New Year, New You?

“New Year, New Me”. If I had a pound for every time I’d seen that phrase on social media, I’d have a very full piggy bank! It’s January, the start of a new year, and a time when most are setting New Year’s Resolutions, determined that this year will be the year that they lose that weight, run that marathon, apply for that dream job, or emigrate to New Zealand. Yet, come late-Jan, the new year’s enthusiasm is often as weary as the weather, and many will have slipped back into old routines, deciding that, a second thought, maybe next year will be their year of transformation.

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4 Ways to Motivate Yourself Like an Elite Athlete

Motivation. We all need it, but some people seem to have it in shedloads, whilst others are found wanting. We all know people who seem consumed by a fierce passion to succeed, remaining stoically determined throughout the ebbs and flows of life’s challenges. Others end up off course after just the slightest change in wind speed or direction, disillusioned and demotivated, unable to get back on track. So, what separates these two sets of people? Why does the fire burn so strongly in some of us, that even the darkest days are somehow productive, whilst others lack the spark to do anything other than perform the most essential daily tasks? Is motivation something we are born with; part of our genetic make-up, as inherent as freckles or big ears? Or is it a product of our environment, influenced by the role we’re trying to adopt and the task we’re trying to achieve?

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Life Without Elite Sport: Food and Body Image

When an athlete stops training full-time, their relationship with food is likely to change significantly. Depending on how much exercise they still fit in to their daily routine, they may even need to start eating like a normal person! Instead of food being crucial ‘fuel’—energising performance and aiding recovery—it will now take a more unassuming role. Yes, fuelling is important for everyone, but daily choices won’t have quite such a significant impact on their livelihood as it did when they were competing. But just how complex is an athlete’s relationship with food, and how does it change once they leave sport behind?

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Life Without Elite Sport: Finding Peace with Exercise

When I was considering retirement from elite sport, one of the things I looked forward to the most was not having to push my body continually, given that over the last decade I’d done more exercise than most people do in a lifetime! But, free from the constraints of official training, it can actually be really challenging to forge a new, healthy relationship with exercise and activity.

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Life Without Sport: Shaping Your Time

One of the strangest things to adjust to in life outside the bubble is a lack of routine. Training for elite sport is incredibly structured, and athletes will often go weeks and months without significant change to their schedule. When I retired last year, I was quite looking forward to not living such a regimented existence but, in reality, it is actually quite daunting and can be hard to manage. The thought of weeks without being told what to do and where to be sound liberating, but it’s easy to fall into a bit of an aimless lifestyle, without much plan or purpose.

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Process vs Outcome

Goal-setting is one of the most common exercises for athletes, at both junior and senior level. Whether it’s qualifying for the county championships or winning an Olympic medal, the majority of athletes will have aspirations and objectives for the season ahead. Goals are important because they give us long-term vision and short-term motivation but goal-setting can be one of the most misunderstand practises in sport.

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The Power of Self-Talk

Elite athletes seem to have it all figured out, exhibiting honed physiques, technical proficiency, and unwavering mental strength during high-pressure situations. For young athletes (and their parents), the journey towards elite level competition can appear long and daunting, and there is often conflicting advice about the direction that should be taken. This is the beginning of a series of blogs that will share my own experiences and observations from years as an athlete, as well as giving guidance on how parents can help support their kids through the ups and downs of sport.
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Crossing the Identity Chasm

One of the most common issues for athletes transitioning out of sport is the loss of identity that inevitably accompanies the hanging up of your goggles, boots, spikes, oars or racquet for good. After retiring 9 months ago, it’s something that I have struggled with too, and after a bit of reflection, it’s not too difficult to see why—after all, identifying as an athlete is pretty much all I’ve ever known. Continue reading → Crossing the Identity Chasm