Meet Shirley Anderson

Village Adviser at Inspired Villages

What’s your name and where do you come from?  (Don’t worry, this is not blind date!)
Shirley Anderson, Runcorn Cheshire

How are you affiliated to Inspired Villages?
I work at Gifford Lea retirement village as a Village Adviser

So, you have decided to take part in An Inspired 1000 Miles, what prompted you to do so?
I am a keen cyclist and duathlete and I am always interested to take on a challenge, to represent my employer in doing so and to help to raise funds for MIND and the great support and assistance they provide to so many people throughout the UK with mental health problems

How will you be completing your personal challenge (cycling, walking, running, swimming etc.)?
I will be completing the whole route from Exeter to Tattenhall from 20th –24th May. 

What’s your personal pledge? E.g. 1 mile, 20 miles, a leg of the tour……the whole route? 
I personally pledge to complete 1000 miles from Easter weekend to the end of our trip on 24th May.  Easter weekend took in 309 miles so I am well underway to achieving this goal

I feel that the journey itself from Exeter to Tattenhall is a great challenge with high volume days and lots of hills to cycle is a challenge in itself.  Continuing each day after a gruelling ride the day before will be challenging but as I mentioned, I like to give myself something extra to achieve and felt that I could push myself to achieve the additional miles in my build up training for the event.

What is your previous experience?  Is this the furthest you have ever cycled/walked/run etc?
My longest bike ride to date is around 136 miles in one day.  I have also competed in long distance duathlons, the longest being The Totally Brutal Duathlon in Llanberis which is 15-mile run, followed by 116-mile cycle then 4.5miles run up Snowden and 4.5 miles run down Snowden.  I completed this event last year in 12 hours 6 minutes finishing 1st.  My goal this year is to finish the event in under 12 hours

What’s your training schedule and how’s it going so far?
My training schedule is very intense, I train every day with my longest cycle rides at the weekend.  During the week I train before work, most of which is on a static bike at home.  This is a wattbike which controls resistance giving the effect of climbing hills and increased intensity intervals.  These sessions are generally shorter sessions usually between one and two hours with high intensity.  I have now incorporated Yoga sessions within my training for increased mobility and to assist recovery which is all good preparation for the next days training and the forthcoming event and spending long times in the saddle.  My full training blog is viewable on the company website

Are you adapting your nutrition in any way?
I am always very conscious of nutrition and have a healthy diet taking into account the calorie requirements for high volume training.  This said I have needed to increase my calorie intake with a measured volume of protein, fats and carbohydrates to ensure I have sufficient energy to maintain training and a busy lifestyle.

What are you most looking forward to?  
The finish! It’s the achievement of completing the journey and helping to raise funds along the way.

Is there anything you are concerned about? 
Ensuring there is sufficient healthy nutritional food provided along the way and at the hotels to ensure I have sufficient carbohydrate stores to complete each day.  Hotel meals aren’t usually enough quantity for me and don’t generally provide the type of foods I prefer to enjoy.

How do you plan to address this? 
I will need to take a sufficient supply of foods with me to cover the journey.  Logistically this will be challenging as I will be travelling to the start in Exeter with my supplies and my bike by train.

Are you supporting Mind or another affiliated charity?

They do a vast amount of work throughout the UK to help those living with Mental Health Issues which affects all ages.  Working with our clients highlights to me the challenges we can face not only throughout life but particularly in later life.

Why do you think it is important to link Inspired Villages to a health and wellbeing challenge?
This is what we stand for as a company – a healthy life as we grow older with a big emphasis on wellbeing and enjoying life to the full.

Just for fun...

Introvert or Extrovert?
Extrovert if I have been drinking coffee (not de-caff)

Early Bird or Night Owl? 
Early Bird

Energy drink or plain old water?
Bit of both to be honest

Meat or veg?

Slow and steady or fast and furious?
Mostly slow and steady but not quite a tortoise 😉

Think it through or act-now-think-later?
Think it through

Glass half full or half empty? 
ALWAYS ALMOST FULL, half full isn’t enough 😊

Letters or email?

Cat or dog?

Town or country?

And finally, is a Jaffa Cake a cake or a biscuit?
I don’t care as I don’t eat cake or biscuits 😉

Shirley Anderson


14th March - This mornings training started at 6 am after my favourite breakfast of porridge with goji berries and flaked almonds and a refreshing drink consisting of the juice of 2 lemons with hot water and a mug of herbal tea.

Training – Wattbike session -  95 min indoor cycling that included 36-minute sprint stage -  a challenging 36 minutes with high wattage and high cadence (this is how fast you spin your legs) Hard work for this section but felt good afterward.  Then it’s a quick turnaround to get ready and off to Tattenhall for a regular working day.

My Wattbike is an indoor cycling bike that can be programmed to give elevations of various well-known cycling routes and set piece training sessions, set up in my conservatory at home and great for early mornings and when the English weather isn’t too kind.

15th March - This mornings training started a little earlier than yesterday.  I was on my way to the gym at 5:45 am.  Pre-training breakfast was my usual bowl of porridge.  Training today was 5-mile treadmill run followed by 45-minute weights session for my upper body and core.  The weights are very important for maintaining a good posture on the bike and whilst running, particularly long distances.   

16th March - Weekend training is often a mid-distance cycle ride but the glorious English Weather has a bit of an impact this time of year.  I don’t mind going out when it's cold and a little bit of rain but some combinations of weather just aren’t that inviting.  Today is, therefore, an indoor session on my Wattbike (stationery cycling trainer)  today’s session of around 20 miles cycling, around 90 minutes included 2 simulated climbs of ‘Box Hill’ an iconic climb southwest of London that featured in the London Olympics.  As my son was home for the weekend and wanted a lift to the gym I joined him in the gym for an hour on the treadmill – though this was an uphill walk rather than a run, but with a gradient ranging from 10% - 15%.  Covering 4 miles.  Still a good training session working those muscles that are going to work when running uphill – great for my long distance duathlons.

17th March -  Another indoor training day, helped me avoid all the hailstones.

So today I have registered on Sufferfest – this is an online training application that creates workout videos to test your limits, giving you a personalised selection of courses to complete that will help to develop your weaknesses and focus on your strengths.  The plan being this will help me to improve in various areas of my cycling.

Day 1 on Sufferfest Ignitor – as a 20-minute warm-up followed by The Full Frontal, this is designed to test you to the limits.  Its an hour long session with various elements testing your ability, this then provides a summary of the type of rider you are and provides details of programmes to follow to develop those weaknesses and focus on your strengths.  The Full Frontal has a reputation of being slightly brutal as do most of the Sufferfest programmes – the clue being in the title ‘Suffer’  I was pleased with the results provided from ‘The Full Frontal’ test which also indicated that my style of riding is that I am a ‘Climber’ – I definitely agree with this.  I’m good at endurance and I will keep fighting away up the hills when given the opportunity.  However, when sprinting I’m not usually at the front of the pack and the test really did reveal my weaknesses, but that’s good as there are then recommended programmes to help develop your weaknesses.  Training session of around 90 minutes covering 20 miles

18th March - Well today was going to be a rest day (I don’t take many of these despite knowing that I should and more so as I am getting a little bit older)  but I think I am just a bit excited about the challenges being offered by ‘Sufferfest’.

Sufferfest offered me 3 challenges to develop my sprinting so thought I would have a go at one of these this morning and see how I got on.  An early start and on the Wattbike at 6 am for a little session called ‘The Omnium’ the scene is set at the 2016 track world championships in London.  The Omnium is a total of 5 races usually over a number of days for the championship races but 'sufferfest' puts them back to back 😉.  The five races consist of a 200m flying time trial, 5km scratch race, 3km individual pursuit, 15km points race and 1km time trial.  I won’t bore you with the elements of each race and you do get a couple of minutes to recover in between.  At times the session was hard work and really pushes you to sprint to your limits.  Enjoyed the session and can see why some of my friends have talked so highly of the training platform offered by Sufferfest.  Training session of around 1hr 

19th March - This mornings training session was a gym session.  My usual pre-training porridge then at the gym by 6 am, 35 mins static bike warm up with a progressive climb, distance cycled 10 miles.  Upper body weights with 2 x 1-mile treadmill run intervals.  It was a good training session, happy that I included a couple of miles running and cycling.  

20th March - Early Morning training session, back on my trusty Wattbike for another Sufferfest training session.  ‘Revolver’ this involves a warm-up followed by 16 intervals of 1 min hard work and 1 min recoveries.  Followed by upper body strength session focusing on arms.

Wednesday evening – track session.  As a member of a local triathlon club I attend when possible a weekly track session, this is a running session which is planned by our coach Steve.  This session is approached with a ‘dread’ as your never certain what he is going to be set for the session ahead.  It usually fills me with fear but by the time we get going, it's never quite so bad as you expected.  This week 5 x 400m followed by 5 x 800m, with short recoveries between repetitions – you push yourself quite hard during these sessions. I was pleased with the times I achieved on my intervals and left the track feeling happy.

21st March - Another early start, again the trusty Wattbike with a Sufferfest Session, ‘A Dark Place’  a tough session over 50 minutes, includes 5 x 4 minute hard intervals with 3 minutes recovery.  Followed by a further 15 minutes steady ride not too hard not too easy and 30 minutes weights session for the upper body.

Thursday evening – my husband (who is also a keen cyclist but doesn’t attend a gym) and I attend a circuit class followed by yoga on Thursday evenings with my triathlon club.  – this is usually bi-weekly to fit in with my husbands shift pattern.  Circuits and Yoga – the yoga is something quite new to me but I understand its importance to maintain and improve mobility.

22nd March - Morning session at the gym with a 30-minute spin class but my focus more on recovery than working hard, followed by a short session on core stability.

23rd March - Today’s training was a social ride with my Cycling Club.  The format is that generally, your ride takes you to a café on a pre-arranged route, we stop for lunch and then cycle back.  This week’s ride was a group of 6, we covered 60 miles – suitable training for our long distance event in May – Inspired 1000 miles for MIND

24th March - Often Sunday is a day out on the bike but when time is limited it can be more beneficial to complete an indoor training session on the Wattbike.  The session is shorter but much more intense.  Another Sufferfest session for me today and again I completed the ‘Revolver’ programme, as I did on Wednesday 20th March, with a little bit extra.  Training session time 2 hrs.

The Sufferfest programme will recommend specific programmes to work on your strengths and your weaknesses.  The programmes I have completed over the last week have been designed to work on my weaknesses.  The programme sets a set of tests on the bike which you complete within an hour and from this they asses your performance, heart rate, power output, recovery time etc and this is the basis of their recommendations.  Behind the scenes, it is quite complex.  The Sufferfest programme has a solid reputation for setting programmes that work you hard and definitely have an impact on improving your performance.  I am very much enjoying the Sufferfest programme and look forward to seeing improvements in my results.  

A weakness of mine is the reluctance of taking any rest days.  I find it very hard to do so but I am trying to take some rest from time to time.

Monday 25th March - Today has been allocated as a rest day, a short yoga session in the morning and a very light upper body weights session in the evening.

Tuesday 26th March - An earlier start than usual this morning the pre-set workout was over 2 hours and I have also scheduled a short yoga session which is designed to activate your cycling muscles, this, therefore, needs to be prior to the Sufferfest workout on my Wattbike.

Sufferfest workout – Sprints, this involved 25 x 10-second sprints at high intensity and high resistance with a long recovery period between sprints. The recovery is relatively easy but the intensity of the 10-second sprints leave you knowing that your quads have been working.

Wednesday 27th March - An early start to fit in a 15-minute yoga session before my Sufferfest training this morning. The yoga is something that I am relatively new to. I must say that so far I am enjoying this session and today felt quite uplifted afterwards. 'Sufferfest' session was all about technique and pedal power, 48-minute session which was both informative, enjoyable and felt like a workout. Followed by an hour weights session with a friend at the local park. Back home by 7.30am to get ready for work.

Thursday 28th March - A light recovery session this morning, 15 mins yoga followed by 60 minutes recovery spin on the Wattbike and a further 15-minute yoga session which is set as Recovery Booster.

Friday 29th March - an early start to ensure I can fit this mornings volume of training before work. Early Yoga session for the hips and hamstrings, Sufferfest session – The Hunted, an hours session that focuses’ on little recovery which designed to build your sustained aerobic power. This was followed by the Sufferfest Session ‘Elements of Style’. This is a session I completed on Wednesday this week. I felt most beneficial for improving your technique and certainly worth repeating. The Sufferfest programme advises completing this session regularly in order to see improvements in style and results.

Saturday 30th March - The weekend again and a social ride with my Cycling Club. This week’s ride was a group of 6, from Warrington to Mickle Trafford, café stop and the back covering 63 miles. The sun came out although it was still quite chilly. We covered 63 miles.

Sunday 31st March - Today’s training was a higher intensity ride that took a group of 4 into the peak district covering a couple of climbs, notably ‘Brickworks’ and ‘Goyt Valley’ social ride with my Cycling Club. . This week’s ride covered 87 miles with 5,207 ft of climbing – suitable training for our long distance event in May – Inspired 1000 miles for MIND.

Monday 1st April - Morning training - A pre-workout Yoga session followed by Sufferfest session – Cadence Builds, which includes 6 x 30-second intervals of very high cadence (leg speed) with 7-minute recoveries between, total session time 1 hour. This session focus’ on neuromuscular training, this trains muscle groups to switch quickly and achieve a more efficient pedal stroke. Evening training – short weights session for upper body and legs.

Tuesday 2nd April - Another early morning session on Sufferfest, my first session called The Trick is a 1-hour session with 3 hard internals building in intensity to take you above your lactate threshold. This teaches your body to the worker at higher intensities, which teaches you to sustain power after all-out efforts. Part 2 of today's session Ignitor, a 20-minute programme, this is 20 minutes of progressive efforts with 4 high intensity, high cadence efforts to finish. This programme is based upon a programme created by British Cycling and used by Team Sky as part of their ‘Marginal Gains’ programme. Followed by a short yoga session t promote workout recovery.

Wednesday 3rd April - It’s a good job I love training early in the morning. Today's session started with a 15-minute yoga session to prepare for the training session ahead. Once again I am on my Wattbike for another Sufferfest session called ‘A Very Dark Place’ a 50-minute session, 5 x 4-minute intervals above your threshold capacity with 3 minutes recovery this session is about maximum effort designed to improve your ability to make repeated attacks when in a race situation. Or when trying to beat your friends 😊

Evening session at the running track with my triathlon club. It is more challenging to go out after work when you have already completed a morning training session and the journey to the running track fills me with dread as you don’t know what you are expecting until you arrive and have warmed up thoroughly. After this evenings warm up and drills we are given this evenings session which is 8 x 300m with 100m walk recovery followed by 4 x 600m intervals with 200m walk recovery. Although filled with ‘dread’, I think to myself – let's get on with the session and it will be over sooner. I was very pleased with my performance and interval times which once again I am able to maintain equal pace for the duration of the session, knowing I had worked hard.

Thursday 4th April - this mornings session commenced with 15 minutes yoga session then once again a Sufferfest session on my Wattbike. Today's session ‘Defender’ after a thorough warm-up you are subjected to 4 x 10-minute intervals at threshold level with 3-minute recoveries before you go again. The session was tough, I thoroughly enjoyed it, my legs felt good even though my workouts on Wednesday had been quite intense. I feel that the yoga sessions are definitely assisting with the recovery of my muscles following training. This session is both psychological and physiological improving your sense of pacing for longer efforts. Following this, I had 5 minutes easy ride for recovery and then a programmed version of ‘Box Hill’ a climb which is the iconic climb south-west of London that featured in the London Olympics. It is a short session which takes a little less than 10 minutes depending upon how hard you work. I felt strong during the programme and expected to achieve a personal best, but I wasn’t quite there. 12 seconds short of my previous best – oh well I must work harder next time! A 15-minute recovery yoga session and then off to work. This is the week that I attend a Circuit and Yoga session with my triathlon club, the session is designed for cyclists and my husband joins me, although we only participate bi-weekly due to his shift pattern in work. Yoga was cancelled tonight due to the instructor’s illness. This evening was just the Circuit session but extended to make up for the yoga.

Friday 5th April - this morning’s workout was all about recovery. Started with a yoga session for improving posture and stretching to relieve stiffness and tension. Followed by a very easy spin a which is a pre-set Sufferfest session – Recovery Spin 45 minutes of easy cycling to help to alleviate the body of toxins produced during intense exercise. Low-intensity workout in preparation for the weekends cycling. Planning to ride both Saturday and Sunday distances of 60 miles plus. I regularly ride both Saturday and Sunday which is all good preparation for the big event in May which is 5 consecutive days of cycling. The first four days with lots of climbing and good distances, not to be underestimated.

11th April 2019

13th April 2019

29th April 2019

17th May 2019

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