My last long run is done and the race is just around the corner. My legs feel strong and my mind is psyched to get started now. I’ve wanted to return to Cortina since discovering this beautiful alpine town last year while climbing the classic Tre Cime di Lavaredo. Now I’m heading back on Wednesday to race in a stunning and difficult trail race.

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Running is hard on your body, there is no doubt, and, your body needs to develop the strength and resistance for the miles you put it through. However, putting your body through too many miles without the relative strength, stability and mobility opens you up for injury and, potential, missing your race.

As I train for The North Face Ultra Trail de Lavaredo, I’ve been working on protecting my body and getting stronger.

Here is a session I completed with a group of ultra distant runners using body weight movements.

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As I sit on a lift going back up for another ski run, tie onto the rope for another lap, or catch my breath before running up another hill I can’t help feeling like I’m cheating, that I’ve given myself an advantage over myself in previous years. Strength has given me a capacity to do just one more route, one more lap, and these extra efforts are what are allowing me to improve. Step by step. Is it cheating?

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I have been so excited about coming back to London to study and hopefully qualify as a personal trainer – it is the culmination of several years hard work, life changing decisions, and listening to that little voice deep inside me. As exciting as that is, I knew I was going to be missing Chamonix, the mountains, and the training that being based there enables. Not one to be dissuaded, I have managed to keep on top of my training with the awesome help of some people.

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Last week I made it to the halfway point in my intensive personal training course at Fitness Industry Education and passed my tests as a gym instructor. The course has been really eye opening – I knew I would learn a lot but some nuggets of information have been real keepers. I wanted to share them with you here.

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Nepal was an incredible trip. Not only did I get to experience a wonderful and inspiring new country, I also had a massive amount of time to reflect on where I have been, where I am, and where I want to go. I have written about searching for my purpose, taming the swarm of ideas and inspiration, and my Very Hungry Caterpillar philosophy but it was the time alone in the Himalayas that gave me the space to let it all come together.

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At 11pm Sophie turns to me and, with a look that is hard to say no to, says ‘Can we get up for sunrise and go swim in Lake Passy?’. I pause for a second too long and so she presses on, ‘We can take the kettlebells and have a proper training session down there…?’. It’s hard to say no to Sophie at the best of times but a 5am wake up call for a cold swim should be easy to refuse. As she topped up my glass of whiskey, my judgement got the better of me and I agreed to this very Sophie idea.

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I nervously turned to Sophie, my finger hovering over the mouse button, ‘Am I doing this?’. The look in her eye and smile on her face confirms this is the right decision. I click the ‘Confirm’ button and I’m done. I’m on my way to becoming a StrongFirst kettlebell instructor. The first step has been taken, here is step two – telling you all and committing to trying my hardest, training hard, and loving every minute of it.

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I’ve changed. I can see it in the mirror but, most importantly, I feel it inside – in my general well being, my state of mind, and my drive and motivation. It hasn’t come easy, there has been a huge amount of sacrifice, and I’ve worked very hard to re-educate my body and re-align my requirements. The results? I’ve lost 2 stone, countless inches, sleeping incredibly, and, to top it all off, I’ve the beginnings of abs.

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