Training#1: Taming Quadzilla

People always ask me about training for my next expedition, ‘London to London: Via the World’ and wait with goggly eyes for me to recount tales of hauling tyres 24/7 or cycling thousands of miles with weights tied to my ankles. It’s probably a bit disappointing when I say that actually, I haven’t yet hauled a tyre and I haven’t yet cycled over a few hundred miles in one sitting. The  reality is that life is as busy as can be with planning and sponsor finding, book writing and speaking, so training gets shunted down the list of priorities and squeezed into little pockets, gems of anticipation and physical activity within the hubbub. After all, without all these other things there would be no expedition!

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

Preparing for any expedition takes heaps of planning, a lot of team work, time and money.  For London to London the training is just one aspect, albeit super important; and it is also one with many facets. It is not all about getting big and strong. I need to be technically sound, mentally focussed and have supreme endurance across my three disciplines – rowing, cycling and kayaking. We’re talking 2.5 years of expedition here, so my body and mind will take a beating, and I need to be as fully prepared as possible. Beyond that, I think success is all down to being lucky, but I am giving myself a good as start as I can and would like to share it with you, with hope that before I leave I shall be able to share at least one tyre hauling story with you.

My Core team

Firstly, I want to introduce my team at Core Cambridge, who are fixing the leftover muscular issues from my row (believe me, there are plenty) and guiding my physical preparation for the journeys ahead. I generally start my sessions with some soft tissue massage on my back and shoulders, though I can safely say there is nothing soft about either my muscles or their massage. Then I am put through my paces with the trainers.

As in any walk of life, there is a lot of hot air in this world of physical fitness, training and sports therapy. I treat it just like anything else and look for sound, sensible, results-orientated experience that can help me achieve goals. I have found exactly this professional brilliance with the folks at Core, and am happy to supported by them.

I’ve been working with them over a few months now, starting with the basics to fix weaknesses and improve my core strength, before targeting my trip specific fitness. There are no fancy machines or gimmicks – it is all back to basics, simple stuff. And it works. In just a few weeks various weaknesses and imbalances in my musculature have been corrected and my core strength is improving. I have been really impressed with their work and approach, and am having a lot of fun to boot.


You might have been bewildered (indeed a bit worried!) as to why I called this blog ‘Taming Quadzilla’. Worry ye not, Quadzilla is me. Dan at Core nicknamed me this after discovering that my oversized quadriceps are greedy and do all the work, even when they’re not supposed to, meaning that my back and glutes do nothing at all and so are weaker than weak could be. In short, I have a huge derriere tagging along for a ride. So thank you Core for literally kicking my ass into gear…

My only grievance about my team at Core is that they are of Light Blue origin, based in Cambridge – which, for a Dark Blue Oxford girl, always takes some swallowing. But besides that, they are top stuff and well worth a visit. Truly one of a kind.

More to follow on training and the expedition itself as the weeks and months progress. Meanwhile, if you have training stories or nightmares or thoughts or brilliant ideas you want to share, then please get commenteering.

Yours in taming and training,

All salty best,


PS: ‘Tis the season: I have been supra busy with school prize givings all over the country recently and will one day publish a book on the best and worst of speech days! Best venue so far – an amphitheatre in the woods at Gresham’s School.

PPS: Book: Due to be published in February 2011 by Summersdale, we are soon to go in for editing.

PPPS: This time last year Dippers and I had been at sea for 100 days. Mad!

PPPPS:  CoBi UK:  Check out this website for more info on a very cool bike ride happening in August, down the length of the country. A seven-seater bike, world records and lots of fun raising money for Cancer Research UK.

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3 Responses to Training#1: Taming Quadzilla

  1. Alan Thomas says:

    Go Sarah
    keep us updated, on your excellent training/progress



  2. Pam Stocker says:

    Good to hear news. Glad that core strenth is balancing out. Pilates is the old dancer’s method for strentgh endurance and suppleness – have you looked at that in more detail? All my essays done till Sept’s last lap on dissertation. it’s been a marathon too, but great fun. Better be top notch! Go well with the editing. Love P

  3. Looking forward to that book 🙂

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