Off season is well and truly upon us and for many of us that’s a good time to reflect on the previous season. Such so called ‘reflective practice’ is increasingly used in medical training, to the frustration of many a medical student and junior doctor. As a time pressurised doctor, I used to view it as a complete waste of time which could be much better spent getting on with the job at hand…. However, with triathlon I’ve come to realise that honest reflection is an integral part of progression and learning. Though not always pleasant, making the time to sit down and work out what went well and what went less well will play a huge role in determining what needs to change in order to move forwards next year.

Looking back, I still can’t believe what I achieved in 2011. Somehow I managed to pull some big results out of the bag, and to be honest I think many of the guys I train with were as surprised as I am! As many of you know, I made the decision to work part time from September so I’m now in the extremely fortunate position of having a bit more time to dedicate to training and recovery. However I’m very much aware that more training will not necessarily equate to improved performance, and finding the optimal balance of training, recovery and ‘proper’ work is harder than it sounds. My first two weeks training were definitely over optimistic in terms of volume, and my first few 3 day weeks at work were equally over ambitious! However I’ll find the right balance with time, and I’ve no doubt that taking the decision to go part time was the right one. Even if I don’t get any quicker, I’m enjoying trying! As an oncologist, you realise maybe more than most that you only get one shot at life…. Being too scared to take this step would be a decision which would haunt me in 10 years time, of that I have no doubt.

So moving forwards, what are my plans? Well I’m trying to work on my swimming, which is easier said than done… So much time in the pool, so little progress! I keep hoping for that Eureka moment though it seems a long way off. I really enjoy doing some low key running races for fun, and very much enjoy the steady winter miles on the bike, at least while the weather remains rideable….. I’ve also started working with a new coach, Chris Hunt from Nottingham, who I think will help me keep my training in check and not abuse my new found free time with pointless hours! I’ll always remain grateful to Leigh Archer, who played a huge role in getting me to where I am now in my years as an age grouper. However, having had a year without a coach I’ve realised I need someone to oversee my training and am excited about getting help and support from Chris.

Over the last year I’ve been really lucky to have had excellent support from Compressport (definitely the best compression around!), Bloc (great sunnies at affordable prices), Blue Seventy, Nuun (yup I can race in the heat now!), 9 Bar (try them – they’re great on the bike), and Meridian foods (amazing organic nut butters and fruit spreads!). So thanks so much to all of you.

Happy training all and lets make the most of the good weather while we have it!

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