Always be prepared to take your own advice....

When you post a blog that gives advice to people on how to act in difficult situations, always double check you are prepared to take your own advice!

I’ve been pretty silent on my blog in 2015.  I was struggling with sessions in March, and then in April, I received the devastating news that I had a prolapsed disc and would not be able to run for the foreseeable future.  I had to make an early exit from the spring training camp in sunny Florida, returned home to an empty house and proceeded to sulk for the next 3 weeks while nursing my back.   I was angry things weren’t going according to my perfect plan.

And then a vague memory about a blog I wrote on my 30th birthday came to mind: Things I would tell my 20 year old athlete self.  Point number four read like this: Make up a list now of all the things you will do when you get injured: new skills you would like to learn, classes you would like to take, internships that interest you.  Notice I said when you get injured, not if.  You are not special; it happens to everyone. It’s far better to use your time productively instead of moping.

Ouch.  Reading it was like being slapped in the face.  But it was a great reminder as to why it is important to do the heavy thinking in advance – it is too hard in tough times because emotions can make things cloudy and limit your perspective.

So, I picked an end date for my pity party, attacked my rehab program with 100% commitment, and decided what I wanted to do with this new block of time I now had for the summer.  In fact, it has been an awesome summer!  I interned as a BBC sports reporter, I competed in my first open water swim race, I auditioned as a weather girl, I was able to say YES to hanging out with friends and family, I developed a love for hiking (climbing Kilimanjaro is now top of my list post Rio 2016!), and I will be walking the catwalk for London Fashion Week!!!!  To top it all off, I actually had a good time rehabbing my back and I am so thankful to the British Athletics staff who worked incredibly hard to keep me fit and motivated.

I am positive things will go off course between now and Rio, and I will once again have to re-adjust my plans.  Knowing myself, I will have to relearn this lesson again, and again, and again.  But hopefully, with two blogs now on record, my learning curve will improve!


How to make real change in 2015

Fad diets and quick fix fitness solutions promising unrealistic results can leave us hung up on what’s wrong with our bodies, rather than what’s right. For me, New Year’s resolutions should aim to make us happier, healthier, and more confident in our own skin. Here are my top tips for fighting the fad and making a meaningful change in 2015:

 

1. Work out a plan

Pick a challenging but realistic goal when it comes to healthy eating and exercise.  Phrase your goal in terms of what you want your body to be able to do, not how you want it to look.  And remember, for most females, cellulite is a fact of life, even for elite athletes.

2. Stay on track

Plan NOW for how you will deal with temptations and low motivation.  Are you struggling to make your 7am workout?  Bring a friend for accountability.  Do you struggle with mindless snacking? Remove convenience junk food from your home and work environments.  Smart planning trumps will power every time.

3. Play the long game

Your health is the sum total of your choices over the last week, the last month, and the last year.  The only changes worth making are those you can commit to long term.  So make the commitment, enjoy the journey to a healthier you, and eat cake once a week.

A Discussion on Women's Sport

I was recently asked the following questions about women’s sport.   Some of my answers surprised me.  I hope this conversation continues until all girls are actively engaged in sport. 

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 What do you think is the biggest barrier in driving visibility of women’s sport?

To be honest, I think women are the biggest barrier.  Men love sport, and spend lots of money to see their counterparts play.  Aside from the athletes I train with, I don’t have any female friends who regularly watch and follow women’s sport leagues.  So much effort is made trying to convince male audiences to watch female sport.  Women need to value and enjoy sport if we want female athletes to have more visibility.  Women need to value female athletes more than models and reality stars.

 Why do you think it is taking so long for things to change?

It takes a long time for things like thought patterns and societal norms to change.  There has to be a very strong motivating factor supported by a large and vocal group in order for this to happen quickly.  Corporate businesses, governments, schools, religious groups, mums and dads need to be clear on why the promotion of sport for women is beneficial and relevant for them.

 What do you think male athletes can do to help drive visibility of female sports?

One of the best things they can do is become vocal fans!

 What role do you think sponsorship brands should play?

One of the biggest roles brands play is the provision of a platform.  The fact that a brand chooses to actively support women in sport already speaks volumes.  Actions speak louder than words, and the ambassadors companies align themselves with and where they spend their money sends a very strong message to the public.  Speaking as a female athlete, I’m not sure it is appropriate to demand people like and watch my sport, so the best thing a sponsor can do is give my sport visibility.  Give the public the opportunity to see what I do and then let them make their own choice.

 What radical things must change in order for women’s sports to be taken as seriously as men’s?

We need to eliminate the expectation that women’s sport needs to take on the same shape as men’s sport.  By in large, female athletes are not as strong or a fast as their male counterparts.  This is a neutral statement, and all it means is that females will play the game differently.  Women may have to play more creatively or strategically.  It is still exciting, it is still entertaining, and it is still an impressive display of sporting talent.  If women’s sports keep trying to mimic men’s sports, they will simply end up being a second rate version.  We need to find a way to do sport on our own terms and be proud of it.