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“I could also be 50, however my physique is 35 years outdated and I will row within the Atlantic.”


As I put together for one of many world’s hardest bodily challenges, it appears unusual to me to look again at my inveterate 20s and 30s, rolling off the bed each morning with a hangover. Although I used to be Oxford Blue and rowed for England, in 1995 I hung up the oars and began internet hosting the occasion, first as a TEFL instructor in Seville after which as a journalist in London.

It was the lack of my mother June to breast most cancers that made me transfer once more. In 2010, when my youngest youngster was solely 9 months outdated, I turned my grief right into a fundraiser and walked the 26.2-mile moonwalk run by Stroll the Stroll, a breast most cancers charity. For 40 years I’ve continued energy strolling marathons, together with in London, Edinburgh and Paris. Everybody asks why I don’t run, however I don’t have the physique for that, and I imagine brisk strolling is the proper method to get higher as we age.

A number of years in the past I threw away the scales and acquired a physique composition monitor. It tells me my physique fats share, my muscle mass and, most revealingly, my metabolic physique age – or how outdated I’m inside. The excellent news was that strolling and my busy workplace work saved me match at an affordable stage.

However issues went awry after I bought fired and began working from dwelling. Impulsively, these statistics are uncontrolled, and particularly after the quarantine interval late final summer time. My physique fats was 37 p.c and I used to be 58 years outdated. I used to be 49 then.

I used to be terrified, not least as a result of I believed I used to be in good condition. I began rowing once more, and in the course of the isolation I walked lengthy distances and did Pilates frequently. However though my weight remained the identical, my physique inside was altering for the more serious.

It was an actual wake-up name. Although I exercised loads, I wasn’t actually pushing my physique out of my consolation zone – and isolation meant I used to be shedding my each day random actions as nicely. When it resulted in March, I upped the ante with brutal 500m interval sprints in my solo. Lastly, I began to note modifications.

However the actual breakthrough got here after I signed up for the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Problem, a 3,000-mile unsupported rowing race from La Gomera to Antigua, after my pal’s crew member dropped out. The timing was good — the lengthy double rides on the tidal river in Ipswich with my weight rowing companion had tempered me sufficient. From the second I first stepped on the Mom Ship, I loved being on board. Being on the water is a acutely aware expertise that washes away stress, though little doubt the Atlantic can be intimidating at occasions.

Now, after a number of weeks of intense ergometer and EMS (Electrical Muscle Stimulation) train and water coaching, my lowest physique age I’ve seen is 35 years outdated and my physique fats share is 26 p.c. These numbers fluctuate with the extent of hydration, however the pattern is reducing. Muscle groups reappear and I’ve much more vitality. After 36 hours of coaching in the summertime, after we hadn’t slept for greater than two hours at a time, I felt extra superhuman than overwhelmed.

I realized that we are able to get our our bodies far into our 50s in case you spend the time laying the groundwork. I simply hope I did sufficient to cross the ocean 3000 miles!

My coaching week



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