Monday 17 August 2020

Local lactate test

 Recently I saw on socials that my friend John Wattam had started doing some VO2 and lactate testing for some of his clients in his paincave. As it had been six years (really how has it been that long????) since my last bike lactate test, I thought I would enquire with John over his availability to complete a test for me.

I was on leave from work for a week taking some enforced leave (thanks pandemic) so we sorted a time for me to go to his one Monday.

It’s the first time I have visited John’s infamous pain cave which has been visited by lots of his clients including Mark Diakese (UFC fighter) and Danny Mitchell (ex UFC fighter). I was intrigued to see how much fitness I had managed to accumulate while doing most (95%) of my riding indoors on Zwift thanks to the pandemic we are currently in.

As soon as I knocked on the door I was greeted by John in a face mask and gloves. Fair play for the measures he has put in play in the current environment. I felt so safe.

After walking to the pain cave, we set up Gwen on John’s Kickr and set to work.

I knew the procedure.

Warm up, then he would take a lactate reading from my blood. Then every 3 minutes the effort would go up and he would take another reading. Each time he took a lactate reading he would ask where I was on the Borg scale of RPE.


I set off on the first interval at 140W and felt fine. 3 minutes later and I still felt fine at 160W. This continued until 200W when things started to get a little more trying. Not hurting but this was the first time my RPE increased. His daughter Sian (who is a PT I know) even stuck her head in to say hi.

This continued on with resistance going up 20W every 3 minutes

By 260W I was starting to suffer, my legs were starting to tighten. According to a recent Zwift race my FTP is somewhere around here. The worst part was that I couldn’t get cool. Thanks to the current rules John was unable to turn a fan in case it spread any germs. So I had to put up with being warm.

After another 3 minutes he ratcheted up the resistance to 280W, my legs were screaming now. I tried to block out the stop signals from my brain. After three minutes he took another reading and increased resistance to 300W. I set off wanting to complete this interval but after about 90 seconds the stop signals from my brain won out. My legs were goosed. My heart had more to give but my legs just gave in.

After he had put my numbers into the computer programme I was quietly surprised with the results. My new lactate threshold was 231W and 150bpm (compared with 222W and 159bpm form 2014). Given where I thought my fitness was this was a massive relief. It turns out you can build some decent fitness on Zwift in a global pandemic.

If you want to know how much John charges for these services then get in touch with him. Who knows if you mention my name he may even give you a discount off them.


Sunday 24 March 2019

The JSA time machine

Let's wind the clock back four years. The date is March 2015 and I have been smashing myself to bits completing 27 runs in the lead up to a PB attempt at Gainsborough 10k. I picked this as it was flat and local to Doncaster.

I'd made no secret of my desire to finally get under 50 minutes. I'd lined up a pacer to help me go under the magic barrier that had eluded me. My friend Mark had agreed to pace me round which then meant I didn't have to worry about pace or my watch. I just had to stick with him and let him do the thinking. Let him control the speed. If you've never run with someone pacing you, it does take so much pressure off you.

We lined on the start line and I put my trust in Mark. 47 minutes and 54 seconds of pain later, we crossed the line.

That was it, my first ever sub 50 10k. My new benchmark.

Fast forward to 2019.

Quick summary of those four years.

  • Separation
  • Divorce
  • Depression
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Poor life choices
  • Counselling
  • Weight gain
  • Get over my depression
  • Find James Smith on instagram
  • Join the James Smith Academy
I've neglected my running of late as I've been living my best life. I've been attending JSA meets, drinking all the gin and enjoying my life again.

I've only run 17 times this year with only 4 of those runs being endurance runs longer than 3 miles.

Most of the others have been the weekly track session I coach at.

However I am lighter than I've been in a long time. 10% lighter than at the end of 2018 in fact. Thanks to JSA and the coaches for giving me the tools to achieve this.

I have also been getting stronger using the programmes from the Academy. Who knew I'd enjoy the gym so much.

One of my Bali goals is a sub 50 10k but I had envisaged doing a lot more running before attempting it. My last 10k was a really steady run with a friend which was well over an hour in duration..

Is it possible that I could achieve a sub 50 10k at Gainsborough today off minimal run training just by using the Academy for weight loss, gin drinking and strength training?

After a good track session this week, where I ran 4 x 1km at around 4:30 I felt relaxed. But 1km is a lot shorter than 10km. LOL.

I lined up on the start line and had a plan. Run 4:40/km for as long as I could hold them for and then roll the dice and see how hard I could go. I was really concerned that I would have a ridiculous blow up at about mile 4.

I went through 4km in 18:39 which was bang on pace. However the headwind I was running into caused my 5th km to below my target pace. It was like running through treacle and sapped my strength.

I used the next 2km to try to recover before trying to kick on in the last 3km to see what I could do. To see if I could achieve my Bali goal

I had no idea of time until I crossed the finish line and looked at my watch.

The time was 48:08. A mere 14 seconds outside my PB off no specific training. Thanks to JSA for allowing me to turn back the clock four years. 

Imagine what I'll achieve in 2020 when I've been using the Academy another year when I might have done a bit more specific training. When I know I'll be lighter and stronger.

The Academy is really the gift that keeps on giving.
  • Weight loss - check
  • Increased confidence - check
  • Increased self worth - check
  • Time machine for running - check. Thanks to Dr* James Smith for allowing this
*not actually a Dr but a reference to Back to the Future

Still amazed by what I achieved today without a pacer and minimal specific endurance training.

Do yourself a favour and if you're not already a member sign up to his 5 DAY FREE TRIAL and see first hand the thing which has helped change my life and the lives of a lot of other legends. I'm not on commission for this, just sharing the love of something which has absolutely changed my life for the better.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday 26 February 2019

Circle of life – re-finding my happy

Sit down, grab a brew and if you’re feeling emotional maybe grab some tissues.

I’m not going to pull any punches with this because I have nothing to hide. No skeletons in my closet that I’m ashamed of. Just a rollercoaster period of just over 36 months.

Speaking with a friend recently about how up and down the last three years have been for me. I realised I have been through a whole host of emotions and pain and I am only now re-finding what makes me happy. Recentering myself and a lot of that is because I have only just learnt to love myself.

I remarked to her that something which I am currently undertaking (patience, there’s more about that later) is “the crowning glory of a three year long battle for me. My final transformation from a quiet caterpillar to a confident butterfly”

But before we get to that, let wind the clocks back.

September 2015. Playing matchymatchy at a friends wedding (excuse the wife's handbag)
Probably the best shape of my adult life.
September 2015. This is what racing weight looks like for me.
The time was November 2015 and I was on top of the world. I weighed less than I did as a teenager and I was head over heels in love with my best friend. It’s only on rereading what I wrote then that I realise what a good place I was in. I implore you to read the letter I wrote to myself aged 13 to fully grasp what a good place I was in. I’d just set a PB for 5k of 22 minutes dead and was about to embark on a quest to qualify to represent GB in Mexico.

Just four short months later, my entire world came crumbling down around me. Everything I knew to be true in my world was suddenly gone as my marriage imploded.

Two people got lost and the result was the loss of my best friend from my life.

But more than that, this loss caused my unresolved grief from 2006 to come to the surface. And that was gut wrenching and required the assistance of professionals.

I ended up suicidal, broken, a shadow of my former self and barely functioning at work or life, if I’m being honest.

Over the next two years I healed with help of friends, family, colleagues and the understanding of my employer.

Also in these two years, I made some pretty epic mistakes. I made some poor life choices which only exacerbated my depression.

I lost friends and I completely lost my way in life. But more than all of that I lost my self worth and confidence and my belief in the kind hearted person I am.

But eventually I saw the light and broke free from the cloud that was engulfing me and swallowing up all my energy with the help of counselling.

If you want to read about that period in more detail then please read this.

So that’s November 2015 to Feb 2018 covered and not once have I mentioned that fact that somehow I functioned as a triathlete in this period. I somehow got to Mexico to represent GB. Not my best performance but I got there on merit. And despite all the photos showing me happy, I truly wasn’t. Behind that fake smile lied a maelstrom of pain, guilt and grief. It is amazing how good an actor you can become if you are too proud to admit to people that you are suffering.

Behind that fake smile was a whole world of pain 
Nowhere near in the shape I was in 2015.
In Feb 2018 I weighed 15 stone 10 lbs, whereas in November 2015 I was 14 stone dead (and yes I have the spreadsheet to prove it). I’d even dabbled with Slimming World in an attempt to lose some of my depression weight. Given my mum’s alcohol addiction, I made the decision early on that food would be my vice when I was in the throes of depression. Not a wise choice but I could’ve chose a far worse vice.

April 2017.In the throes of my depression weighing far more than I'm comfortable with
Over the last year aside from doing my best to break down the barriers regarding mental health by sharing my blog and going out of my way to talk to people who I can tell need to talk.

Somehow I also managed to qualify for Australia to represent GB again. I have also been toying with my diet, trying to find the magic bullet. Does one exist?

Don't know how I managed that. Nowhere near my 2016 weight.
I went back to what worked in 2015 but wasn’t happy or satiated, then one day I saw a video by James Smith. Who the hell is James Smith I asked myself. Then I found him on instagram.

I lurked in the background for several months and watched the content on his socials, followed his challenge winners and couldn’t believe my eyes or ears. Followed some of his coaches and absorbed what they were saying like a sponge absorbing water.I signed up to his daily emails to get more #knowledgebombs

Is it really that simple?

Is it really as simple as a #caloriedeficit

Surely not!

Cue more lurking and watching. I tried his free trial and used his calculator and eventually decided on Black Friday to take the plunge. I justified it to myself that it was less than Slimming World each week and at worse I’d lose £81.

Over the rest of November I trialled food which allowed me to hit my protein and calorie targets from the calculator in the Academy.

Every three months, the Academy runs a challenge where the prize is a once in a lifetime holiday.

I thought I’d use this challenge as accountability to help me get back to my best racing weight so I could maybe qualify for Worlds in Canada in 2020. Did I think it could work? Not really if I’m being honest so I approached it with caution. Worst case scenario I’m £81 out of pocket.

The challenge started on w/c 14/01/19 and I stepped onto the scales after an over indulgent Christmas weighing 15 stone 6.2 lbs.

That was it, my starting point. Only progress from here on in for 12 weeks and then the rest of my life using the knowledge I have gained.

I now sit here 6 weeks later weighing 14 stone 3.8 lbs.

Over a stone lighter.

Have I starved myself? NOPE!

Have I eaten takeaways? YUP!

Have I drunk beer? YUP!

Have I messed up? YUP!

Have I restricted treats? NOPE! in fact somedays I’ve had a full tub of ice cream because I’ve allowed for it in my weekly calories.

So how the hell have I done this?

Simple. Tracked everything I’ve consumed, upped my protein and moved more. I’ve used the Academy for what it was designed for.

But more than that I’ve embraced the Academy for what it truly is. It’s a support network of over 8000 people who are there and have your back through anything. Who are there to celebrate your successes and help you in your lows with no judgement. I have seen some truly unbelievable acts of kindness since November.

I’ve seen
  • People pay for peoples membership as they couldn’t afford it 
  • Offer to help with flights after booking errors 
  • Offer support for things far worse than the root cause of my depression 
  • Rally round to pick people up after what they perceive to be failure 
  • Encourage people to achieve 
  • Encourage people to push outside their comfort zone 
It truly is an amazing movement, in fact it’s more than that. IT’S FAMILY.
  • I’ve had support. 
  • I’ve given support. 
I’ve made friends with people who I know will impact on my life for the rest of it.

For the first time in my adult life I’ve purchased and fit into medium t-shirts (3 of them to be precise). And I’m not even afraid to say. I felt amazing this past weekend when wearing one. It’s a new feeling walking down the street and being eyed up. And it felt good. Like really good.

Aside from the frankly epic changes which are happening to my body. 

The best part of all.

I’ve found me again. I’ve found my happy. I’ve recentred myself and am brimming with confidence. I love myself and life and feel truly whole again for the first time since March 2016. It’s been a long time coming but I’M BACK.

There’s six weeks left in this challenge and by the end of it, I know I’ll be a better version of me than when the challenge started in January 2019. And all the joy I currently feel is because of what James and the team behind the scenes have created. It’s epic.

Thanks for reading,

Proud JSA Member

Saturday 29 December 2018

Once in a lifetime trip. Not the race I wanted part 2

After rounding up my trip in part 1. This post concentrates on the actual race.

As stated previously getting to Gold Coast was my victory. I had an aim for my race and as you can probably guess from the title. Not everything went to plan.

My goal was to finish in the top 50 of those in my age group. But even now looking at the results, that was a stretch. To get in the top 50 would have required me being nearly 7 minutes quicker than I actually was. It would have meant my best triathlon performance ever!

Even with the help of my coach getting me into my best shape in a long time, I was still some way off where I was in late 2015 / early 2016.

Back before my issue I weighed around 14 stone and could hold 300W which equated to my w/kg being around 3.4. After my last FTP test before Australia my w/kg was more like 2.6

That's a huge difference. Weighing more and outputting less power really does matter in biking even if the course is flat(tish).

But enough of the excuses. Back to the actual race day.

I woke up to be greeted with more wind than I would have liked.

My race wasn't until 12:50 in the afternoon so I tried my best to relax. Relaxing when you've still got jet lag and been awake most mornings, at 4am is a struggle. I decided to make the most of it and read my book.

I had a decision to make come race morning. Wear my wetsuit or not. The water temp was about 20 degrees so it was up to the athletes. As a swimmer it's not an easy decision to make. Would I lose more time swimming without a wetsuit or would I lose more time removing my wetsuit in T1. It's always a gamble in a sprint. I decided to put on my transfers and make the decision later.

After eating breakfast I made my way over to the race venue.

First job when I arrived was to visit my bike and pump up my tyres and finalise my transition area.

Once I'd done this I went hunting for shade. I was doing my best not to dehydrate. I was also conscious not to overhydrate like I did in Mexico, which is what I think went wrong.

Before my race I decided to don my wetsuit, as it turns out that was a good choice as the zipper on my trisuit broke 10 minutes before my start.

After making my way to the start pen, I was starting to feel nervous. The enormity of what I had achieved got to me again like it did in Cardiff. I was starting to feel emotional. I had done it. I had managed to get to Gold Coast, to the World Championships.

Just 7 months before I had my breakthrough at my counselling and set this ball in motion when I was a long way off fitnesswise.

After getting lost in the enormity of my achievement, I had zoned out and we were ushered through to the next pen, which was a snap back to reality. I decided to put myself on the left of the pen so I would be taking a slightly wider route on the swim course at the first buoy but it would be less punchy.

In local races at home I'll put myself in the mix as I'm normally one of the better swimmers in the field but in the World Championships I know I am a small fish in a big pond.

The horn went and we were underway. I dolphined once to get to deeper water and set off swimming. I reach the first buoy and was glad I took it slightly wide, as it looked to a mass of thrashing limbs.

On the second straight I was starting to pick people off. I do love racing the swim tactically and building into it rather than going full gas and dying like these people had done.

I was passing people and counting them off. 1, 2, 3, 4........

I turned the final buoy and could see the pontoon. I did my best to stick on peoples feet and exited the water. I ran to T1 and noticed I was out the water before Duncan who was two bikes down from me. We normally exit at the same time so I knew I'd had a good swim.

I grabbed my bike and ran to the bridge. As I was leaving Duncan was arriving so I was about 30 seconds up on normal

On reaching the mount line I hopped on and set to the task at hand. After about 500m, Duncan caught me. He told to jump on his wheel. I went with him and two others but no sooner had I latched onto the draft than they were gone.

I buried myself trying to get back on but felt lethargic. My quads were killing. What was going on? To make matters worse I was riding into a head wind.

I reached the lumpy part of the course and saw someone had already stacked it. Poor bloke. After the short climb it was downhill and then back to the coastal highway. Still nothing in my legs.

Just soldier on. Do you best.

I turned at the far end and was relieved for the til wind finally.

I buried myself. Didn't feel great and the numbers from my power meter reflect that.

Average power was only 235W, it should have been closer to 260W. Average HR was 164bpm, it should have been closer to 170.

Some days you have a good race some days you don't.

My bike was 36:33, Duncan and the pack he rode with put 5 minutes into me. Thats a ridiculous amount of time to lose.

I dismounted before the line and ran into T2. Wow it felt hot.

Throw on my trainers and set about the task at hand. 5000m. The only goal. Don't be as shit as Mexico. Run to the best of my current fitness.

I had a target in mind and wanted to go sub 25 for the 5km.

That meant each kilometre had to be less than 5 minutes.

I wasn't enjoying the heat, it was a case of getting to the next aid station and throwing water over myself.

After the first lap I was so jealous of those who were heading to the finish. I wanted it to be me. Just 12 and a half minutes let of pain and it would be.

I normally have really awful photos of me running but I made a conscious effort to note where the photographers were so I could get at least one decent photo of me.

Is that a smile?
I pushed onto the end and was so relieved to be running down the finishing chute. I had no idea if I had managed to go sub 25 but I don't think I could have done any more on that day.

No one can ever take the feeling of running down that finishing chute away from me. Yes it wasn't the race I wanted but I set myself a goal, I believed it was possible (when I'm sure many others didn't), I put in the hard work and I MADE IT HAPPEN.

Don't let other peoples opinions or beliefs put you off the path which you believe you can forge in life. If I had I wouldn't have been in Australia competing in the World Championship.

Me the ex smoker, me the ex fat kid who was useless at running, me the survivor of depression, me the former obese couch potato. Yes all this things but most importantly.....


It was an amazing feeling and something I will cherish for a long time.

It's all about the bling
I collected my medal and just enjoyed the moment.

With a nice touch of fate, the race took place on Thursday with was also the same day the Doncaster Free press is released. I hadn't told many people before I left but they had written an article about my appearance in Australia and this was the day it got released.

Look it's little old me
I got some very nice messages about this article, none more so than the one I received from Gia (someone from Twitter who I have never ever met)

I was so humbled by those kind words.

Anyway I digress, the results form the race were out. Not quite what I wanted but let me take the positives.

Swim PB and sub 25 5k in the bag.

Job done. Now to enjoy the rest of my trip down under. This will not be my last appearance in the fabled blue suit.

I'd like to thank Balfour Beatty and Huub Design for their support in getting to the World Championships. I really am fortunate to have these two companies in my corner either helping me with kit costs in the case of Balfour Beatty or supporting me in all things triathlon like Huub. #HUUBSTER

Thank for reading,

GB Age Group Triathlete

Once in a lifetime trip. Not the race I wanted part 1

Australia. What an amazing place to visit. I absolutely loved it.

Yes the plane journeys were a pain. Being cramped up for 14 hours on the way to Singapore isn't something I'd want to repeat every year.

But Australia is amazing.

It was a once in a lifetime trip for me so I made sure I crammed as much into it as I could.

This post will be split into two. This post which will concentrate on my trip and a second post which will concentrate on the actual race.

I arrived in the Gold Coast to a horrendous storm, which was a little confusing. Where was the sun I was expecting?

I waited for my transport to my hotel and was awestruck by the architecture in the Gold Coast. It's not for everyone but as someone who considered architecture at school, I thought it was amazing.

My apartment was about 150m from the beach and I had an amazing view of the sea from my bedroom.
Not a bad view even with the storm brewing
I'd landed on the Saturday morning and tried to stay awake all day to align my body clock.

My race wasn't until the Thursday so I had a few days to spare. Not a great deal of time considering I had to register on the Wednesday but a bit of time.

On the Saturday I decided to build my bike so I could go on the organised GB group ride on the Sunday morning.

One problem, I needed a bike pump so had to walk to a bike shop to buy one. I was determined not to get stung with excess baggage. I walked to Giant Gold Coast (which was a lot further away than I originally thought) and the thing which hit me was how hot it felt. It also felt quite sticky because of the recent storm.

I arrived back to my apartment and built my bike and took it on a very quick spin to see that it was working fine. Gears felt fine so I set my alarm for the group ride the next morning.

Bike all built on my balcony
I then decided to go for a quick run to test my legs. 2km working hard then a steady plod back.

Even though I was exhausted, I stayed the course and stayed up all day Saturday. I was a little peeved to be awake at 4am on the Sunday. DAMN YOU JET LAG.

The Sunday ride was really steady and consisted of a 25km out and back and a stop off for a photo of the Gold Coast and a stop off for some coffee. Wow the coffee was good. Like really good. Quite simply the best I'd ever tasted.

That coffee though!?
What a beautiful place
I spent the rest of Sunday chilling out and decided to walk into the City Centre to get my bearings.

I then had to pack for the next part of my trip. Like I said it was a once in lifetime trip so I was packing for a two day trip to the Great Barrier Reef. Far from ideal timing before the race but my victory was getting to Australia after my depression.

The next morning I got up at 4am to make my 6am flight to Lady Elliot Island which is an atoll on the very south of the GBR. It is beautiful and in the middle of the ocean.

It was simply stunning. I spent the two days relaxing, snorkelling, going on snorkel trips, walking round the island.
Nothing but ocean
I got to swim with turtles, manta rays, more fish than you can imagine and just lapping up the natural beauty.

My new friend the turtle

These days it is too easy to get carried away with social media and the pace of life but being stuck in the middle of the ocean with no signal on a beautiful island is good for the soul.

How amazing a view?
I flew back on Tuesday afternoon and knew that Wednesday would be a busy day registering.

I woke up on Wednesday and made my way to the race venue and transition area.
Quality spelling on the way to the venue. LOL
I was expecting a bit of a queue but really 3 hours in the baking sun was far from ideal race prep. It was so hot and there was nowhere to hide from the sun. After registering I racked my bike and made my way home (obviously after spending a fortune on clothes at the venue)

Wednesday night was the opening ceremony and I like to go to these as they are a great atmosphere. Cue more walking and being stood around. #facepalm

Being stood behind Louise Minchin on the way in the parade of nations was good. She really is a nice person and took time to speak to people.

On my way to the Parade of Nations

Love these events
Thursday was race day but that can wait until another blog.....

I then spent the rest of the next four days partying, drinking, watching the elites, spending time with new friends, riding my bike, visiting a zoo, walking round Gold Coast and enjoying the downtime.

Did I really just say downtime and list all those things before it?

There were whales playing in the background of this  
What a view
It's horrible here

Made a friend
Vicky Holland - World Champion
Vincent Luis becoming World Champ 
This was amazing. 

Blue skies for days
I also developed an unhealthy obsession with frozen cola. It tastes amazing.

This is lush
 On the following Tuesday I flew to somewhere I have wanted to visit for a very long time. Sydney and boy did it not disappoint. It is a truly stunning place to visit. It appears to be the perfect mix of water, beach, city and sea and I fell in love with it.

Sydney. Such an amazing city.
The bridge 
My home while in Sydney
The view from the roof bar in my hotel
Again I rammed as much as I could into my visit. I'd planned a trip to the Blue Mountains, a night out with friends, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge and I landed on Tuesday and headed out on Friday. 3 and a half days and 3 nights of bedlam.

It was all go but I wouldn't change to for the world. I had an amazing time and fell in love with Sydney as a city.

3 Sisters in the Blue Mountains 

Sydney Opera House on the ferry home 
Sydney Harbour Bridge on the ferry home
In England we get pigeons, In Manley they have cockatoos
One of the biggest things I planned for this trip was climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, I am not a fan of heights but I am even less of a fan of being able to see through gaps in floors like on piers so facing my fears for thee hours was a challenge but it was an unforgettable experience.

Faced my fears and won
Australia is an amazing place and I am so glad I went even if I did end up with an unhealthy obsession with frozen cola, chicken parms (had about 10 out there) and in particular Sydney.

Chicken Parms are lush
So sad to be leaving this amazing city
Thanks for reading,