience?
Being TrueSapien isn’t like becoming a member of a club, body or an organisation. There’s no joining fee or annual renewal. You’ll know from the points described above whether you are or not, or indeed whether being TrueSapien is something in which you believe.
Being TrueSapien is about the attitude you demonstrate as you challenge yourself in whatever way you choose, from OCR or Triathlon Events, Calisthenics or Strongman disciplines, Marathon Running or Crossfit.
Read our Story page to find out more about TrueSapien.
As the title of this update from the one and only Neville Longbottom in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets says, ‘Why is it always me?‘.
I say this as for the fourth, yes, fourth, off/pre-season in a row I have had my triathlon training hindered by an injury of one kind or another. Since 2013 when I damaged my right rotator cuff that has caused on and off problems with my swimming. Back in 2014/15 I had a suspected stress fracture in my pelvis that stopped me from running. 2015/16 it was sinus tarsi syndrome in my ankle that put a “stopper on death” (just messing with you, that was Professor Severus Snape in Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, bonus points if you read that in his/Alan Rickman’s voice!)…. I digress, the sinus tarsi also hindered my triathlon training by stopping me running for a fair bit of time. So you can probably understand my frustration that after managing to be super consistent since my return from Worlds in October through to mid-January my right shoulder started to play up for a few weeks, and as soon as that righted itself, my right knee/ITB has decided that it is time to start complaining! I’m quickly becoming proficient at using RockTape to strap up my knee/ITB and hopefully everything clears up soonish and I can have a good run at March and April!
In other news I’ve also got applications in for a couple of PhD projects once I finish my masters (which is currently very hectic!), so fingers crossed I get one of those to keep doing research when the next academic year starts!
That’s it, a really quick one so until next time, a big thank you to TrueSapien (www.truesapien.com/) for their support and kit, Trion:Z (www.trionz.co.uk/) for their DuoLoop bands and new Zen Loop Solo/Duo which are keeping me focused and sleeping soundly (use code ‘JamesHFreePP’ on any order to receive free postage and packaging!), Sunwise (www.sunwise.co.uk/) for their Waterloo sunglasses which keep my eyes protected during training and racing, Aqua Sphere (www.aquasphereswim.com/uk/) for providing me with swim kit for the 2016 season, Pedal Potential for their support (www.pedalpotential.co.uk/) and Bulk Powders (www.bulkpowders.co.uk/) for their nutritional support! Also a shout out to my coach Jason Battle of PerformanceCoaching (www.performancecoaching.me/) for his training plans and guidance!
Hi, I am Alina, an open water marathon swimmer from West Wales. I started open water swimming in the summer of 2009, when I was 16. I am a PhD student at Aberystwyth University, and I can be found in the water when not in the office.
How I started open water marathon swimming
My journey to starting open water swimming was completely unplanned. I was on holiday with my parents, both keen canoeists. My father had taken me out into the lake to learn the basics and I of course fell out and had to swim to the edge. It was quite unpleasant and certainly not the moment I found a love for the open water.
The next day my dad challenged me to swim the width of the lake, a very short distance, but a challenge all the same. It was very cold and I struggled across, with a mixture of doggy paddle and backstroke. I have always been one for a challenge and my father knew it. The next day he challenged me to the length, a half mile and I succeeded. The subsequent weekends after we had returned from our holiday he continue to drive me to local lakes in Wales. After a few of these weekends I managed to master some basic front crawl and my swimming was quickly improving. My love for the open water was found when I swam my first mile, doing front crawl, without stopping. From then on challenges of greater distance, in less time were constantly being set.
I had never considered myself a swimmer
I try and explain to people that I was never a swimmer, nor did I ever plan to be a swimmer. It happened by accident really. I have always enjoyed sports, but had never realised I had an aptitude for endurance sport, as I had never really been exposed to it as a child.
From beginner to swimming across Scotland!
Three years after I started swimming in the open water we (my dad and I) decided to come up with a challenge. A challenge I could train for as our weekend trips were becoming a little monotonous. I gained a fantastic coach and started training in an endless pool multiple times per week as well as the open water on weekends. The challenge we came up with was to swim across Scotland, using the great Glen Way, a 117km channel from the east coast to the west coast. We gathered a team made up of 1 land support, Ady, a team Dr on the water, Simon, and my Dad and Gary, both experienced canoeists who led the expedition as well as sighted me whist swimming. We succeeded and gained a world record for being the first swimmer to ever complete this waterway. My love for swimming has only ever grown and it’s now a fundamental part of my day. Living on the coast gives me the opportunity to swim in the open water as much as the weather allows, and I also have a coach based here with an endless pool too.
Keep up to date with my swimming, training and trips away by following my Instagram (@alina_warren), and please feel free to get in contact!