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Finding My Stride By Tom Collins

by Alexandra Parren
Fitness Lifestyle Running Trainers Weight Training

My name is Tom. I am a dad, husband and, by virtue of the fact I have done a few… triathlete. 

This is my first blog post since being taken on as an ambassador by Sundried. I am really excited to represent their fantastic brand and ethical sourcing ethos. This blog is, in essence, a little insight into how I have found my stride with regards to training and staying motivated. 

As the weeks and months go on, I will be sharing top tips on training, nutrition and anything else I can think of that someone (anyone) might find interesting or useful. I am not a pro-triathlete… I am not a personal trainer… I just hope that I can offer practical, useful hints, tips, advice and though provoking musings. 

Truth be told I am the ‘every-guy’ who, having hit 30, become a Dad and for the first time in my life, truly fallen in love with a sport that doesn’t require snow, has aspirations to be the best I can be, and for me that means to qualify as a Great Britain Age-Group Triathlete for a World Championships.  

I actually started having these thoughts a couple of years ago, however it has taken until now, and a few false starts, to really find my stride. The main lesson I have learned is that saying you want to put the effort in and actually doing it are 2 completely different things.  I have, over the past couple of years, put in some hard graft for some decent periods, constructed training programmes, even had a coach to keep me on track… but for one reason or another (personal and professional) my efforts have tailed off at some point, and I found that the hardest thing was to start up again.  

Athlete Side Plank Gym Workout Stretch

However, with each “false start” I have learned lessons about myself; body and mind, and each time have come back stronger and more committed. The biggest lesson I have learned is that fitness and training has a perpetual nature, the more you do, the more you want to do, the better you eat, the better you want to eat.  I am forever hearing people say keep the end goal in mind as the reason for doing something…(a la the picture of Ivan Drago on the mirror in Rocky 4), but I am just not sure that works for me, not yet at least. I thought it would, but along the way I have realised that I may just live better closer to the here and now. Whether this comes from an awesome feeling whilst working out, or after, seeing the physical results or simply getting fitter, stronger… I am not sure… but I do know that focussing on the happenings right now, keeps me wanting more. 

This summer my family and I moved house and I moved jobs, and for the first time in my life I have to commute. I live in Kingston Upon Thames and work in central London… my commute is 19km each way.  When faced with the choice of getting the train surrounded by suits, morning breath and armpits in my face...or cycling each day… it was an utter no brainer! So I have used the commute to form the base for my training program.  I try to cycle to and from work 4 days a week and run to or from work on the Friday.  I will then aim for 3 swim sessions, 2 interval sessions (with a core set) and a long bike ride per week. Ok, so with balancing work and family life, it is not always possible to get all that in… but it is a decent aspiration!

There are certainly days when my legs are tired, I am nearly home and the little gremlins sneak into my mind “you don’t NEED to do intervals tonight… you have had a hard day…just go home and catch up on Bake Off...”, to say that they never win, would be a lie, but as the weeks go on, they are winning less… and each time I get that extra session done, the better I feel and the easier it becomes next time. 

So what am I saying?… Well, simply and potentially a little to obviously put, the best way to keep training is to… keep training! If you can push through those little doubts and barriers you set yourself… the easier it becomes to do it next time, and before long it becomes a perpetual habit that you make a choice to break, rather than to keep.

For me, the real test of my personal theory will be the winter. Whilst I am not opposed to going for a run or ride in the cold and wet… it wouldn’t be my first choice of climate… all I can do is build my habit (and wardrobe) so that when I peek out the window of a morning, into the darkness and thundering rain… the only choice isn’t about whether to cycle to work or not, but rather which baselayer/jacket combination to throw on!

If there is anything that anyone would like to hear about or any questions, please post them in the comments and I will absolutely get back to you. 

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