Are farmers the new Super Athletes in waiting?

What if a simple mind-shift in the way we think could capitalise on the potential opportunities open to farmers and growers.

With the Rio Olympics fresh in our minds it is only natural to dream just a little bit about performing on the big stage and maybe even getting on the podium if not in sports then in your own business.

What if the next super athlete walks amongst us right now and doesn’t realise their potential. I am talking about farmers and growers the ones who work extended hours and deal with a multitude of mentally stimulating tasks every day.

A recent article in the Outside magazine by reknown guru on performance, Brad Stulberg says that stressing your mind is the secret to training your body. This comes from the UK’s Ministry of Defence research on soldiers fitness. In short they found by taking on mentally challenging tasks while doing physical exercise you can enhance your performance.

As Brad puts it –‘you can reap enormous performance gains by altering your perception of effort—and anyone can do it’

So what does this have to do with farming today and why is it any different now than before?, well as farming becomes less physically demanding it becomes much more mentally challenging which fatigues farmers in a different way. Compliance, human resource, financial planning and health & safety are daily tasks now which become mentally taxing.

Taking on mentally challenging tasks while still doing physical work can however enhance performance and the real bonus is that farmers can combine work and training so have one over urban athletes. By realising this potential farmers could  not only improve their own performance but also their farm business.

Take for example endurance sports, a game of managing mental and physical stressors over long periods of time, farmers are streets ahead with the mental equation and usually have plenty of endurance strength as well. Case in point is born and bred New Zealand farmer Richard Avery who recently ran 240 kms in 24hrs in Australia, to make it even more amazing is that it was around a 400m track.a

The recent Farmstrong Fit4Farming rural cycle tour of New Zealand lay testament to this as farmers endurance showed through over the 1400km distance.

A simple growth mind-shift can result in massive changes to our lives and beauty is we can all do it. By simply acknowledging the mental stimulus we get through hardwork we can all have the chance to podium.

Please share this with your friends and enemies because without them pushing us we will not improve.

Ian Handcock

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Getting Fit for Purpose

We all want to be Fit 4 purpose.Fit 4 purpose means being able to mentally and physically perform a task to the best of your ability. The trick is to increase your ability so your performance improves by default. Increasing your ability means being fit and healthy both physically and mentally.

While cycling down the country on the Farmstrong Fit4farming Rural cycle tour promoting farmer wellbeing, I got wind of Sport Waikato organising a new 100km Ultramarathon in our back yard on the Hauraki Plains. Not being one to turn down an opportunity to test myself I set a goal of preparing myself for the ultra in just 22 weeks, that is from zero kms run per day to 100kms per day in one go.IMG_9715

For those that don’t know me I am not a pint sized athlete, I have recently dropped from 115 kgs down to 93 kgs over the past 2 years by changing my diet and exercising. I am built to be a rugby forward where size counts and while cycling improves cardio fitness it does nothing to help running fitness so things have to change and change fast.

I will add I did complete the 100 km TUM in February 2015 as a test of mental fortitude but haven’t ran since so this will be another test of mental and physical endurance – just to get to the startline.

So what does this have to do with farming or anything else other than a morbid story about suffering well it seems sport has a great deal of similarities with life and I will share these over the coming weeks but the first lesson is to break the process down to achievable chunks or you will lose confidence and derail your plans.

To achieve my goal of running the Trail Trilogy 100km Ultra I will have to run 15 half marathons, 2 full marathons and at least 0ne half century before D-day on September the 18th this year. These will all be on trails so none of that pussy road stuff. Now for a seasoned runner this is bread and jam stuff, for others running one half marathon can be a lifetime achievement. Everything is relevant as we are all different so when trying anything be careful not to compare Clydesdale to Thoroughbreds. Clydesdales are far more useful.

The message here is too often we look too far ahead and get overawed by the climb ahead of us.  Set a plan, your own plan, and only worry about today’s activity, today’s recovery and today’s nutrition. As time goes on your plan might change so trust yourself it is for the best as long as the ultimate target stays the same.

As I get Fit 4 Purpose over the coming weeks you can follow my progress and learn some mental skills to help you to achieve your life goals and business goals

The hairy legged cyclist.




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Cycling for wellbeing

A 16 day, 1400 km interactive cycle tour from Ngatea to Invercargill through rural New Zealand, the Farmstrong Fit4Farming tour aims to bring awareness to farming communities about health and exercise. Local riders and their families are encouraged to attend organised event days scheduled in main stopovers


“Our mission is to improve the sustainability of the farming industry by promoting wellbeing, by inspiring and motivating rural people to be active and healthy,”

Physical activity in dairy farming is no longer sufficient to protect our farmers from cardiovascular disease. Farmers are spending more time in managerial and decision making roles, and using automation and mechanisation to do much of the physical work. Research shows farmers rarely increase their heart rates above low intensity.

Healthy fit people have more confidence in decision making. They have better time management, They have a positive attitude to life, create positive cultures and contribute to their communities.

They have better metabolism, lower blood pressure, and  can manage their weight better which equates to better health.  They will suffer less injuries and have less ‘burnout’. They will stay in the industry for longer.

You can take part in any of the event days as the  tour party works its way south. go to the Farmstrong Website to register and go it he draw to win a mountain bike on the day.


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