• Steve Hodges

Match fitness - time to get my ass in gear!

So, the five week run up to the end of December is nearly over ! As an active and engaged CEO (or my family would say an any-excuse-for-a-piss-up merchant) I have spent the last month and a bit eating and drinking myself silly all in the name of work. It is a tough gig but someone has to do it !!

Festively plump

One more day of festivities to go tomorrow night and then that is it. Normally this isn’t an challenge for me as it is the usual cycle of feast and drink at the end of the year, return to fitness(ish) for the first half of the year, spend the summer having beer and BBQ’s and then back to being good for September to November. But this year carries some additional purpose so it isn’t just about shedding the beer belly to fit back into my suits.

I start my Level 1 (L1) Clipper Round the world Race training on April 3rd. While I don’t think the technical or seamanship challenges for L1 will be a massive challenge given my experience and qualifications compared to many embarking on this journey (I am a Commercially Endorsed, offshore Yachtmaster after all) I think my downfall, if I am complacent, will be ‘match fitness’ and avoiding injury. I am very keen, at every stage of my Clipper journey to be a highly contributory member of the team and to be performing to the very best of my capability and that will require strength, stamina and staying injury free !

It starts this week.. I will be clearing the fridge of goodies, dusting off the trainers and getting the gym membership card out of hibernation where it has been for too many weeks. I am not a fan of making fitness or healthiness a punishment, and with a busy lifestyle and work and social commitments still in the calendar, abstinence will not be realistic. So I will be taking a pragmatic approach to eating healthily whenever possible and making time for exercise.

TruGym Chatham - Cardio Room

My morning routine of three cups of coffee and Dairylea and Marmite on toast before 9am ends Thursday. In with the porridge, oats and seeds for toppings, honey for sweetness and water, water, water. I will still have my fill over caffeine throughout the day and will enjoy a hearty breakfast at the weekend but it is time to get focused and no better way to boost that than with a strong start to the day. Supported by sensible lunches and small dinners. I have not weighed myself yet, i can't bring myself to do that in the month of December but my ‘fighting weight’, which I have been for each of my 10k races and my half marathons, is 196lbs or 14 stone. And I am guessing I am a good stone above that right now.

Luckily I have a default position of the strength of someone who played rugby for nearly a decade and half, however I have the flexibility and stamina to match... none of the first and not enough of the second ! So I will be focusing on that too. I have mocked many a grown man for undertaking palates and yoga in the past however it is time to eat my words rather than more crisps and start something serious to avoid injury on the Clipper Round the World Race adventure.

As for gym work and fitness I have read a number of articles online over the break ranging from the Musto blog for dingy sailors through to Steve and Doris’s sailing school – and have a general feel for what is needed.

My plan is to exercise five times a week. But only three of those being in the gym. The other two sessions will either be core exercises in my apartment or road running or cycling. Probably even getting back into Park Runs which I did for a long time and loved. I will also be firing up the myfitnesspal app which I found extremely useful each time I have looked to focus my fitness on a sporting endeavor as it linked to MapMyRun and gives me a view of my calorific intake in case I am under feeding body as much as over eating.


My gym routine is still to be worked through properly but I am thinking three 90 minute sessions a week that looks something like this:

Cycle for 20 minutes to get going – Random programme medium speed, medium intensity.

Row for 6 minutes, level 8 (of 10) and medium speed – because any more than that and I will be sick!

Upper body exercises for shoulders, back, chest and biceps. (Sets, repetitions, weight)

3x 10x Shoulder press with a bar bell – weight to be decide, increasing over time.

3x 10x Kettlebell deadlifts – again weight to be determined and increased.

3x 10x incline bench press with bar bell

2x 8x dumbbell bicep hammer curls with maximum weight achievable until failure

Then onto the running machine for 30 minutes a medium pace and incline before stretching off at the end.

TruGym Chatham - Weights Room

While there isn’t too much science behind the above and opinions vary as to the most effective forms of exercise for this sport, I need something to get me going, and by using free weights rather than machines will naturally work on my core and then supplemented with a couple of days of core/cardio at home I think I will have enough of a plan to get me ready for April and probably the most of this year. As time moves on an my general level of fitness improves and my strength to weight ratio start to resemble that of something close to an active human I will then seek the advice of the Personal Trainers at TruGym to see if they can put a plan together that specifically helps keep me strong, with high levels of stamina and keep the risk of injury at bay.

Naturally all of this will be supplemented by some real world sailing activity on Artful Dodger which, in itself can be a workout and a half, but hopefully a return to match fitness will not take long !!

Target Weight, 14 Stone, quite a while back now !

More details, progress and results to follow…





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