thefitwriter on BBC Radio 4

August 17, 2011

Hi all! Just a very quick one – remember when I was interviewed by the BBC about triathlon, whilst coaching open-water swimming down at Dorney?

The interview finally aired last night as part of BBC Radio 4’s World Tonight show. You can listen again here I believe. (Tuesday 16th August) I think it’s towards the end of the programme – I haven’t had a chance to listen yet myself!

Here’s the relevant section of the show http://www.webfilehost.com/?mode=viewupload&id=9997435

thefitwriter on BBC Radio 4 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.


Coaching, cold water and the BBC

May 14, 2011

(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 thetrilife.com 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. πŸ™‚

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.


In deep water with a client

June 24, 2010

Some things are just blogging gold.

Like taking a client open-water swimming. For a blog which is about two things: my work as a freelance copywriter and my sport, such a thing practically writes a post all by itself.

Jeremy is one of my favourite clients. I can’t remember when we met – it was at a networking thing years ago. He runs a marketing agency near Ascot and, over the years, has used my copywriting services for his clients’ websites, brochures, direct mail pieces and adverts. He even got me standing up in front of a room full of telecoms engineers to deliver a workshop on how to create content for blog posts.

Anyway, a while ago I met Jeremy for coffee (one of the things I like about him is that his dedication to Starbucks rivals my own) and, at the end of our meeting, he asked me about open-water swimming races. I explained some of the basic points of taking part in a race, one of them being rescue/support boats. “But don’t worry about that,” I said. “The organiser of the event will have arranged that side of things.” A pause. “Er…I am the organiser,” said Jeremy.

So over the past few months I’ve been giving him a few bits of advice on arranging and training for an open-water swimming event (you can find details of his event here – it’s in aid of the RNLI).

Yesterday, I took him open-water swimming.

It was my first time at the Taplow open-water swim venue. I cycled over (just a side note – rush-hour traffic + the A4 + final-whistle time on a successful England World Cup match = hecklers, crazy drivers and near-death experiences. Thanks, guys. No, really, thank you) and met Jeremy as he was trying on wetsuits which the Taplow guys hire out.

Taplow is a lovely venue – a large lake (which was warm yesterday – 21*C or so I’d say) marked out into 3 routes, the largest being 650m. The staff are super-friendly and there’s a BBQ and hot drinks should you want to partake. It’s Β£5 to swim and I believe you can buy a book of tickets at a discount. My only gripe was the (pond) weed – but I think any OW venue struggles with weed in hot weather.

I’m more used to seeing Jeremy suited and booted, but we posed for a wetsuited photo (…eyes closed, again!) before getting down to biznass.

I gave Jeremy the condensed version of my coaching sessions at Dorney: acclimatisation, sighting, turning, drafting and mass starts as we did one 650m loop, stopping at each buoy to talk about his stroke, sighting and kick. I mentioned some drills he could try in the pool which I thought might help.

Swim-hats off to Jeremy, I thought he did fantastically well. First time in open-water and he did one big loop straight off without a problem. Those of you who swim OW might remember your first training session. Those of you who don’t, just bear in mind that there’s no black line on the bottom (you can’t even see the bottom!), no lane ropes, no wall every 25m to hang on to. Then there’s weed, swans, ducks and all manner of other unusual stuff for your brain to cope with. Some people freak right out, others find they just can’t swim in a straight line, or have a panic at some point or another.

Back at the start buoy, he took off to do one extra 490m loop and I decided to do another 650m. A pack of swimmers had started a few minutes before us and I was pleased to pick each of them off in turn, finishing with a sprint for the final buoy to catch their lead swimmer.

Our session finished with a brief tutorial on how to get your wetsuit off quickly in a triathlon before Jeremy and I both cycled back to our respective homes.

Swim followed by bike? Getting wetsuits off quickly? Hang on, that sounds like triathlon stuff! You’re right…did I mention that I persuaded Jeremy to do the Marketing Industry Triathlon with me in a couple of weeks? That’s more blogging gold, right there…. πŸ˜‰


Splitting a century ride

May 24, 2010

View from my tri bike

Doing a century ride (100 miles) is on my to-do list of sporting events. In fact, it’s something I’ve tentatively pencilled in for this Summer, if I can get the training in.

This weekend, I set out to complete 100 miles over the course of two days: a sort of unofficial split-century ride.

Dorney rowing lake before a triathlon - the calm before the storm!


Like last weekend, I was open-water swim coaching at Dorney Rowing lake. Dorney is almost exactly a 20 mile ride from my house, so I rode there and back on Saturday (40 miles), rode there again on Sunday (60 miles) and then rode home the long way on Sunday (90 miles).

I intended to drop my (massive!) rucksack off and turn around for a final 10 miles but, in all honesty, after two days (and six sessions) of open-water coaching in the blazing heat, plus 90 miles of cycling with a heavy pack on my back, I was ready to drop.

As luck would have it, my husband had been setting up my new tri bike for me whilst I’d been out coaching, and he suggested we both head out for a short shake-down ride to check the set-up. So I glugged a gorgeous quick iced coffee, stuffed a generic cereal bar in my mouth and off we went. I had a new lease of life after the caffeine and carbs (not to mention having got rid of that rucksack – seriously, the thing is almost as big as me!) and the new tri bike is super-aero, so I was holding a nice quick pace.

Before I knew it, we were back home and I’d done it: 100 miles over two days!

It’s not an official century ride of course, but the fact that it was split over a weekend is pretty much offset by the fact that I was carrying that rucksack for much of it (top triathlon coach Bill Black lifted the bag on Sunday, raised his eyebrows and told me training with that on was like doing one long hill session) – and coaching in between times!

Summer cycling


I wish I’d been able to take more photos of the things I cycle past between here and Dorney. Some classic scenes straight out of some cliched TV show, including stables for polo ponies, strapping chaps playing cricket in their whites and – my favourite – Eton boys dashing through town in their full Eton garb, on their way to….well, I’m not sure. Wherever Eton pupils rush to early on a Sunday morning, dressed to the nines.

Have you done a century ride? What was it like? And…does the post-ride hunger ever end?


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