The Fit Writer tells you what you want to know

January 24, 2011

I love blogging. One of the bits I love the most is looking at the search terms people out there type into Google which lead them to these pages. Some of them are just bizarre (yes, I’m looking at you). However, weird or not, they do tell me something about what people are searching for. And sometimes, maybe, this blog is the right place for them to find the info they need.

So today I thought I’d have a look at my site stats, grab the top 10 search terms which have led people here, and address them. Here they are:

Liam Tancock

Ah, you all love yourself a bit of Liam, it seems. And who wouldn’t? Buff, a great swimmer, and a jolly nice chap to boot. Well, “Liam Tancock” Googlers, why not read my post here about the time I met (and swam with!) him. Oh and here’s a picture, cos I know that’s what a lot of you are really after (see point “five” below).

The Workout Mix

A ha! The Workout Mix is a double CD of workout tunes released last December. I was invited along to the press launch and had the chance to interview Matt Roberts, personal trainer and one of the experts behind the CD. As a matter of fact, the workout mix, the workout mix 2011 and workout mix 2011 are all up there in popular search terms. The PR company must be pleased! And I’ve just realised I’m now going to get a lot more hits for people searching for info about it… Read my review, all the links are there!

The Fit Writer

Well, that’s me innit. Hiya! 🙂 That’s not actually my name. That would be weird. It what I call this blog because I’m a freelance sport and fitness writer. And I go to the gym a lot. And I have a biro and a pad of paper in my kit bag. Enough reasons?


Wetsuits, wetsuits, wetsuits. I do spend a disproportionate amount of my time clad in finest neoprene. It could be because I’m testing wetsuits and reviewing them for triathlon magazines, or because I’m training/racing for my own enjoyment. Just be assured that, for several weeks every summer, my house smells of drying neoprene, and there’s usually at least one wetsuit hanging up in the shower.

Liam Tancock speedo

Perverts! (Scroll up to the top of this post.)

Gravity training system

There’s another happy PR out there! Yes, lots of people end up at my blog looking for information or reviews of the Gravity Training System, a bit of fitness kit I was invited to try out at the end of last year. Here’s my review. I thought it was great.

Fitness journalism

Perhaps a lot of people come here hoping I hold the key which will unlock the door to freelance journalism. I don’t, I’m afraid, but I am always happy to give my advice and my story to anyone over email, and I have done several times. Perhaps that’s an idea for a blog post, actually. In the meantime, I was interviewed by Essential Writers about freelancing in the sport and fitness niche. Here’s the interview.

2xu project x

These kit reviews are popular aren’t they? Sadly for anyone wanting info about 2XU’s pricey but fantabulous Project X triathlon wetsuit, I didn’t actually review it on this site as I’d been commissioned to review it for a magazine. I wrote about, er, writing about it. Not too helpful!

Wetsuit lads

Perverts! There are probably pictures of “lads” (?) in wetsuits on this site, but not a post dedicated to that fine topic. Apologies! Might I suggest you train for an (open-water) triathlon? Or volunteer to help at one? (At longer-distance triathlons, there’s even a helper role called “wetsuit stripper”. No kidding! Sounds like your kind of job.)

Fitness industry trends 2011

I have an image of several Sports Management students tapping away at their keyboards and ending up here. Sorry about that! I did, however, go to the FIA keynote at last year’s Leisure Industry Week, and blogged about what was said. That might be of some use? I do keep up with what’s what in the industry, and follow some useful people on Twitter. Feel free to rifle through my follow-list if you want.

The Fit Writer tells you what you want to know is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

The Fit Writer’s pick of 2010

December 31, 2010

Me and Richard of Richard’s Transrockies 2011 blogging amidst the New Year beer…and wine….and Bailey’s…and whatever else you can spot there in the background 😉

How was your 2010? I’m not hugely into resolutions (I prefer to make them as I go along, regardless of the date) but, as it’s the final day of the year, I wanted to look back at 2010 and pick out some highlights for you. A kind of a New Year’s Honours list, if you will. Without the royalty.

So here are The Fit Writer’s picks of the year gone by:

Favourite commission
Ooh, well. Most of my commissions are favourites (how’s that for diplomacy?), because I just love writing. But some stand out for being a little more unusual. How about a week in Croyde in August, training with the RNLI Beach Lifeguards to get a taste of what their qualifications consist of? (Hint: really hard work) That was for an article which appeared in Coast magazine. I also thoroughly enjoyed meeting, swimming with and getting some swimming advice from Liam Tancock later in the year. Judging by the search terms which lead to this blog, it would seem that many of you would like to do the same! You can find Liam on Twitter and he’s a jolly good sort of chap. Did I tell you that I tweeted I was on the way to meet him, and someone who follows me on Twitter said how much of a fan his daughter was. I told Liam, who was happy to pose for a photo for the guy’s daughter, and then said hello to her on Twitter. Nice guy 🙂

Favourite race
Another tough one. I really enjoyed getting into road cycling this year, completing several sportives having never done one before. But I think the Favourite Race gong has to go to the Folkestone Half Marathon: it’s in my home town, I was cheered on by my new nephew and I got a PB. What’s not to like?

Favourite event
Speaking of new nephews, event of 2010 has to go to the birth of my nephew Henry. Nothing to do with sport, I realise (although, a few weeks later when I was struggling through the Little Woody half Ironman triathlon, I did draw on the strength I’d seen my sister demonstrate during labour!) Nephews rock, particularly mine.

Favourite bit of fitness kit
Although I’ve been asked to review lots of lovely bits of kit and gadgetry this year, the award for favourite bit of fitness kit has to go to my kettlebells. You saw me using them during my 10,000 swing kettlebell challenge, and I use them regularly for both strength and CV work. So handy!

Favourite training session
I’m a bit of a hermit. So it takes someone fun to persuade me to give up training solo for once. And when I end up crying with laughter, I know I’ve found a good training partner. So props to Kat Millar, PT and now a good friend, with whom I trained a month or so ago. Second place goes to one of the many beautiful road bike rides I did back when it was burning hot and sunny: just lovely.

Favourite sporting moment
I watched as much of the Commonwealths as I could, and cheered as loud as any of you when Rebecca Adlington won both the 400m and 800m freestyle. Whadda woman!

Well, that’s it. I can’t bear this super-slow internet connection any longer! I will bid you a very happy New Year’s Eve, a great evening and a fantastic start to 2011 – and I’ll see you on the other side. Thanks for reading!

The Fit Writer’s Pick of 2010 is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Backstroke tips from Liam Tancock

July 23, 2010

Recognise this face? Not mine! The chap!

Last week, I was invited to a media day with Liam Tancock. Our World Champion backstroker was going to be telling us all about his specialist stroke, giving us some pointers and telling us why backstroke makes for a buff bod.

Yeah, he knows a bit about that. That pic is for my sister. Sorry Liam 😉

Speedo were hosting the media day at the Porchester Spa in London. Just like when I interviewed Bill Furniss at the same venue, the session started off with us journos in the water, showing Liam what he could do. Or, in my case, what we can’t do. I can’t really do backstroke, you see. I mean, I can. But I can’t. I certainly don’t know what I’m doing.

Before my backstroke bunglings were revealed to the man who set a new world record for 50m backstroke last August, he asked us to warm up a bit with a couple of lengths of freestyle. As I returned to the wall and lifted my goggles, he smiled and said cheerily, “You’ve got a good technique.”

Hang on a minute. Let’s just back up a bit. Liam Tancock told me that, in his opinion, I have a good swimming technique.

OK, we can move on now.

We then started doing a bit of backstroke. I splashed my way down the pool, veering into the wall and hoping I wouldn’t bash my arm or head on the end of the pool (they hadn’t put any flags out). Liam told me that, for some reason, I was opening my hands (splaying my fingers) right out as I stretched out to put my hand back into the water. So, off I went again, trying to correct that. I hadn’t realised I’d been doing it but, once I concentrated on stopping, it became obvious.

The nice PR lady told me my backstroke looked loads better. 🙂

One of the other journos asked Liam about getting cramp in the arch of the foot, and Liam talked to us about how important ankle flexibility is to backstrokers. Bill had dedicated a fair bit of time to the topic, too, even though he was talking about freestyle. Triathletes, work on your foot and ankle flexibility, particularly if you’re from a cycling background…all that time spent clipped in makes for inflexible ankles.

Liam explained that the force of the water on the top of the foot is considerable during backstroke kick and, if your flexibility isn’t great, you could get cramp. He showed us various techniques he likes for stretching his feet out, and his foot flexibility was incredible. He said that it’s really common for swimmers at world-class meets to stand around chatting, absent-mindedly flexing, pointing and stretching their feet out as they talk. They don’t even know they’re doing it, he said.

Liam then talked us through the fundamentals of backstroke: unlike freestyle, which is a bent arm recovery and an outstretched arm at the front of the pull-phase, in backstroke we have a straight arm recovery and a bent arm pull. The roll is hugely important in backstroke – Liam demonstrated how he’s almost continually rolling his shoulders and torso during the stroke, because a “flat” body isn’t efficient. He said that he takes around 0.6 seconds per stroke, so estimated the time he spends “flat” to be 0.1 seconds. He jumped in to show us how it’s done.

Efficiency is key, he told us. As with freestyle, the slowest and most relaxed stroke is actually the fastest way to move through the water.

He also talked to us about the push off the wall and the glide – it’s a way to cover the most distance with the least effort. In a demo, he dived in an glided under the water, arms outstretched and fingers clamped on top of each other, without kicking his legs once. He almost reached the other end of the 33.3m pool.

We all had a go, with varying results but similar amounts of giggles. Liam was almost crying with laughter at one journo’s belly-flop (hint, it wasn’t mine. I didn’t even try to dive in!)

Two of Liam’s many, many pool sessions per week are in a short-course (25m) pool. This, he explained, was so the swimmers can work on their starts, turns and glides more frequently throughout the session. He also told me that he does plyometric work as well as things like rock-climbing (in the off-season!) As you’d expect, he trains six days a week (with Sundays off) but – get this. When I asked him how many sessions (swim, weights, gym, etc) he does a week, he looked around as if grasping for some vast number and then said “well, it’s Wednesday lunchtime now and I’ve already done eight sessions this week.” And let’s not forget that he travelled to London from Loughborough today.

Swimmers work hard for their dollar!

PS A few days after our interview, Liam was given BUCS Sportsman of the Year award. Congrats, Liam!

PPS Liam is a jolly nice chap and you can follow him on Twitter here
Liam Tancock is a Speedo sponsored athlete. For more info on Liam or Speedo please see

%d bloggers like this: