Thursday, 4 September 2014

Non Stanford: Optimist and Expert Cha - Cha'er

This recently caught my eye and drew a smile. A knowing smile. 

These words rang true for me and almost immediately drew a line under the past 6months. I feel like I’ve Cha-Cha’d my way from March to September, and not to my own tune. In fact, in time to one of those really annoying radio jingles that gets stuck in your head and repeats on an endless loop. 

It’s been pretty frustrating Cha – Cha’ing in one spot, BOGOF jingle in tow (because one injury apparently entitles you to another one, completely free of charge), while everyone else has been gracefully fox trotting into the distance. Each time I made a step forward I seemed to be right back where I started. 

So I decided it was probably time for a short interlude. A pause in proceedings so to speak. And like all good half time breakes, mine included ample ice cream, sweet treats and chilled beverages, along with some unorthodox trips to sunnier climates. What can I say my interlude was less 15 minute loo stop, more 3 week holiday. 

Radio jingle firmly forgotten, I returned to the dance floor last week. I was even ready to integrate my well rehearsed Cha-Cha into the more complex Cha-Cha slide. After doing a quick run through of DJ Casper’s expertly choreographed dance in my front room, I was delighted to discover that, if followed correctly, the dance does leave you further forward than your original starting point. Much better than the basic Cha-Cha I’d been perfecting all summer. Albeit there is a lot of toing and froing, side stepping and sliding, but after the biggest jump forward (5 hops to be precise) there’s even some self appreciation time, where Mr Casper encourages you to applaud your journey thus far with the simple yet effective command ‘Everybody clap your hands’. 


Sounds exactly like the tune to which I will dance this coming winter. Realistic that progress will be slow and sometimes turbulent, but optimistic that progress will be made all the same. Hopefully come March next year, a full 12months on from D-Day, I will be ready to dance the quick step, to my choice of tune. Preferably a mix tape of  ‘Run Like Hell’ Pink Floyd, ‘Don’t Stop’, Fleetwood Mac and ‘My Party’ Kings of Leon. Now that’s my idea of a triathlon. 

On that note; probably time to put my best foot forward… 

Friday, 13 June 2014

When Life Gives You Lemons...

When life gives you lemons…

Well I’ve pretty much got a swimming pool of lemonade out back right now.

And last week I got my second truckload of freshly delivered lemons.

I can’t quite believe that I’m sat here having to write this. I try to avoid using my blog as an avenue for venting frustration and making excuses. But after 3 months of avoiding questions of when I’ll be back and how things are going, I thought I would provide some answers and explanations. Well in my own round about way at least. After so many humbling messages of concern and support I feel it’s the least I can do.

The first delivery of yellow goods arrived back in March when I tore my plantar fascia. At first I didn’t quite know what I was supposed to do with them. I definitely quietly contemplated their presence for a few days. Was I supposed to simply ignore them and hope they disappeared? Maybe throw them around aggressively and let everyone else know how damn unhappy I was that they had inconveniently, without being ordered, arrived on my doorstep?

I considered the latter option. But I feared a back splash of lemon juice to open wounds would be quite painful. Plus I guessed no one else would massively appreciate the potential mess it would leave.

So instead I decided to crutch them out back and crack on as best I could. I was pretty lucky that I had great team of people and the sweetest group of friends to assist me. I kept smiling, stayed positive and tried to enjoy doing something different for a change.

Come May I’d pretty much juiced all the lemons. There we’re a few remaining but I was working hard to finish the job.  It looked like the lemonade would be ready just in time for summer! I missed a few parties but the promise of doing the funky chicken in London kept me going.

Unfortunately London rolled around quicker than I could work. The final product wasn’t quite sweet enough. It definitely left a slight bitter taste in my mouth. It was one of the tougher days for sure.

It was also that weekend that the rumbles of the next delivery could be heard. An unexplained pain in my ankle started to bother me. As a rehabbing athlete I was on high alert, and any new pain caused mild panic. I’m incredibly lucky to have a great medical team at my fingertips, ready and willing to listen to my irrational worries!

Within a day I was lying in an MRI unit. And by the evening? Yep turns out lemons can be delivered after 8pm. Now that’s customer service for you.

“Navicular stress response” said the delivery man.
“@*$! off” I replied.
I thought the driver had got the wrong address. I couldn’t possibly have a stress response.
“I’ve barely run a step since March!” I pleaded. “These are not my lemons!”

Turns out they are my lemons. Looks like it’ll take a couple of months to make palatable lemonade with them too. Apparently Glaswegians don’t like lemonade either. But I’ll keep juicing regardless.

I’m hoping my lemonade will be ready for a Canadian summer. But these things can’t be rushed. It’ll have to be a work in progress, only to be drunk when it’s sweet enough. I guess that’s in the hands of the lemonade gods.

And I suppose, after all this, it’s a good job I quite like lemonade! 

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Mary Berry and Triathlon. Obviously.

I often spend more time deciding what I should write about, than I do actually writing a blog. I’m not going to lie, at this very particular point I haven’t got a clue where, exactly this entry is headed. Let’s hope I think fast.

This is largely because when I’m in the depths of winter training I don’t expect many people want to spend any amount of their day reading about what I’ve been up to. To be honest, I’d  probably bore myself writing about it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, and do what I love. And without sounding overly keen and happy clappy, I’m having an absolute ball at the minute. But the fact of the matter is today is very similar to yesterday, and not much will change tomorrow either. I swim, I bike, I run. I eat, I sleep and then I repeat.

Well that update was easy.

And that’s how it should it be really. People seem to spend a lot of time, and waste a lot of energy overly complicating things. And then the rest of us have to read all about it, and it’s repercussions, in their blogs.

The most valuable lesson I’ve learnt over the past few years is ‘consistency’. I think it’s a principle that’s generic to all walks of life. Even our beloved Mary Berry harps on about it; the right consistency is essential in avoiding the dreaded ‘soggy bottom’, after all.

And yes I admit, consistency in the baking sense of the word isn’t quite the same as consistency in training; but I quite enjoy the analogy. Under whisk or over heat and disaster probably awaits you.

M Dogg / Big M / Coach (he probably prefers Malcolm), always brings up the ‘C’ word. He’s pretty much the Mary Berry of my triathlon world. So if he says its important then it’s probably damn well important.

When I look back over the past few years of training, the thing that really stands out is the consistency that I have managed to achieve. It hasn’t been 100% perfect, but despite the odd day in hospital with broken limbs and so forth, I’d say we were 85% there. Which, when looking further back through my catalogue of training diaries, is a great deal better than anything I ever did before.

But how do you obtain this, often elusive, golden ticket?!

To be honest I’m grappling with the idea of dropping in the line “I would love to tell you, but then, of course, I'd have to kill you.” But I’m more of a Bond fan than a Sherlock fan, and quite frankly it would make my generally woolly, uninformative blog, even more woolly and uninformative.

It would also suggest that I have the answer.

I wish there was a Mary Berry-esque recipe for it that I could, quite conveniently, jot down. But unfortunately consistency in training isn’t quite as straight forward as creating the perfect apple pie.

I guess for me the first and most important step to consistency is avoiding that ‘over complication’ thing I moaned about earlier. According to Occam’s Razor (philosophy and that), the ‘simplest theory is most likely to be true’.

So Step 1:
Keep things simple.

And I guess Step 2:
As often as possible.

Interpret and apply that as you wish, but as Leonardo Di Vinci said “Simplicity is the greatest sophistication”.

If only I was any good at taking my own advice.