After a brief flirtation with medicine I graduated with first class honours in biochemistry in 2002 from the University of Dundee. I went on to finish a PhD here in the College of Life Sciences where to my supervisors dismay I probably spent as much time in the pool as on the microscope. Today I still spend the large majority of my time working in the field of cell signalling and cancer as a post-doctoral researcher.
This is the DNA readout of a gene mutated in such a way that it could cause it to be overactive. What we do is try and work out how this gene interacts with other genes and the environment to cause cancer. If you think that sounds complicated then you would be right but thats why I spent four year studying for a PhD.
My background in science has given me a framework for interpretation and analysis of information that I use in every part of my life. For filtering the information from the latest sport science report to reviewing literature to applying methods of quantification, analysis and progression to anything.
Science has above all given me, not so much a thirst for knowledge, as an uneasy felling I may be wrong or there may be something I don’t know which continually drives me to keep learning and reassessing the way I do things.
I became involved in triathlon in 2004 after many years of toying with what was generally regarded as a ridiculous idea by my friends and family.
Fitness had become very important to me during my recovery from a car crash where I had broken 2 vertebrae in my back along with several other bones on my chest and was completely immobile for several months. I still suffer the after effects of this event largely due to the 4cm of height I lost and the 45o break in my upper back resulting in lost of shoulder and chest mobility affecting my breathing.
It makes me enormously grateful to even be walking and somtimes I wonder I do the things I do. I have since learned to stop listent to he negative voices of people telling you what you can’t do because as a general rule you can achieve anything you set your mind to.
My learning curve was steep and I developed a passion for training and understanding the principals and reasons for what I did. In 2006 When I finished my PhD I trained for 6 weeks and flew out to Western Australia to do my first Ironman event in Busselton. Ironically I dis not find my 9hours 13min finish very satisfying, I guess I made one too many mistakes and was frustrated.
I soon forgot about that and did several more long distance events with more success first in Austria 2008 where I finished 10th in 8hours 35min then at Challenge Roth 2009 finishing 13th in 8hours 23min. Both of these were Scottish records at the time.
All this time I was still working as a research scientist and beginning my coaching career. After a very busy year marred by injury in 2010 I made a comeback to racing in 2011 with a number of domestic wins and 11th at Challenge Barcellona in 8hours 43min. While my fitness had improved in the interim it seemed I had forgot some of the lessons I had learned back in Australia.
Triathlon now forms a key part of my life both coaching, training and competing and I want to share the pleasure and satisfaction it has brought me with everyone I work with.
Sport is not just about athletic performance. At any level exercise can bring you better health both physically and mentally. It reduces the risk of almost every cancer and cardiovascular disease as well as being an important part of the treatment or diseases from cardiovascular to psychological disease such as depression. Not only that it improves outcomes for those that are recovering from disease such as cancer.
The assumption is often that because I perform at a high level in triathlon I must be a health nut who has a desire to eat nothing but bran, a saint abstaining from the bacon rolls and alcohol and anything that could be perceived to cause harm.
I can assure you however that I am no saint and I have had health rather thrust upon me by my desire to good at my sport. Triathlon has been a way to better health for me and I aim to share what I can.