John Gooden

Presenter. Commentator. Writer

John Gooden is an international presenter, sports commentator, voice over artist and writer

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4 GOOD, 4 BAD from my first half iron distance triathlon

Below are my take aways from my first half iron distance (70.3) race at The Marshman in Kent, UK.

GOOD

1. COACHING

Top of the list was having sought out great coaches.  Those who have been checking out my YouTube videos will have heard me mention Helen Hall who has helped me all the way from posture correction to pedal coaching and sprint training.  I have also had 5 swimming lessons with Mike Weedon, a certified Total Immersion Swimming coach.

The theme of the coaching I have been given is efficiency.  I have a background in explosive sports and my nature is typically 100 miles an hour at all times, so longer distance triathlons don’t exactly fit with my natural pacing of life, but life is about challenges and at times becoming comfortable in the uncomfortable.

Helen wears many hats for human performance, being a triathlon coach is one and I’ve been lucky to have enlisted her help for some injury correction, run coaching and pedal coaching.  In short, she helped me unravel some biomechanical issues to reduce joint pain in my knees, back and neck and once that was done (via a combination of ‘geezer walking’ and other reprogramming techniques) I moved onto run coaching (https://youtu.be/pUsvnwXgsBU).  The most significant aspects have been moving to minimalist/ barefoot running, nose breathing and amplifying the rotation in, well everything during a run.  My times have been coming down, my VO2 max has increased and I spend less time in heart rate zone 4 and 5.  Essentially I have become more efficient and that is so important when aiming for half and full distance triathlons.

The pedal coaching also made a massive difference.  Not only was I taught good posture in tri position (not banana man!), I was introduced to Speedplay pedals which have been kinder to my knees and I now use gravity to my advantage which has seen me go from struggling at the back of the pack to charging past others particularly on hills.

I have really enjoyed my development in swimming.  Last year when I was a triathlon newbie and having a crack at sprint distances, I would get out of the pool or lake looking like I’d just had a full body free-weights workout and sounding like I had performed all of that on a treadmill at 10 mph! 

These days I am fascinated by Terry Laughlin’s Total Immersion Swimming technique.  It looks so graceful and effortless.  Although a relative novice I have already reduced my stroke count in a 25m pool from 25 to 19 and my general feeling after a swim is that I’m ready for the bike and run.  I employ a 2 beat kick, using my core as my swim engine and only a small whip of the legs from the hip.  I hold the water with an outstretched arm at about 30 degrees, until I spear with my next stroke with a relaxed forearm and kick/ rotate past my holding arm which cycles past my pocket and then the stroke continues. 

The above has made my journey much more enjoyable.  We all love to learn and having this technical focus has kept me interested when crashing out +100 laps of the local, dirty council swimming pool or pounding the pavements avoiding aggressive dogs and giving me something more than the rain to occupy my mind.

It is of course training that helps you reach your goals, but the correct guidance and focus has allowed me to achieve my goals more efficiently and confidently.

 

2. DILIGENT PREPARATION

Last year’s foray into triathlon was akin to sniffing a new food to discover whether it was even worth tasting.  With the longer distances planned over a summer of activity, I had to take my first race seriously.  You read all about being prepared and it really is an essential.  There is so much kit to remember, pack, fit, clean, charge and arrange that it needs careful attention.  I made an extensive list in my Evernote app and ticked everything off before I left for the race.  I laid everything out (similar to transition) and mentally walked through the race making sure I had everything from goggle anti-fog spray to electrolyte tablets.

Before you even get to this stage though, it’s worth researching your nutrition plan and perhaps even bike set up for the distance.  I had a GURU bike fit in February and have made some changes along the way due to pedals and saddle changes.  Some people might have a new bike set up for longer/ shorter distances, so something to consider.  A bike service is also a good shout.  I changed my tyres and tubes for more durable items.  I also tightened everything up (or so I thought…more about that later).  Oh, and look at weather reports.  We were forecast rain for the bike and run, but we were lucky.  However, I had a waterproof jacket in case.

In terms of nutrition, I was staying overnight close to the event so I pre-prepared my dinner, breakfast and also some food for re-fuelling.  I worked out that I would need to fill my torpedo bottle and take a spare standard bottle for half iron.  I like the High 5 tablets so I’d need 2 of those.  I also took a combination of 4 torq gels and 2 torq bars and also 1 packet of clif blocks (basically a solid gel and really easy to consume) and clif bars for after the race.  I decided on 3 medjool dates for the run.  Some people tape the gels to their frame, but I bought an x-lab frame mounted pouch to safely store all the necessary gels, oh and a couple of 200mg ibuprofen.  I actually took 1 when the pain in the ass got too much at about the 30 mile mark!

Lastly, I drove the route in my car.  I actually got lost twice, but thankfully didn’t repeat this despite largely riding alone for large parts of the race.  The course was well marshalled and wasn’t confusing.  Maybe because I checked it out first!?

With no stone unturned I was far more relaxed heading down to the race.

3. RELAX

This is very important.  I am a super competitive person and even though I was supposed to be using this race as a training session my resting heart rate certainly was not at 50.

One of the main reasons I wasn’t completely at ease stems from last year’s experiences in the water.  My first ever sprint tri was in a pool with competitors starting every 10 seconds.  In my first lap I got punched in the face, dragging my goggles down and cutting my nose.  Someone was trying to overtake in my lane and we collided.  However, coming from a combat sports background it hit an internal switch that changed me from ‘friendly bloke looking forward to a bike ride’, to ‘oh, its like THAT!’  For my next race at Hever Castle I was way more focussed and had a good warm up.  My mate and I entered the lake and the next thing I remember was being dunked, elbowed, pulled and bumped.  I very nearly quit.  I got myself into a bit of a negative state and the memory has stayed with me for this year’s season. 

The thing with the swim, is that there will be contact.  You can find a shallow part of the lake and wrestle with the reeds or you can swim among other neoprene clad humans.  For this race I accepted my fate and just relaxed into it.  I went back to the training mentality and even found myself trying to swim off the hips of other racers and battling for position at the buoys.

Anxiety causes physical tension and clouds your mind and judgement.  I was able to happily go about my ride and run with a relaxed mind which made it much easier to relax my body in tri position on the bike and then throughout the run.  I can remember hearing some water sloshing around in my stomach on the run, which was good in that I was clearly relaxed, but I probably water loaded a little bit too much. 

We must accept our present state and environment at every turn of a race.  We must trust in our training and then execute.  Tensing up will only burn useful energy and increase the likelihood of injury, not to mention affect good form and performance.

 

4. PACING

I feel like I paced the race well.  Although you are among a field of other triathletes for a great many competitors you are focussing on your own race, your own goals.  Sure, use others as targets but only if you feel its not outside of your strategy.  And just an aside, don’t look back.  It’s negative.  Of course check your shoulder on the bike to avoid dangers, but don’t lookback on the run.  You should be aiming forward at all times, with maybe a small exception at the final sprint to the finish line.

I watched a good YouTube video from an experienced Iron Man that suggested holding back a little bit on the bike.  He literally meant riding at 18mph if you wanted to average 20 mph.  Pulling slightly on the reigns will pay dividends and for me, it certainly did.  I was passed by about half a dozen bikes during the first 15-20 miles, but then as the course became a little more challenging I increased the intensity and earned back all of those spots.  I was doing so well until my chain came off and jammed just before the only significant climb on the course.  Dammit!

I also paced the run pretty well too.  I noticed that a lot of us were coming out of transition running 7:30 min miles, which I thought would be too quick for me.  I don’t have much experience of running half marathons.  I ran a 45 minute 10k at a Windsor duathlon and that has been my closest race pace to gauge against.  So, I slowed up.  I wanted to run around 8 minute miles and I definitely wanted to run inside 2 hours.  However, around mile 8 I could feel some of my injuries tormenting me a bit; first my knee, then my ankle and then my hamstring.  The last thing I wanted (or needed for my confidence) was a DNF (did not finish), so I slowed up to about 9 minute miles and came home inside the 2 hours.  Without pacing I might not have finished and I might have closed out my season with a serious ligament injury.

BAD

1. POOR TRANSITIONS

I think this would appear on a lot of novice triathlete’s lists.  The upshot is that I reckon I have an easy couple of minutes to save which would have elevated my final race position.  It’s easiest to illustrate in a mini list.  OK, so T1: 

·      I could have swum closer to the exit point of the lake

·      For some reason I ran out of transition with one cleat cover over my Speedplay cleats.  I have no idea how this happened, but I guess I was in 2 minds when I was setting my kit out as to whether it would be too slippery etc through transition.  I only discovered this whilst trying to clip in.  Obviously a challenging task when you have a solid plastic barrier!

T2:

·      Came to dismount the bike as I did last year when I was racing sprints.  For this I would unclip the right shoe, swing it over to the left side as the bike was still moving and then eventually dismount on the left.  I was a little more fatigued this time though so realised that wouldn’t happen without embarrassing incident, so I came to a halt (after unclipping) and tried to swing my leg over the rear of the bike.  However, I had a newly-mounted X Lab wing on the back which meant a little more effort needed to clear with the leg.  A clash with wing ensued but no harm done.  More work needed to decide the correct dismount!

·      For the bike I had worn an extra cycling jersey and an extra pair of shorts.  I have been suffering terrible chafing after the duathlon, so I thought I’d wear an extra pair of shorts which I could remove if in fact it created too much padding and a counter productive effect.  In short, they worked.  But I was half way out of transition before I realised I hadn’t removed them!  So, I went back to my spot, took them off and left transition.  What about your cycling jersey, you ask.  Yeah, I forgot to take it off!  Not too much of a problem, but I did have all my empty gels, my cleat cover and a small bag of 3 dates in the pockets, most of which I didn’t need to carry.  Plus it was warming up and I had double layers on.

2. MECHANICAL ISSUES

It wasn’t long during the ride that I saw a poor fellow tending to a puncture.  Shitty luck when that happens, but it most certainly does happen.  My mechanical issues were a little different to this. 

Now I class myself as fairly handy.  I’m an experienced tradesman and I like to try my hand at practical stuff.  Bicycles are largely simple devices with only a few moving parts, so how hard can it be!?!  Well in the week leading to the race I manage to get hold of some necessary accessories like the front mounted hydration system, a frame mounted bag and a bike post wing which you fix a variety of useful kit to, in my case a bottle holder, a medium sized bag for maintenance tools/ equipment and a nut for speed fill air canisters and adapter.  I largely followed the instructions and thought I was good to go, proud of my new attractive set up.

About 5 miles into the ride I heard a metallic tinging noise…you know, the noise that a CO2 canister makes as it falls from a bike moving at 20 mph on to the unforgiving black tarmac road!  This wasn’t a deal breaker and I still had one canister should I realise the same fate as the poor fellow I had not long passed who was frantically removing a damaged tube from his wheel. 

Fast forward another 10/15 miles and I heard another noise close behind my bike.  This time it was more of a thud followed by a skid…you know, the noise a bottle full of water and electrolytes makes as it magically climbs out of its cage and escapes to freedom!  Not so good for thirsty me.  And also not so good for anyone riding behind- apologies to anyone that recalls this incident, it wasn’t a devious attempt at some kind of Whacky Races advantage!  Fortunately, the aid station at the half-way point allowed me to refill and I was good for the rest of the ride.

What wasn’t good however was the position of my chain as I began the only significant climb of the bike section.  I have no idea why it happened, but as it shifted to the small ring that harrowing noise of metal and carbon filled my ears and my crank locked.  A peek down between my feet revealed it was time to get oily.  I was able to free the (luckily undamaged) chain and start my ascent.  I was frustrated though as I had worked really hard to claw back a number of positions and was in a really good rhythm.  I wanted to test my ability climbing the hill against others, but sadly I did it alone.  I might have also meant that I didn’t get caught in the queue at the rail crossing in the final quarter!

Maybe I should have had my bike serviced after all.  It wasn’t perfect after the duathlon in April and I tried to make some small adjustments myself.  It will however be checked into the professional workshop shortly.

 

3.OVERUSE OF WATER AND AID STATIONS

I’m a little bit obsessed with hydration.  I drink a lot and I pee a lot.  Staying well hydrated has served me well, but in a competitive environment it seems to be costing me time.  Sure I ran through the water and aid stations but I could have saved a couple of detours which would have reduced the negative effects on my breathing and heart rate, not to mention running form as a result of being loaded on one side which upsets the biomechanics.

Next time I will find out about how many aid/ water stations there are and maybe even their locations and plan this.

 

4. LACES

Lastly, and it was a rookie error- laces.  So I never got round to weaving speed laces into this season’s running shoes.  In fact the laces in my Merrells had never undone either, so with this not being a sprint, I was quite happy to stick with tying them in transition.  100 metres out of transition and the bloody things came undone!  I hadn’t factored in the numb fingers effect from the bike.  I will buy a new set of speed laces shortly.

 

That’s my 4 good and 4 bad from my very first half iron distance race.  Please don’t make the same mistakes as me and also reach out with any thoughts or tips.  You can find me the followng ways:

twitter @johngoodenuk or @thebloodyvegan

instagram @johngoodenuk

YouTube The Bloody Vegan

Train hard.  Train safe.  Have fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My lasting sentiments from Vegas

mgm It’s funny what some people’s take away are from historic events. I decided to write this sat in the MGM Grand in a fairly open spot to observe all the people recovering from the monumental week that peaked with UFC 194. There are a lot of glazed eyes, lazy feet and hoarse voices. Even on Monday afternoon, there are suited men with green, white and orange cloaks.

I originally thought I’d write this post as a bit of a fight week report, but as I recount the events of the week my hangover is being surpassed by high levels of adrenaline as I recognise and process the unbelievable achievements of my employers, Luke Rockhold and Conor McGregor. Dreams, hard work, smart work and ambition are prevalent in my assessment of the week that has been.

Mixed martial arts is still comparably young to ‘big sports’ and the UFC are the trailblazers. They continue to push boundaries and make huge gains on their mainstream cousins. I work with a lot of these people and I see, first hand, the effort they put in and the results. In fact as a presenter, commentator I see my role as a lucky representative of the many people behind the scenes and a secondary voice for the fighters. If I make errors, I haven’t delivered something that others have worked on for probably a significant time. If a fighter confides in me and I misrepresent their story, I have failed them. For me it’s so much more than calling a 1-2, single leg takedown, pass to side control sequence. I write this because attending as a spectator this week, I took time to watch others at work, considering their styles, pressures and success. I saw the stress, the joy, the effort and the scale of the operation. I have been inspired, I have taken notes and I’m excited to get back in the foxes dojo (my office) to start complimenting these efforts.

eng ints

A little about the three events then: After hanging out in a few bars and clubs (for purely research purposes) it quickly became apparent that I was in the company with not necessarily UFC fans, but Conor McGregor fans. It was a little bit like going to a local MMA show- people there probably don’t even know what the event is called, but they are there to support a friend or family member. My hopes in such situations is that they are drawn into our beautiful sport and invest in other athletes. A small side note, a benefactor of the McGregor effect was clearly Uriah Faber. I’ve been a fan of his since his WEC days. I’ve loved his ‘Californian ways’, business acumen and “Hi Mom” shout-out before his introductions (not to mention his fighting ability). The Irish fans like him as he was Conor’s friendly foe on The Ultimate Fighter. Correction, it wasn’t the Irish fans, it was the McGregor fans. They are made up of many different nationalities. I was with a couple of Geordies and also some Americans who were mad about The Notorious one and now Faber.

194 billboard

I am a neutral and I maintain that the best man or woman must win regardless of allegiances. However, it’s no secret that Conor’s success will benefit the European region. In the short term, it will probably cost Dan and I a show as when Conor returns to Ireland, it will of course be a PPV event. (One day, Dan, we will be Octagonside on a hallowed ‘numbered’ event!!).

It has been a pleasure to watch his rise. I wrote an article about this for UFC.com (http://www.ufc.com/news/UFC-194-Aldo-McGregor-conor-championship-mindset). For a fella that hasn’t picked up a degree in communications, Conor really knows how to deliver a message. I’m fascinated to know what his reading list has been over the last 10 years. He has inspired me both professionally and also athletically. Why should we settle with mediocre goals? And in terms of training, I was once told to stick to one thing, not diversify as it will have negative effects on my goals. They were wrong and I’m now enjoying a much more open relationship with my jiu jitsu and MMA!

Shortly, I will leave the desert with another planeload of McGregor fans and Vegas will miss them. Sure, the MGM Grand security staff will sleep well after a week of over time, but the soundtrack of the Irish fans was epic. Their colourful presence was seen up and down the huge strip. They have spent their hard earned on the gambling tables, in the bars and apparently at the mobility scooter hire centre (watching fans race round red perimeter carpets of the MGM like sin city Mario Karts was pure comedy gold). Their stamina for fight week was ridiculous- they most certainly out-worked any of my respective capabilities!

194 arena

To sign off, I must salute all those involved in this unbelievable fight week. Well done to all the fighters and teams who were involved. Finally, congratulations to Luke Rockhold and Conor McGregor. They deserve all the plaudits they receive. The history have been rewritten.

Becoming competitive again! Part 3

Becoming competitive again! Part 3. The longest part of a triathlon is the bike ride. That means a lot of time in the saddle and cycling is actually pretty damn technical. I made a few rookie errors and some wise decisions.

I was in a bit of hurry to get my ‘bike legs’, so I decided to buy a cheap ‘fixie’ or single speed bike. I bought a Quella single speed and thought this would help me get used to life on 2 wheels until I properly researched the best race bike for my budget. My Quella in baby blue came within a couple of days and after a few minutes work with a spanner and allen key, I was road-ready.

bike 3
bike 3

Now although I looked cool with my funky bike, Bern lid and wild face hair (or at least I thought I did), the realisation hit home pretty quick that I lived on a hill and bikes tend to have numerous gears for a reason! The notion of swapping the car for the bike to pop to the shops was quickly dismissed as my maiden voyage to the shops ended with what felt like an inferno in my lungs and stretched ankle ligaments from poor form and incorrect bike set up. Brilliant. My first set-back and reminder that injuries are always lurking around the corner. Oh and no one looks like cool in any guise when you’re panting in distress, grimacing and barely moving forwards.

I don’t regret buying the Quella and I now enjoy going out on gentle rides in the opposite direction to the nasty hills.

After some decent research and taking advice from an old pal and new GB triathlete, Paul Suett, I bought my race bike. I went for a Specialized Allez Elite. It’s an attractive and slightly aggressive road bike. I was never going to know the difference between this bike and another, but I would certainly notice a hole in my wallet if I had gone shopping for a bike to use in a triathlon. A proper triathlon bike will set you back the cost of a tax’d and MOT’d VW golf with a decent service history! With my wife’s company discount I got kitted out with the bike, lid, gloves, bottle, repair bag/ kit, pedals and triathlon cycling shoes. I opted for cleats as it’s what the pros use and it is the correct choice, though they take some getting used to and things get interesting during transitions!

With a newly purchased 2-piece tri suit in my ruck sack I collected my new bike and accessories and rode back from Hendon, North London down a notoriously fast and, as I nearly discovered, treacherous stretch of road. Apart from my hipster cruises on the Quella I had not been on the open road since I was a teenager and self-titled fastest kid on the block. It was a dicey ride home to say the least. The thin tyres and lightweight frame are not very forgiving and neither is the light padding of a tri suit (proper cycling shorts are far more cushioned but running in them would be like watching a man baby learning to walk again). What are also not very forgiving are other road users. I must apologize to any cyclists that I have not given adequate room to when passing. Now I have been known to get a little hot under the collar when using the road, but my first trip on the bike had my blood boiling. I also realised why cyclists don’t always like to stop at lights etc…it’s those damn cleats. I didn’t exactly fall off when clipping my shoes in and out, but it wasn’t an elegantly executed procedure and had me take to the pavements on a few occasions to get straight before tearing up the tarmac again.

bike 2
bike 2

Once again I learned the lesson of a poorly set up bike. I aggravated my ankle ligaments on both sides. After taking my bike into the Giant store (not just a big establishment, but a bike manufacturer) I had the bike set up including the cleats on the shoes which had been wrongly fitted putting extra force through the outside of my ankles. Money well spent and now I’m happily powering through without injury.

The last and most recent piece of cycling kit I purchased is a turbo trainer. It’s a means of transforming your bike into an exercise bike so you can watch Netflix and get a work out in simultaneously. If Netflix wasn’t worth the subscription before, it sure is now. I think you get what you pay for with these, but they can be noisy, hot and difficult to store so chose well. It’s a tough work out and you get a good sweat on whilst giving you the feel of the bike you’ll race with. Plenty of towels are needed to mop up and make sure those bottles are filled up. I chuck a NUUN tablet in there too in order to replace salts etc.

These days I look forward to riding my bikes. I really want a mountain bike now so that I can go off road and properly hurt myself on uneven surfaces and bang into trees! Bikes are a very eco-friendly way of getting around too, so you’re ticking that box. Peace!

As for biking in triathlons, it gets more technical. The transitions are tricky and the actual motion of peddling needs attention. No longer are you pushing your foot down, you are apparently wiping the shit off the sole of your shoe and trying to transfer equal(ish) power through the 360 degree motion of that big ring. Since being aware of this I have noticed an improvement on the hill climbs, but more work is needed. A watt meter/ wattometer/ wattever…a device that can help you monitor how much power you are pushing through the pedals will help you work this real time. Apparently this should be tried using just one leg (and probably best to stick to the turbo trainer) and then swapping over to the other leg. Then when you have two legs working in perfect balance, you’ll be ready for that yellow jersey!

bike 1
bike 1

As regards the swim to bike transition, I watched lots of YouTube stuff and thought I’d do what the pros do at this early stage of my triathlon journey so that I’m not learning new stuff later on. This involves climbing onto the bike with the cycling shoes already clipped into the pedals and suspended by elastic bands that keep them level rather than grounding out as you run to the mount/ dismount point. On the bike to run transition, once again you leave the shoes clipped in and remove your foot whilst in transit and pedal on top of the shoes to the dismount point. If you are following this, you will understand that you are therefore running barefoot from through the transitions. Now the YouTube clips I watched were in Australia, Hawaii and the States….places where the sun shines and the ground is favourable. Not in the UK where it’s cold, it rains loads, the ground is muddy and then there are lots of stony paths! I should have taken Paul’s advice and got mountain bike cycling shoes (and pedals), which have enough grip to allow you to run in. My experience so far has meant I have tried to squeeze my size 12 foot into a cycling shoe, covered in a cocktail of mud and stones, which renders it a good size 13. This has made for a rough transition and dirty cycling shoes. And lets face it, if you can’t race well at least look the bollocks whilst competing!!

bike 4
bike 4

I’m yet to suffer a dreaded puncture during a race (or even a ride for that matter), but I have got a pouch with 2 spare tubes and a CO2 canister to keep me going. There would be nothing worse than not getting to the finish line, so the added weight and even the added time if a puncture occurred are a small price to pay. When looking for self-improvement, you could always pause the stop watch and minus off the repair time to see where you might have come if the universe were more kind on that day.

Becoming competitive again. Part 2

With part 1 describing the why, the following few paragraphs are possibly about the what, how and largely the lessons I learned.  

My mate, Jamie, with whom I have largely been encouraged into this type of training, suggested a triathlon. It sounded challenging enough and much more than ‘just running’ 10k or something. Something that would require training. Oh, and a bike!

Now, Jamie operates on a different time schedule to me. I had slowly started to adjust my body clock to be a little more…nocturnal. The fight game doesn’t tend to get out of bed really early in my experience. In the UK we battle heavy eyelids to watch the finest fighters do battle at 3am. Also, most martial arts classes are in the evening. However, it turns out Jamie has a few friends who also follow the sun rise and on a Saturday morning at 6:30 they descend on various lakes around the country ready for the plunge into the often murky water to grapple with reeds and dodge duck shit.

lake 1
lake 1

So armed with a set of goggles, flip flops and towel, I jumped in Jamie’s car and headed to the lake. Now, I once promised myself that I would only ever get up around the 5am hour to go on holiday. And y’know when you are on the way to the airport really early, but there are quite a few cars on the road? Likelihood is they’re going to the lake! It wasn’t even 7am and the car park was full. A fantastic range of different measured water babies circled the 1000m course. I joined in but not before I squeezed into a hired wet suit (tip: other people have definitely pissed in them- get your own), covered my neck in Vaseline (tip: I later learned not to use Vaseline as the petroleum corrodes the wet suit! Use Glide and apply it to your neck, wrists and calves so you can pull the suit off without looking like you are resisting arrest whilst on speed) and pulled a thin piece of rubber over my carefully coiffured hair.

Despite the early mornings, I actually really enjoyed the swims. It was the summer, so that helped. Also, you can swim the 1000m in about 20 mins and be home with an 8 still showing on the clock. Plenty of time before jiu jitsu at 11am! I didn’t however enjoy swallowing the lake’s water or dealing with leaky goggles. I didn’t particularly enjoy being smoked by old people either, but I was and am getting very used to this. I actually now prefer the open water swim as you can establish a rhythm and you can’t possibly quit after say 20 laps as you’d still be another few hundred metres from the jetty and in the way of super gran and her buddies on their second lap. I just now accept the environment, concentrate on breathing and make sure I look out for traffic ahead every 6 strokes. The next stage is to the tailor the swim for triathlons which means being conservative with the use of your legs as you need them fresh for the bike and run. I am looking to enlist some training for this next season.

I also discovered that lots of cans of Coke are sold at the club house as apparently it kills all the bad stuff you may have just swallowed from the lake (we’ve all seen the video where Coke is used to clean up the chrome car bumpers, right?). I confess I have once partaken in this heathen activity. Jamie telling me about worms, illness, poo and other such things tipped me over the edge whilst I was in a susceptible state i.e. sleep deprived and exhausted. Coca Cola are a frightening, evil company and I can’t recommend this, specially at 8am. It’s a slippery slope, kids! There are concentrated citrus additives that you can get from health stores for cleaning food etc. This could be a better bet.

lake 4
lake 4

I’m yet to do proper interval training for swimming, but I’m keen to give it a go next season. For me, getting into cold water and smashing out 1km will do for this year. I got my own wet suit, but didn’t go mad with the budget. They can be expensive pieces of kit. Also they are not very forgiving in terms of sizing so beware. Mine is still so tight it’s like swimming with a resistance band attached to each arm, but its orange and looks sick!

My recent attempts at writing

In speaking with my colleagues at the UFC, I expressed my desire to tell the story of some fighters in a slightly different way from my usual angle through commentary.  So, I was given the opportunity to set about some writing.  With the UFC embarking on a significant year in Europe, they kicked it off big-style in Stockholm this January with a fight card headlined by Sweden's own Alexander Gustafsson and the revitalised Anthony Johnson: Gustafsson - http://www.ufc.com/news/alexander-gustafsson-resilience-discipline

Johnson - http://www.ufc.com/news/Anthony-Johnson-Returns-To-Rumble-Through-Persistence-Resiliency

Following that, I was lucky to make a couple of trips into Europe and spend some time with two incredibly charismatic and special fighters; Joanna Jedrzejczyk and fighting legend, Mirko 'Cro Cop' Filipovic:

Jedrzejczyk- www.independent.co.uk/sport/general/others/ufc-185-joanna-jedrzejczyk-profile--just-for-kicksand-a-ufc-world-title-10106839.html

OR http://www.ufc.com/news/Independent-Gooden-Joanna-ufc185#comments

Cro Cop -  http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/general/mma/mirko-cro-cop-profile-becoming-the-equalizer-10169014.html

I visited Stockholm Sweden this summer and wrote this piece ahead of Gustafsson's title challenge at UFC 192:

http://www.ufc.com/news/UFC-192-Alexander-Gustafsson-overcomes-setbacks-for-shot-at-UFC-glory

I hope you find them insightful.

UFC Berlin highlights

Well I told you I’d be back, so I thought I’d start right away with a personal recap of my Berlin highlights. Now, the fights pretty much take care of themselves and I guess you’ve heard enough from me about them on the night! However, lots goes on during fight week so I thought I’d let you in on a few secrets.

  • Now this is a bit of a ‘sick in the mouth’ moment, but I gotta start by saying joining up with the team is a huge highlight. I’ve never been part of a team like the one we have at the UFC. To feel supported, inspired and creative are all really important. To also work with essentially a bunch of mates is very cool indeed.
  • The Guest fighter Q&A was a little different this time. It was media only and was set in a brand new and very cool cafe which was adjoined to the cross fit gym where the open-work outs were being held. So in much more intimate surroundings I sat down with Brad Pickett, Alexander Gustafsson, Ramsey Nijem and Luke Rockhold. It was the first time I had met Luke and he was a very cool guy. Getting to chat with these athletes and seeing them interact with one another is rare as the UFC is such a big international organisation and their paths don't always cross.
  • I met Georges Saint Pierre for the first time.  I've always been such a fan of his inside and outside of the Octagon, so to meet the man was brilliant.
  • Interviewing the fighters is always interesting and enjoyable, but sitting down and chatting to Mark Munoz was a special one. The man is so much more than a world-class mixed martial artist. He already has a career as a motivational speaker and he will continue to be very successful at that. I took a lot from our conversation and felt really inspired. Mark does so much for the sport and he is one of the world selfless human being…the type we need more of.
  • A slightly weird one, but during breakfast I introduced myself to Magnus Cedenblad, his team-mate and UFC debutant, Niklas Backstrom. I had actually commentated a Backstrom fight so used that to kick off the conversation, which kind of back fired. You see, a lot of fighters are avid students of the game and really assess every detail of their own performances. It would seem Niklas is one of them after he recounted the exact words I used in commentary when he fought Adam Edwards a log time ago. Apparently when he took Edwards down (a BJJ brown belt), I might have suggested it was a questionable strategy. Well it transpired that Niklas was a bit of a good grappler and took the win that night. Niklas playfully reminded me not to doubt him again! I immediately liked the guy.
  • Meeting Sean Shelby.  I'd had a couple of email exchanges, but I finally got to meet Sean.  I have so much respect for the top match makers.  These guys have to know the world scene in detail and on top of that they are the guys that the fighters speak with about their careers etc.  I imagine its a very emotional job at times, so it was good to sit down with Sean and get the inside track.
  • Getting a hand shake and message of good luck from Dana White. Enough said!
  • The last highlight is a bit self-indulgent. On my way to gather my stuff after the show I was walking past Gegard Mousasi, so went to congratulate him on his win. Whilst doing so he congratulated me on what a great job I was doing with Dan in commentary! It was totally unexpected. Apparently, he had been listening throughout the evening. I get a real sense of pride when fighters support my commentary. And when a truly world-class athlete gives you a thumbs up, its great reassurance that you are along the right lines.
  • Special mention highlight - great iron and ironing board at the hotel.  Friends of mine that I have traveled with will know I stress over quite a few things, but a good quality ironing board and iron is right up there.  I mean...we're going on camera and no matter how good your hair is, no matter how well you tie the tie or arrange the pocket square...if your shirt looks like Iggy Pop's torso, then the look turns to sh*t!  So thank you Hilton Hotels.

Berlin was a great event and it was good to connect and re-connect with some great people. Can’t wait for UFC Dublin, it's going to be off the bleedin’ hook!!!

 

2014, a defining year

Wow, so 2014 has been a bit of a journey and we're not even half way through!  I feel like I have realised a few dreams, learned a great deal and all together made a lot of personal progress on many levels.  There have been a lot of sacrifices, which is consistent with anything that is worth doing, and one of those is this blog.  I really enjoy writing and I have many plans to become more active with this, but more about that another time. This post therefore is a reminder that I still have ambitions to develop johngooden.co.uk, but in order to fulfil my work and family obligations, I've frustratingly not had the time.

Excuses aside I will reconnect with this very soon and describe some of the new surroundings I have found myself in.  As a taster, these are becoming a vegan, overcoming chronic pain, travelling and above all joining the most fantastic team that I have ever had the opportunity to work with.  It's one thing working with the World's biggest combat sports promotion, but quite another to be supported and inspired by your colleagues and seniors.  The team in the UK and US are brilliant and working alongside Dan Hardy and Andy Friedlander is incredible.  Not only have I taken much from this experience in a professional capacity, I have also been introduced to new ideas and thoughts that have and will benefit me in other ways.

Back to the preparations for UFC Berlin...

BT Sport UFC Blog - TUF Cut

BT Sport Home Seeings as I haven't been in front of a camera and a mic for a couple of weeks, it was great to get back to a bit of writing...and for BT Sport!  Give it a little read here: http://sport.bt.com/moresporthub/ufc/ufcopinion/comment-the-weighty-issue-of-weight-cutting-S11363853332932

I'll be back blogging for them in about a month!

Cageside Podcast 6 BONUS : Cage Warriors 57 - Jack Mason

I managed to catch up with fan favourite and one of the most active and talent mixed martial artist on the scene, Jack Mason.  We spoke about how he juggles the many aspects to his life and also some specifics about this camp.  Little hint; he doesn't sound happy!! https://soundcloud.com/johngooden-1/cageside-podcast-6-bonus

Cageside Podcast 6 - Cage Warriors 57

Ahead of Cage Warriors 57 at Liverpool's Echo Arena, I caught up with some of the fighters:I found out about  Dan Rushworth's love for golf (1.25 to 27.17) Mr Social Media, Leeroy Barnes and I spoke about his new motivation and aspirations (27.15 to 1.08.00) WolverDean Reilly or is it Hurricane Dean Reilly?  We talked mental preparations and renewed love for fighting (1.08.00 to 1.47.00) International star Ronnie 'Iron' Mann talked about his career highlights and getting the job done on Saturday (1.47.00...)

Let me know your thoughts and who you'd like me to speak with next time.

Enjoy

https://soundcloud.com/johngooden-1/cageside-podcast-6-with-john

My night out at Too Much Talent 2 for Addicted MMA

Check out this little movie courtesy of Indigo Fox Production and Addicted MMA.  It was great to given the opportunity to report on the show and I'm really pleased with the final results.  Let me know what you think: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=eXavOu8LwbY

October shenanigans

 

October has been a roller coaster ride for me with beautiful highs, moments of frustration and absolute confusion, but Gooden's glass likes to be half full and October has been marked with a whacking great big tick!  On a personal level I feel I have moved forward with my ambitions in MMA by getting together a podcast and consolidating relationships within the sport.  Bigger still, the introduction of SAFE MMA is such positive progression for UK MMA and to be involved fills me with pride and purpose.  I will be blogging about SAFE  MMA after the launch on November 1st.

Just as an aside, as I write this I am being slightly put off by a middle aged lady sitting opposite me on the train that has rocked up and is currently using the table as a beauty salon.  That's ok as it actually smells pretty good, but she has definitely over done it on the moisturiser and has been rubbing her wrinkly face since we left Newport...we are now in Bristol and she still looks like a clown.  Whatsmore, the excess cream is being worked at so furiously that the back of my ipad is starting to resemble a plasterer's radio!

Anyways, so about my (very raw) podcast; its nearly cost me a PC and a door after repeatedly crashing and thus creating an inner rage that hasn't consumed me since Willy B clocked me in the back of the head with a rock hit by a hurling stick- upon reflection great tekkers, but you don't shoot your pals in the back ;o).  After failed attempts to upload to soundcloud, youtube etc, I managed to get episode 1 uploaded via videopress on this here site.  I have plans to educate myself in better ways of delivering this so thats its downloadable, so bear with me!  I'd like to think my podcast is a little bit different to the others out there as it quite simply stitches together interviews that I would normally conduct with fighters, coaches, promoters, referees, managers etc.  I hope it will give access to these people to help with honest insights into the true lives of these individuals.  Thanks to all those that have lent their time to feature.  I am now set for episode 4 with the first 3 covering Shock n Awe 12, Rosi Sexton's VADA experience and Cage Warriors 49.

Shock n Awe 12 then.  I loved working with the whole crew at this show.  From everything around the show and man love with Gareth Johnson, commentating with Ben Cartlidge, the fighters, Addicted MMA, Ricky Wright, Little Red, David Swann, the guys at Boom Boom productions and of course Brian Adams- that straight talking big hunk of a man!  Consistent with my misdemeanour trends I arrived at Portsmouth and realised I had no belt for my trousers.  This might not seem too terrible to most, but I have a ridiculous ape-like structure with short legs, massive arse and no waist.  I therefore end up buying 36 inch trousers that require a handful of material to be lost around the waist.  My successful Paul Chek/ wholefoods diet has accentuated this and I could be seen mostly walking around the venue like a yoot wearing his strides around his arse or generally holding up my trousers with a hand constantly in my pocket which always arouses suspicions when you are in the company of beautiful rings girls!!   The biggest problem was the worry of being mid flow of a post fight interview, celebrating with a fighter fresh from a hard fought victory only for me take a breath between questions and causing a trouser slippage to reveal my milky white pins to a sell out crowd!  Thankfully my worst fears were never realised and David Swanny Swann came to the rescue after the show by lending me a spare belt.  Now thats an organised man right there- cheers buddy!

Highlights of the show were being cageside to commentate Luke Dalmedo's fight.  I've trained with Luke since he was 15 and its great to see him realise his talent in cage competition.  Well done bro!  Also seeing Jack Mason and Mike Ling turn a corner in their careers was great particularly after spectating their fights from close quarters at Cage Warriors and obviously being a big fan of theirs.  I'd also like to shout out Sam Ford and Jack Currell, 2 young semi pro fights who have bright futures ahead.  It was a great contest!

Another memorable moment was being heckled as I entered the cage to interview UFC fighter Phil Harris and TUF contestant Brad Scott.  As I stepped onto the Shock N Awe apron, wearing my light grey shoes with contrasting brown soles, tweed style jacket, bow tie and slightly fierce quiff I'm happy to say I was greeted by what I can only assume is a fan by a loud cry of 'GAY'.  Brilliant! It put a bigger skip in my step as I pranced to my position in front of the camera.

Onwards to Cage Warriors. Another podcast and a speed typing exercise explaining and defending SAFE MMA.  The Welsh MMA fans seemed really excited to be hosting CW which is such a great feeling for anyone associated with the promotion.  We are all so committed to doing the very best job that we can for the good of the show and positive reaction like that is great for the team.  St Davids Hall is a great venue right in the heart of the shopping district in Cardiff.  The layout is also really good for MMA and the noise in the hall was excellent when the Welsh fighters appeared to start their ring walk.  In all, it wasn't  the best night in terms of results for the Welsh contingent and perhaps a little bit of the gloss was taken off of Tim Newman's win with the arguments over the tap.  There was much debate over the tap and its terrible for all concerned when a situation like this arises.  Lots of angles have been examined from different cameras and Marc Goddard got it right.  I have so much respect and admiration for Greg Loughran and I eagerly await his return.  Congrats to Tim, I know that this win will mean so much to him.

I'll probably get told off for mentioning this, but its pretty damn obvious if you listen to the commentary...I have no desire to be an MMA judge.  I'm not actually in the greatest position to analyse a fight around the MMA scoring system.  I personally have to consider certain production items, read notes, listen to my producer and work commentary with my partner.  Scoring at the same time is just too difficult.  You of course get a flavour from the fight, but that isn't how the 10 point must system works.

On a lighter note and a bit of gossip. I was amused to be told that a flamboyant member of the Cage Warriors crew had a suspicious incident with a glitter bath bomb that caused their Davina McCalls to sparkle like a bit of camp disco furniture.  It is not, however, the same team member that enlisted the help of Brooke and her make up.  Just sayin!  Oh and a big shout out to the 30 or so handsome bow tie wearing fellas that were staying at the same hotel. Its a movement y'know!? Respect ;o)!

The morning after the show there was an alarming complaint surrounding the suspicion of performance enhancing drugs.  The complaint was lodged by the Cardiff Central pigeons about their winged counter parts, the sea gulls.  The pigeons can get near to the rich picking of the platform food.  In fact, even I had politely ask Mr C Gull if i could squeeze past at the top of the platform stairs.  WTF are those guys on?  I know one thing, Halloween is fricking scary in Cardiff with those raptors on the loose trick or treating!

That's October done.  I'm keen to see what happens to the UK and European rankings next week.  Thanks for reading.

Oh and for those worried about the lady opposite me on the train, she managed to lose the cream in a couple of her chins and did a much better job with the lippy. Beautiful.