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‘Duathlon or Dua Lipa?’: Stu's Training Tracks & Sports Training Techniques

Posted by Stu Hadley on 21/05/2024

Part Two - Train Like a Pro: Guide to Sports Training

Welcome back to Part 2 of our blog series! In this blog, Stu explains how he manages to balance work with his sports training, highlighting the importance of family support and meticulous planning. Stu also shares how his extensive music playlist fuels his duathlon races, and his quick-fire answers offer insights into his personal preferences.

Stu Hadley at the finishing line, with both hands up in the air

Eve – Q1: Finding time to train must be difficult as you work full time for nFocus on project. How do you manage to train and work?

When I was competing and training last year, I discussed with my wife and said that I wanted to do an Ironman. I explained what it's going to involve, “This is what it is. This is what it's going to be in terms of hours.” We then agreed the number of hours that I'd have to train to fit around our family life and work. 

When I spoke to Mike, my trainer, I'd say “I've got two hours on a Thursday. I've got five hours on a Saturday, etc.” So, I always obviously fit in exercise around work. Working from home has been the key to all really because I've been able to get up early. I've been able to do my training first thing. I'm always a stickler for starting from eight till five thirty. I'm always at my desk with a coffee at eight o'clock, having trained in the  morning. I was up at half five at the track ready at half six, and I've got an hour of swimming tonight. 

I kind of fit it all in around work and working from home has enabled me to do it as I don’t have to worry about the commute time anymore! When I worked in Telford, I was doing peak training and I cycled in. It took an hour and 20 minutes, so that was pretty good. I used to cycle to work on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I do my best to fit it all in and organisation is really important!

I always have to make sure that I've got everything that I need, all the clothes laid out in my office if I'm training tomorrow. I've got nutrition ready to go. Drinks are ready in the fridge. Up, pop out, train, back, work then repeat!

I do lots of strength conditioning in the morning then the cardio stuff in the evening and weekends. I manage to fit in a rest day, which is normally on Saturdays, but generally I am training six times a week, twice a day! 

Having the right food is super important as well. I usually prep all my meals on a Sunday so everything is ready to go for the week. I keep a nutrition box in the garage with drinks and bars while I do my training. 

I do an ice bath as well, 4 times in a week on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. For my muscles, I use protein recovery powder. Both really help with my recovery.

Eve - Q2: Super organised! Keeping yourself and your bike free from injuries or damage must be a challenge, how do you keep yourself fully fit? I guess you don’t have a support team to look after the bike, do you?

All the strength and conditioning has really been the key to operate at this level and to be able to be injury free. To get to the start of Ironman last year, starting the morning without a single injury, feeling refreshed and ready to go was quite incredible because it was all down to the strength and conditioning. It was also getting in the ice bath and having all the recovery shakes. 

There's a lady called Andrea who comes around the house once month and gives me a sports massage that focuses on key areas. I've always got one problem which is my right calf, but all the strength and conditioning that I do targets those problem areas.

I really don't like doing strength and conditioning but it's a key part of the process. I probably don't like doing it because I'm not used to it and it's hard. When we re-evaluated these sessions that I do with Mike, there's about three or four exercises that I absolutely detest! I said to Mike, we've got to keep these in the plan. I chose Friday as a day to do this as it’s end of the week and we're heading into the weekend. 

I know that I'm getting up and I'm doing the four exercises that I hate the most on a Friday because mentally I need to be able to put all of the effort in. We did a session today and we were doing six laps at six minute, 20 second pace. It was only two of us and my friend, he's a lot faster than me! I was never running six-minute miles last year or ever.

But knowing that you've got to run, you've got to put yourself through it, mentally, you've got to be as sharp as possible and strong because the duathlons are horrible when you reflect back on the grades.

At the time, they're horrible because when I did Ironman last year, which got me to the World Final, You're doing a 10k race effectively sprinting as fast as you can go. I did an hour and a quarter flat out on the bike to the point where I thought I was going to be sick a couple of times on the bike. 

Then I did a 5k at the end of this knowing that if I could put a good shift in, I'd get a spot. Mentally, you've got to know what you're in for and you've got to be resilient. A friend of mine said to me, remember when you're suffering during the race, everybody else is suffering as well and it’s who can suffer the longest.

Rachel – Q3: What motivates you when you're in that focused mindset? Is it the desire for a podium finish, the culmination of hard work, or a personal mantra that propels you towards the finish line?

It's a really good question. I don't know. There's a book I've got, it's called Iron War. Basically, it's about these two guys, two professional athletes in the 80s and the 90s that were at the top of their game. They talk about this one famous race and then there's a section in the book where they identify that it comes down to people that enjoy suffering. There's a technical term for it but I think I just enjoyed suffering!

Rachel - Q4: You enjoy pushing your body to its limits and seeing how far it can go! 

Yeah! I've got a heart rate monitor as well so I kind of know when I'm looking down based on all my times and how I'm feeling. By looking at my heart rate monitor, I  know where my limits are. But the more I train, the lower my heart rate goes. When you get a low heart rate, your heart is in good condition. So, at the moment, I'm just trying to lose a bit more weight to get to the start line. Just a few pounds lighter. That's going to help. But yeah, I just enjoy the racing and obviously the races themselves aren't particularly enjoyable at the time, but I do enjoy the suffering! I'd never be without it, I don't think.

Eve - Q5: Given the pun in the blog title, I'm curious... What's on your music playlist for duathlon races and training?

Well, if you're on Spotify, you can go and have a look at it. It's called ‘Get Running/Moving’ mix. We're just short of a thousand songs on there at the moment and it’s 7 hours and 13 minutes long. It starts with Lady Gaga, Edge of Glory and then the last song of the playlist is Band on The Run by Paul McCartney & Wings. It's a good mixture. There's everything in there. There's a lot of high tempo stuff and there's some low tempo stuff. But it's mostly high tempo.

Eve - Q6: Great selections! To wrap up our interview, let's move onto some quick-fire questions! 

A. Dua Lipa or Duathlon?
It’s duathlon. I have heard of Dua Lipa, but I tend to listen a lot of 6 Music. It includes a lot of classic ballads, new stuff, and old stuff. It’s a lot of a good music!
B. Road or Trail? 
Yeah, so it's got to be road. I do enjoy the trail running, but I associate trail running with winter and road running with spring/summer. So, I've got to go with the road, I think!

C. Protein or Carbs?
Got to be carbs. Without carbs, none of this would be possible!

D. Shorts or Tri-suit?

E. Sunshine or Rain?
It's got to be sunshine. Again, just related to the time.

Rachel - Thank you once again for taking the time to engage with us. We’ll do another check-in and do let us know how the Germany event goes as well. We are cheering you on every step of the way! Keep us posted!

Yeah, it's giving me goosebumps just thinking about it! I love the slightly longer distance because it's a 10k run, 60k bike then 10k run. It’s a bit longer than I would normally do but I do like long events and it’s nice to race a bit longer. So, it should be good! It's flat as well and we're cycling up a motorway in Germany somewhere that will hopefully be closed. It's just going to be obviously my first real experience.

Rachel - Q7: Do you practice manifestation? For me, I would be picturing myself at the end on that podium! 

Do you know what? I don’t. That's probably the one thing I probably don't do. To that point, I used to do it when I played golf but I‘ve never thought to apply to racing! Good question! 

Both - Stu, it was a pleasure to hear about your upcoming races and how you navigate the challenges. Your story will undoubtedly resonate with many and serve as motivation for aspiring athletes. We wish you the very best in your upcoming races and look forward to celebrating your successes! 

nFocus SDET Academy

Topics: Test Manager, Test Teams, Personal Stories

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