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Back to basics

Chichester Open (South east championship) – sept 5th, 25knots, pissin rain, 10degs C. Followed by Christchurch open, a week later, 22knots and pissin rain, again!

These are no places for logos & egos.

There will come a time in every sporting career when you reach a certain standard. It’s the point where you’re content you’ve realised your potential and anything else is a bonus. That may be beating the local favorute at the club meet every Sunday, or it may be winning the world championships. In any case, it’s important to realise and remember the journey (and more importantly the hard work, steps and effort) that have brought you to this place.

For most of us that journey starts at a basic level. And all athletes, at some stage, will return to, or drop back a couple of levels to retune for what lies ahead.

So that’s why I raced local these passed couple weeks, it’s why I’ll be at Spinnaker next weekend, somewhere else the week after…I’m back doing ‘the circuit’ which I thought I’d left behind long ago.

This is not glamourous racing. And its a long way from the glitz and glam of the world cup circuit. Its hard, it’s dirty (in terms of tactics) and it’s mentally tough. Show a club racer a Team GB logo and it’s a scalp he wants to claim, and quiet rightly so (I would if I were in his position).

A Sailing race, as with all other sports, is won and lost long before you actually get to the startline. Whether it’s using local regattas as warm/tune-ups to rediscover form, or simply using a period away from your peers to reboost confidence, mixing it up at any level is a good thing.

So it’s back to basics. A short period of rough n tough racing to get back up to speed for the qualifiers (the selection event for the Olympic trials).

Here we’ll certainly see the reemergence of logos and egos, and a desire to burst out of the hierarchical and archaic peer ranking which is rife in the sailing world.

Once again the twitter family has rallied with support and shared word if perspective 🙂 thanks tweeps!!

This was said to me yesterday:

“I’ve spoken to XXX, and we all agree that you don’t have a hope in hell of making it to the Olympics. Your draining our resources and wasting ours and your time. So you should just give up now, stop pretending, stop living a lie that your good enough and get a job. Your dreams are just that, pipedreams”.

I’ve come to accept that there will be people who don’t believe in what I’m doing. There will be those who don’t share my ambition, accept my approach or believe in my goals.

There are those who are vocal and those who remain silent. Either way everyone is entitled to their opinion – I accept and appreciate that.

I’m not arrogant enough to believe that I can win an Olympic medal on my own. I’ve worked hard to put a team I’m place to help me achieve my goals. Those who share my focus, drive, passion and commitment. Those I trust, respect and believe in. And those who I can share the highs and lows of this amazing journey with. I’m saddened and disappointed at the source of this latest batch of negativity.

Criticise me if you want from the anonymity of a twitter account. Sit there and judge me from the comfort of your armchair whilst Im working my ass off day in day out chasing my dreams.

Don’t hate the player hate the game.

I’d rather struggle chasing a dream than perfect achieving nothing. Everyone has the right to believe in something better, everyone has the right to pursue a dream, and everyone should fight to protect their hopes and ambitions. Well this is me answering back.

I’ll take your criticism, it’s just more fuel for the fire.

You can say what you like…I’m not doing this for you.

Somewhere between nature’s force and human drive.

There are only two things that could stop me achieving my goals. Myself; and the weather.

Across oceans and over mountains, whether it’s gale force winds, 10ft swells, Alpine blizzards or storms, my job is to race, regardless of the elements. I’m fortunate that my campaign takes me to some of the most spectacular yet rugged places in the world.

My journey is about pushing myself to the limits. Then looking back as I pass them by. We will never win the battle against mother-nature; that much is certain. But if we prepare well enough, she might just let us put one in the win column now and again. We’ve all been there – when the elements cast a shadow of doubt in our minds. “It’s just too windy”, “I’ll just wait for this rain storm to pass”, “I’d ride, but its freezing outside!” But somewhere between nature’s force and human drive lies a solution.

For the past three years, I’ve relied on Helly Hansen to help me achieve my goals on a daily basis, both on and off the water.

At the heart of all of my gear, is Helly Hansen LIFA Stay Dry technology. The base layer keeps me cool, dry and comfortable when working at my limit, and is one of the most versatile and best performing base layers on the market. The brand new Hydropower collection gives me the freedom of movement I need to get around the boat quickly, whilst combining reliable waterproofing and fantastic breath-ability.

So no matter what weather arrives in Weymouth in 2012, I know there’s a clothing technology solution to help me and perform.

I’m glad I wear Helly Hansen clothing both on and off the water, and proud to have them support my Olympic Campaign.

Chris Russell – London 2012 Olympic Hopeful.

Hey all

I announced this morning that I was withdrawing from next weeks Sail 4 Gold (Olympic Test Regatta) and I was overwhelmed by the responses of concern and support from you all. Thanks so much – it really is appreciated.

This is by no means an easy decision and I’m gutted that I wont be taking part next week. However, it is the right decision at the moment.

I’m ready to race. I’ve prepared specifically for this regatta for the past 2-3 months, and its been a focal point of the campaign calendar for a couple of years. Physically, I’m in peak condition, I’m mentally prepared. So it’s even more frustrating that I have to make this decision. Next week will be tough for sure.

As I would if I were injured, I have to weight the short term gains versus long term implications of competing. Looking at the next 6 days of competition versus the next 3 months of training, it becomes apparent that, from a campaign sustainability perspective, competing this week is just not feasible.

This is a harsh reality of being a pro athlete I haven’t experienced to date. I’m fortunate to have great sponsors who support me (thanks so much guys! You know who you are!).

The longer term implications for Olympic qualification are minimal here. Yes, the decision will be frowned upon, but this regatta does not count towards qualification. That eases things somewhat, but it does not satisfy my personal drive and it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. Let’s face facts…this is the biggest regatta of the season.

As Michael Phelps said: “You can’t buy an Olympic Gold medal…but you sure do have to pay for it”.

I feel like I’m sacrificing a lot at the moment. Bureaucracy and the more admin related side of things are overwhelming the actual training and performance side of the campaign. But that doesn’t change who we are or what we stand for. I wont lose sight of why I’m here. In similar vein to my earlier post, some things I simply won’t and can’t sacrifice – I’m enough without a gold medal – but its without a shadow of a doubt that I will continue to fight on to achieve all of my goals.

There will be other regattas.

“The real glory is being knocked to your knees then coming back. That’s the essence of it. That’s real glory” V, Lombardi.

I thank you all again for your support – it means a lot.
Ciao for now
C

One final thought from Huez

I always want to be open and honest with my experiences, not because I hope to shock or inspire, but because its real….this is what really happens, and what I really feel. These emotions, experiences, failures and triumphs shape the journey that is my Olympic campaign. So here goes…

I’ve come under a bit of criticism for my decision to take on a couple of triathlons, and it may appear to an outsider that my training has become more triathlon focussed. I wont discuss the training benefits of this approach just yet (needless to say I will not do anything to jeopardise my chances of winning my Gold medal – im not stupid – there are positive gains here), but I want to share the other reason for taking on these challenges.

I’ve tried to explain, perhaps not so eloquently at times, my motivations for my Olympic campaign.

This isn’t about winning a gold medal, this isn’t about becoming #1, this isn’t even about making it to the Olympic games…its about realising potential, pushing the limits of what you believe you can achieve, and turning your dreams into reality. Of course, all of the above are goals and as with everything I do, I will give every ounce of my being to achieve them. And there in lies the consideration. Who and how do you determine the value of goals? When does one goal becomes more important than another, should you have to sacrifice or compromise? In my view absolutely not.

My goals extend beyond the sailing arena. I have other sporting goals, including triathlons, bike races and other exciting adventures I’ll share later.

My goals extend beyond sport. I have business and other career orientated goals. I have philanthropic goals.

I have personal goals.

I saw a husband, kiss his wife and then carry his small child across the finish line of the Triathlon on Wednesday. It was a stark reminder. Make no mistake. This is a lonely game. I try to surround myself with people who support me, love me and believe unequivocally in what im trying to do. I rely on those close to me for comfort, inspiration and to help me through the dark times. And I celebrate my achievements with those who have always been there. This is so much more than simply a sporting challenge. This is life, and this is very much real.

I had one thing on my mind whilst I raced the tri on Thursday…the same thought I have every single day. “Make every second count”.

But when I crossed the finish line, I felt bitter disappointment. Not at my achievement, not at the result or time, not at my sense of self-worth, but that those who I care about weren’t there to share it with me.

Never forget that our sporting goals do not define who we are…the steps we take along our journeys every single day shape the outcomes we desire and the people we become.

Triathlon d’alpe d’huez – race report

What a race! This was everything I expected it to be. As you’re probably aware, we’ve been in the alps for a training camp for the past week or so, and it just so happened to coincide with the Alp D’huez triathlon, so it seemed like a good idea to acehive another goal of mine whilst I was out here.

I’m by no means a triathlete and wont be for a long time yet – ive only completed one very short sprint triathlon before so this was definitely a challenge. Even the most seasoned triathletes talk about the Alp D’Huez tri being one of the most gruelling. Truth be told, I couldn’t wait for it!

Earlier this week I managed to achieve a massive goal of mine – climbing alp d’huez within the hr. With that in mind, id set my race plan to focus heavily on the bike leg. Simply get through the swim, and drill the run at the end…no matter how much pain I was in. The course was broken up as follows:

1.2km Swim in the EDF lake @ Verney

17km bike along the valley floor to Bourg D’Oisains

13km bike up Alp D’Huez

7.5km run around the glacier (Pic Blanc) at the top of Alp D’Huez

So being as ever ambitious, my target for the event was not just simply to finish, but to race it within 2hrs 30mins. I’ve swam 1200 in the pool in a respectable 23mins, so I anticipated being out of the water in 25mins. I was allowing 20mins to gently find my cadence on the first bike portion, then drill the climb in just over the hour if my legs held together. From there it was 5min/1km pace for the run, bringing me home in 2.5hrs.

The day started well…up early and a light breakfast before checking our running gear into T2 at the top of Alp d’Huez. The only slight downside…it was 10degsC and chucking it down with rain. But hey, I wasn’t too worried about that – my philosophy here is that if everyone else doesn’t wanna be out here in this, that simply gives me another advantage.

Course organisers recommend that you park the car at the top of the alp then cycle down to the start some 30kms away (this would have been a good idea in hindsight!), but we took the decision given the weather to drive. Stopped off in Bourg d’oisains for another quick breakfast before heading on to the lake @ Verney (or rather EDF power station cooling reserve) for about 12ish.

Checked the bikes into T1 – couldn’t actually believe how well organised and how strict marshals were on safety, ensuring numbers were affixed in the right places and that you had the right gear. Early planning came into play now as everything just simply fell into place. Time to zone out and ignore the crowds – pretty hard to though given the atmosphere and the giant stereo continuously playing Lady Gaga!

The atmosphere was just amazing – there was a real mixture between nations, amateurs and pros, and motivations for being there, but most importnantly, I didn’t feel too out of place.

I got into my wetsuit early and decided to acclimatise to the water before the briefing. We were told it was around 18-20 degs (thought even crossed my mind just to race in tri suit…ha!) but in reality it was more like 14. I don’t mind saying that the first time I bravely launched myself into the lake, I scared myself silly…or rather the hypothermic shock simply took my breath away. I’ve never felt anything quiet like that before – I could barely breath for the first 30 seconds and quickly got back out of the water. Don’t mind admitting that it totally threw me – I simply wasn’t expecting it.

There was never a consideration or doubt that I was going to do it…but suddenly the enjoyment was gone and I felt totally out of my depth (excuse the pun). The realtity that actually swimming this, never mind swimming the distance in 25mins came crashing home. Fortunately instinct kicked in and I queickly realised that the only thing to do was nut-up, shut-up and simply get on with it. So I dived back in – if I thought about it too much, fear would have taken a hold and I would have sat on the stoney bank and worried about it as opposed to getting on with it.

I quickly found a rhythm and knocked out a couple of 50mtr bursts which settled things. Then it was back on land for the briefing, and about a 10min wait before kick off. The local TV helicopter arrived just before our start and hovered just above us whilst we treaded water (I decided it was better to expend energy sitting in the water and trying to keep warm than waiting on land and experiencing the shock again – good decision). The only problem with this approach was that I found myself at the front of the pack with the elites – no problem mixing it with the big boys but I simply got battered off the line J Feet were grabbed, faces were punched, arms interlocked…is this really what triathlons about?? Awesome!

I swam out to the left and found a little room and a bit of rhythm (although im still convinced I swam about 500mtrs further than everyone else given my wavy lines). Amazed at the effect of both drafting behind someone and the warmth from their body heat as well – well worth buddying up if you can. I sat in and just focused on my stroke length and rotation. The first leg seemed like a long, long way, but I made the turn at the first mark and started the short sprint across the lake before heading back to sure.

Two things then happened. The first was I took 5secs to look at my watch. It felt like I’d been in the water for about 45mins…I was convinced that id screwed my race totally already, and my lack of OW experience and practice would cost me dearly. In reality it read 15mins…”WTF?!? That can’t be right? Ok, well then, we still got a chance here…time to motor!” The second was the effect of heading for home, or rather back to the shore…I couldn’t believe the sense of excitement and relief that id finally be out of the water – and with that came an increase in relaxation, better stroke length and rotation, my breathing finally steadied, and I actually began to pass people! More importantly I was hitting my race strategy pretty much perfectly.

I simply couldn’t get out the water and onto my bike quick enough!

I stumbled, well actually crawled (it really wasn’t pretty) up the bank and ran my ass off into transition where again, planning played its part. I was quickly onto the bike…now this was where my race really began.

It was raining at this point and people were taking it really easy amidst refuelling and negotiating the slight downhill at the side of the lake. Throwing caution to the wind I went for it and passed a couple of big groups before reaching the valley floor. I was slightly behind on my timing at this point (by about 10mins by my reckoning) so I balanced a steady pace along the flat, with jumping forward to each new group when the time was right. It worked well. I arrived at the base of Alp D’Huez at the hr mark bang on.

What happened next was one of the best (well top 5 anyway) feelings/experiences ive ever had in sport. EVERYTHING was “just right”. Legs were fresh, I knew exactly what I had to do to make it to the top in under the hr having done it a couple of days before, and more importantly there were lots of people in front of me to “hunt” down. For a moment I almost felt like a tour rider. By the time I’d reached La Garde (3km mark) I was already 2mins up on my previous pace. My powertap stopped working at this point but it didn’t really matter – I was enjoying myself so much that I found myself shouting encouragement to everyone else on the climb as I passed them…although im not sure how well this was received J the look of complete disgust, disbelief, anguish and hurt on the faces of those struggling up the climb was priceless. I’m not ashamed to say that I took full advantage of this and pushed on hard. I launched a big attack at the 5km mark to shake a couple guys off my back wheel…and having crossed the red-line for at least 10mins, I sat back down only to blew out my rear tyre….hmmmm…decision time. Wait for the support car or push on. No choice really, I jumped back out the saddle, took as much weight off the rear hub as possible and drilled the last 3km, reaching the top of the climb in 56mins and into transition within the hr exactly.

Phew. That was the good part. I always knew I had to simply “get through” the run, but this was harder and in a sadistic sort of way more enjoyable than I’d expected.

Cleats off, trainers, hat and shades on (although it was pissin rain and the skys turned black again at this point) and off I set up the side of the glacier. It was uphill for probably 5/7km and I suffered like a dog. Got passed my about 30 people, inc a couple of Team GB girls who I’d caught on the climb, and proceeded to chuck-up at the top of the hill run. When I say hill run it was more like a rocky goat track. I didn’t look at my watch until 2km to go…it read 2:31…I was gutted. I felt for sure id done enough to hit the 2.30 mark. Digging deep I tried to limit the losses and sprinted for home, pretty much collapsing over the line in 2:37:59.

And that was it. Done. Proud I’d managed the swim, ecstatic with my bike leg, pleased with the run, but a little disappointed at the time…but hey…the only person I’ve got to hold to account is myself…and I know that I was on the limit for the whole race…so I’ve gotta be pleased with that. But let’s face it, this isnt just about

Triathlon #2 done…it’ll be a while before I tri this again.

Hey guys

Just a quick update. Training camp is going great – huge leaps forward in certain areas and positive gains all round – sounds a but fluffy huh? Basically fitness has bounced back really well and preparation ahead of the Olympic Test regatta in mid august is right on track.

God I love threalps. For so many reasons – this trip evocates a number of emotions and reflections…but it only makes me want to spend more time here.

So…alp d’huez in under the hr yesterday. A ‘gentle’ climb up the galibier today to loosten up. And apparently I’ve entered the alp d’huez triathlon tmw!?!

1.2km swim in the EDF lake @ Verney
17km sprint along the valley floor
13km climb up alp d’huez
7.5km run loop via Pic Blanc at top

Should be fun!! I’ve set a target time so well see how we fair against that. There’s some serious triathlete (and all round athletes for that matter) here so it’s a really interesting perspective on how they prepare themselves for what is a pretty tough race!

Me…I’m racing for fun…ummmm….yeah right, who am I kidding 🙂

Seeya at the finish!!

Training Camp

Today i achieved a goal which i’ve been working towards for the past 2 years. I rode Alp D’Huez in under the hr. Check out the power file below:

Planning your Race Nutrition

So in response to requests, here’s my thoughts on how to plan your race nutrition. Again, im no nutritionist, and each and every one of you should develop a plan which works specifically for your needs. These are simply my experiences and accumulated knowledge – some of which im sure will help and some of which will be of no use at all 🙂

It’s a little long winded but bear with me…and as ever, do fire any specific question you have through to me – happy to help where I can.

So here goes:

As I mentioned previously, im sure we all know the basics, in terms of looking at % of CHO, Proteins and Fats in our diets. Tracking your resting metabolic rate, and training with a HR monitor is the very first step to actively looking at how many calories you’re burning throughout the course of your workouts. It’s a laborious process I know, but it will help you in the long run without doubt.

We’ve all been there during a hard training session or at the end of a race – when fuel reserves are low and things start to generally feel pretty lousy – we often cant figure out why at the time, but with reflection, there’s the harsh reality that most of us do fail to look after our bodys as best we could: increased perceived exertion, a shortened time to exhaustion, an increase in time for maximum recovery, and eventually a suppressed immune system are some of the most common results of improper fuelling. And the likelihood is, if you’re not fuelling properly, you’re not hydrating properly either, so expect to add in headaches or dizziness, a decrease in cardiac output (increase in HR) and again, an increase in perceived exertion.

Anyone been there? Or in that place where things start to go fuzzy, the side of the road starts to weive, the snow turns black, or worse, your eyes start to close?

Paying as much attention to your nutrition and hydration programs as you do to your actual training and racing preparation is key to ensuring you can get the best out of your body. So how do you actually go about this? Some basic steps first of all:

1. Each program is personal and will be highly bespoke – there is no “one size fits all” solution here, so be patient and find a system that works specifically for you. It will take trial and error to get it right, so be preprared to get it wrong sometimes.

2. Map your meals – consider what your eat, when you eat it and the quality of what your eating.

3. Your tastes will be individualised and dependant upon a number of external factors, such as heat, duration, intensity, altitude etc. So again, map and plan these factors into your program accordingly.

Pre Race:

Goal here is to top off your energy (glycogen) stores, so think about your last big meal 2-3hrs prior to race start. This should ideally be a high CHO snack (perhaps 100-200 calories), with limited protein and fats (they are slower to digest), and avoid heavy seasoning. If your race is early in the morning, your evening meal the night before will serve as this CHO top-up. Think pasta meal, bagels, perhaps cereal.

Similarly, make sure you’re hydrated. Use a urine indication chart regularly to give you a good idea on how hydrated you are (it’s not pleasant I know, but it’s the best indicator).

If you haven’t yet, I’d recommend that you calculate your average sweat rate during exercise – that’s to say, how much water you will lose, and subsequently need to replace during exercise. Simple test to do this: weigh yourself naked in gym, indoor treadmill for your workout, reweigh yourself naked immediately after (without having drank or eaten anything) – this will tell you how much sweat (or water) you have lost. You will need to be naked, as wet clothes inevitably weigh more! J Its best to do this indoors as there are less external factors, which can affect your sweat rate (mainly weather related).

Immeidately pre-race guzzle a sports drink, and if you fancy it, another small snack (perhaps 40mins before, during your warm-up) – this should make sure you are completely topped off come race time. Practice this thought to get the timing right, too soon and you wont feel the effects, too late and you’ll see it again.

During Race:

Always consider the duration and intensity of your event. The longer the duration, the shorter your sustainable time at high intensity will be. As a result, your energy sources will change. Shorter events (1-3hrs) will have a higher intensity with a greater reliance on CHO, and inevitably a higher sweat and subsequent hydration rate (therefore forcing you to hydrate more and replace your lost electrolytes (sodium)).

Longer events (3-12hrs) will be at a lower intensity and proteins/fats will be slightly more tolerable. Sweat rates are likely to be lower given the decreased intensity.

However, your gut will be your limit. That is to say your tolerance for CHO intake. Now for the science…This is typically 1gCHO/kg/hr – put as simply as possible an 80kg person can usually tolerate around 80g of CHO per hr, a 55kg person can tolerate around 55g of CHO per hr. Make sense?

Prob not! 🙂 So let’s put that in real speak – what can I eat! Foods rich in CHO which I like include:

Fig newtons (x4 = 44g), bagels (52g), banana (26g), energy gel (~27g), bar (~42g) etc. So that means if I weigh 80kgs, I can probably tolerate up to 8 fig newtons per hr (in terms of my CHO replacement). Whether or not I can actually stomach 8 fig newtons is a different matter, we’ll talk about gut tolerance a little later. Any good nutrition book or “The Daily Plate” Livestrong App for the iphone gives you a good list of all foods and their associated CHO/Protein/Fat quantities.

Look to replace those calories you’re burning – during race nutrition is that simple. Again, practice eating at high intensity during training as come race time, you might not actually be able to stomach a fig roll or banana.

During event hydration is of course critical – the goal here is to replace 100% of the fluids lost. Remember those sweat rates – to emphasise how important this is, a 1lb weight loss through sweat, is the equivalent of having to drink 16floz of water to replace that weight lost. That’s HUGE!

These sweat rates will vary dependant on weight, intensity of effort, ambient temperature etc. But we don’t just sweat water right? We lose electrolytes, which are vital for stimulating brain function (essentially the electrolytes help bridge the gap between the nerve fibres in your brain, which help you think straight). Average sweat concentration is around 800mg of Sodium (NA) per litre. And here comes the piece about choosing the right sports drink 🙂

Sports drinks have 3 roles: to encourage hydration (they taste good so you drink more!), to replace electrolytes (they contain salt and other minerals), and to help you refuel (they should typically have a CHO solution of around 6-8% for best absorption rate – anything less than 6%, you might as well add concentrate to water yourself, anything more than 8% and it will hang around your stomach for too long). Sports drinks are designed in this way so whatever you do, DO NOT water them down! Energy gels should taken in the same proportions as energy drinks – so always drink water when you take them. When it comes down to choosing the right one for you, make sure all 3 boxes are checked, then it comes down to taste – can I actually drink high quantities of this at high intensity?

Post Event:

Capture that “Glycogen window” – the 30-60min period post w/out when your metabolism is still working hard (insulin levels are high) and can quickly absorb CHO – this will help you recover quickly. Simple sugars tend to be absorbed the quickest – not permission to reach for the Mars Bar or Cans of Coke J But they do work as a short term spike. Make sure you sit down to a rich CHO and high protein meal as soon as practically possible. CHO to replace your depleted glycogen stores, and Protein to help muscle repair. I use recovery shakes religiously as an addition to this meal – they actively encourage further hydration and give me that “quick” CHO fix.

Your Post event hydration goal should be to replace 150% of fluids lost. So for every 1lb you’ve dropped in weight, you need to take on 24floz of fluid – that’s a lot! So hydrate sooner! This will be critical for core temp regulation and decreasing muscle soreness.

So science bit over…phew! But now for some golden rules: most of us travel a lot to train/race, which causes huge problems in planning nutrition so remember this:

– what is it you really need, and where can I get it? Do I need to take it with me?

– Where can I put it during the race? Tape stuff to your bike, stick it up your lycra…wherever! Just make sure you’re not bonking 10miles from home.

– If the race is sponsored by someone, who is it, do I like their procut and can I race with it? Where can I get more of my product if I need it?

– When am I going to need to eat?

I ALWAYS travel with food, whether it’s 20miles down the road, or it’s a long haul flight. I don’t do airplane food, so always make sure I take enough with me to fuel for the flight. Similarly, my kit bag always has a reserve of a few crucial items, just in case I get caught short (sports drink, gels, granola bars, Jelly Babies/Beans, water etc).

All these questions can be resolved by simple preparation. Stay on top of your nutrition before its too late. Plan it well in advance. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Its probably illegal, so avoid like the plague. Trust yourself, your plan and your preparation. And whatever you do, practice your nutrition plans during trainings, NOT on race day 🙂

Hope this has provoked some thought at least 🙂

Happy trails.

C

Nutrition – my two cents

Hey y’all (in true southern twang)

I’ve been asked so many times over the past 12 months about nutrition guidance,

First and foremost I’ll point out that im by no means a nutritionist – far from it. I eat my fair share of good and bad foods, but I do try to monitor my diet as closely as possible on a daily basis and we do work with a number of nutritionists on the team to ensure I’m eating and drinking the right things at the right time depending upon training and racing loads. I simply couldn’t train or perform as I do without the right stuff in mean – eat right to train right!

Let’s get one thing straight from the start…it’s a hugely crowded market. There are loads of opinions, loads of products, and loads of people telling you what’s hot and what’s not. But remember the basic premises of all of these are the same. One thing I will stress is take on these opinions, but make up your own mind about your nutrition selection. You’ve worked to hard to get your body in shape, don’t neglect your system by making poor choices. Testing products and finding the right ones for you is of critical importance – and whatever you do, don’t leave it to race day to test a new gel!

Some basic principles:

calculate your Resting Metabolic Rate (how many calories you need just to survive), and track how much energy you burn during exercise (using a HR monitor). This will get you eating the right amount of food.

Plan your meals to align with your training – sounds simple hey, but how many of you actually do it? Think about what your going to eat, pre during and post exercise. Always ask yourself, “will this get the best out of my system”.

Balance the attitude – food is food and absolutely should be enjoyed. But it’s also fuel.

Your nutrition program will be bespoke to your needs, so don’t copy anyone else’s. It will be based on things like taste, gut tolerance, your sweat rate, environmental factors such as altitude, heat or wind, availability of product during an event, or even the duration of an event or training session.

Product selection will and should come down to 2 things:

effect on performance

gut tolerance

Check out the ppt below for more detail if youre interested.

Now here goes the shameless plug for my sponsors:

GU – by far and away the best range of nutrition products on the market that I’ve used, and I’ve tested them all pretty much. From GU Brew CHO drink, Recovery shake, gels, Chops and Roctane, they all taste pretty great, and do a fab job at keeping me going. They have a solid balance of CHO and electrolytes. Strawberry watermelon recovery is awesome, and the Chocolate Outrage gel could be spread on toast! @Guenergylabs

Nuun – without these guys my brain would be dead J Specialises in electrolyte replacement, and for those who don’t know, electrolytes are what makes your brain work, so make sure your sports drink is well balanced with them. I actually now take on a CHO based sports drink, and use Nuun as a specific electrolyte replacement product. They come in tablet form, so they are easy to take with you on the road, and come in 6 cool flavours – favorite has to be Lemon Lime at the mo, closely followed by Kona Cola. Check ‘em out on twitter @minitryofnuun.

Some other great stuff I use to help supplement the above:

Powerbar (gels and Chocolate Recovery Shake)

HoneyStinger Gels

So I hope that helps – feel free to leave comments or fire me any specific questions, happy to help where I can.

Happy trails.

Chris

Homeward bound…wherever that may be!

So Asheville was fun. Some great miles on the bike, some good time with the coach and team, and great planning/progress made. And made some interesting discoveries about my cycling ability! Must pedal faster!!!!

Having driven close to 1000 miles again from Asheville to Houston, and flown the subsequent 9hrs from George Bush International to London Heathrow, I shouldn’t be surprised I’m a little tired! Worse still, I made a pretty frightening discovery…I have cankles!! I though these were only for seriously overweight people?!? OK, jokes aside, there are serious implications here in terms of managing your training and racing schedules.

I managed to knock out a quick 40recovery miles today on the road (my god it’s cold!), took me around 2hrs so it was a real recovery place, and it certainly didn’t feel good. I was reminded today how much any travel can really take it out of you – whilst you’re not actually doing anything, the stresses and strains of relocating your training life can take its toll – remember, athletes are creatures of comfort, so always make sure you build in not only suitable transport time, but plan it well, travel in comfort if you can, and always, always fuel well! Give yourself time to recover from it as well, not matter whether it’s a 2hr car journey to the local splash n dash, or a 10hr plane ride for a major competition.

As a result, I spent most of today watching the Tour de Lance, feet up on the sofa, trying to be domestic and clean clothes etc. If only to repack. We’ve been lucky to some extent that this year has turned out to include a lot less travel that initially planned – we normally spend the whole time from April through to September on the road, but it doesn’t make living out of a suitcase any easier. So eyes are now on a quick training camp in the Alps, and then we’re back to Weymouth for the Olympic Test regatta in August, and possibly the National Championships in Cornwall, followed by the Open World Championships in Scotland.

Feeling good about training at the moment, and life is pretty damn fab.

Ciao for now

Chris

Austin to Asheville (via Alabama)

Well i made it to Asheville!

Sheesh! That was a long trip. 1,200 miles and approx 24hrs sitting in the same car seat and my ass was cooked – PT have a cheek calling it a cruiser thats for sure! Having crossed loads of states (inc texas, arkansas, Louisiana, Tenessee, North Carolina), its a stark reminder how big this counrty is. Was really interesting to see that change from state to state in demographic, people, accents, weather, culture etc.

Fortunately i made it without too much drama. I hear that they still string people up in Alabama for the speed at which i passed the county sheriff. Serves him right for hogging the outside lane in an unmarked van…no wonder i flashed him. 🙂

Great to be here in Asheville and meet up again with the coach and the team at CTS (thanks for dragging me out for a 3hr ride straight out the car drive guys!). Gonna spend a couple of days here testing, and seeing how good a bike rider i am/can be. Some serious work ahead.

Happy 4th July wkend to all out here.

Au Revoir Mellow Johnnys, Bienvenue Maillot Jaune

Ironic, that within the hour of the first time I visit this iconic hotspot of Austin, Lance announces that this will be his last tour de France.

As the news broke (via twitter nonetheless), there was mixed reception throughout his Austin based bike shop, Mellow Johnny’s (if you don’t get why it’s called this, think “yellow jersey”). Some shock, some amazement, mostly stunned silence as no-one was quiet sure how to react. Until one brave employee spoke up: “Ah well…Since 99 it always has been and always will be the Tour de Lance”.

How true.

If you haven’t guessed or seen on twitter yet, I’ve spent the last few days in Austin, Texas. Home of not only Lance, but some other amazing athletes, including the likes of Andy Roddick, Michael and Amanda Lovato and Kevin Livingston. From a sporting perspective, there is obviously a huge cycling influence here, but also a vibrant triathlete community. Jack and Adams, again, is iconic in its own right. Both these influences combine to form a very active, fit and sporting orientated culture here. It feels immediately like home to me (minus the water).

I’ve spent some time training here (taking advantage of the free core and coached running classes @ Jack&Adams, and an awesome group ride and yoga class with the pro team @ Mellow Johnnys – I also checked out Pure Austin, which is one of the best gyms I’ve ever been to), but the main purpose of my trip was to meet and spend some time with the inspiring team @ the Lance Armstrong Foundation. I’ve previously posted how great this experience was, and the foundation, the LAF building, and is reflected in this great city,

It’s an amazing town. Perhaps a little too amazing though. It’s very very eclectic, and extremely “cosmopolitan”. Put frankly, as a lot of signs say, let’s keep Austin weird. It certinaly is that. You can be who you want to be here, but I imagine if you’re not strong enough, it would be easy to get lost. A very vibrant music scene, an active art community, and .

I wish I could have spent some more time here. I was blown away by what I’ve seen, and I could quiet easily find a home @ Mellow Johnny’s or Juan Pelota’s alone!

I shouldn’t have been surprised to see some of the great cycling history, the uber-professional setup of the Team Radioshack US concourse, and the 7 yellow jerseys. This is after all, Lance’s shop. It’s easy to forget how much he has achieved and changed the sport – the legend and myth sometimes overshadows the achievement.

So come the weekend, I know I’ll be glued to the “tour de lance”. Le huitieme pour le patron…bonne chance lance.

So for now, au revoir Mellow Johnnys (I’ll be back for sure!), and Bienvenu le Maillot Jaune. And yes, there is space on the wall for number 8!

How do you livestrong?

Today I was reminded what life is about.

Having spent some time with the great team @ the Lance Armstrong Foundation, I was blown away by their compassion, dedication, commitment, and sense of perspective. Everyone I met spoke with great passion about a very personal fight.

It’s fight which can last an infinite amount of time. A fight which breaks hearts, changes lives and forms characters. And a fight which some just can’t win, no matter how tall they stand. Make no mistake…this fight is personal.

This is the fight for life.

We must remember what were talking about here. Were talking about the worlds number 1 killer. Were talking about a complex, multi-faeceted disease, which will affect 1 in every 3 women, and 1 in every other man out there. Were talking about a disease which does not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, colour or creed. Were talking about Cancer.

The people I met today approach their lives with a great sense if purpose, a purpose which I have long shared. Their goal is simple: (as the great man says) to make ever second count.

Lance often speaks about the ‘obligation of the cured’ – an obligation which he’s based his life around. Whether your a survivor or not, I firmly believe that we each have an obligation to at least be the very best we can be, to enjoy and appreciate our lives, and to push the boundaries of what we can achieve.

So whatever your goal, sporting or not, remember how lucky you are. Remember what it is like to believe in something greater than yourself. Remember what it feels like to fight. Remember what it means to push yourself to your mental and physical limit, then to find the strength to just keep going. Remember what its like to live.

Make today count. Carpe Diem. Because we beleive in life. Your life.

Livestrong.

Racing in Texas

Racing’s done. I’m pretty pleased to have a couple days off the water – both the Gulf Coast and the North American Championships have been a success in some respects.

I didn’t win either…so in my eyes I failed to hit my target, but I keep reminding myself that the purpose of these regattas was simply to get more competition time ahead of the Olympic test regatta in Weymouth in august.

I read a blog post yesterday that detailed the experience of preparing for a competition, which struck a cord. It went something like this: you invest so much emotion in training and relish the experience of working towards a goal, that when the competition arrives, you’re so engrossed in executing your plan, that you fail to appreciate or learn from the experience of racing whether its good or bad. I can really relate to that, reflection and remembering the experience of competition is a huge part of personal and professional sporting development – if we don’t reflect, redux and respond, how can we improve of progress?

So to that end, Im pretty pleased, yet somewhat disappointed with my performances over the past week. I’ve learnt a heap, some if it was learnings I really didn’t want to make or accept, but like I said, if you don’t accept both the good and the bad of the experience, you’ll never improve. The hardest lessons in life to learn, are those which don’t come easy.

There were certainly glimpses off good form. It’s without a shadow of a doubt that I have the speed and the ability to mix it with the worlds best. I do however need to limit the mistakes. Consistency is key to doing well in sailing – and its often the guy who can make the fewest mistakes, and limit the uncontrollability of the uncontrollable who will come out ahead. Sounds easy hey? J

We’re certainly happy with where we are in the grand scheme of our plan. But there’s a heap of work to do and scores need to improve for sure.

Over the past month or so I’ve come under some heavy criticism, some perhaps deserved, a lot of it not, from all camps.

I’ve learnt to accept that a lot of people out there don’t want to support me, or find it difficult to accept that I should event have the audacity to think I could win an Olympic Gold medal. But it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with, and it doesn’t go away. Quiet frankly I’m sick and tired of answering questions about whether or not I have what it takes.

So to all the cynics, critics, and haters, to all the negativity, scepticism and resentment, and to all those who simply don’t, can’t, wont or refuse to believe, I’m sorry for you.

I’m sorry that you don’t share my ambition, have the desire and dedication it takes work hard and achieve a goal, and im sorry you don’t have the ability to dream big.

I will win a Gold medal at London 2012. But this has and will continue to be about the journey for me. Regardless of whether or not I achieve my goal, which I will by the way, I continue to push myself to the very limit every single damn day.

When was the last time you set out and achieved something?

Thank you for those out there who do support me – I hope you know it’s very much appreciated. It helps me enormously to know that there are guys out there routing for me to succeed. And to those who want me to fail…just keep telling me I wont make it…

Transcript – Press Conference with Chris Russell, 23rd June 2010, Texas Corinthian Yacht Club.

Questions from the Houston Chronicle to Chris Russell – Great Britain Sailor.

HC: Welcome to Texas

CR: Thank you, it’s lovely to be here

HC: How’s your trip been so far and how are you enjoying the Texan hospitality?

CR: Its been great, I’ve been here just over a week now and I’m just about getting used to the heat. Texas seems fab – lovely place and lovely people. Everyone’s been really friendly so far.

HC: We see from your website that you’re going for a Gold medal at the 2012 Olympics – is that right? How are your preparations going?

CR: That’s right. That’s been the goal for some time now. Preparations are going well, we’ve had a bit of an indifferent second part of the first half of the season, but things are slowly coming back to where they should be. There’s still a long way to go to qualification, 765 days to be precise, but im confident well be where we need to be when the time comes.

HC: If that’s the case you should be looking for a pretty high finish this week right? What are your expectations for this regatta?

CR: I’m hoping for a strong and consistent regatta. My main goal here is to get more race practice. I always sail my own race, and if that leads to some good finishes and a win, then great.

HC: What do you think of the level of competition here?

CR: It’s actually right in line with my expectations. There’s some good international standard sailors here in the full-rigs. The radials are always highly competitive at any level. I know a couple of the guys from the US and Canadian Olympic teams and one of the guys from the Dominican Republic went to Beijing, so there’s a good level of experience amidst the fleet.

HC: You raced in the Gulf Coast Championships last weekend? How did you get on?

CR: It was ok. I didn’t get the result I hoped for but still had some nice races and plenty of positives to take out ahead of this week.

HC: How does Galveston Bay rate in comparison to some of the places you’ve sailed?

CR: It’s certainly a lovely stretch of water. It’s pretty shallow out there which makes for a tricky wind-borne chop, and because we’re practically land-locked, the wind is really quiet shifty out there. The prevailing Southerlies/south easterlies are difficult to negotiate over a short course, but on the whole it’s lovely. Warm water, sunshine, clear skys, you couldn’t really ask for much more.

HC: How much preparation have you put in specifically for this regatta?

CR: Some but not lots. As I mentioned the purpose of this regatta is to simply get me racing again in big fleets. We missed the European Championships earlier this month for a number of reasons so I was keen to get as much race time in as possible ahead of August.

HC: Care to elaborate on those reasons?

CR: No, not really.

HC: Come on, you gotta do better than that.

CR: Really? A number of sailing and a number of personal reasons.

HC: And we can get you to reveal any more here then?

CR: Afraid not. I think that’s why they call it a personal life, right? Next question.

HC: Have you been to the USA before?

CR: We were over for the Rolex Miami OCR in January. My coach is also based here so I’ve visited him a couple of times in North Carolina.

HC: You’ve got a US coach?

CR: Yes. I work with Carmichael Training Systems, they’ve got a great setup and a fantastic team there to help me get to where I need to be.

HC: Have you explored the area much and are you going to stay on to train here after the regatta?

CR: unfortunately not – I’m headed to Austin for a while, and then onto North Carolina for some training time. From there we’re back to Europe for some more training camps and then the Olympic Test event in Weymouth in August.

HC: Is that the Sail for Gold regatta?

CR: Yup, that’s right. Part of the World Cup series but this year it has increased importance in that it will follow the full Olympic format.

HC: So, you’ve spoken about your expectations here and your hopes to qualify for the Olympics, you’ve got Paul Goodison and probably Nick Thompson in your way right? And probably a few other guys competing for the number one spot too, right?

CR: More than likely.

HC: Do you really think you can beat them? Paul’s the World and Olympic Champion, and Nick won the World Cup series last year right?

CR: I wouldn’t be here, and I wouldn’t be working this hard if I didn’t believe I could. I’m not here to blow smoke up Paul or Nick’s ass, they’re both good sailors with proven track records at Olympic level. I can only focus on my own campaign, my own goals, my own performances and create my own path. The program that we’ve worked so hard to put in place to date stretches to 2012 and beyond. If we hit the targets, who says I wont be there.

HC: I hope you don’t mind me asking but for a sailor of your level, you’ve got a pretty tired looking boat – what’s that all about?

CR: (laughs) It’s a charter – I’ve essentially borrowed someone else’s boat. Its not in great condition but it’s race-able and shouldn’t make a whole heap of difference I hope to the outcome of the regatta.

HC: And it’s been fully branded by your sponsors?

CR: Of course. You’ve always gotta represent.

HC: Indeed. Thanks so much for your time and good luck this week.

CR: Pleasure.

Transcript Ends.

For more details on Chris and his Olympic campaign, you can visit his website, www.chrisrussell2012.wordpress.com or follow him on twitter @chrismrussell.

The Land of the free…

Well…once I’ve cleared customs and immigration that is! So we’re back in the US again…Texas this time and the hotter climes of Galveston Bay. We’ve come to Kemah, for the Gulf Coast Champsionships and the North American Champs a couple of days later. Having missed the Europeans in Tallin, it was important that we found some good standard regattas to keep me racing ahead of the Olympic test event in Weymouth in August.

Texas, is hot. Friggin hot. Its close to 40degsC every day with about 80% humidity which makes racing pretty difficult. There’s very little relief on the water and the shifty, light airs makes for some difficult conditions. Thunderstorms and lightening are pretty frightening too!

I’m pleased to be back racing – it’s been a good 3-4 months since my last high level regatta and we’ve gotten off to a pretty positive start. I didn’t win the Gulf Coasts which I was hoping to and should’ve done, but hey, there were some good scores to take heart and confidence from. We focus now on the NA’s, starting on Thursday. Again, im looking for a high finish here.

From there I’m heading to Austin, to spend some time with the great team @ Livestrong (Lance Armstrong Foundation) – for those of you who follow regularly, you’ll know that we’re planning a UK Livestrong event in the near future, so this trip is part of that planning process.

Then North Carolina calls – I’m heading to spend some more time with my coach and the team @ CTS and no doubt will see how good a cyclist I really am! Should be interesting J

The road to 2012 is far from over. Rest assured, there’s 765 days to go and I intend to make every single one count, as I have done to date. With that in mind I’d like to take this opportunity to thank those of you who follow me on a regular basis, email me, ask questions, and generally all round support me and the team in what we’re trying to do. I’m constantly reminded by you all, whether you’re the elite athlete, the weekend tri-athlete, or the casual runner, what it means to continually challenge, push and test yourself.

I’ll never allow myself to forget that this is about the journey – it’s about setting a standard higher than I ever thought possible, working my ass off for something I truly want, believing in myself, and achieving more. Just as you all do. This is all about the journey. And for those of you who haven’t figured it out yet…this journey is life.

I’ve checked my pride at the door a long time ago. Honour, integrity, inspiration, determination, commitment, focus, dedication, hard work – these adjectives have been at the heart of everything ive done for some time, but have been given new meaning.

But as Kevin Costner so aptly put it: “Hope don’t float. You’ve gotta learn to swim against the current, not with it”.

I’m here fighting for something much bigger and greater than an Olympic Gold medal. Let’s hope this truly is the home of the brave.

GU in the UK!

For those of you who are interested, GU Energy is now available in the UK thanks to the great team @ the Tri Consultancy. I’ve long used GU and have found it to be one of the best range of sports hydration and nutrition products on the market. From this week onwards you should be able to buy GU from the following stores here in the UK:

The Tri Centre
Foot Steps
Cycleworks
I-Triathlete
Tristore
Multi-Sports Store
Harris Active Sports
Endurance Nutrition
Pioneers
Apex
Sigma
PureTri
TriCentral
Royles
RacingThePlanet
Ribble

When it all feels like too much…

I’m fortunate that this feeling doesn’t come around for me too often, but i was reminded today whilst on the physio table that what we all do as athletes is hard. It takes unwavering dedication, passion and a lifelong commitment, all in the name of something precious few understand. Your athletic career is highly personal, and the emotional investment attached is enormous. Too often it’s easy to overlook and not appreciate the good days, the days when training goes well, life feels good and you’re enjoying yourself. This makes the bad days even harder to manage. And let’s face it, everyone! has days when it all feels too much..

When those days come along, you’ve gotta dig deep. I remember how lucky i am to do what i do, to have a job that i love, to have my health and to have fantastic teammate, friends and family. I remember how much i enjoy my sport, the thrills and spills of training, and pushing myself to my limits. I remember my achievements, the race victories, the personal conquests. I remember the hardship, the time, the effort and the pain i’ve invested. And i remember where i started, and where i want to get to.

Things like the video below add a real sense of perspective to life. It reminds me that quitting is simply not an option. That i can go that extra mile. And that anything is possible.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AktxerP7Os8&feature=channel

Whatever your goals, regardless of your aims, ability or physical condition, we will all suffer from a day when it all feels too much. But remember; “The real glory is being knocked to your knees, and then bouncing back. That’s the essence of it. That’s real glory” Vince Lombardi. How your respond to that day will define who you are. I think that’s something to be proud of.

If at first you don’t succeed, Tri Tri and Tri again.

So that was interesting…yesterday I ran my first tri. And im gonna say I sucked at it. Perhaps my expectations were too high. Having trained for each leg individually, I’d set goal for the 400 swim, 18km bike and 4.5km run which would see me finish in just under the hour. Individually I’d hit those targets spot on. And I was more than confident that come race day I could put it all together to pull out a good result.
As it turns out I got my ass handed too me. Once I hit the pool, adrenaline soared and I went out way too hard. Thinking too much about racing and not enough about my technique I wasted so much energy and time on trying to be first out the water – haven’t felt like that for many many years! As a result, my swim time was slow and it ruined my bike leg – it took me at least 8kms to get my cadence into any form of rhythm and remove the choppiness from my pedal strokes. As it turns out, my run wasn’t half bad (even if I did get sodding lost at the top of the course!! Again more time wasted).

Crossing the line first (I led home my wave) was a nice feeling but it was a painful waiting game to see who was coming home strong in wave 2. As it turns out, quiet a few people.

So congrats to the victors and all those who took part. As ever, it takes effort to get outta bed at 5am and jump in the pool shortly after to endure an hour of all out effort. And im amazed that everyone did it with a smile on their face. A great day and a great experience.

And let’s face it, I didn’t get it right his time out, but I’ll certainly tri again!

Clarity in chaos

Chaos theory dicates that for every action there is a consequencial reaction (that is to say that if a butterfly flaps its wings in panama, there’ll be a tidal wave in Thailand). I used to believe In my uneducated ignorance that Chomsky was wrong. The theory of chaos is dependant upon a belief in fate and an acceptance that everything in the world is linked by some mystical force. I couldn’t accept that I was not in control of everything about my own destiny. Yin and Yang, equal states, universal equilibrium…I say your life is what you make of it.

To some extent I still feel like that. Within my sporting career there is nothing that I want left to chance. The more things we control, the better chance we have of winning – simple. That said, there has to be an acceptance that some things are simply out of your control; winds, tides, other peoples actions.

And it’s these uncontrollable elements which leads me to question my quick judgement of Chomsky.

I’m currently in Dubai – recuperating from a bug which I picked up a while back. Let me digress for a moment – bear with me :)…

Happiness comes in the strangest forms:

Whether it’s knocking out a great 3hrs on the bike, winning your first race if te season, or lifting 10kgs more than u ever have before; realizing that you love your job and wouldn’t change it for the world; or finding someone who you care for more than you ever thought possible.

I’m sitting here, atop a 20 story luxury hotel overlooking Jumerah beach in Dubai, by a pool with a free bar and food, surrounding by beautiful women….(it actually feels like a scene out of entourage!). Am I happy? No. Not in the slightest.

This trip serves a purpose and that purpose is to rest, overcome illness and recuperate as quickly as possible.

Bronzed sculpted bodies don’t interest me…

Call me a saddist but I’m thinking about pain: wishing, longing, hoping I can be half way up an alp soon, feeling the air burning my lungs and that searing sharpness in my legs again. I’m longing to be back out on the water…to be at the front, working my ass off to stay there and feeling that sensation of complete control when you’re on top of the whole fleet. I’m thinking of the gym…not the nicest of environments but it represents a step each day I have to take to get me closer to where I want to be.

So perhaps Chomsky does have a point. Without a strange illness I wouldn’t have had a chance to reflect, I wouldn’t have been reminded of how much I love what I do, I wouldn’t have been able to regain the focus and clarity I need. And I wouldn’t have been reminded of what this journey truly represents.

That said, if it’s all the same Chomsky…there’s some things I’m not going to let fate decide 🙂

And sorry Dubai…love ya…but can’t stay long…there’s a Gold medal waiting with my name on it.

Has Sport Lost Its Heros?

I read a discussion today, weighing the arguments for and against the fact that sport has lost its “heros” generation, and is now a by product of modern science. That is to say, the age when athletes competed in their spare time, and achieved what was seen then as super-human feats (steaming from ancient Greece and the Olympic ethos im sure) is now over, and that that degree of raw heroism and to some extent “human achievement” is lost. The example of Roger Bannister breaking the 4min mile was used to highlight the case. By contrast the age of science has now taken over. We live in a time where athletes dedicate their lives to the pursuit of excellence, where nutrition is scrutinised, training techniques perfected and preparation is immaculate to facility perfect performance.

Both are interesting and valid arguments. The part that interested me the most was a statement from Harvard Evolutionary theorist Andrew Berry, who believes that men (and I mean mankind) in fact will continue to achieve until the limit of our evolution is reached. He gives the example of race horses, where selective and genetic breeding has been rife for years and the performance leaps which were seen at in the early 1900’s can no longer be seen – that is to say, that despite genetic “perfection” and the best possible training techniques, horses simple cant run any faster.Now that’s a valid point…but it disregards a couple of vital facts.

1. It’s horses…and horses are not people! As far as im aware, despite being highly intelligent animals, horses might not be able to master the emotional capabilities humans can (sorry black beauty!)

2. It does not account for the likes of Lance Armstrong, Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt…who by all accounts are perfectly suited for their sports. You could argue that hard work and dedication play a much more important role, but it cant be denied that each are perfectly and uniquely gifted, whether it’s phelps’ body shape, Armstrong’s VO2 capacity and super high LT or Bolts long legs. To that end, why does our physiological evolution need to stop? I’m not suggesting that we bread a generation of mini-Lance’s by no means…but surely our capabilities as human beings are endless?

3. If science is in fact at the heart of our sporting world now, why does out capacity to achieve have to stop? If people once through the world was flat, and that someone would drop-dead if they ran the mile in under 4mins…whose to say that we wont see an 8 second 100mtrs? Look at the historic impact Fosbury achieved by simply jumping a different way!

4. Most importantly, it does not account for the very first theory mentioned above…our internal “heroic” ability to push ourselves to the very limits and beyond. How many achievements have been made by our desire to push ourselves that little bit harder, run that bit faster, or pedal a little longer? Would Lance have won 7 Tours if it hadn’t been for cancer?

My opinion here is pretty simple. Today’s athlete has to have both. Internal strength and fortitude, with desire to embrace modern science to realise their potential.

To that end, we each have an ancient Olympian inside us. It’s up to you to release it.

Hi everyone

If you’ve been following my journey to 2012 so far…you’ll know exactly what we’re about. But for those new to my campaign, my name is Chris Russell and I am part of Team GB’s Olympic Development Squad as one of the top ranked sailors in the UK (Laser Class). For the past 3 years or so, my sights have been firmly set on Gold @ 2012. Needless to say I’m training like crazy at the moment, both on and off the water.

We’ve worked tirelessly to put a great team in place to help support our journey over the next 3-4 year period. From dieticians, fluid dynamists, and aerodynamic experts, to physiologists, we’ve created a fantastic support network to help me achieve my goals. At the heart of this team is Carmichael Training Systems – the team behind Lance Armstrong.

We’re urgently looking for a Sponsors at all levels who can not only become an integral part of the team, but who can also realise their Olympic ambitions and potential.

There are a huge number opportunities to get involved at local, national or international level, and benefits include comprehensive branding, event and brand activation activities, content generation and PR and internal motivation tactics . We only ever develop a bespoke approach to sponsorship with our partners, which makes us unique. And with hugely competitive rates at scalable levels to suit your budgets, it’s a valuable opportunity start your 2012 engagements ahead of your competitors.

If you’d like to get in touch, please feel free to email me @ chrisrussell2012@googlemail.com or call me on 07851 619749

Many thanks and looking forward to speaking with you soon.

Chris

Sense of achievement

A friend of mine completed her first marathon today in Paris (well done Tanya, n0t only an awesome run but a great time too!) and in doing so, achieved something which she set out to do not so long ago. Completing the marathon is a big deal…and it made me think…what have I achieved recently?

Well in a profession where every single training session of every day counts, it’s easy to lose sight of the progress you’ve made when you’re driven by hitting the next short term goal. Truth be told we’ve achieved a helluva lot! If I don’t hit a goal…it matters, as the next one is simply further away. There’s no skipping a stage here or there…failure to do what we’ve set out to do will simply mean we don’t hit our final target…which is unacceptable. But with that kind of mindset, its important to stop and take stock on the smaller things which are accomplished along the way. For it’s these small achievements which build the foundation for your longer term ambition.

It’s only in times of reflection that you truly appreciate how far you’ve come…and how far you still have to travel.

Outta my comfort zone

Ironic huh…a sailor who doesn’t swim good! But let’s face it, if I’m in the water then I’m doing something fundamentally wrong! The only time I ever really need to swim is if it’s blowing 30knots and i’ve been thrown 10ft through the air (having run my ass down the side of the gunnel) and deathrolled. Even then, I’m fully clothed, with a bouyancy aid, and it’s only ever a few strokes back to the hull.

So jumping in the pool with Ironman athletes and Hampshires Triathlon elite, can I really expect to keep up?!? In terms of fitness, absolutely…in terms of technique, I’ve perfected drowning! But I’ve been fortunate to have been included within this group over the past few months (thanks guys!). Not only is it a valuable and welcome addition to my program, but it’s great fun. Thanks Mandy for your expert guidance and enduring patience!!!! Lets face it…I’ve been likened to a cat in a bag struggling to get free! Nice!

So when I was offered the chance at jumping back in the pool today I literally dived in head first. And I’m pleased today I held my own respectably! Hard work does pay off people!!

But today was about Sport Relief – giving something back. If you don’t know what sport relief is about then check it out here:

http://www.sportrelief.com/

I swam a mile in 37mins 46secs. What have you done?

Who knows…I’ve heard winter training in Kona is popular!

Nut-up

The first of the World and European championship qualifying events (3
inevitably cold and wet weekends in march/April) starts tomorrow, in
stokes bay, just west of Southampton.

Preparation for this regatta has been far from ideal, but that’s not
something to be concerned about. With the best will in the world, no
athlete will ever go through a sporting career without turning up to
at least one event at 75%. It’s unrealistic to think so, but of
course, we do our utmost to always be ready.

Whether it’s lifes bumps, or a poor training block which throws you
out if sync, you’ll still line up against the rest and setout to win.

Nows the time to dig into that bank of physical and emotional
investment we’ve built up over that past 2 years.

Perspective is a powerful thing.

It’s home water for me and the forecast looks ideal so were hoping for
some good scrores.

Regardless of what lifes thrown at us these past few weeks, I will
still perform. There’s a place at the world championships at stake.

Let’s face it…nows the time to nut-up or shut-up.

The harsh truth of a journey

I set out with a goal…to win an Olympic Gold Medal. That dream is still very much alive and I will be at London 2012.

For those who follow closely however, you’ll know that this is much more than training for the Olympic games. My goals stretch beyond a shinny bit of metal to put around my neck. If I’m not enough without a gold medal, I certainly won’t be enough with one.

It’s about the journey. It’s about life. It’s about setting a goal and realising my potential. Ultimately, it’s about Living Strong (www.livestrong.org).

Along every journey, you can expect peaks and troughs. Much like any big wave set, this past weeks trough was 10ft high and had a breaking crest which dumped all manner of crap all around us.

But its moments like this which make us realise how lucky we truly are.

“The real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back. That’s the essence of it. That’s real glory”. We are defined in life, not by what we say or think, but by what we do. Standing tall, taking whatever comes our way and saying, “I will not lie down and die…I’m going to fight”. I’m lucky. I’m lucky to be in good health, to have a job that I love, to have family and friends that love me, to be loved, and to be chasing my dream.

It’s moments like this which make us realise…ANYTHING is possible.

Inspiration comes in many forms. This week, Mani is my inspiration. Get well soon x

Livestrong.

Frustrated & hungry

Coping with illness, I guess, is much like coping with injury. You’ve just gotta ride it out and make the best of a bad situation. Easier said than done…huh?

For most athletes, injury is part of the course, and somewhat expected. Once ill or injured, you simply focus on a speedy recovery and doing every thing in your power to speed that process along in the right way. That said, it doesn’t make acceptance any easier. I never get ill…I mean NEVER. And I guess ive been fortunate to go this long without having a sustained period out of training. So when something comes along which throws me off my usual cycle, it’s a bit of a shock to the system.

I’ve been out for only 5 days. Whatever bug decided to take up residency in my stomach was fortunately flushed out pretty quick. But I’m sure for the people around me, they couldn’t wait for that to happen sooner rather than later! I was bouncing up the walls…frustration set in, and I got angry. Angry at myself for getting ill, angry that I couldn’t train, and angry that time was slipping by. Try to understand, that given that I’ve got practically every hour of every day of my athletic career meticulously planned and mapped out in front of me, I simply cant afford to lose time. It’s time my rivals are training, its time I’m not hitting my goals, and its time I cant make up. So I channelled my frustrations and anger on kicking that bugs ass.

Needless to say I won the fight pretty easy in the end, but now I’m hungry and v v pleased to get back into the routine and satisfaction of hard training.

In reflection, the time out is only a positive thing. Whilst technically its not a rest period (my body’s still working hard to fight infection and not actively recovering from training at all), it is somewhat of a mental break from the level of focus required to perform day in day out. It was a valuable opportunity to reflect on Miami, consolidate some of our learning’s to date, and look hard at our goals for the next few months.

With that in mind, we’re back on it today. Hungry, focussed, and ready to bring it as hard as ever.

World be warned…I’ve got the taste.

Miami OCR – Racing Done

Well that was interesting….

Let’s face it, that was not the start to the 2010 season I’d hoped for. To say im disappointed would be an understatement, but that’s no deterent for what lies ahead. As with everything, we come back stronger.

On a positive note, all of the progress and hard work we’ve put in over the past 3 months was clear to see. And this regatta certainly gave us a good platform from which to identify some great learnings to put into practice over the next training period. I’m sailing well – there’s no doubt about that – but need to start converting results.

With that in mind, we’re leaving Miami on Tuesday to head back to the UK, and what will undoubtedly be a very cold and windy Weymouth, and back into our rigours training program.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here in South Florida. Just being around the boat-park again was exciting and let’s remember…this is early in the season. There’s so much more to come…

Watch this space…

Cultural learnings of America for make benefit glorious nation of Hampshire

I’ve been getting lots of questions about what I’ve been up to hear in Miami, what it’s really like, would I come back here etc. So here’s a few of my thoughts…

Will Smith was wrong. Miami as a second home…I’m not too sure about that. Miami is definitely a party town, with a rich cultural diversity brought out to an eclectic mix of locals, islanders and tourists. Split into a number of clearly defined areas, from North and South Beach, to the Keys, Coral Gables and Coconut Grove, to name but a few, it’s built on a grid system so it’s pretty hard to get lost. From what I’ve seen so far, there’s a huge divide between the “haves” and the “have nots” – its pretty shocking in some areas.

But let’s face it, people come to Miami for the weather, the beaches and the scenery. All of which are pretty fab. To be fair to the Fresh Prince, he’s got Philliy to compare it too. I’ve never been, but anywhere that can make Bruce Springstein sound that morose can’t be good J Sorry Boss!

So, to give a more balanced view, and borrowing from the socio-cultural benchmark that is Borat, I’ve explored some “cultural learnings” which would be welcome additions and absences from my UK life:

Some things I’d bring home:

  • Drive-thru Starbucks & ATMs – that’s just good sense people!
  • South Florida climate – ok, so anything is better than the western temperate margin…it’s early January and it’s already 30degsC!
  • Whole Foods – think Waitrose, but 10 x better. Why we don’t have stores of this quality in the UK I’ll never know.
  • Mack Cycles, Dairy Queen, Panera Bread & Dicks Sporting Goods.
  • The wildlife here is just amazing – especially the gators and dolphins (who like Pro-Bars by the way!).
  • Price of petrol – filling up your tank for under £20 is never bad!
  • ESPN’s Sportscentre – nothing like it.
  • Readily available FRS, GU and Endurox.
  • Biscayne Bay’s sailing conditions – just a beautiful part of the world to be; warm, shallow waters, steady breezes and nice swells.

Sorry Miami, you’re keeping these:

  • Drive-thru Pharmacies and Plastic Surgery Centres – that’s just wrong.
  • South Beach – Blackpool on crack…if you don’t look good, don’t go J
  • Big birds of prey – NO THANK YOU!
  • Health-Insurance System – OK, not specific to Miami, but there’s serious work to be done here. Follow @barackobama on twitter for up to date policy shifts and proposals – there’s amazing things happening here, but any system which casts you aside for an inability to be able to afford private medial insurance is fundamentally flawed.
  • Fast Food – the fact that it’s cheaper to eat junk than healthily explains a lot.
  • Big Trucks – I’ve been reliably informed that they’re for “haulin shit”…but still, they are massive! That said, this is a BIG country.
  • Florida is flat! I need mountains!

Welcome to Miami

Hi Everybody

So if you haven’t heard by now we’re here in Miami; it’s 25ºC, clear skys, crystal blue waters and steady SW 15knot breezes. But before you begin to get too jealous, let me clear one thing up…

As soon as I’ve mentioned to anyone that the first regatta of my 2010 season is in Miami, the response has always been the same. Let me assure you, this is by no means a holiday.
We’re here for 2 reasons: to ensure we get some quality time on the water throughout the spring, and to properly prepare for the Miami Olympic Classes Regatta.

I’m pleased to say that we’ve made a great decision, when considering some of the horrendous conditions we’ve had back in the UK over the past couple of weeks. Taking advantage of some fairer conditions in Florida at this time of year has meant that we’ve made some fantastic progress over the past couple of weeks.

Moreover, consider this; changes in routine, nutritional habits, sleeping patterns, location, support set-up and working environment all affects an athletes performance. So transitioning to a new location, let alone a whole different country, has its challenges. Coupled with increases in training intensities has meant that the past couple of weeks has certainly not been a holiday.

That said, Miami certainly does have it’s perks!

So, there’s roughly 10days to go before the first regatta of the 2010 season…I can’t wait! Biscayne Bay is going to prove a great venue for some exciting sailboat racing, I’m sure. This is the first time we’ve raced Miami OCR, so it will be an interesting test, and this years field looks pretty competitive. But more importantly, it’s only the first regatta of the season so we’ll be looking closely to see how far we’ve progressed over the winter period. We’re looking for some great scores and will certainly be looking to carry the successes of the past few months through to the rest of the 2010 season.

Stay tuned…Ciao for now.
Chris

Weymouth in winter

So here we are at last…it’s taken a while, but i’ve finally got round to writing my first blog entry! Wayhay!

Firstly, welcome, and thanks to you all for the continued support. For those who aren’t up to speed with our journey to 2012, check-out some of the tabs above. Hope you enjoy finding out a little more about what we’re up to.

Judging by the sheet of white out my window and by the very nature that ive found time to sit down and write this…i’d say winters here! And a change in weather usually means a change in attitude for most weekend warriors out there. It’s a time to wrap-up warm, scale back on the outdoor activity and move your workouts inside – believe me i’ve been there! But a word to the wise…now’s the time to keep it up, fight through and lay a great foundation for your year ahead. Don’t let it slip and undo a great year’s work!

We’re in the midst of winter training at the moment and we’ve made great progress since the end of the 2009 season (although the sailing season, a bit like tennis or golf, doesn’t really end officially) and we’re looking forward to the first World Cup event of 2010 in Miami at the back end of January. Whilst it’s undoubtedly fun, in sort of sadistic sense, to battle through the Weymouth winter, i can’t wait to get out to warmer climes. I certainly won’t miss defrosting the boat before hitting the water each morning, that for sure! I was at Stokes Bay (on the south coast of the UK, just next to Southampton) last weekend and was amazed by the number of people braving the conditions – kudos to those who get out there in the name of what they love. But totally get why winter training camps are so important now!

Our first camp of being a pro-team went off with a bang in mid-October – an awesome week or so of riding around some of the toughest climbs in the alps, and plenty of time for strategic planning and preparation with the team. Being based around the beautiful lake Annecy was just a bonus – check out some of the photos and videos online! Catch-up on of all of the great stuff we’ve been up to since then as well.

You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/user/Roadto2012

Flickr: The Road to London 2012

There’s plenty of ways to keep up to date with the journey, either via twitter @chrismrussell, or feel free to get in touch via the blog with your questions.

Ciao for now

Chris

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