Coaching, cold water and the BBC

(I’ll wait to see if anyone Googles that exact combination of words!)

Phew, what a day. Lying in bed with my laptop on my knees and typing this is about all I can manage right now.

(Shortly after this was taken, clouds rolled in and wind picked up – brrrr!)

As long-time readers of the blog will remember, a few weekends a year I coach open-water swimming (I do this for triathlon coaching company in partnership with event organisers Human Race). Time rolls around quickly, and here we are at the start of the triathlon season again, so it was time for me to zip up my wetsuit, put on my coaching hat (it looks just like a swimming hat but contains top tips and handy hints) and step into that cold water.

And, maaan, was it cold. I mean, it actually was cold, but it felt even colder. Not surprising really since I’m probably sitting at anywhere between 5-10% less body fat now than I was last year. And, as any Channel swimmer knows, subcutaneous fat makes a big (gooood!) difference when it comes to feeling at home in cold water.

I was in a wetsuit, of course. A wetsuit which was so baggy the other coaches were laughing at me. Yes folks, heavy weight training will not make a woman bulky. The baggy wetsuit didn’t do much to protect me from the cold water. Brrr!

Despite the cold, it was a great day. I truly love coaching and feel it’s a real honour to take people through what is often their very first time in open-water. And I got to see my coaching buddies again, and chat with Bill Black, perhaps one of my favourite people in triathlon. (He always seems to find new ways to introduce us to our coachees: this year I was “that little fish…”)

Last year, I finished off my days coaching at Dorney with a 20+mile bike ride home, having also ridden there. Not this year (no such long cardio for me, certainly not with 7 weeks to go til my comp). Today had a rather unusual ending: being interviewed by the BBC! This is not something which happens to me frequently. Or, ever. But on Thursday I had a call from a nice young woman called Charlotte, a BBC news reporter who works for Radio 4. It seems the BBC are putting together a feature or series of features about the explosion in popularity of triathlon in this country. They found me online via this very blog, decided I’d be able to be vaguely useful to the feature and came along to interview me. Happily, I was decked out in triathlon kit, soaking wet from lake water and set against a backdrop of a supersprint race.

I don’t know where the clip will be used (Charlotte said it could be on Radio4, on TV and/or online) but as soon as I find out, I’ll let you know. I just hope I was useful to them – I was seriously so cold that I was having trouble speaking (you know when you want to say a word but your mouth won’t form the correct shape?!)

A few people have challenged me with the idea that bodybuilding is a vain sport, and others have suggested I’m vain for working towards a bodybuilding show. I can’t answer for the sport in its entirety, but I’m hoping my willingness to be filmed whilst wearing a wetsuit and woolly hat and without a scrap of makeup on my face (which is tinged blue and chapped from the wind) answers the second challenge. (And remember when I wrote that piece for the Observer book? My portrait photo for that one… yep, me in a swimming costume (!) standing in a lake. In April). Or perhaps bodybuilding allows me to indulge the small scrap of vanity I have left after Channel swimming and open-water triathlons have taken their toll?

Right, I must go. Richard of Richards TransRockies is here because he and my husband are doing some mega-long off road sportive tomorrow. And there’s Eurovision to watch. I hope you had a good Saturday. 🙂

Do you think bodybuilding is a vain pursuit? Do you think it’s possible to engage in a vain sport without being a vain person? Do you find that once you’ve typed “vain” several times you start to doubt that you’ve spelled it correctly?

Coaching, cold water and the BBC is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

7 Responses to Coaching, cold water and the BBC

  1. Pinky says:

    I don’t think it’s vain at all. No more than doing any sport or work out to keep you fit and toned which surely is ALL exercise?

    I don’t understand it though! It just seems a bit of an odd thing to do to me but I am hardly an expert on these matters.

    I hope you are on Radio 4! x


  2. Kat Millar says:

    I do struggle with the vanity thing and it definitely can be a vain sport! When people ask me about it and I tell them what I’m doing, they don’t out-rightly say it, but often in a round about way they imply it or question it. Often their body language says it all!
    So I don’t always tell people as sometimes I just can’t be bothered with the reaction and assumptions.

    If I’m in the mood – or it’s someone that cares about me, I tell them that it’s not about admiring myself, but about improving myself and enjoyment. Digging within me to find strength reservoirs (I had the spelling mind blank on that one!) that I didn’t know exist – and using that mental strength in other areas of my life.

    It’s a sport that is ‘tested’ by the discipline of combining nutrition and training in the right way and presenting your best. I love the way it forces strict discipline, a healthy lifestyle and striving to make great choices – because you can’t get away with not!
    Almost everything is literally bared for all to see!

    I like to think I can engage in this without being vain. Even though I’m competitive against myself, I’m not really competitive against others. I’m generally pretty modest, I don’t love looking in the mirror or having people compliment me, I just love the buzz of the comp day, the goal and the challenge which forces me to build the best body I’m able to.


  3. Kat Millar says:

    Love the photos by the way! The top one is stunning! And I think you look brill in your wetsuit! I so admire you, I hate the cold brrrr!


  4. Juliet says:

    I agree with all Kat had to say and then some – I don’t think I could have phrased it better myself. Yes, you do find men and women who are extremely vain (particularly the not natural competitors in my opinion) but it is more of a challenge of self than anything else.


  5. […] newbies to exercise and sport might feel, and I can now see why the people who come along to our “open-water swimming for newbies” sessions seem overwhelmed with gratitude at bits of information, guidance and encouragement which I […]


  6. […] all! Just a very quick one – remember when I was interviewed by the BBC about triathlon, whilst coaching open-water swimming down at […]


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