Six months to six weeks. I still need help.

Late last year I enlisted the services of a personal trainer.

This was a confronting thing for me to do. I have the core strength of a dead fish and the coordination of a fence post. This was not going to be easy.

But this is why I hired a trainer. When was the last time you heard about a dead fish, or a fence post, or with someone of the attributes of these things, finishing mountainous 100 mile ultramarathons? The comparison is perhaps ridiculous, but the point is, I needed help.

So in November, with six months to The North Face 100, I took the plunge and contacted Andy Budgen. I met Andy at a coffee shop not long before. He's not only a PT but also a triathlon coach, and as a multiple Ironman finisher I knew he would understand what I would need for endurance training.

Even sending that first email, let alone fronting up at my first session, was challenging, frightening, and embarrasing.
  • Challenging because I wouldn't be able to do anything my trainer asked of me.
  • Frightening because I was so scared of looking ridiculous trying to do what was asked of me.
  • Embarrassing because, well, who wants to look ridiculous in a public space like a gym? 

For the first few months, each time Andy demonstrated the exercises he wanted me to do, I would look at him with equal parts of disbelief, sheer concentration, and embarrassment.
  • Disbelief that anyone can do these things, let alone me, what with my attributes of dead fish and fence posts. I even quite regularly said out loud, "I can't do that" while looking on in disbelief.
  • Sheer concentration, trying to work out how it might be possible for me to prove myself wrong and do what at first seemed impossible.
  • Embarrassment because, well, I just knew I would look ridiculous trying.

But, to my credit (even if I say so myself) I still try every time. Sometimes I stand there, motionless, and Andy tells me he can see my brain calculating how to tackle the task at hand.

I previously wrote about my experience with one-legged burpees. In recent weeks I've been somewhat successful at deconstructed burpees. So I thought I was making some progress.

Until this week's session.

I am writing about this now because this week's session brought all that embarrassment back. I had almost forgotten how mortified I was when I first started out. This week, though, the seated knee tuck brought me undone and my embarrassment came flooding back.

I did not look like this:

In fact, I couldn't do this at all.

Even more embarrassingly, I couldn't describe to Andy why I couldn't do it. I still don't know whether it was my inner-fence-post-lack-of-coordination, or the dead-fish-like-lack-of-core-strength that was preventing me from doing something that looks quite straightforward.

At times like these I wonder what is going through Andy's head, and whether he's as embarrassed as I am... and the negative voice inside me tells me that I'm better off not knowing and that some things are better left unsaid.

With a few days now passed I feel slightly less embarrassed, and that negative voice has diminished. Especially after my trail run this morning I am remembering how much progress I HAVE made, instead of letting my shortcomings haunt me.

And then I remember. There is only six weeks until The North Face 100. I still need help, in the form of not only the strength that Andy is helping me build, but also courage, and some good hard training sessions under my belt.

I think I can do this.


  1. I know you can do it.

    Remember the feelings of fear, worry and embarrassment and how you've worked through them to achieve the set tasks. That's what you have to do for North Face

  2. Hell yes you can do it. Wish I was there to give you a slap on the bum. You have overcome more mental obstacles than anyone I know, and I absolutely know you can do this. Forget about what anyone is thinking..."what people think of you is none of your business"

  3. Keep training with this dude. This time next year you will wonder what on earth you were fussing about. Your body is capable of incredible things. You have proven that over and again. Relax and let it do its job for you. You are amazing.

  4. Thanks Bron and The Jackson 5. You are both amazing too.
    I am still scared of what lies ahead but I have put the embarrassment aside for now.