2016 - Taking the leap and learning to fly on the way down

2015 was quite a year! When I look back on it I find it hard to comprehend all that happened. As seems to be the case as I get older, time moves fast.... Last year was no exception! When I take the time to reflect on what has been, I feel proud of the race wins and completing my clinical psychology doctorate. I feel fortunate to have had so much wise and caring support to achieve these things and I have enjoyed the opportunity to rest, take stock and celebrate. The thing is, when the post race high has gone or the graduation outfit worn, photos taken and bubbles drunk I am often left thinking about the hours that it took to achieve those things and the ups and downs along the way. In many way training is much like completing a thesis. The end product, the part that everyone sees and is celebrated, is not what it is all about for me. Don't get me wrong, nothing beats the feeling of winning a race, performing to the best I can, smashing a session or completing my thesis for that matter. But, they are small moments in time and don't come around that often. What is more special, is what it took to get there, who helped along the way and the impact that working towards goals has on the fulfilment I get in my day to day.

2015 will go down as the year of 1sts:  

First TT bike owned, first half marathon run, first half ironman completed, first (and last) doctoral thesis written and first time up a mountain in snowdonia! There was nothing to lose and lots to learn and the results, the progress and the challenge have fueled the motivation for this year....2016 will be about taking the leap and learning to fly!!

Next year I have decided to take my pro licence. I know that this is bold and some may say not the right decision... But for me I know it was the only way I wanted to go. I never want to be left saying 'what if' and I truly believe that I can achieve more in the sport and race against the best. Yes, I have a lot to learn. Yes, it will not be easy. But, I'm excited and will be leaping into the unknown anyway.... The question is, how am I planning on gaining my wings?  

1) Stick to the process : I know that when race day comes I will be able to stand on the line and be confident in the hours I have put in. For me, the key to this is consistency, taking each day as it comes and sticking to the plan. 

2) Work with an amazing team : This is as important as ever this year. I am fortunate to be surrounded by people who believe in me, keep me motivated, push me in training and give me a boost when it gets tough. I have joined Teddington swim club to improve my swim. I will continue to work with Andy Bullock, who makes training fun and motivating, alongside a continual focus on making improvements. To support my training and racing, I have partnered with Etixx UK whose products and nutrition advice will not only aid my performance and recovery, but also keep me healthy. In addition, I am also working with Orca and I-Ride UK and I am excited about racing and training in some amazing kit, a fast wetsuit and the perfect Argon 18 TT bike.

3) Race plenty : My race plan is set up to provide opportunities to race against better athletes, learn about how I cope with different courses and develop effective strategies for tapering, performing and recovering. I love to race and will try to make the most of every opportunity I get this season.

4) Don't be afraid to fail : There are two ways I can approach this year. I can be scared (and at times I am), or I can just embrace it and know that I have nothing to lose. Things will go wrong, I will get found out... But I will make sure I go for it. It's better to go for it and lose, than still have something left at the end and know that I should have been braver.

5) Remember to smile : I am a sports fanatic. I love to train, to push my body and to get the satisfaction from smashing a session or performing to the best of my ability in a race. I perform my best when I smile.... As simple as this sounds I am going to focus on not putting pressure on myself, smile (even through a grimace) and let the winter work shine through.

It's going to be an exciting year! I hope you enjoy following my updates. Thank you to everyone for the continued support.