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Think wrangling your coworkers all day before training is hard? Imagine wrangling 400 sheep.
Always thought that training for a long-distance triathlon while running a business seemed demanding? What if instead of a company you had to run a 450-acre farm (the size of 340 football fields) and take care of 400 sheep and 50 cattle?
Adam Madge, a 34-year-old from Lincolnshire, in central-east England, not only has to t in the 10 to 15 hours of training his coach prescribes him every week, but he also has to manage the family’s farm with only his dad’s help. Pursuing triathlon while farming requires some special adaptation and organization skills, like figuring out how to get in workouts during the harvest—and during the lambing period.
“At this time of year [mid February], we’re bringing all our sheep into the farmyard and preparing for them to give birth,” he says. “And that period of the year is very busy, and somebody has to be with the sheep 24 hours a day. To t the training around that, it’s quite difficult. So, it’s been known for me to put the turbo trainer up in the farming shed and pedal while keeping an eye on the sheep.”
Madge got into triathlon at the end of 2015 and started to race in 2016. With a background in track running, he now has his eyes set on the 2018 70.3 World Champs in South Africa. But the timing of the race will also collide with a busy period at the farm.
“Looking at the days of the race, it’s a bit too tight to fit in the farming schedule, which is frustrating, but at the end of the day I’m not a pro, and I need to balance the training with everyday life,” he says.
While farming is a very manual job, Madge also has a specific strength and conditioning program that he sometimes blends together with his farmwork. This can include doing pull-ups from the plough (check @tri_70.3_madge on Instagram), squatting with hay bales on his back, or doing a long run while checking the crops.
“It’s still good training, but that is a bit of fun as well”, he says. “When you’re passionate about both the farming [his very first word as a child was ‘tractor’] and the sport, you’ve got to find ways of doing both together. It’s tough, don’t get me wrong, with the late nights at the farm and trying to train hard as well takes its toll, but you gotta do it.”
And though he may be the only farmer/triathlete in his community, hard work is hard work. “They think I’m a little crazy,” Madge says of the other farmers in his area. “Some of them don’t know what triathlon is, and I need to explain it to them. But others know what it is, of course, and they think it’s great. They’re quite understanding, and they support the challenge.”
A Day in the Life
(Busy period from mid-July to mid-September)
6 a.m. Wake up
7 a.m. Swim, 3 km
9 a.m. Feed water and hay to animals
10 a.m. Check on lambs
11 a.m. Check the field animals
1 p.m. Machinery maintenance
2 p.m. Fertilize fields
4 p.m. Feeding time again
5 p.m. Coffee and check sheep
7 p.m. Training session, 45min (trainer in the lamb shed or run)
11 p.m. Call it a day
By the Numbers
Yearly, Madge’s Farm Produces:
650 lambs sold for meat
20-25 cattle sold for meat
550 tons of wheat
200 tons of barley
100 tons of rapeseed oil