My Olympics: day 16, mountain biking (from thefitdog’s perspective)

August 12, 2012

In this blog series, I take inspiration from one of the day’s Olympic events. Today: mountain biking.

It’s the final day of the Olympics, and the final day of this series. I toyed with the idea of the marathon (bit long), I desperately wanted to try the modern pentathlon (no horse, pistol or epee/sword thingy), and I realised too late that I was meeting up with one of my cousins, who is not only a talented hockey player but also plays handball.

So, mountain biking it was. I’ve got one of those, you see.

Over to thefitdog for his account of today’s adventure as we round off this blog series. Enjoy :)

This is a blog post from Frankie, the office dog

Hi guys! Have you been watching the Olimpics? Hasn’t it been totally great? I’ve watched loads of it and have also been listening to it on the Radio (5 Live) when Nic goes out. My favourite bits have been the running ones where a lady or a man runs round and round the track and Nic goes crazy and tells me to “speak!” and I bark and she cheers and then the lady or man wins the race and everyone goes mad! I like going mad.

Anyway today Nic said I had to join in on her daily Olimpic challenge so I said could we please do the cross-country biking because I have always wanted to have a go. It’s my kind of sport! She said sure.

First of all we started with me on my lead just walking alongside the bike whilst Nic rode really, really slowly (she was quite wobbly). I found it a little bit scary because the wheel is quite big when you are only my size, and the bike was making funny squeaky sounds, but Nic said I was a Good Boy so I got used to it.

Then we got to the park and things got really gnarly, dude! Nic let me off the lead and we rode round and round the field and I had to learn how to run or walk right next to the bike, always on the right hand side. It was quite hard work!

People always ask me “Frankie how do you learn so many tricks?” and I tell them firstly it is because my head is quite big, so lots of room for lessons. But apart from that, I’m not sure really. Basically what happens is, Nic tells me to do something, and then she either gets cross and says the thing louder and louder (that means I’m not doing it right) or her voice goes really nice and she says cool things like Very Good and What a Good Boy and I get a nice feeling in my brain and that’s when I know I’ve got it right. Then the tough bit is just to remember to do it that way all the time!

For instance today I learned:

- “here” which means I have to be close alongside the right hand side of the bike
– “this way” which means we are turning left and I have to go with the bike
– “we’re turning!” which means we are turning right and I have to sort of do a little turn or I’ll get run over
– “no! here!” which means I have run in front of the bike which is not a good thing to do

Here’s a quick vid of me during my gruelling event today, as you can see I am working very hard

Let me tell you, mountain biking is a totally tiring sport! We only did about 10 minutes of it but that was enough for me! I was really tired and so thirsty I had to go in the duckpond in the park.

Anyway guys I hope my guide to mountain biking helped you out. Now excuse me as I must have my tea and then settle down to watch the Closing Ceremony.

How have the London 2012 Olympic Games inspired you today?

My Olympics: day 16, mountain biking (from thefitdog’s perspective) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


My Olympics: day 10, women’s omnium (flying lap)

August 6, 2012

In this blog series, I take inspiration from one of the day’s Olympic events. Today: part of the women’s omnium.

The track cycling’s a funny thing, isn’t it? All cat-and-mouse strategy, unfathomable points systems and crazy names which sound more like a perfume than a sport (“Omnium! For him, for her, for everyone: the heady notes of the mystical East….”, “Keirin… a blend of leather, birch and tar for the phenomenally phenolic…”).

Anyway, my point is that not many people seem to really understand how track cycling works but by golly we’re good at it. And it’s fun to watch, whether you understand the rules or not.

Today was the start of the women’s omnium, a track cycling event which itself consists of six elements: a 250m flying lap time-trial, a 5km scratch race, an elimination race, an individual pursuit, a 10km points race and then a 500m time-trial. Cyclists accrue points across these events and then the rider with the fewest points wins the omnium.

So far, we’re doing rather well, with GB’s Laura Trott out in front with 12 points.

Once again, I was pushed for time today so, whilst I desperately wanted to go out and do the 3000m steeplechase (honest…), I was limited to something quick which I could do in the gym at the end of my weight session.

Bike sprints! Perfect.

This one was perhaps the most embarrassing of my Olympic challenges. Now, obviously, I wasn’t on a track bike, nor was I on a track. I didn’t have little men holding my bike before I propelled myself forward like a rocket. I just got on the bike, got off again to adjust the saddle, got on again and started pedalling, before doing 4x250m sprints with a recovery between each one. I wasn’t sure what resistance to go for or what RPM to aim for, so I just went for it.

Laura did her 250m flying lap in 14.058, with an average speed of 64.025 km/h. Wowsers.

My flying laps were… less flying that hers. Um:

24.8 seconds
26.3 seconds
25.8 seconds
26.0 seconds

Wait for me, Laura! I’m pedalling as fast as I can….!

How have the London 2012 Olympic Games inspired you today?

My Olympics: day 10, women’s omnium (flying lap) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


My Olympics: day one, cycling road race

July 28, 2012

In this blog series, I take inspiration from one of the day’s Olympic events. Today: the cycling men’s road race.

Vinokourov and 136 chums took to the streets of London, Surrey and the North Downs today in a 250km race which included nine laps of the delight that is Box Hill.

Inspired by their efforts, I put some air in my rear tyre’s slow puncture, crossed my fingers and headed out to the somewhat less challenging terrain of Twyford.

Me and my bike (a couple of years ago)

Vinokourov (earlier today)

Vino pelted through 250km in 05:45:57. I was a bit tired. I did, um, 17.5km in 00:38:56. But I also trained chest and triceps earlier, alright?

Hugh Porter: Welcome to today’s coverage of the men’s road race which, somewhat inexplicably, has only one entrant, who is in fact actually a woman.
Chris Boardman: Yes Hugh, the favourite today is Nicola Joyce, a fine athlete who burst onto the cycling scene in 2003.
Hugh: Ah yes, I remember that Chris, in fact didn’t she buy a tri bike from a friend in Crystal Palace, take a bus there from Tulse Hill and then walk the bike all the way back home because she was too scared to ride it downhill?
Chris: That’s right Hugh. And now look at her. What a plucky athlete indeed.
Hugh: We join the race as Nicola navigates the backroads of Wokingham, nimbly avoiding the many potholes and dreadful road surfaces.
Chris: It seems strange that there isn’t more of a crowd gathering, Hugh? It’s almost as if the people of Wokingham didn’t know that this event was happening in their town today?
Hugh: Now look at this. We’re receiving information that Nicola is reaching speeds of 18.2mph on downhills!
Chris: She is way out in the lead here already. In fact if you look at the aerial shots we are receiving from the helicopter, it almost looks as if she is out there on her own.
Hugh: Yes Chris, I think it’s fair to say that she is in a world of her own right now. There are other cyclists on the road but they are so far behind her that they are still actually going in the other direction.
Chris: I don’t think any of them will catch her now.
Hugh: Now Chris not many people will know this, but Nicola was actually in the gym this morning doing some strength work. Apparently she not only worked her chest but also did some tricep work.
Chris: Hugh that is truly staggering. That’s got to hurt. Riding like that, at the kind of intensity we are witnessing here today, puts a lot of strain on the triceps. Nicola is going to be in a lot of pain right now but obviously an athlete of this calibre will not let it show.
Hugh: Ah, look Chris, she has got down on her aerobars, no doubt to take the pressure off those triceps. Now she’s shouting at a motorist! Goodness me, out in front in a race like this and she still has the energy to do that!
Chris: I like that she has matched her sunnies to her helmet, her bar tape, her shoes and the velcro bit on her gloves.
Hugh: Yes Chris, this little lady certainly has style. Do you know, I have even heard that her car is yellow as well.
Chris: Wow Hugh, that is amazing. Athletic and stylish! Who knew there were so many yellow cycling accessories?
Hugh: Interesting that she has chosen not to actually wear the official cycling kit of her country, Chris. Instead she’s just in some old shorts and a top which is riding up at the back. You could be forgiven for thinking she’s not actually in an Olympic road race at all.
Chris: And the crowd roar as Nicola puts in an incredible effort up the hill towards the winery! She’s up out of the saddle, really working hard for this, lungs burning and quads bursting! Surely no-one can catch her now.
Hugh: And that monumental effort has really paid off, she’s way out in front now but she won’t get complacent.
Chris: Look at her rattling through Hurst, Hugh. Even the potholes can’t slow her down!
Hugh: What’s this? No, can it be? Surely not! This is outrageous! She has a slow puncture in her back tyre!
Chris: I think you’re right Hugh, but all credit to this athlete, if she’s noticed she hasn’t lost her focus. In fact it seems to have made her ride faster. I guess that’s because she hasn’t got a pump or spare inner tube on her, and doesn’t fancy walking home in bike shoes.
Hugh: As we watch this race come back into Binfield, Nicola is still dominant. It’s incredible to think that she has led from the outset. That early burst of enthusiasm put her in good stead because, even though she’s tiring now, she still retains the lead.
Chris: Yes Hugh, and now here we are in the finish straight, just a few more motorists to contend with, one more roundabout and that corner with all the pebbles and broken glass.
Hugh: And Nicola is putting in one more final effort as she lunges for the line, yes, yes she’s done it! How about that Chris, have you ever seen anything like it? 17.5km in well under 40 minutes, that’s got to be something like an average of 27kph?
Chris: *shakes head in awe*
Hugh: Ah now look at this reception as she staggers off the bike! Isn’t that lovely?
Chris: Yes, that dog looks very pleased indeed to see her.
Hugh: Perhaps he needs to be let out for a wee.

How have the London 2012 Olympic Games inspired you today?

My Olympics: day one, cycling road race is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


How do others see you? 8 year olds on sport and fitness.

July 1, 2012

We all influence other people. Perhaps your job puts you in a position of power, or maybe you’re in the public eye. It could simply be that one person sees you as an inspiration. Whatever the reason, each one of us influences those around us. Hopefully in a positive way!

Have you ever wondered how other people see you?

When my friend Katherine – who’s a school teacher – approached me recently to ask if I’d help out with a school project, I said sure! I didn’t know what she had in mind but I’m always keen to help out with anything which informs or inspires kids about sport, healthier eating and activity.

So, “year 3″ (for the clueless – like me – this means boys and girls of eight and nine years old) sent me a load of questions about the sports I’ve done.

Hi Nicola,

We have learnt a bit about you today and some of the sports that you have done. We have some questions to ask you about the things that you have done, and Miss Palmer says you have very kindly agreed to answer them! We loved your photographs on your blog, you must work really hard when you are doing all your sports. Here are our questions:

Some of the questions were hilarious, some were cute and some really made me think. Here are just some of them:

Do you enjoy being an athlete?
Do you have to work hard to do your sports?
Have you ever coached anybody else in any sports?
What did you see when you swam in the sea? Did you see any animals?
Were you cold in the ocean?
Were you exhausted afterwards?
Why did you enter the triathlon?
Is bodybuilding easy?
How did you grow such big muscles?
What exercises do you have to do to be a bodybuilder?
Do you have to eat healthy food to make your muscles bigger?
Do you go on the treadmill? Do you go on the exercise bike?
Do you have to eat different sorts of food when you are bodybuilding to when you are channel swimming?

I love their curiosity and imagination! I also think it’s really interesting that the “top three” questions for Channel swimming (goosefat, sharks and water temperature) didn’t crop up at all, and nor did anything about tan for bodybuilding. I wonder why adults tend have such a limited range of questions to ask (at least at first) whereas these kids presumably either understood why we wear tan, or just thought it was too boring a thing to ask – a waste of a perfectly good question ;)

So, I answered all their questions, unsure of what the project was or what would be done with my replies. I felt quite a lot of pressure suddenly! For all I knew, this could be the first time some of these children had ever learned about or thought about nutrition, being active, body image. I didn’t want to patronise, but nor did I want to pitch it too high and risk them switching off or feeling overwhelmed. I really wanted to encourage them, to spark some interest, perhaps even to encourage a dream of their own. (As I told them, I was exactly their age when I first thought about swimming the Channel.) Here was a great opportunity to get these children to realise that they have the power to achieve anything they want to, and that dreams should be dreamed big! I didn’t want to mess it up!

A few days later, my inbox was full of the most wonderful pictures and stories. They are just about the best thing I’ve ever seen. I’ve printed them all out and will keep them in my kit bag. I can only hope that I inspired and motivated at least some of Year 3. They have certainly inspired me.

Thank you, Year 3!

Read on for some of the pictures they sent me, as well as a few choice quotes from the stories they wrote.


This one is quite simply immense. The power! That triangle-me is owning that stage! I can only hope to be this large and in charge when I next compete :)


Crazy separation I’ve got going on there! As well as the most muscley shins I’ve ever seen. I think I need to work on my quads a bit more, though ;)


I’m so happy in this one! With good reason – I appear to be shoulder pressing two 80kg dumbbells overhead. I’m not sure what I’m wearing. I love that I am training outside on a beautiful sunny day, and also love that one of the podiums (?) says “well done” on it.


Just me and some crazy-cute seals hanging out together. Check out the whiskers on those seals! Adorable!


Hi! I’m swimming the Channel and there’s a really big tanker and I’m really happy about it all! :D

Now for the words of wisdom. I should point out that these are not my words, they’re written by Year 3. They presumably read my replies to their initial questions and then let their imaginations go… Quite right, too. That’s the best way to write sometimes: just get going and start writing, then see what came out.

If you want sporting success, Musfirah tells us to “look insid, start being healthy!”

Imaan tells us that, to build muscle, you must “lift really heavy weights or small, digit number weights. Then you can enter the competition, but you will have to show off your muscals to the jujes.” He also reminds us of the importance of safety when cycling. “..she had to were a helmet for safety just in case she falls off.” What are you saying, Imaan? ;)

Jasmine has a few words to say about diet. “…lots of eggs, meat, fish and even kangoo – but it is meat, it keeps you fit. When you are a body builder you can’t eat cakes or choclett!”

Adeed has the impression that I am a “musly millionair”, love him. Perhaps he has had some sort of premonition? Fingers crossed. He chronicles my 2011 season by saying that “on her first day she won a trophy and she was proud of her self.” Well, yes, I suppose I was, and should be more often! “Eat meat, fresh eggs, kangaroos, healthy food and sports drink,” advises Adeed (as opposed to rotten eggs, I assume!)

Elliot keeps it real. “If you want to be a body builder, get to that gym!”

I’ll leave you with these simple truths from Haiden and Joshua W:

“Give it a go!”
“Always remmember, don’t give up.”

They said it!

What did you dream of doing when you were eight or nine years old? Have you done it yet?

How do others see you? 8 year olds on sport and fitness. is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Peripheral vision

March 31, 2012

My most recent blog post (last week – sorry for going AWOL) saw me reunited with a friend from my previous life as an endurance athlete. My triathlon bike and I have been out several times this week, making the most of a beautifully sunny March.

Sport brings us a lot of lessons. Exercise, working out, training: whatever you call it, if you’ve done it even once, I guarantee it opened your eyes to thoughts and feelings you hadn’t had before. Perhaps it was that first endorphin rush (it’s true! exercise really does make you feel good!), the realisation that you’re stronger than you think, the joy of finding something, some time, some space just for you.

This week, whilst out on my bike, I realised how different sports teach us different things, all of them important at different times. As yet another car passed by me so close that I could see my reflection in the bonnet and then see the items on the passenger seat, I got to thinking about peripheral vision.

Training in the gym, lifting weights, we tend to focus on one spot. Staring straight ahead (usually into the mirror, if you’re a bodybuilder), we shut out distractions, noises, movements at the edge of our vision. We need to focus.

This focus is no good out cycling on the road. Stare ahead with laser-beam vision and you’re likely to miss that car coming up behind you, the squirrel in the verge, or that pothole to your left.

Different sports, different ways of seeing.

Tapping into your peripheral vision is actually quite calming. When we’re stressed or anxious, we tend to stare straight ahead, unblinking, focused on one spot, ready to run. When we open up our vision to 180* (or more – you need eyes in the back of your head as a cyclist), we feel somehow calmer, shutting off internal dialogue and just enjoying the moment.

Of course, there is a time and a place for that narrow focus. Like when you’re getting ready to lift weights, standing on the start line of a race, preparing to compete. It’s just nice to open up our eyes from time to time and take a look around.

If you’re interested in this kind of thing, a great book to read is “Mental Mastery” by sports psychologist Ken Way. I mentioned it here and you can get hold of it here.

Do you notice things around you more when you do certain types of exercise?

Peripheral vision is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Cardio with an old friend

March 24, 2012

Today’s cardio session saw me reunited with an old friend.

Aloha Friday and I go way back. She’s my old triathlon training bike (the blacker, lighter and altogether more terrifying “Venus” is/was my race bike). Goodness knows how many miles we’ve ridden together, from training rides to triathlons and long sportifs.

It’s been at least a year since I last rode her. Today, the weather here is just stunning: more like June than March. So, after recovering and refuelling after this morning’s chest and triceps session, I unhooked Aloha from the wall, brushed the cobwebs (!) off her, pumped her tyres up and gingerly clipped in.

Success! We had a wonderful 55-minute ride and covered just a touch over 15 miles, which I’m really chuffed with given the amount of riding I’ve done in the past 12 months or so (…none) and the change in training, diet and body composition. And I didn’t feel rubbish! :)

I do hope this lovely weather sticks around for a bit so Aloha and I can revisit some more of our old stomping grounds.

This gives me an idea for a series of blog posts, and I thought I’d ask if it’s something you’d be interested in reading. Over the years, I’ve trained (at varying levels of seriousness and with varying levels of success!) at running, cycling, swimming, triathlon, open-water swimming, channel swimming and bodybuilding. I thought a “Training sessions from the archives” idea might be fun, looking at what I was doing on “this day…..1 year ago/2 years ago/4 years ago” etc. I’ve always keep some form of journal, so I’ve got it all logged, warts and all. Let me know if you think that would be fun(ny) to read.

Have you switched sports? Do you miss any of your old sports? Do you ever revisit training sessions, venues or methods?

Cardio with an old friend is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


A cautionary tale (why runners and bikers should always carry emergency ID)

February 17, 2012

Just one day after he was merrily giving you his opinion on rye bread, my husband came off his bike on a busy town-centre roundabout.

He’s (relatively) OK and in one piece. We’re both shocked, he’s in huge amounts of pain, but the main thing is – of course – that he is still here to tell the tale. He has one dislocated shoulder and several torn ligaments, but things could have been so much worse.

So, today’s blog post is a short but serious one. If you run, or ride a road or mountain bike, whether it’s every day to and from work like my husband or whether it’s once in a blue moon, my question to you is:

Do you wear some kind of emergency ID?

Happily, my husband was still conscious and just about with it enough to remember our phone number. And the person in the car behind him, who stopped to help, was a qualified First Aider. And he was (ironically) just moments from his work building. What if all of this hadn’t have been the case?

Who would emergency services – or that good Samaritan – call, if you slipped or were knocked down whilst biking or running? How would they know who to call?

Please, get some kind of ID tag which carries emergency contact details and other important information. It’s easy. Just click here for Road ID, or here for Cram Alert. Make it your Friday Thing To Do.

Happily, sandwiches can be eaten one-handed, so I think my husband will survive this latest scrape. But next time he gets on that bike, he’ll be wearing emergency ID. I’ll insist on it.

A cautionary tale (why runners and bikers should always carry emergency ID) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


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