To kick off our first blog post, we figured it’d be great to hear from one of our members, Jon Read, about what he’s achieved since joining us here at 52 Twelve. We tailor our programs to help you to achieve your fitness goals, and Jon has achieved a great deal since being with us. Having recently competed in the Standard Distance Duathlon (10k run, 40k bike, 5k run) at The ITU World Championships – Pontevedra, Spain, he has a great story to tell, here are his words…

Passion for fitness

Since starting the 52 Twelve Fitness Studio in Thorpe Constantine, Tamworth, I’ve been in regular attendance at at least two sessions a week. This includes; Wattbike sessions, as well as functional training strength work. This is all with the focus to improve my bike and run performance.

I’ve known Phil for almost 4 years and have come to know and trust his expertise and advice, not only on cycling, but on overall fitness and conditioning.

Having competed for GB for the first time in 2017 in Penticton, Canada and finished 9th in AG. Then in 2018 Fyn, Denmark finishing 4th in AG and 13th overall, I’d set my sights on a fitter and stronger performance in 2019. I’d made Phil aware of these aims, and together we formulated a plan to achieve this. This was made more of a challenge being in April before the normal season kicks off.

The Value of Indoor Training

With several qualifying races throughout the springtime, as is the usual pattern with British Triathlon qualification events for Duathlon, I knew I had to come into the early season strong. Due to the traditional winter weather in the UK, indoor training became invaluable. With the help of Phil and 52Twelve Fitness Studio, I managed to achieve and exceed all goals and targets for early season races. Even where race performances were a disappointment, they were analysed and used to positive effect.

In spring races, I managed a highest placing of top 3 overall in a GB qualifier in Anglian Water and managed to win Hereford Duathlon (Sprint Distance). Particularly notable in all results were markedly improved bike splits from 2017-2018 races, which allowed me to follow on from my naturally stronger run discipline.

Coming into the later spring months, I’d pieced together a training plan focused around key races and dates. With the guidance of Phil, I changed certain sessions to make better attempts to perform at key points. The success of this programme showed through in event results with wins or high placings in each target event. This is no fluke. With the knowledgeable guidance of Phil it has meant that wasted sessions were removed for quality sessions.

The Race

At the ITU World Championships in Pontevedra, Spain 2019, I lined up in the Standard Duathlon confident in my training and hopeful of a high placing if I ran and biked to my capability. Having taken 4th last year, I wanted to improve on this, hence the training endeavour. What transpired was a race for the podium, which I couldn’t have dreamt of on the start line.

Spoiler alert!? I finished 2nd place in AG, and 10th overall in the World Championship in Standard Duathlon distance in Spain.

With a hilly course on both the run and the bike, and the hot afternoon conditions, this was a tough race. Despite the hills slowing my usual race pace a little, I held nothing back on the run, coming in 5th position behind ITA/GBR/KEN/USA athletes. I felt like the other guys must have pushed hard given my perceived effort and I hoped to be in a good position heading into the bike leg.

For anyone who knows the Pontevedra bike course, it’s hilly. By far the hilliest course I’ve tackled in a Duathlon race. Being honest, it scared me a little to see how I would fair. However, with Phil’s words ringing in my ears, I held the effort strong in a zone that training had taught me I could sustain. What transpired was my most memorable bike split. Gradually making my way up to and passing competitors from all AG’s into 2nd place.

The downhill section for the last 8km of the bike was exhilarating. Speeds of 50mph on the main sections on the TT bars is stuff to make hairs stand up on end. Who’d have thought I’d develop that confidence when I first started racing.

Onto the final run, I knew that my fellow GB athlete was close behind after passing on the bike I knew he’d stick close by. However, all the second run training paid off as I improved my gap lap-by-lap, section-by-section. I knew this because of the phenomenal supporters I had around the course telling me to keep pushing and I’d got a podium.

What I didn’t know until the final corner was which placing I held, when my wife yelled at me “we think you’ve got silver!?!”The pain in the legs was present, but at that point I took a slight glance behind and realised it was mine. I turned onto the blue carpet, and pushed for the line knowing I’d put into action everything I trained for.

Second. In. The. World.

Trust The Process

I’ve always said to fellow athletes at 52 Twelve to simply “trust the process” of training. Phil plans out each 12-week training block specifically to target the goals of each group. It is this attention to detail that sets him and the fitness studio apart from other setups. Obviously, it comes down to the individual to execute the plan as intended, but I like to think that I’m proof that by perseverance, desire and effort, everyone can reap the rewards of the training plans and get the results they deserve.

So, for the remainder of this season and onto the European Championships, what will change to keep pushing forwards? Well, 52Twelve Fitness Studio’s place in my regime will not. Nor my key run sessions with Birchfield Harriers that have been instrumental in my run performance (notable mention to Pete Dimbleby for his support and guidance).

What I need to focus on is improving my levels within each discipline. This means training and recovering smarter. More strength and conditioning work? Definitely. However, I believe and trust that there is still huge improvement to be made following my current process. Some changes in equipment on the bike are needed, but otherwise it comes down to me to continue to push my own boundaries and limits.

With 52 Twelve Fitness Studio on my side, I know I can improve further…and I will!

Watch. This. Space.

Special thanks to Phil Kelly at 52 Twelve Fitness Studio, and Pete Dimbleby at Birchfield Harriers, and to all my friends and family who support me through all the training and early morning races.

Without all those around me, this simply wouldn’t have been possible.

– Jonathan Read