When we eat that guilty piece of pizza we crave or convince ourselves we can get away with a cheeky slice of cake or biscuit, we often think we will work it off in the gym, or by increasing our Fitbit steps. We convince ourselves that the likes of Cavendish, Phelps and Bolt are doing the same, when we know, it’s more than likely they are not…..the mind can convince us that anything is good for us in moderation.
As a part-time triathlete of limited ability, and a person who has eaten far too much cake down the years, I am attempting to re-educate myself on the fineries of training versus nutrition, and have been very fortunate to sit down and have 30 minutes with not only one of the best triathletes on the Isle of Man, but a triathlete that not only understands nutrition, but also cooks up a mean mackerel pâté (from scratch!) and soda bread (again from scratch) between training sessions!!!
By way of introduction, the “tri chef” ( I accept the name is not the most imaginative, but neither is the “naked chef”, it is all about the cooking for heaven’s sake!!) is the one and only Andrew Nash.
So what about the athlete?
Firstly, his “palmaris” is impressive, having represented Great Britain at elite and age group level, representing the Isle of Man in the Glasgow commonwealth games and 3 island games from Bermuda through Jersey and on to Gotland this year e.g. He knows a bit about triathlon and how to be in peak condition.
But what about the cooking I hear you say?
Well on first meeting Andrew, you wonder whether he actually does eat!?!? He has a waist which looks to be about 24 inches ( for the record its 29 inches) and has virtually zero body fat ( he has this monitored in race season to hit optimal performance levels), and your immediate impression is he has never seen a cake in his life, but apparently this is not true.
Andrew tells me that in his “youth”, he was a touch of a beer monster and that he still holds the university record for “strawpedo” (look it up on youtube, someone “did” a bottle of wine in 4 seconds) but I am not sure whether this is an urban myth….
The one thing that did cry out from the conversation was that despite regularly abstaining from the bad stuff, he does have food on the mind a lot and he commented;
“I work to a race every 4-6 weeks and give myself some brief downtime of 1-2 weeks after each race. When I am in these down periods, the dishes I create in my head in the abstinence phase can come to life….you would not believe how many giant homemade deep fried haggis scotch eggs I have metaphorically eaten on a training run!!”
Controlling the controllable
So how does Andrew manage to combine a very busy life as a triathlete, a full-time role at the National Sports Centre and his passion for food?
Well, the interesting thing is that much like any successful person I have spent time with, he is a control freak!!
When quizzed on his ability to fit it all in, Andrew said;
“The lifestyle of a chef shares many attributes with that of the obsessive triathlete. If you were to walk into my house you would soon see why, with cookbooks of my favourite chefs/establishments adorning any clear surfaces and cupboards on the verge of collapse brimming with obscure ingredients.
With cooking I have control; control of ingredients, control of timing, control of portions, and overall control of quality. As a triathlete, I like to be in control of my training”
So in short, Andrew is controlling the controllable in the many parts of his life very well. I have personally had the pleasure of spending time eating Andrew’s food and whilst I had to work very hard the day after to work the calories off, it was an experience up there with any of the food I have had in many a good restaurant throughout the world!
So what does the future hold on the cooking front?
“Well, there are some big sporting challenges on the horizon with possible competition at the commonwealth games in 2018, plus island games to qualify for in the 2018 season so the sport will not stop.
In respect of the cooking, I would want to climb the ladder and open my own establishment where I can truly take full ownership of what comes out of the kitchen and how the customers enjoy the experience”
In terms of what I will take away from the 30 minutes with Andrew? This is a person who fits a lot into his life. His passion for the sport was a given, however, his passion for food is potentially his “raison d’etre”. Time will tell as to when this happens, however, I still have very happy memories of the mackerel pate and soda bread I was fortunate to try this summer.
Paul Swindale (ageing triathlete and food eater)