Out of the Zone…….


You can run a 100m race with people that are slower than you and you will win every time;  run a 100m race with people better than you and you may not win, but you will be quicker.

In life we all love one thing – comfort.  To be comfortable is great.  You feel happy when you are comfortable.  But, does being comfortable allow us to be the best we can be?  Does comfort allow us to grow?  I would argue not.  So how do we grow and become a better us?  Learn.  Stretch.  Improve ourselves.

It was a long time ago when I first heard of Comfort; Stretch; Panic and if I am honest, I didn’t really understand it.  Many a time at work I would hear the phrase – putting them in stretch.  What?  I so wished they would talk sense because it was gobbldygook to me.  I now have a greater understanding and strongly believe that without stretch, we would never improve.  You have to push yourself in order to achieve what you want from life.  I am really learning this at the moment in my current journey.  The problem is, if you don’t understand it, how can you use it?

So let me give you my spin on comfort; stretch; panic.


As the word suggests, this is your warm fuzzy place.  Think of the word comfort in a home surroundings.  Nice warm fire; comfortable sofa.  You are happiest here, but are you?  Are you happy staying in a zone where you are not able to progress?  If we are honest, I would say the majority of us would say no, I want to improve.  The bare facts are this – you will never be a better you if you stay in your comfort zone.  You need to be stretched in order to progress.  However, there is a positive to the comfort zone.  It is a good place for reflexion.  Having a safe haven where you can evaluate what you have learnt is ideal, especially for personal growth.


This is where improvements come from.  This is where you allow yourself to be pushed, to be a better you, but not to the point of imparting too much fear.  When you are in stretch you cannot allow yourself to become overwhelmed with what you are doing.  You need too allow yourself to feel slightly under pressure.  So long as the pressure is not too great, you will  soon realise that you can handle these pressures and will reap the benefits of growth.  If the pressures are too high and you become too overwhelmed, you have the potential to push yourself into the final zone – PANIC!


This is an area that you really want to try to avoid being in.  This is where you find things uncomfortable to the point where you no longer think.  You are no longer in stretch; no longer learning, therefore, no longer improving.  Panic can have really negative concequences on personal growth.  It can push you way back into your comfort zone to the point where its difficult to venture back out of it.

So, lets look at this from a scenario point of view.

I don’t particularly like spiders.  I would be happy if there were no spiders around (comfort zone).  But, from time to time, as the man of the house, I have to remove spiders from the kids bedrooms.  Now depending on the size of the spider, will depend on how I deal with it.  If the spider is not too big, I can pick it up and take it outside (stretch zone).  However, if the spider is too big for me to handle, it puts the fear into me (panic).  If someone was to give me a tarantula to hold right now, you would not see me for dust.  But, if I were given spiders that slowly increased in size, I may be able to (eventually) pick up the spider.  This is due to being placed in stretch, but not venturing into the panic zone.

You can equate this analogy to anything in life.  Place yourself in stretch if you want to grow.  We all want to grow, but by how much depends on how willing we are to stretch.

Have a fit and healthy day and go on……stretch yourself 🙂


Coaching Expectations……..


After 15 years of participating in the sport of Triathlon (from Super Sprint to Ironman) I thought that it was about time that I gained a coaching qualification in the sport I love.  So, last weekend I started on my Triathlon coaching pathway by attending a Triathlon coaching course.  During this course, we continually discussed the principles and philosophy of coaching.  This got me thinking – When we hire a coach, do we understand what to expect?

As someone who has over 20 years’ experience of teaching/instructing/coaching athletes up to Olympic standard, it always amazes me that when I ask clients what they expect from me as their coach, some people don’t really know how to answer the question.  So what should you look for in a coach?  Here are a few of my suggestions:


Whilst knowledge is important, it is also important to undertand that deep knowledge does not always predetermine someone to be a good coach.  Knowledge is more than just having an understanding of the sport.  A good coach will have an understanding of how to impart their sporting knowlege in order to get the best from each athlete.  No two athletes are the same and knowledge of how to coach at all levels will provide a solid coach/athlete relationship.


Just because they may look the part, does not make someone a good coach.  Style (in this context) is how an individual coaches in order to produce the best from their athlete.  Understand how the coach works.   What is their coaching style?  Are they someone who is hard on you, or will they allow you to stay in your comfort zone so that they don’t offend you in order to keep you on their books.  If there are not times where you hate your coach for the sessions you are doing, in my own opinion, they are not trying to get the best from you.  You have to be stretched in order to learn and improve as an athlete.   However, over stretching an athlete (physically and mentally) can have negative effects.  Having a coach that uses a style that suits you, but also allows you to grow as an athlete is imperative.


In order to call yourself a coach, (in Britian) you don’t have to have any formal qualifications.  Credentials are an important aspect of a good coach, but does that mean they have to be qualified to the hilt?  Your prospective coach may have dozens of qualifications, but without the experience of how to use them do they have the credentials to help you?  You need to have a full understanding of their credentials.  How long have they been involved in the area that you want to be coached?  Do they have experience beyond their own?  The ease at which people can gain qualifications these days is quite simple.  There are so many ‘on line’ qualifications that anyone can achieve, but what experience can an individual gain from them.  Look deeper than how many qualifications they hold before you sign up to being coached by them.


Is your coach easily accessible if you need them?  This could be as simple as an email, a phone call, a skype chat.  As a paying athlete you would expect that you would be able to ask for advice.  There is no point having to wait for your once a week chat if you have a question that needs answering now.  The knock on effect could be as simple as a missed training session or worse, an incorrect training session that could lead to injury.  Understand the accessibility boundaries that your coach lays down and ensure that they suit your needs – After all, you are the paying client.


This runs naturally from accessibility.  Feedback is an integral part of being coached and not just for the athlete.  If you as the athlete cannot give feedback to your coach, how can you beleive that the coach has your best interests at heart.  Likewise, understand how the coach will provide feedback to you.  Are they going to make everything fluffy, or will they give you the bare bones?  How will you handle the feedback?  If feedback is presented in the form an email or message it is possible that it may be misenterpreted and the wrong context taken.  Verbal feedback sits way up there as it is possible to question the feedback in order to get the right information from it.

There are undoubtedly many more things that you may want to look for in a coach.  This list is by no means exhaustive and could fill many a page.  When you want to have a coach, ask yourself the question:  What do I want from my coach?  Write a list and make sure you interview your coach on how you will get your list of demands met.  After all, you don’t go out and buy a car without test driving it first!

So, what would your list of expectations for a coach be?

Journey to Outlaw 70.3……….


So, I was a little reluctant to write this post let alone publish it. But I figured its good to get circumstances out there, be they positive or negative.

Anyway this week has been SH1T and training has been non-existent due to a shoulder injury. This has caused a spiralling effect that has returned me back to facing my inner critic; and losing (to a degree).

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I have been on a long journey of self-discovery since Dec 14. One element of this journey has been the ability to disassociate with my inner critic. You know, the vile Gollum creature who tells you that you are not worthy; you can’t do this; you will always fail. The disassociation has been a hard wall to scale, but one that I had climbed to the top of and was getting over the other side. That was until I injured myself and then lost motivation to train through extreme tiredness due lack of sleep because of the pain in my shoulder. This then snowballed as my loss of motivation seemed to be the fuel for my inner critic telling me that I was going to fail. This brought on less motivation and so the snowball grew and grew taking me back down the rabbit hole to my deep dark place, the same place I was in after my trauma.

How did I get out of this spiralling pit? Well I woke at 4am today, with an absolute desperate need to overcome this awful feeling I had inside and get back on track, but just needed a little extra help. So, off to YouTube!!! YouTube has been without doubt one of my saviours along my journey.

This video has helped tremendously and spoke directly to me; my enemy has always been my mind.

I’m massively proud of the person I am becoming, but I am humble enough to admit when I need help. So today my journey started again, yes, this week will be written off as another learning curve but I know I WILL succeed, because if I can over come what I’ve been through coming through the other side a stronger person, I can achieve anything.

Hope you’re having a fab weekend.

Tracee x


Reality Strikes……….


I went to bed last night and watched the live stream of Ironman World Champs.  I turned off as the Pro male athletes started out on the run ( It made me tired just watching!!!).  When I woke up this morning, I put the live stream back on.  They were still going over the finish line and still had over two hours to cut off.  This struck a reality chord with me – I have been to sleep and people had been racing for 5 hours before I slept and they were still racing when I woke up; that’s a long time to be working out!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve completed a Long Distance Triathlon before, but I don’t really think the enormity of the race ever actually hit me; even when completing it.  Today however, it seemed to hit – It could be a really long day.

There will undoubtedly be times when the reality of what we are aiming to achieve hits us and fear overcomes us.  But, remain strong and one day that fear will become confidence.


Do you have fears about racing?  How do you overcome them?

Have a fit and healthy day.

Rob 🙂

The Art of Being Bored………


One of my main challenges for next year is going to be to remain focused during my races.  I am planning on completing both a Middle Distance and Long Course Triathlon and know that the bike and the run is going to take a long time.  In comparison to the bike and run, the swim will be relatively boredom free.  Concentration for an hour is quite easy, especially with a fresh mind and body.  However, when it comes to the bike and run, boredom and more importantly, lack of concentration could come to the fore.  So, how do you overcome boredom?

In trianing, it would be relatively simple – on the run, wear an ipod (or other music device) to take your mind of things.  Run or cycle in a group.  Play some music, or watch a movie or programme whilst you are on your turbo.  But ask yourself this question:

“How often to you race with an ipod?” – “How many times do you watch a film/programme whilst you are on your bike?”  The answer is never.  So, if you don’t race like it, why train like it?

My running at the moment consists of running around (and around; and around; and around) a track.  This is for 2 reasons.  Firstly, the races that I am participating have very flat run courses, so I don’t have to worry too much about terrain.  Secondly and more importantly, it’s boring!  The monotony of running lap after lap can get to you.  But I use this as an important training tool.  I need to make sure that I remain focused at all times.  Focused on my run technique.  Focused on my Heart Rate – did I ever tell you that I am fanatical about Heart Rate training?  No?  Well, that’s for another post!  Focus on making sure that I am fully aware of how I feel at all times.  I have also noticed that the time I run actually seems to go quicker if I focus on what I am doing.  I don’t clock watch, but really focus on every 2 1/2 laps.  This for me makes the kms go quickly.

When it comes to the bike, too often have I been out on a ride and then suddenly ‘woken up’ with the thoughts “where did those (xx)kms go?”  Then the realisation that I had either been going too easy (more often than not) or too hard; failing to get the most from the ride.  Now, I really focus on my bike technique, concentrating on how my legs are turning over.  Making sure that my upper body is as still as possible – I am really keen to concentrate on not losing energy through poor bike technique.  But the bike can still get boring.  One trick that I have looked at in my new training plan is, as with the run, break the bike down into ‘managable’ chunks.  If my bike is 80+km, then I will break it down into 10km sections.  Psychologically, this suits me well as I am tricking myself into thinking that I only have 10kms to go – a more manageable time to focus on and releave the boredom of a long, lonely ride.

If I am on my Wattbike – NO TV; NO MUSIC.  Just focus on what I my body is doing, learning to be comfortable in my own ‘zone’.

Bottom line – Train how you will race and the race will not surprise you.  If you learn not to get bored during training, this will pay well during the race where concentration is key.

Do you get bored during your training?  If so, how to you overcome your boredom?

Have a fit and healthy day

Rob 🙂

Keeping it Aerobic…….


Over the next 3 months my goal for each training session is simple – stay aerobic.  Today’s training will consist of:

  • 1 hour track run
  • 2 hour bike

For my run training, my 3 month goal is to be able to run 12km on a track in 1 hour within my aerobic training zone.  Today I ran 9.35km with an average HR of 139.  Breaking this down, I need to reduce my 1km run time from 6min 24 to 5 min over 3 months.

Now, science will tell you that if I want to do this my training should be of a higher intensity than I currently am working at.  Higher level aerobic training will increase aerobic capacity quicker than low/moderate level training.  This I fully agree with, but I want (no need) to ensure that I don’t have a build up of lactic acid during my training that will have a negative effect on my next training session.  I am a triathlete, not soley a runner, or a cyclist, or a swimmer.

Previously, I have trained at a higher capacity than I am planning for this year.  I have gained fitness, but I have also suffered with soreness post training due to the build up of waste in my muscles due to working anaerobically.  I don’t want to do that this time.  I will admit that this way of training is a new concept of training to me that I am trying out.  Will it work?  I beleive it will.  If I can work on my consistency, ensuring that I train how I want to in every session, I will reap the benefits of this form of training.  If not, I can put this down to experience.

One other thing I need to remember, I am completing a Middle and Long Distance Triathlon next year, not a Sprint or Standard Distance.  I need to ensure that my muscles are going to work for extended periods of time and that I am  not going to drain my rescources half way through the race.

Science eh……its not a black and white as we think!