Chris Worfolk's Blog


Feel-good Productivity

September 1st, 2019 | News, Success & Productivity

It’s the course launch people have been asking for. When I put up a question on Facebook earlier this summer, productivity was the number one topic that people asked me to teach.

I was hesitant. There are already a load of productivity courses out there, and I knew it would be difficult to write because productivity is a core part of my identity. In such circumstances we often find we procrastinate a lot because if we are unable to articulate and teach those skills, it challenges our self-esteem. Luckily, I’m a psychologist and I know how to deal with that. In fact, I teach those skills in the course.

Despite the competition, I decided to the time was right to make the course. Why? Because I don’t like a lot of the stuff out there. So many courses are about tricks to cram even more stuff into your schedule. They work, but they can leave you even more tired and stressed, or reinforce unrealistic expectations.

Feel-good Productivity is based on compassion. We’ll start by challenging the idea that you need to be productive. We’ll focus on getting rid of stuff from your calendar so that you can focus on what is truly important. We’ll deep-drive through the psychology of procrastination, avoidance, focus, goal-setting and grit so that you have evidence-based strategies for getting more done with less stress. And we’ll learn why relaxation and being kind to ourselves will boost our productivity in the long-term.

If all of that sounds good, I would love for you to join me inside the course. It has only been live a few days and almost a thousand students already have.

You can watch the course trailer below, or head over to Udemy for a full course preview including access to the first few lessons.

Brooks Asteria review

August 31st, 2019 | Reviews, Video

The Brooks Asteria is a running shoe that is lightweight and designed for racing. It is similar to the Ravenna in that it offers stability but it lighter: 287g compared with 320g for the Ravenna. It has less padding so you are going to hit the surface harder and feel the ground more.

It comes with the Brooks GuideRails to provide support when needed and offers at 8mm drop (I know I said 10mm in the video!). Also, it’s red, so it goes faster than other shoes. The sole has a speckled effect that looks like dirt at first glance but I am pretty sure is part of the design.

It maintains the luxurious Brooks feel inside but has less space in the toe box than the Ravenna, so it tighter on my big toe. The laces have an elastic springy feel. I ran pretty fast in these shoes but it is difficult to know how much of that is a placebo effect. I think they are useful for runs of up to 10km, but beyond that, I would be looking for more padding.

It also has the same downfall as the Ravenna (and possibly all Brooks shoes; I haven’t tried them all) in that the sole simply does not grip in the wet. So, as soon as it rains, which it does a lot in England, or even if the surface is just damp, you start sliding around. It is a big downside.

Other possible alternatives: I’ve spent most of this review comparing it to the Brooks Ravenna, which I prefer to the Asteria, and you may also want to consider the Nike Zoom Span, which is my favourite mild stability shoe.

Brooks Ravenna 10 review

August 30th, 2019 | Reviews, Video

The Brooks Ravenna 10 is a running shoe that offers a resolve sole, 10mm drop and mild support. It uses the Brooks GuideRails system to provide said support when needed. In this review, I’ll look at the men’s edition, but there is a woman’s edition, too.

It has some cushioning, but not too much, and even more generous cushioning on the tongue. The inside feels silky smooth: I can happily go around in these without socks. It weighs in at 280g, just slightly above what the Brooks website promises. There is plenty of space in the toe box for my big toe.

After a month of running the shoe still looks in great condition, except for the inside of the heal, which has started to bobble. No splits yet and hopefully, it will stay that way.

Unfortunately, the Ravenna has one major drawback: it loses a lot of grip in the wet. If you are running in the rain, or even if the ground is damp, you tend to slip and slide all over the pace. Friends who run in Brooks report the same problem to me. This is super frustrating because it rains a lot in England and having to check the weather forecast every time I am going out in them is a chore.

In short, this is almost an amazing running shoe. I love it in the dry. However, losing so much grip in the wet means that this shoe ultimately gets the thumbs down from me I’m afraid.

Looking for running shoes with mild support? Consider the Brooks Asteria if you want a racing shoe with less cushioning, or the excellent Nike Zoom Span.

Parkrun Day: The Film

August 22nd, 2019 | Sport, Video

Last week, when Hyde Park Harriers took on Leeds parkruns, I took my GoPro along to document the trip. Here is the film I made.

Parkrun Day

August 21st, 2019 | Sport

Every year, Hyde Park Harriers try to take on all of the parkuns in Leeds in a single day. This has become more and more of a challenge as new parkruns start. By this year, 2019, there are now nine of them. With two more starting soon, I have no idea what we will do next year. Possibly a multi-day event.

Having so many parkruns means the distance this year was up to 45km. Anything longer than 42.2km is technically an ultramarathon. 45km is pretty much the easiest ultramarathon you can possibly do, especially as you get a break when driving between them. Or so I thought. It turns out that having a break just gives your legs a chance to seize up.

Roundhay

We started bright and early at 7:30am. Ed Sheran had taken over most of the park so we had to forgo the regular parkrun route and do two laps of the lake instead. Nobody was sad to miss the long drag of the hill up to the mansion in favour of a beautiful view of the lake. It was sunny on the near side and rained on the far side.

Potternewton

By Potternewton, I was already feeling it. Bad times only 5km in! I wanted to pace myself so I walked up some of the hills. Meanwhile, Marcos Angel Valero Palacios came sprinting past me to take a course record of 15:59.

Temple Newsam

I had not packed a lot of food as I only decided to come for it at the last minute and had not had a chance to stock up, so by Temple Newsam I was hungry. I grabbed a coke, a sausage roll and a caramel shortbread from the cafe. The sun was out in full force by Temple Newsam, and Amy and Paul made a guest appearance.

Rothwell

The sun continued to beat down at Rothwell so I took a quick break to suncream up. The tarmac was starting to pound my legs by this point, so I was pleased to have grass to run on for most of it. How easy was everyone else taking it? Toby and Rich lapped me at this one.

Middleton Woods

Ah, the sweet shade of the woods. I felt good at Middleton, at least for the first three kilometres. I was still walking up some fo the hills but was running everything else. After the run, we had lunch on the bike cafe. A cheeseburger and chips went down well, accompanied by two bottles of orange juice and another can of coke.

Cross Flatts

It has cooled down a little by Cross Flatts and we dispatched the course without too much trouble. I felt no ill effects from having stuffed my face.

Bramley

By Bramley, I was tired but feeling good. I had finished both my bidons by this point, so we went to the shop to reload. The ground was a bit soggy when I moved off the tarmac and onto the grass.

Armley

This one was always going to be a challenge because it was so deep in but not quite at the end. We took it really steady so it didn’t hurt too much.

Woodhouse Moor

Ah, the end! I was excited to arrive here and we were joined by a few other Harriers. I went hard to try and put in a good time, but the fatigue meant that a “good time” was still 31 minutes. After crossing the finish line, I would say I felt amazing, but I mostly felt sick. That’s pretty standard with anything over three hours, though.

Conclusion

I can’t believe I made it. Eight others also claimed all of the runs, and while Greg missed Roundhay, he did the most work out of all of us as he cycled between each one. Thank you to Toby for organising it and Ellie for keeping me company at the back.

I’ll see you all next year… for one of the parkuns ;).

Resilient website

August 20th, 2019 | News

Last August, I launched the Resilient Running course. My sport psychology course has also been smashing it, earning Udemy’s coverted “highest-rated” badge for being the most well-regarded course on the topic.

It was always the plan that Resilient would be the brand that would link all of my sport and psychology courses together with, and I am pleased to announce that the Resilient website is now live.

So far, it is a sport psychology blog and the first few blog posts are up. My priority at the moment is to get more high-quality content on there and then begin expanding what the website offers.

Getting started with clip-on aero bars

August 18th, 2019 | Video

If you are an age-group triathlete or amateur time-trialist, nothing will give you free speed like aero bars. In this video, I will discuss the pros and cons, show you how to get some onto your bike and give you some tips on how to get started with them.

Aero bars, also known as tri bars, allow you to get into a much lower, aerodynamic position. The downside is that your hands are miles away from my brakes, and closer together, so it can be a little intimidating to lose some control. They also take up a lot of space on your handlebars.

Comfort is a mixed bag. Most people struggle to cycle in the aero position. However, I found it about as comfortable as sitting up. If anything, it was slightly easier on my back.

Performance gains

The speed gain is substantial. Between Alltherorpe Classic standard distance triathlon in 2018 and 2019, I improved my bike split by 11:28. Of course, it could be that I was fitter. But comparing Allerthorpe sprint triathlon a month earlier, my power was 20 Watts lower, and yet my average speed was up 5%. So, more speed for less power.

Getting them on your road bike

You can buy clip-on aero bars for around £30. These bolt onto your handlebars so you can turn a standard road bike into a time trial bike. It is best to use a torque wrench if you can, as clamping them on to the recommended 8-10 Nm can be scary without one. It also helps to wrap some electrical tape around your handlebars to protect them.

Depending on your bars, they will be adjustable in different ways. Typically, you can adjust them by changing the angle and gap between them on the handlebars, by moving the bars themselves backwards and forwards and by changing the rotation of the armrests.

When you are getting started, you want to keep them fairly flat, as having them diagonally upwards in the praying mantis position will make you slightly more aero but will also make it more difficult to control the bike.

Riding on aero bars for the first time

When riding, there are several things you can do to get comfortable cycling with them. One option is to keep one hand on the hoods and put the other on the bars, then gradually lift the hand off the hoods. I am not a big fan of this because it is harder to control with only one point of contact than it is when you have both hands on the bars.

Another option is to find a small hill, say a 1-2% gradient, and go up it. This will allow you to put a lot of power through the bike while still going at a relatively slow speed.

You can also spend some time moving your hands between the hoods and the bars to get used to getting in and out of the aero position. As you get used to them, you will get used to having a little less control: this means sacrificing some of the small adjustments you would normally make in favour of a wider berth and leaning the bike a little more.

Ultimately, though, once I got comfortable, it just clicked. Like learning to ride a bike in the first place, once you “get it”, you should be away. Good luck!

Intelligence and mental health

August 17th, 2019 | Science

Many people believe that there is an association between intelligence and mental illness. And there is. But it probably is not the one you think.

The media has often reported on the idea that mental illness is higher among intelligent people. In a way, there is some truth to this. Mental illness does seem to be prevalent among geniuses, for example. One study demonstrated that there were higher rates of mental health issues among Mensa members.

But this is one study and specifically looks at people who are abnormally high on the intelligence scale. It ignores the wider pattern of evidence that says increased intelligence correlates with better mental health. Wikipedia offers a good roundup of the evidence, but I also provide one below.

A 2016 study in the journal Intelligence found that intelligent youths were more likely to receive a dianogsis of depression at age 50, but less likely to have mental health issues on self-report measures.

A 2006 study found that intelligent people were less likely to have PTSD.

A 2008 study found that intelligent people were less likely to have schizophrenia.

A 2018 study found that intelligent people were less likely to have OCD.

And, perhaps most notably, a Swedish study that used over a million participants concluded that:

Lower intelligence is a risk factor for the whole range of mental disorders and for illness severity.

Of course, the biggest predictor of intelligent is individual difference. Struggling with mental illness says nothing about your intelligence. But the idea that having a mental illness is a sign that we are more intelligent is a myth.

Sorry. I was gutted as well.

Knights

August 16th, 2019 | Distractions

Q: Which knight was famous for sneaking up on his enemies?
A: Sir Prise

Mindfulness for Productivity

August 15th, 2019 | Health & Wellbeing, News

I’m pleased to announce my new course is now live! Here is the blurb:

Do you ever feel stressed about how productive you are? Are you hard on yourself for not getting enough done? Do you feel tired and struggle to focus on the more important things?

If so, Mindfulness for Productivity is the course for you. It gives you ten guided mindfulness practices you can follow along with to make you more productive, and maybe even a little happier, too.

It will help you:

  • Feel more motivated about your goals
  • Reduce stress around feeling unproductive
  • Focus on the things that are important
  • Carrying on when obstacles fall in your way
  • Starting and ending your day positively

This course is suitable for all levels: we’ll jump straight into the practice videos that you can follow along with, but we’ll also cover how to mindfully meditate and the science behind it.

You can preview the course on Udemy.