Author Archives: Naomi

Making sense of teenage Commonwealth Games medallists’ early success

Guest post by Ben Oakley, author of Podium: What Shapes Sporting Champions

Podium

 

First person autobiographical insights interest me since they provide examples of what shapes their path to the top. My fascination with these accounts, and my own experience as an Olympic coach (1988, 1992) and Open University academic, led me to research 25 autobiographies from serial champions. Amongst these were a number of teenage champions.

The youngest medallist at the Commonwealth Games was 13 year old para-swimmer Erraid Davies and the whole event narrative was dominated by young, up-and-coming athletes, many in their teenage years. Likewise the new Premiership season will no doubt see new 18-year-old, or younger, talents emerge.

Child champions

Child champions’ breakthroughs are fascinating as they have no medal success at the top level to help build supreme optimism to succeed. They often defy the form books to breakthrough to senior success while still at school. Take Cathy Freeman who, aged 16, won a relay 100m gold medal at the 1990 Commonwealth Games. ‘[She] spent the first few days [in the athlete’s village] with [her] mouth open, staring at everyone and everything.’ Problems with dropped batons in practice meant self-doubt began to gnaw away.

But confidence to succeed has a social element. What others say and their behaviour around us matters. If others believe in you and make this abundantly clear, it is a real fillip. In this case it came in the form of the team’s top sprinter, Kerry Johnson, who had been Freeman’s number one supporter and looked out for the ‘baby of the team’. Johnson threatened the management that she would boycott the team unless Freeman ran. Her pre-race advice to Freeman, ‘I think we’ll win this today,’ arguably helped convince the schoolgirl that she deserved to be there. They surged to gold and Freeman’s life changed in that moment.

Coaches and hormones

Likewise, the other person that helped instil self-belief in 15-year-old Michael Phelps was his coach, who ignited his desire to become the youngest ever swimming world record holder. But natural hormonal support was also at play. In the preceding year Phelps experienced his most accelerated growth spurt – a two-inch height gain on the marks on his doorway at home. His coach lit the fuse by writing ‘WR Austin’ (World Record, Austin, Texas) on all the notes he left for Phelps over six months preparing to break the 200m butterfly world record. At the Austin meet he was the first ever to swim under 1 minute 55 seconds.

Ian Thorpe has also described growth spurts, which caused a huge five-second improvement in his 400m freestyle time between the ages of 15 and 16. Imagine the exuberance and confidence of seeing almost monthly gains in performance. Mix this with youthful naïvety and there is a recipe for great things. Describing winning his five-medals at the Sydney Games aged 17, Thorpe said, ‘I had been devoid of nerves – dazzled by the lights and attention, unaware of the true pressure of an Olympic meet and oh-so calm.’

At the 2012 Olympics a shocked 15-year-old Lithuanian swimmer, Ruta Meilutyte, emerged from the pool astonished and in tears at winning gold. Appropriately, it was Ian Thorpe who defended and rationalised her teenage success to a suspicious media.

No fear

When former England footballer Michael Owen spoke about as an 18 year old scoring a wonder goal against Argentina in the World Cup he captured the clutter free thoughts of youth:

‘When I did it I wasn’t surprised at all, now as you get older and look back you think what an attitude I had, I wasn’t scared of anyone, I didn’t even know who I was playing against. We’d have team meetings and they’d say you’re playing against this man and this man: I didn’t even listen, I didn’t care. I just knew that I was playing, that I was going to score … You get older and you start worrying about things, you know, you just worry too much … You only have that not being scared as a kid.’

Not being scared sums it up nicely – the benefit of being a child. As he reminds us, life gets more complicated as an adult – relationships, mortgages, media commitments, expectations, elevated pressure, the weight of history and other athletes gunning to beat you.

Child champions’ unique experience are all part of the complex mix that contribute to examining what shapes champions’ paths. My research and writing Podium has also been a real journey that often challenged my own beliefs.

Ben Oakley is the author of Podium: What Shapes a Sporting Champion, order your copy today

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Q&A with Gavin Morey author of the Twelve Week Fitness and Nutrition Programmes

Gavin Morey is the author of two new fitness books – the Twelve Week Fitness and Nutrition Programme for Women and the Twelve Week Fitness and Nutrition Programme for Men. He is a highly experienced fitness consultant and muscle therapist to celebrities and major health and well-being companies.

We put a couple of questions to him…

1. Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I have to admit it wasn’t until I was in my early twenties when I had the notion of becoming an author. It was floating around my head for a number of years until I plucked up the courage and decided to put pen to paper and draft out the concept of the books.
My original idea was to write a book that was twelve weeks long because this is the perfect amount of time to see your body change, adapt and develop into what you want. But I didn’t want to just write the book as that has already been done, especially by professionals who may have forgotten what it is like as a novice. That was when I thought I would practise what I preach and put on the weight to show my clients and others exactly what it takes to transform your body.

2. What made you decide to create the Twelve Week Fitness and Nutrition Programme?

I chose to write the twelve week fitness and nutrition programme for two reasons. Firstly from the comments my clients would pass to me regards ‘it’s easy for you to look that way’ or ‘it’s hard for me as I have to train and eat around work and I just don’t have time’. After listening to that for a while I decided I would show them exactly what it takes to change your body. I wanted them and others to see it wasn’t easy, time isn’t a limiting factor for weight loss and it isn’t all down to genes.

Secondly I found it really hard looking through health and fitness books / magazines showing amazing results “IN JUST TWO WEEKS” with the most extreme before and after photos. These books / magazines promise you the earth which the training is mainly plyometric style training (not a great long term plan for your body due to a higher risk of injury) and by following a bodybuilding diet (again not realistic plan as even bodybuilder don’t maintain this type of diet for long).

Due to those two reasons I really wanted to clearly show the progress like no other, hiding behind no gimmicks, trick photography / airbrushing or fake results. I chose to document all of my training sessions to the point of the weight I lifted to the recipes and meals I ate everyday. I choose to take WEEKLY photos and health tests along with monthly postural analysis and fitness test so the reader can see the weekly progress I went through and what they should expect for themselves.

I put on lots of weight (a little over two stone of fat), stopped all kinds of training for 5 to 6 months and got extremely spotty and body conscious. To my detriment my glucose levels at one stage were very close to having onset type two diabetes! I was now ready to start the twelve week programme for men and start the book.

However for Alison, she never wanted me to write a book with her in it but liked the idea of a ladies version. I managed to talk Ali into doing the twelve week plan on the condition it would not be book unless she was really happy with the end results! We documented all tests, photos and diary inserts in the off chance at by the end of the twelve weeks Ali would be happy (I knew Ali would be!). Luckily for every lady out there (and myself) Alison was so happy and the ladies book was born.

3. What would you say are the four main benefits of the programme?

The four main benefits are the basis of the books!
1 – Real Results:
Alison and I have actually done the programmes ourselves first to show the great results that are achievable. We wanted the reader to be engrossed into our lives and encouraged by what we have done and what they can do. We included all aspects of the way we lived (personal diaries/stress & energy levels/sleeping patterns), trained (times we worked out, length of sessions, weights/reps/sets we actually done) and ate (the snacks we used, meals & recipes we followed, shopping lists we stuck by), along with all of our health results and measurements and weekly photos. By seeing how and what we have accomplished sets a precedence for the reader to be encouraged, motivated and empowered to get up and have a go for themselves.

2 – Weight loss but more importantly health benefits:
We wanted the weight loss to be controlled, sustainable and achievable. Exercise is important but the diet in my eyes plays an even more important roll (up to 70% of the way we look and feel). It was the nutrition and recipes that took us the most amount of the time to get right. The recipes we chose had to contain a large variety of ingredients, be very healthy and above all tremendously tasty. We set about creating the recipes to help the body from the inside out, by lowering / balancing glucose and cholesterol levels but with the upside of weight lose.

3 – Transforming your body within twelve weeks but changing your lifestyle forever:
Your body can make a dramatic transformation in such short period of time but it takes the full twelve weeks to make an impact on our habits and routines. The nutrition is the hardest part to change, as you have more than likely fallen into your own routine and lifestyle. To break this you will need hard work, be dedicated and to see results to push you through to the goal you set yourself. When you get to the end and you have achieved what you wanted, you will forever have set yourself new routine and lifestyle. It has been 4 years since we finished the twelve week programme and yes we are both still as fit and healthy as ever, even after Alison has had our little baby boy Morgen. We unconsciously make the right choices of the foods we eat, and we still try to stick to three fish meals, two white meat, one red meat and a vegetarian meal a week for our dinners.

4 – Easy to follow fitness sessions and recipes
The ease and functionality of the book is by far a head and shoulders above the rest. All of the training and recipes have been broken down into step by step guides that will take you through each individual fitness session and recipe day by day, week by week for the full twelve weeks. The nutrition programme has been developed for a family of four and allows you to see the weeks overview first, before it leads you onto the weekly detailed shopping list that you can take out to the supermarket to help you save time, energy and stress.

The programme includes all breakfast, lunch and dinner meals for the entire twelve weeks which has over 100 recipes. The recipes themselves are very easy to follow with simple step by step directions on the ingredients needed, how to prepare and cook each meal, even to the point of reminding the reader how to prepare for the next days meal. The training has been designed for the men to gain muscle, tone up, get fit whilst losing weight whilst the women’s is about toning up, getting fit and losing weight with the added bonus of shredding some cellulite. You will be able to follow the personal sessions of the authors next to your own which has blank sections to jot down your own results. If you then wanted you can compare yours next to the authors to see how well you are getting on!

4. How did you come up with the recipes for the book?

The biggest inspiration for me, like most, is my mother. She encouraged my brothers and I from an early age to start cooking and above all enjoy all the tastes and texture food can bring. We were brought up on homely food but as the years went by and we were older and able to help in the kitchen my mums culinary skills changed some what and she started to follow various diets. My mum would take a very boring and mundane recipe and change it to a delicious meal exploding in taste. This was the foot stones to where I started and I have taken the recipes she has used throughout the years and made the recipes slightly.

5. Do you have any favourite exercises from the 80 in the book?

To be honest if you asked me I have a couple of favourite exercises in the gym. The first would be pull ups as they are so good at hitting all aspects of your back and can define your shape. The second is the Morey Squeeze (upper) as I find this is one of the best exercises to isolate and hit the upper pectoral like no other exercise out there. Finally I like squats as it they one of the hardest exercises but it’s a foundational exercise that can improve your posture, develop your muscle mass when lifting heavy and increase muscular endurance to help with cardio vascular exercises. Alison would say the exercises she liked the most were dumbbell shoulder press as it really helped tone her shoulder and triceps, reverse shrugs as this exercise helped realign her posture and bring back her shoulders and boxing as it was a great way to vent frustration, get fit and have fun doing it!!

6. Are the weekly shopping lists for the recipes affordable?

The weekly shopping lists back in 2012 we’re worked out at a costing of £45 per head for all the meals and snacks for the entire week, this did however include ingredients that would last longer than a week or two such as extra virgin olive oil and soy sauce. 

7. Can the workouts be carried out at home?

The training sessions I carried out we’re actually at home within my own gym in the garage, so yes all the training can be carried out at home. If you wanted to get the same results or better you would need to use roughly the same type of equipment as we used or better.

8. Is there any basic equipment that readers need to follow the programme?

It’s quite hard to say would you get the same results as Ali and I without the correct equipment and the answer would be you probably would have completely different results. The basic equipment was pretty basic for Ali and I to get the results we wanted. For example if you decided to do all body weights instead of using actual free weights then you would certainly get lean and toned but you would not gain the same amount of muscular size and mass. If you were unable to run like Alison and I, you would need to find an alternative that pushes you just as hard (again this would depend on your fitness levels as a fast walk will be hard for one person but easy for another). So yes it is important to get the right equipment for the best results but no it’s not the end of the world as any form of exercise you do with the correct diet will help you lose weight and above all get fitter and healthier.

Read a few sample pages from Gavin’s new books…

12 Week Fitness for Men 12 Week Fitness for Women

Want real results? Experience the difference with the Twelve Week Fitness and Nutrition Programmes

 Real Results – No Gimmicks – No Airbrushing

12 weeks Book 1.indbTwelve Week Fitness and Nutrition Programme for Men

For Women                                                                                           For Men

Read a few sample pages from these fantastic books, based on a real-life challenge, these are the only fitness & nutrition books to show real results with no airbrushing and no gimmicks.

Covering fitness, health and nutrition, each book contains over 60 different workouts with 80 different exercises to choose from, explaining their purpose and technique. With the basics of training, warm-ups, cool-downs and stretching explained, the books also contain information on what fitness tests are used and the training routines followed, and a training diary for the reader to keep track of their programme and progress.

Order your copy today

9781408196366       9781408196397

 

World Congress of Cycling Science

Cycling ScienceAre Tour de France champions born or made? Should cyclists strength train? How can pain become gain? What are the real benefits of contemporary sports nutrition? And – bottom line – can sports science help make race winners?

These are a few of the questions that a gathering of world leading sports scientists, coaches and medical practitioners aim to address at the UCI-endorsed 2nd World Congress of Cycling Science at the Rose Bowl in Leeds from Wednesday 2nd to Thursday 3rd of July, just days before the city hosts the Grand Depart of the Tour de France (Saturday 5th July).

The conference is organised by the University of Kent’s School of Sports and Exercise Science, which is headed by Professor Louis Passfield and Dr James Hopker, two of Great Britain’s leading names in the field. The conference has so far attracted representatives from the likes of UCI Pro Tour teams Garmin-Sharp, BMC, Francais des Jeux, Movistar and Omega Pharma Quickstep.

Integrating the various aspects of coaching, sports science, medicine, technology and performance, the Congress will provide a forum for the discussion of performance enhancement with a focus on the Tour itself. Speakers and participants include former riders turned coaches Charly Wegelius (Garmin-Sharp) and Marco Pinotti (BMC Pro Cycling Team), with other special guests to be announced.

As part of the Congress SRM are sponsoring a Keynote presentation where Uli Schoberer and a current Pro Tour rider (tbc), will discuss the use of power meters in professional cycling. SRM will also be exhibiting PowerMeters, PowerControls and cycle ergometers at the Congress.

Professor Passfield, previously a sports scientist with the Great Britain Cycling Team, said that the aim of the conference is “to further the use of science in cycling and to help share relevant information with coaches and sports scientists. The conference programme is designed to stimulate and inspire future collaboration and research-informed practice for the benefit of a new generation of cyclists”.

Further information about the Congress, speakers and how to book is available at www.wcss2014.co.uk. Alongside the Congress, there will also be a free evening event for up to 250 members of the public on the Thursday evening. Further information on the evening event and to book a place visit www.wcss2014.co.uk.

Dr James Hopker is the author of Performance Cycling.

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How to Avoid Injuries During the London Marathon

The London Marathon is just around the corner, you’ve been training for months, you’ve ironed your best and tightest running bottoms, and you’re determined not to embarrass yourself in front of friends, family and live TV. So what can stop you now you ask?!

Did you know that 28% of runners never make it to the starting line due to injury? And that on the day, a further 2% (about 500 runners) don’t finish the race due to injuries? We know that at this point it’s far too late to change anything drastic, but we’ve been dipping into John Shepherd’s fantastic Strength Training for Runners to find a few handy tips to stop those last-minute niggles.

Pre-conditioning:

‘Prevention in the case of running injuries, is very much better than cure’. Wiser words were never spoken, and in aid of preventing running injures John Shepherd recommends this great selection of resistance exercises for pre-conditioning training:

Pre-conditioning

Warming up:

A running-specific warm-up will raise your body temperature, improve your range of movement and get you mentally ready for the task ahead! These are all fairly vital, so we thought we’d chuck in some of John Shepherd’s very own advised warm-ups to help you on your way:

Warming up

 

Stretching, obviously, but concentrate on sites of previous injury:

Stretching everything properly is vital, but if you’ve had an injury before in a specific area, like the hamstring, it is vital to make sure that area is fully prepared. As John Shepherd points out:

‘In terms of learning from previous injuries, a team of researchers investigated hamstring injuries in elite athletes, hypothesising that those with a prior history of hamstring muscle strain were at increased risk of sustaining similar injuries in the future.’

So, if you have any previous niggles in important areas, make sure those areas are properly stretched out and warmed up before you head for the starting line.

 Order your copy today

9781408155615

 

Meet Michael Hutchinson and Discover the Obsession, Science and Luck Behind the World’s Fastest Cyclists

Discover the Obsession, Science and Luck Behind the World’s Fastest Cyclists

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Michael Hutchinson is obsessed with speed. He will be here at the Bloomsbury Institute on 6th May to tell us about his new book, Faster, and explain why cyclists do what they do, what the riders, their coaches and the boffins get up to behind the scenes, and why the idea of going faster is such an appealing, universal instinct for all of us.

Fantastic. An intelligent and personal insight in to the world of elite cycling’ Sir Dave Brailsford

Book your tickets today!

Listen to Julia Buckley talk to KFKA’s Devon Lentz about her new book The Fat Burn Revolution

Click on the book cover below to listen to Julia Buckley talk to KFKA’s Devon Lentz about her new book The Fat Burn Revolution.

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The Fat Burn Revolution

Meet author Julia Buckley as she talks about her new book The Fat Burn Revolution

The Fat Burn Revolution publishes on the 2nd January 2014.

Parc des Princes for the finish in Paris, 1951. #tdf

Bloomsbury Sport’s Tour de France Photo of the Day

Stage 21


Finish in sight

The peloton swings into a packed Parc des Princes for the traditional finish of the Tour in 1951. Hugo Koblet, second from the left, made it two Tour victories in a row for Switzerland, following Ferdi Kübler’s win in 1950.

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These photos can be found on page 75 of Tour de France 100.

Poor Alps road surface during the 1920 Tour. #tdf

Bloomsbury Sport’s Tour de France Photo of the Day


Stage 20

Alpine tracks
Léon Scieur in the Alps on his way to winning stage 11, between Grenoble and Gex, during the 1920 Tour. The picture acts as a stark illustration of the poor quality of the road surfaces at the time.

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These photos can be found on page 39 of Tour de France 100.
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