The fine art of procrastination



The action of delaying or postponing something:

If procrastination was an art, I would be Picasso.  If procrastination was a sport, I would be 5 times World Champion.  If procrastination was a skill, I would be a Jedi Master. 

Unfortunately for me procrastination is none of these things.  It just tends to slow you down.  Some people are blessed with an ability to get on with things, make plans and stick to them.  They are the sort of annoying people who have clever little sayings like “a stitch in time saves nine” or “why put off till tomorrow what you can do today”.  They also come up with helpful suggestions.  Things like, “you might as well get on with it, it’s not going to get done otherwise”.

I have absolutely nothing against these people, in a way I actually admire them.  That being said their lives must be very boring.  Let me give you a demonstration below.

Task to be completed by one of these organised types.

  1. Come up with task
  2. Set time to do task
  3. Do task
  4. Move onto next task

Task to be completed by me (or one of my fellow procrastinators)

  1. Come up with task
  2. Move task into “planning phase” – this can last anywhere between 1 day to 2 or 3 years – depending on the size of the task
  3. Exit planning phase – celebrate with a trip to the pub or perhaps some Xbox
  4. Start second “planning phase” – very important to make sure the original plan will stand up
  5. Set time to do task
  6. Time to do task arrives.  Find something else to do – This could be anything really, as long as  it is not the task at hand.  Suggestions include reading a book, a nap, Xbox (you get the idea)
  7. Start to consider a different task, one that suddenly becomes much more important.
  8. Actually start original task (this is normally preceded by somebody else nagging you into it – in my case usually my lovely Wife)
  9. Realisation that the task is quite complicated, long winded, too hard, time consuming, might eat into valuable Xbox time
  10. Come up with excuse for not doing task – any excuse will do.  Some sort of injury / headache works well for me.
  11. Restart task (normally after more nagging)
  12. Finish task as quickly as possible. (when I say finish, a procrastinator will never fully finish anything.  All jobs are best left about 90% done in my opinion)
  13. Make a very big deal to everybody around you how well you have done to complete your task.

Now as you can see, a procrastinator has a lot more fun.  We will also start multiple tasks at once, meaning that we could be at any of the 13 stages above with any number of tasks at the same time.  The advantage of this is that we can always be avoiding doing something.  Sometimes I will avoid one task by actually doing another, killing two birds with one stone.  Of course a procrastinator would never actually manage to kill two birds with one stone, as we would most likely have moved onto another task before even picking the stone up.

“What the hell is the point of this blog post” I can hear you saying.  “What has it got to do with Ironman or training”.  Well the answer is absolutely nothing.  I should probably be getting on with something else!

In all honesty the point of this post is to make you, me and everybody else realise that when I actually do manage to get some training done it is against the odds.  I could easily be watching TV, washing the car, eating some cheese or a myriad of other nonsense activities rather than getting on with my training schedule.  

For those of you who are non-procrastinators, you will probably just be thinking to yourselves how lazy.  That I should just get on with it, get the training over with and get on with my day.  You are absolutely right.  For those of you who are procrastinators, you know exactly what I mean!



1 year to go till I become an Ironman

As I sit and type this there are 100’s of athletes riding round the Dorset countryside on the bike leg of Challenge Weymouth 2014 Iron Distance Race.  They will have all already completed the 2.4 mile swim and the pros will soon be finished on the 112 mile bike leg.  Then it is just a marathon to go and the race is finished.  

The decent amateurs will finish in under 10 hours.  Others will be very close to the 16.5 hour cut off time; however every single one of them will be an Ironman and next year so will I.

In all honesty it is exciting and terrifying in equal measure to think that at this time in 365 days time I will be in the middle of my first Ironman race.  Exciting because I am hoping to raise a decent chunk of money for a very good cause and terrifying because an Ironman is not to be taken lightly.

If I can get my nutrition and hydration spot on, suffer no major mechanical failures on the bike, manage to run uninjured and everything goes perfectly I still have to be fit enough to cover the full distance.  This means training, a lot.

It is my intention to target around 10 hours training per week for the next 52 weeks.  Of course there will be some weeks when I manage more than this and others where I fall below the target.  This is especially likely around February time when my second baby will be born.  I also have to continue to work full-time, commute for 3-4 hours per day, spend time with my family and have a bit of leisure time every once in a while.  To be honest, fitting it all in could be a challenge.  Then again it’s nothing compared with the challenge of actually completing the race and pales into insignificance when I think of the challenges that my friends Steve and Louise (and 1000’s of other parents) face having a daughter with Neuroblastoma.

So the training starts in earnest tomorrow, with a 6am swim session.  Can’t wait 🙂



How to get Triathlon totally wrong – The Chichester Olympic Distance

It’s 5.30am on Sunday 7th September and my alarm has just gone off.  Must be time for the Chichester Triathlon.

To say I was looking forward to this event was an understatement.  This was my last triathlon of the year.  A great opportunity to put into practice all the experience I had gained throughout my previous events.  Also, it is only logical that having trained fairly regularly for about 6 months I should be fitter and stronger.  

Having spent a few hours in the pub with Cat’s family on Saturday I wasn’t feeling amazingly fresh; however I knew this would pass as soon as I had a drink and some food, so I was straight downstairs for some Weetabix and a pint of water.  I was already packed up, so it was a simple process of loading my gear in the car and heading off.  I was meeting Curry and Andy at Andy’s house, as he lives conveniently close to the Chichester Watersports Centre where the race was based.

Meeting the guys at Andy’s we changed into our gear, had a quick cup of tea then headed down to the race.  I was still feeling confident and as always spending time with the boys was a great laugh.  We all made it into transition, racked our bikes and Curry and I headed down for our race brief by the waters edge.

The week before the triathlon I had swum the 1500m distance in the same lake in around 28 minutes, so I was confident on a good swim time.  My biking has been getting progressively stronger, so I was targeting a ride time of less than 1hr 30mins for the 40k.  The run was a bit of an unknown factor, as having recently been diagnosed with shin splints I had not run at all in the build up to the event.  Never the less I would cross that bridge when I got to it.  

Looking around the other competitors on the lakes edge there was the usual mix of people nervously joking with each other and people just looking nervous.  I also had the standard reminder that there is nowhere to hide in a wetsuit.  Lets say that skin tight lycra on a man of my proportions is not the most flattering!  Whilst listening to the race brief I was acutely aware that I was feeling quite thirsty.  I had had almost a litre of water and a cup of tea that morning, but clearly I needed more.  Dehydration has a major negative effect on athletic performance.  I was very aware of this fact and knew it was not a good sign I was so thirsty.  Never the less there was not a lot I could do about it now, as the brief was finished and we made our way into the water towards the start.

Curry and I exchanged a bit of banter with a couple of other competitors as we waited for the start.  We swam a bit to warm up; however fairly soon the klaxon sounded to start the race.  Starting my stroke and sighting regularly to make sure I was aiming in the right direction I did not feel comfortable.  Looking back I have no idea why, but I just couldn’t get into a rhythm.  I was “grabbing” at the water, rather than swimming smoothly.  My breathing wasn’t right, my stroke was short and stabby and I knew I was not swimming quickly.  I was constantly analysing what I was doing, tinkering with my stroke, altering swim speed, glide length and all sorts but I just didn’t settle down.  To add to this lack of smoothness, I was also all over the place in terms of direction.  Having no idea why I was swimming so badly I just knuckled down and got on with it.  Sadly, I was also aware of my thirst during the swim.  I was so aware that I even considered drinking some lake water (gladly I decided against it).  There is an adage that says as soon as you feel thirsty it is too late and you are already dehydrated.  Luckily I had water on my bike and the swim finish was not far off.

Climbing out of the lake (with the help of two marshalls) I checked my watch and it read 32 minutes.  This is not a quick 1500m swim for me and in all honesty I was disappointed.  It was a long jog into transition, so I whipped my wetsuit down to my waist, finished taking it off next to my bike, donned my race belt and helmet and I was off.  Out of transition, onto the bike, feet in the shoes and I was away.  A smooth and fairly quick transition.  Not bad.

Within the first 5k I drunk almost 3/4 of my water bottle.  I only had one water bottle with me, though usually I would take two.  I really really wished I had two.  Oh well, off up the hill I went and round the first lap of the bike course.  I was riding OK.  Not amazingly quick but was climbing well and knew what goes up must come down.  My downhill on the bike is normally fairly quick, so I knew I would make up time there.

Before the steep downhill that concluded the first lap of the bike course I finished my water.  Knowing full well that there would be no more water for me until the run (and that I had 20k to go on the bike still) I was worried that I would need more.  Little did I know that this would be the least of my worries.  Starting the second lap I seemed to go into a trance.  No idea what was up with me, but I lost concentration and was only snapped out of it when Curry overtook me.  I knew I was about 2 mins ahead of him as I saw him starting his bike leg after I had already been on mine for a couple of minutes.  Either he had ridden well to catch me, or I had severely dropped off the pace.  Looking down at my bike computer I could see I I was climbing at 8mph.  I had climbed this hill at 10mph on the first lap.  No doubt I was slowing down.

Whether it was dehydration, lack of concentration or just running out of energy I don’t know.  What I did know was that I needed to keep Curry in sight and to start remembering I was in a race not riding to the shops.  I kicked hard, kept him in my sights and made it to the top of the course.  We soon reached a short downhill and I pushed hard to get up to maximum speed.  Towards the bottom of the hill I felt a jolt on the rear wheel and heard the hiss of the tire deflating.  “Oh Sugar” I thought to myself (or perhaps something a bit stronger).

Having never practiced changing an inner tube I made a hash of getting the tyre off.  Once it was off I had the inner in quick, locked the tire back to the rim, pumped it up and I was off.  I probably lost about 10 mins, but this wasn’t a total disaster and I was still in the race.  Up a short rise and then into another downhill I had covered about 60 yards and my tire deflated again.  “Double Sugar” I muttered to myself!

Pulling over I tried to work out what was wrong but the inner tube would not stay inflated.  I only carry one spare inner.  It quickly occurred to me that without another spare my race was over.  Now normally I am a fairly laid back character, but like the Incredible Hulk I felt a rage building in me.  Perhaps it was a combination of swimming badly, riding badly and feeling tired from my exertion.  Whatever it was I went bonkers.  I am not proud of this looking back on it; however I threw everything I could get my hands on into the woods.  I took of my shoes and threw them.  I threw my race belt into a tree.  I threw my bike into the woods.  I threw my bike pump so far into the woods I never found it again.  I was a little disappointed to say the least.

Eventually calming down I collected all my stuff and started the 5 mile walk back to the finish.  After a mile or so a nice couple of ladies who were support crew for their mate (competing in the 1/2 Ironman distance) gave me a lift back to the start.  I was back in time to see Curry finish with a good performance and was pleased to see that Andy had done well in the Sprint distance too.

Suffice to say I was gutted.  This is my first DNF (Did Not Finish) of my triathlon career and it doesn’t feel good.  Needless to say it will be my last.  Better preparation and attention to bike maintenance should ensure that I never suffer technical failure (or such bad dehydration) again.

Sorry for such a negative post.  It does sum up the race fairly well though and I really don’t have much to say about it.  I am starting my Ironman training next week as it is only 52 weeks to go until Challenge Weymouth, so will write a much more positive blog post about that in the next few days.



A year older, a year wiser?????

Today is the 1st September. Yesterday Mike hosted our first annual Grazing Saddles Triathlon Team BBQ.  Neil was missing due to being a poof and getting a dodgy stomach from eating pizza, but the rest of us were there along with our WAG’s and kids.  It was great to see everybody sitting around together socialising, Mike cooked up a storm and the weather was hot hot hot.  

L-R Andy, Curry, me, Bushy and Mike (with the Noodle at the end)

Before the BBQ we went for a swim in the sea near Mike’s house and it was superb to see Curry scything through the water like a pro.  For somebody who (by his own admission) couldn’t really swim at all at the start of the year, he has done superbly well and is on target for a 35 minute 1500m swim at the Chichester Tri next weekend.  I would be happy with that myself and considering swimming is the only bit of a triathlon I am actually good at, it goes a long way to show how far Curry has come.

Whilst swimming along with the gang, and later whilst sitting around the table discussing our plans for the Half Ironman and then Full Ironman next year, it occurred to me just how far our little team has come in a year.

Mike has always been a superb athlete ever since I have know him, but this year he has come on hugely and is now talking about targeting a sub 10hr Ironman, which is truly amazing to simply be considering in the first place.  

As usual Bushy has continued to astound me with his athletic ability considering he does almost no training what so ever.  He has beaten me at both of the triathlons we have competed in together and I must have done treble the training he has.  Well done mate (you w*nker).

Both Neil and Andy have joined our team and proven that despite the fact they are very very old, they are two very fit fellas.  Both are monsters on the bike, Neil runs like the wind and I have a feeling that Andy will do rather well on Sunday in his first Tri.  Welcome additions to the gang, and proof that if you are fit you are fit, regardless.

And finally onto Curry, who is my co-founder of this little team.  His dedication to training and sticking to a training plan would be the envy of any triathlete.  He is also impervious to injury and seems to have an endless budget for buying the next bit of kit.  I have been hugely impressed with his performances in triathlons this year and cannot wait to spend the winter talking him into the Ironman 2015 (which he still hasn’t quite committed to yet).

So I guess that leaves me.  One year after embarking on this crazy plan to compete in an Ironman I am a bit fitter and have a lot more training gear (something which my wife Cat simply loves).  Having struggled massively with my running I can now see light at the end of the tunnel and am hoping to have these issues behind me by Xmas time.  I have learnt a hell of a lot about the wonderful world of Triathlon and am convinced that the enjoyment I get from training and competing will stay with me for life.  Most importantly I have realised just how hard I can push myself.  Having competed in horrible conditions, been out training in driving rain and freezing conditions, gotten cramp on about 100 occasions and had pretty much every run step I have taken cause me pain I am a better man at the other end of it.

One year from now I will be blogging just ahead of the Ironman (as we are going to do Challenge Weymouth in September 2015).  Just the thought of this makes me nervous already. Only 12 months to go. Between now and then I will Swim, Ride and Run 1000’s of miles and if I am honest I simply cannot wait.  This triathlon business certainly gets under your skin and I can say with all certainty that it is AMAZING.