Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Back home

Landed in Vancouver late last night, feels like I never left.

Seems like all trips are "trips from hell" these days and to be honest yesterday wasn't too bad. British Airways unfortunately had to cancel most of our flights meaning we (My parents and I) were on a slightly detoured route through London then Calgary before landing at YVR.

Successfully dodged bike handling fees at Aberdeen, London and Calgary saving me close to $300 but was stuck next to crying babies, coughing strangers and was abused by over aggressive airport staff along the way...but not all bad, at least I arrived in one piece last night after being awake for over 27 hours (as a side note, never do the 530am swim on the morning before a long haul flight!).

As it stands however Westjet have lost my bike, not just lost as in "oh its still in Calgary" but lost in the "we have NO idea where it is" sense. So fingers crossed it will turn up here in the next few hours but until then replacement bike contingencies are being put in place. No mucking around here!

Off to Victoria and the Canadian NTC tomorrow, will be great to train with those guys and see what a foreign performance program is like. Have been involved with performance programs and centres for the last 8 or so years but never in Canada so looking forward to doing some sessions with the guys.

Will keep everyone up to date as the week goes on,


Sunday, 28 March 2010


Flying to Vancouver tomorrow,

2 weeks of swim/bike/run....

Cant wait

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Swapping sessions

A text from my best bud Pete this morning;

"Hey Mike, go and skip your run set tonight to come and see Avatar 3D + go out for dinner"

Hmmmmm that's not going to happen...

...then as if from magic, I get a text from 3 time Ironman 70.3 Champ and recent 4th place finisher at Abu Dhabi Fraser Cartmell;

"Hey Mike, driving up as we speak, will be in town in 2 hours, wanna run?"


Avatar 3D, dinner out, no missed training sets plus a 10km with an Ironman Champ...a good day.


So Wednesdays are my hardest training day of the week, but yesterday's session was full of fun.

Was in stitches at one point when I overtake a parked car while out on my bike and a farmer is pushing a SHEEP into the back seat. Awesome.

Later on I'm running through a forest and come across a complete random dragging a chainsaw along the ground...weirdo...but certainly glad I was the one running and not him.

That is all.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Sums it up

This is why I love multi sport, everyone can do it, everyone can have fun and it doesn't have to cost you a fortune, just pick up your old mountain bike and off you go. I checked the results and this pic is of Alicha Reid from Edinburgh, I hope she doesn't mind me using it, she looks awesome and I'm glad she is having such a good time.

Was a tough race and for me she sums up why it is an amazing sport.

Sunday, 21 March 2010


So that's it,

after 196 days of winter training, racing has recommenced.

Rusty, tired, but faster. And though its hard to stay positive when you're knackered there is definite improvement over the same time last year and with another few months of super hard training to go...things are looking good :)

The race was the Scottish University champs in Edinburgh, all the guys showed up and it was great to hang out with friends again for the day. I swam fastest, coming out in 8mins25, then headed out onto the VERY windy bike course. 31 minutes later I was back into T3, now in 3rd place. A heavy bike took it out of my legs and I was no where near race sharp on the run, but it wasn't slow, not fast either though! Still, crossed the line in just over 59 minutes, once all is said and done an approx 4 minute improvement over this time last year.

All good.

Now its time for a recovery afternoon, before training starts again tomorrow morning. A quick massage then straight into hard work again running up to my Canada training camp in 7 days. Lots more running, biking and swimming before my next race on May 2nd down south.

Other goings on:

Spent the night in Edinburgh on Saturday night, was fun to hang out with my best mate Pete for a while. Watched the rugby, good to see Scotland win! And had fun driving the 130 miles back and forth to the race as well, employed the "drafting" technique tucking in behind faster cars...mainly to hide from any speed traps but also for fuel efficiency!

Will sleep tonight, but with a tough 3 weeks coming up...think I'll be tired for a little while longer.


Thursday, 18 March 2010

Tired out?

I know how those guys feel.


But working hard this week. Training camp to Canada in less than 10 days as well, can't wait to get across and eat/breathe/sleep training for 2 weeks, love it.

First race this weekend, most definitely for training purposes, but a race is a race. Will keep y'all posted :)

Friday, 12 March 2010

Random entries

Mainly as an excuse to not be writing my thesis for the next 10 minutes I thought I'd turn my attentions to my blog.

Over the past 18 months blogger has turned into an outlet, diary, journal for my day to day activities but most of the time I end up feeling like it is just a another cookie cutter example of an "athlete in training" column. Its hard to avoid, seeing as most athletes are doing the same things day in day out, half of us very similar sessions...and almost all have the same memorised responses for the same questions.

"yes I'm working hard"
"yes this season is going to be great"
"yes I love my sponsors"

So not ignoring the fact that I do love my sponsors very much I guess I would like to start including more thoughts and fun stuff into my writing, every once and a while, along with the usual training updates and race reports (once racing starts).

So I shall continue...

Back in the day (possibly my favourite phrase) when I was a swimmer, the group of guys I trained with on a day to day basis became some of my best friends. We were a great team, full of potential and dominated the swimming scene for a few years. We would head to nationals and pick up at least a medal in every event, some of the longer distance freestyle events...we'd take up the whole podium. It was a fun time, definitely made me appreciate being part of a team.

Well around 2006 the squad essentially disbanded, most of us moving away to university elsewhere or like me, just taking some time off. Most of the guys are still on indefinite leave but there are a few of us still sticking in, myself still training 4 mornings a week in the same pool and at the same time as I used to back then.

Though the squad split up a new one was created filled with younger swimmers, the average age dropping by about 4 years and for a good 3 seasons it wasn't the same. Though there was still talent there, there was no motivation and no team spirit. A lot of us thought our era was the last, and it wouldn't be the same again.

Last year when I moved back to Aberdeen, before the 2009 season started I jumped on the phone to the new head coach and asked if I could come in for a few sessions with the "new" top squad, even younger than the one created to replace mine. I trained with them a bit over the summer and by the time the season had finished and winter training started I was in with them 8 hours a week.

It quickly became apparent that there were some great swimmers in the squad, though a huge lack or moral was affecting everyone. The "fun" was minimal and as a consequence there was no inter-swimmer support or encouragement for each other during sets. Things started to change though and by the time November came around it looked like a different group of kids.

This weekend past was yet another successful medal haul by the squad, further north in Inverness at the District (regional) championships. Almost everyone improved times, which at this time of year is great, and a few records fell. One in particular. One of mine.

I set it almost 7 years ago in the same pool, off the back of a great 1500m the month before where I took over a minute off my PB, I was flying. I went into the race clear headed and ready to take it out fast, I did and ended up taking another 20 seconds off my time. 2 weeks later I would take another 27 seconds off my time, 2 weeks after that I'd set the fastest long course time for my age in the UK. It was the best 3 months I ever had in swimming.

Well for 7 years no one has touched it, I was very proud of that record, but I am still proud that it took someone 7 years to get it. Tim McGovern who I've been swimming alongside for the past 8 months took it by a massive 8 seconds to go 16.20, and he's only 14.

It was one of a group of great swims from the weekend but definitely the one worth a mention by me. In fact it now means I no longer hold any 1500m swimming records in Scotland, with another one haven fallen to an equally impressive swim in November by yet another of my young training partners Euan Inglis.

These kids are fast, but they always were. Now though they have the confidence to go out and do it, it's not a confidence they achieved individually but one they worked together to get. When I leave in June for the rest of my season abroad and then in August to Canada where I'll be staying for the forseeable future, I'll miss them for sure. It's been great to train with younger athletes again, they have the guts that quite often older athletes seem to have lost.


Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Why athletes get sick

So I'm sitting around at my desk on Monday afternoon, minding my own business and quietly getting on with my thesis. When from around the corner appears the ILLNESS TRAIN, final destination - MY FACE.

That's how quickly it hit me, I mean I'd had a weird throat/sinusy feeling since early Sunday morning but nothing major. Then in the matter of minutes I went from good to sick, like a punch in the nose.

Luckily I can report that by the time it had settled in on Monday night I was finished my days training, and by the time I woke up today (Wednesday) it had all but departed. Meaning I only had to take 1 sick day, only my 4th of the winter.

All serious athletes suffer from the same few problems. We all train hard, usually throughout the winter months, in the cold and wet. Almost all of us have to be around other normal people, usually all of which are sick. Because we train hard we are tired and our immune systems get fed up, so one day when we get cold enough and wet enough, and some normal person coughs in our face...we get sick.

Then however we just make it worse. Due to our crazy personalities we cannot live without training, so we convince ourselves that regardless of the mad coughing and nose running that we are indeed healthy and in perfectly good shape to train at full steam. As you can imagine though this just makes the problem worse, so at some point we must admit our weakness and take a session off...the horror.

Some of us however are worse than others, because as we almost all push ourselves enough to make the illness worse, some crazy soles then make the mistake of returning to training too soon when the virus/cold/flu/infection is still lingering. That harmless 30minute steady run in the cold is enough to bring that sneaky virus/cold/flu/infection flooding back...in turn making everything worse.

We sure are a weird bunch eh?

Illness avoided. Result.

Monday, 1 March 2010

"If someone suggests you lower your sights a little today, tell them they should raise theirs a little instead"

Today's title is taken from one of my friend's blogs before yesterdays Men's Hockey gold medal match. What a game.

Last week was my 21st birthday, so I'm officially a man...but I don't believe in that rubbish. Was still a significant birthday though, my best yet, my family and I had a great time...though my little sis (who is slumming it in South Africa) was definitely missed.

It was a welcomed rest from the stresses of University and pressures
of pre-season training, which have been in full swing since October. I NEVER take holidays, but 3 days off last week did me a world of good, if anything it made me realise once again that I will never be able to survive without training, ha.

Back to the Olympics.

We'd all be lying if we said we didn't look at an Olympian and think "I want to be one of them". Sometimes as an athlete its too easy to avoid questions, both in public and in private, refusing to admit you're intentions. But I'd love to go to the Olympics
and I have no problem in saying. The last two weeks in Vancouver proved the human spirit, grit, reliance and respect of a nation and of every nation who took part. It was truly an awesome spectacle and I'll remember what I saw forever. A country coming together, supporting its athletes and more than that the spirit of the games. It reminded me more than ever of my focus and that thing inside that somehow makes me believe, unequivocally, in myself.

Watching the hockey last night it was easy at times to think "they might just not be able to pull this off". It made me think about whether or not I could handle that
pressure. When I thought of those guys it was easy for me to see how they could win, but hard for me to truly believe they could.

Of course they could, and they did, just the way they deserved to. But then I started thinking about the future and what I wanted to do, it all seems pretty abstract and out there, thinking about things you "might" be able to achieve, if all goes to plan. The more I thought though the more I realised I believed in myself, regardless of what happens, where I go or what I choose to do. I believe I can do it and other people believe I can too. Things will change, some will come in on target, other things will mix it all up a bit, but I guess I believe I'll get through it regardless of the things along the way and come out of the other end with a smile on my face...

...definitely makes getting up in the morning a little easier.

Thanks Vancouver, you sure pulled it off.