The story so far: 1-26

It’s almost the end of 2014, so with just over a year and a half to go I thought I’d make a video of the 26 challenges that I have completed so far.

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Learn to row

I completed the rowing challenge back in September but I really enjoyed it so signed up to a ‘learn to row’ course at the Team Keane sculling centre in Chiswick.

So for the past 8 weeks I been rowing indoors and on the water with Harry, Graham and Illya under the stewardship of various coaches, including Claire pictured below.P1030506

With the exception of running, I think rowing has become my favourite sport during this challenge. I feel like I’ve developed a lot over the past couple of months and it’s a sport that I could really get into.

Today we finished our course with a fun regatta along the Thames. We were split into 10 different teams, mixed with those on the’ learn to row’ squad, youth squad, development squad and coaches. There was a bit of waiting around, but overall was good fun and my crew got to the final having won our heat and finishing 2nd in the semi-final. Unfortunately the final was a step too far and we were struggling from the start and this coupled with a seat malfunction meant that we finished the final in 4th and last place. I’m sure one of the British crews in the Olympics managed to get a race restarted due to the seat coming off – probably should have shouted louder.

The option for me now, is to either sign up for 3 months with the development squad or keep rowing on an ad hoc basis. I think I’m going to go with the latter for the start of 2015 and when I have a bit more time, commit to training with one of the teams.

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Diving – the report

As you can see from the post below I have ‘learnt’ how to dive – well I have achieved what I wanted to do, which was to dive off the 3m board. In truth, diving isn’t one of the sports that I thought I would enjoy. I’ve never been a big swimmer and before this course I could probably count on my hand the number of times that I’ve attempted to dive off the side of the pool.

I was really struggling to find somewhere that I could learn how to dive in an environment suitable for beginners. It’s surprising how few dive facilities there are in and around London and those that do exist are very much focussed on getting kids into the sport. This isn’t unique to diving and personally I think this is a bit of an oversight for a number of sports. Whilst it makes sense to focus on youngsters, who still have the potential to achieve something in sport, getting more adults involved surely helps to raise the overall profile of a sport and generate income that can then be filtered into other areas.

I eventually found a course at the Guildford Spectrum in Surrey, near to where I grew up. It was on Monday nights from 9.15 – 10.15 and ran for 15 weeks. Not an ideal location from West London but I had very few alternatives. The course wasn’t strictly a beginner’s course. In total there were 6 of us, 4 of which had been through the course at least twice before. This wasn’t a problem as the low numbers meant that the coach was able to spend a decent amount of time with each of us and I was able to learn at my own pace. Most of the time there was only 4 of us during a given week and I think I was only able to attend 6 or 7 of the lessons.

Our coach was Andy Budd, a former England International Team member. He was really good, very patient but also great fun and able to have a laugh with us during times of misfortune, which for me became an all too often experience.

The sessions were varied and we switched between learning the technique from the side of the pool and attempting the full dives off the 1m and 3m springboards. The others went through a whole range of dives, whilst I mainly focused on falling dives, back dives, hurdle dives with the occasional tuck or pike. The video below shows the start of an inward dive from the side of the pool. I found this extremely difficult and could never bring myself to attempt this off the board.

I progressed a lot more than I would have thought I could, despite my intermittent attendance and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. It was painful at times but a good challenge and ultimately that’s the key to the whole thing. If there was an option to dive a bit closer to home it’s definitely something that I would been keen to continue but with marathon training starting in a weeks’ time unfortunately I don’t have the time.

To see me attempting to dive, please see the video below or click on the diving tab. I even managed a dive off the 5m platform.

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Challenge update

Having injured my hamstring 3 weeks ago, I’ve been managing my recovery whilst still trying to progress with the Olympic sports.

For the first couple of weeks, I focused on gentle running to encourage blood flow and ensure that my legs were mobilised. Complete rest would probably have been more logical but I’m always conscious of losing fitness and especially in this case as I’d had a couple of easier training weeks prior to getting injured.

Luckily it hasn’t really affected the rowing or the diving too much. My first rowing lesson after the injury was on the ergo machines, so I could take it easy and I was able to dive without putting too much strain on the legs.

For the past week my hamstring has been feeling really good, so I’ve upped the effort. We had a great ‘learn to row’ session at the weekend. The 4 of us got into a great rhythm and I really felt like we’d made some significant progress. My diving lesson on Monday was also good fun. I started off with a lack of confidence, which is the worst thing you can do whilst standing on the edge of a dive board and unfortunately this resulted in some rather painful entries. I got it going though, towards the end of the session and completed a few hurdle dives, back dives and also a couple of falling dives off the 3m – all ready to be filmed next week at the final session! Yesterday I also felt confident enough to play in the Middlesex Winter League for Will to Win. We played indoors at Heston David Lloyd which was great, as the weather has been awful recently. The result wasn’t so good.

In between all of this the intensity of my running has started to increase in preparation for my 16 week training plan (starts 29th Dec) for the Manchester Marathon on 19th April. Yep – I’ve gone and made the challenge harder again by signing up for another marathon. I had told everyone that I wouldn’t be running a marathon in 2015 but the lure of potentially running a sub-3.30 marathon was too much to resist. It’s going to be tough but I’m going to give it a go. I’ve also decided that I might as well run a marathon every year of the Olympiad so 4 marathons in 4 years.

In the middle of this training I will also be tackling the rugby challenge. Rugby 7s is the newest sport in the Olympics (along with golf) and despite being a huge rugby fan, I’ve never played. I would like to compete in all of the team sports but realistically rugby as a contact sport could be a bit dangerous without spending appropriate time learning how to tackle and how to protect myself in contact. As an alternative I’ve signed up to ‘tag rugby’. Tag rugby is growing rapidly in London and there is a league starting at the beginning of March so for the last 8 weeks of my training plan I will be playing rugby every Monday in addition to running 5 days a week.

2015 is looking like a very exciting year. Watch this space.

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