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Diary of a Paralympian - Post Rio relax and into 2017

10th September 2016 - There I was seconds after finishing my race on Copacabana beach; sunburnt and exhausted I was waiting to see how my team mates had done. Dave Hill, my only British competitor in the PT4 category came in after giving everything and collapsing on the line. I found the team doctor and we got him into the recovery tent with ice and isotonic drinks. Once Dave had some colour back in him we waited to see Andy Lewis in the PT2 category take Britain’s only Gold medal in the Paratriathlon event and soon after Ryan Taylor finished too. We were then summoned by Channel 4 for a live interview before rushing back to the hotel, then off to the ParalympicsGB House near the Olympic Park to be greeted by our family after the day’s racing.
Wow, to think that day was more than half a year ago is crazy! It’s a memory I’ll cherish forever and use as motivation for the rest of my life.
Life in the Athlete village after the race was crazy, we could go to eat in the food hall whenever we liked, could play arcades and games ‘til God knows what time in the morning and take a swim in the pools whenever took our fancy. Not to mention the free McDonalds which I only ever had once (no word of a lie).
After feeling a bit unfit, myself and a couple of the team fancied a morning run in the sun around the village so went off for a 3-mile trot which felt hard work. Later that day I got a message from my coach who had been flown home after our race saying that I should be resting and enjoying the moment, not thinking about any form of training.
The few days before we flew back I saw my parents/brother/uncle a few more times, appeared on the TV show The Last Leg and blagged my way into as many arenas/events/finals of competition as possible.
On the 19th September, the majority of ParalympicsGB flew back on the British Airways Flight VictoRIOus (the one with the gold nose cone) being treated to bunting and all the refreshments we could ask for.
Landing back home to finally see my parents again back in their home was amazing and finally felt like I had done it. It was only then it came into full realisation I had been to the Paralympics.
It was the weekend after flying back on the 24th September I decided to mark myself in the form of a tattoo of the 3 Agitos; the Paralympic Logo. This I see every day to remind myself what is possible when you don’t ever give in.
Time at home was very chilled and relaxing, I wasn’t to do much training, IF ANY, as I would only get recovery like this once every 4 years! (I usually only get a week or two off full training at the end of each year/season.)
I preoccupied myself with seeing all the friends that I couldn’t see much before the Games, going to sponsors and awards nights. It was on the 29th September I was invited to the Cambridge Community Awards of which I was delighted to be awarded the Young Achiever of the Year award.
On the 2nd October, I had my 21st birthday as well as an open house party for all my family and friends. This gave me a chance to see those family/friends who I wouldn’t normally see on a regular basis and a chance to all have a drink together.
It was after this point and 3 weeks after racing in Brazil I started to do some odd bits of training when I fancied it.
The 17th October marked the start of the two days of “Hero’s Parades”, the first around the streets of Manchester and second around London. These days were amazing and the support we received from the public, essentially on two working week days, was astonishing.
Two weeks later, on the week commencing the 31st October I returned to my training base/house in Loughborough where I would commence my full training in preparation for the 2017 season. As I said before, this was a month later than I would usually start training, allowing myself to fully recover, recuperate and get my “mojo” back for the love of triathlon which I may have lost a little in the hard weeks leading up to Rio.
A month of building my training back up to a more ‘normal’ volume had gone well and I was starting to settle into it all again (despite it feeling hard work).
A few late nights and earlier mornings at the start of December lead to feeling tired when training. This progressed into a small head cold; usually able to train through them I did so and by that weekend I was in a right state with the cold spreading throughout and progressing to a chesty cough. I took a few days off until symptoms started to disappear.
After trying a few sessions fully aerobic I went to the team doctor who said that I had a virus, sinusitis and infection. Now mid-December and being told I had to have at least 7 days off training I decided to take my Christmas holidays early and the following week went back to my parents where I would end up resting until the 23rd December on antibiotics and ‘Lemsip’.
It was only two days before Christmas I was given permission to do 20 minutes’ worth of very easy activity on the static bike at home and attempt a run a day later. Following the festive celebrations with my family I started to do a little more training, clocking just over 6.5 hours before New Year’s Day, the following week raising it to 8 hours.
I once again then had to build my training up slowly from the bottom being careful to listen to my body and not work overly hard.
The main weakness in my triathlon is my run discipline. With my ankle being restricted in movement and muscle it had been a limitation in how much I could train without pain and inflammation. This was the area I needed to improve most and the place I think I could gain most time back on my competitors. Therefore, my coach, physio and I had planned a big run programme to steadily increase not just my run volume within a week, but my ‘full ground contact time’ of running without having to use aqua jogging or an Antigravity (AlterG) Treadmill which I had previously been using once or twice a week.
Back to Loughborough in January, I had 4 weeks of good build work in training and lab testing; which I came out with a lot better results I was expecting. The second week of February I was back up to 19 hours training and more importantly I was injury and illness free.
It was then that I could get into my training rhythm which was a 4-week block of varying difficulty: 1) medium, 2) hard, 3) very hard, 4) recovery. It is this 4-week cycle I use throughout the year and fit around my planned ‘A’ races.
Now in full flow of the 2017 season and with a podium place already under my belt at a World Series race (Yokohama), I’m looking towards Tokyo 2020 and all the triathlons in between!

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