I hope everyone is settling back into routines, and still sticking to all those new years resolutions! I'm afraid blogging has been quiet from me as I have been making several changes to my programme, but I finally have an update on what’s been happening so switch the kettle on and have a peek!
This time last year I was jumping onto a plane heading into the unknown to work with Darren Smith and his squad over in sunnier climates of Australia. Prior to joining the group I really didn't know what to expect, how it would turn out or what level I was capable of racing at. My swim background is not the strongest and I have had a few messy years in the consistency department since switching sports which is why I went to work with Darren to try and improve these areas, and overall we did a pretty good job at this when you look at some of the results from last year. However I have made the decision that my time with the squad has come to an end and I have moved home to base myself back in the UK.
Some may think this is crazy decision after working with one of the most reputable coaches in the triathlon sphere of ITU, having world class training partners, training in amazing warm climates just to name a few. It has not been an easy choice at all, but behind closed doors life has not been a bed of roses and it has been an exceptionally tough year for me, more so than I often disclose. I thought I would share some insight into some of the reasons for this along with some of the most valuable things that have helped me to improve as a professional athlete and person in hope others may be able to also learn or take encouragement from.
So where to start? It turns out the hidden ingredient to all the success Darren has accomplished with his athletes is consistency. I’m afraid to report that there are no secret training regimes or instant fix, but just pure hard graft, simplicity and a commitment and dedication to your goals. This is what Darren works on a daily basis and instils into the group through learning how to manage your body well and listen to what it needs. There are no fancy high class facilities, or luxury accommodation in camps but just a willingness to learn and better yourself is all that is asked. Darren is probably one of the most articulate, technical and passionate coaches with exceptionally high standards both in and out of training that I have ever worked with. He works to get the absolute best out of everyone, often strict at times and has definitely caused me a few tears, but he has certainly helped me to raise my own bar and allowed me to realise what I need as an individual athlete.
I have learnt many lessons in things that may seem simple, but can so often be over looked like timekeeping, organisation, having a routine, how to train in a group but not get carried away with others and stay focused to your own task, actually recovering when your supposed too, injury prevention work, knowing when to push and when to rest, keeping life simple and stress free all add to that magic thing of consistency.
Life in camp involved being away for 9months of 2013, and in fairness it was tougher than I originally anticipated. Don't get me wrong I feel extremely fortunate to have travelled and seen some amazing places, training was just ridiculously easy in this type of environment as it was literally eat, sleep, train repeat! However the price was at being away from my husband.
Sam also has a pretty hectic job in the army and spent 6months of last year in Afghanistan, which left us with a mere 2months to see each other in total throughout the year, it was like first date all over again after the tour! Sadly his job doesn't have the flexibility to travel around with me, plus we need someone to pay the wages!
This may sound a little sad and think I may have mentioned this before but what Sam and those guys do for our country is incredible. He really is my inspiration, his job is tough – like really tough how many people have to go to the loo in a bag and sleep outside, or in fact not sleep at all for days on end in fear of being shot at? Well if I was ever having a tough day because I couldn't run or I was being told off for not swimming in quite the right way, or because my calf was a bit sore this soon put things in perspective.
I set myself high targets and high standards in what I want to achieve, but I have also come to realise that In order for me to be successful I need to have a little more balance which involves Sam and after harping on about consistency it hit me that this was not going to be a consistent environment for me as sadly I just couldn't see a pathway for us if I were to continue with the squad.
This along with several other various factors ultimately led to my decision to move back to the UK and base myself predominantly out of our home town of Chorley where I have a lot of great local support, working with some new faces and some old faces.
I have to thank Darren, Liz, Rick and all the support from the team including the guys and girls that I trained with last year, for such a great opportunity who all helped both in and out of training.
Looking ahead, my goals remain the same. I’m hoping to come out and hit some good early season form in the World Series as these will be my selection races for the England Commonwealth Games team, followed by progressing in the ITU World Series.
I also want to thank all of my sponsors and supporters throughout 2013 including Barrie Wells, For Goodness shakes, Cadence Sport, Mizuno, Mavic and Blue seventy I’m looking forward to what this year has in store for me already!
Here is to wishing a happy, healthy and successful 2014!