If we were riding: one final ride

1st February 2021

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An editorial for The Sport and Exercise Scientist, Spring 2021, Issue 67

This is my last issue as Editor of The Sport and Exercise Scientist, so please join me for my final editorial. The title If we were riding is taken from a podcast I Iisten to. Its premise is, if we were out riding then this is what we’d be yarning about. Today, I’m riding the red route at Bedgebury in Kent, my local single-track mountain bike trail. Riding there nicely reflects how I’d describe my time as Editor across 30 issues: a happy place but ever so occasionally some weird stuff happens (see my blog on being treated differently whilst riding because of my gender, Hitchings, 2018). I’m going to mainly chat about people because it’s people that have made the greatest impact on me in this role, with each issue involving manifold relationships with people. My overall experience has been that most people know their stuff, but the differences lie in reliability, attention to detail and how enjoyable they are to work with.

The first segment of the trail is Genesis, so let’s start at the beginning with a brief flashback to issue 1, September 2004. I covered a lot of this in an Editorial celebrating 50 issues (Hitchings, 2016), so I won’t repeat myself. At its inception, I had a clear vision of what I wanted the publication to contain and that vision has remained steadfast. Namely, succinct CPD articles with take-home messages, written in a personal and reflective way without the grandiose and byzantine format typically required by peer-review journals. For me, the style of the publication has real value and it personally provided me with an outlet for some lessons learned on behaviour change that I thought were of worth (Palmer, 2005), but didn’t have a place in my PhD thesis. The usefulness of a publication isn’t always captured in its impact factor or ranking!

Succinctness of an article is always an interesting balancing act. I love the following quote: "An article should be long enough to cover the subject, short enough to be interesting." Over-long articles have on occasion been submitted accompanied by authors’ claims such as, “Because this is so important we exceeded the word count.” It exemplifies the expression, “I’m sorry this is so long, I didn’t have time to shorten it.” The second clause could have “take care” for “have time.”

Back to the ride and we’re now approaching Cardiac, a 10% climb that is sure to evoke a physiological response in me, in a manner similar to conflict I’ve occasionally had in the role. I’ve learnt that conflict can be useful; for example, “dialogue” with one individual prompted me to create Dr Shaun McLaren’s Real World and Long Story Short with Dr Robert McCunn; both useful applied additions to the publication. Conversely, some conflict is unnecessary, with even the simplest exchanges of information extremely hard work and unpleasant. In an era of mental health awareness and #beNice hashtags, I really don’t understand such modus operandi. But then there’s very little training out there specifically on soft skills such as how to #beNice to work with, self-awareness, emotional intelligence and how to get the best out of your co-workers. Perhaps something to be discussed at the next Heads of Department Forum?

I think one part of being nice to work with is the ability to say sorry. And not one of those cringe non-apology apologies: “I’m sorry you feel that way.” I recently read American bike rider, Chloe Dyget’s “apology,” having apparently liked a transphobic tweet from Donald Trump, as well as posts stating, “white privilege doesn't exist.” Rapha, as a partner of her team, called her out, saying that she, “has made very serious errors of judgment, which were compounded by an apology she issued that was not sufficient.” (Cash, 2020). Good for Rapha! We need more of this! How about our community starts calling out people claiming authorship when they shouldn’t; a practice almost as unethical as e-bikers claiming STRAVA Queen of the Mountains!

Anyhow, we’re approaching an awesome part of the trail, Sweetness, so let’s talk all things sweet! I’ve absolutely loved working collaboratively with authors, providing fresh eyes and helping to shape their ideas. Signing off each issue has always given me an enormous sense of satisfaction and pride (and relief). It’s like a swan gracefully moving like a picture of elegance on a lake but what is hidden is the activity beneath the water’s surface - the considerable team work and the frantic eleventh hour problem-solving required when the promised isn’t delivered!

Now the final part of the trail, Cake Run, an apt place to say a heart-felt thank you to all those that have made a positive contribution to my time as Editor, especially the authors, the Editorial Advisory Board, Jane Bairstow and Mercer Print. Best wishes to the incoming Editor. And with that, I will say, “Goodbye.”

References

Cash, D. (2020). Rapha says Dygert’s apology ‘not sufficient’ Available: https://cyclingtips.com/2020/11/rapha-says-dygerts-apology-not-sufficient

Hitchings, C. (2016). The Sport and Exercise Scientist: The 50th issue. The Sport and Exercise Scientist, 50, 3.

Hitchings, C. (2018). If We Were Riding…Getting Chicked. Available: www.clairehitchings.rocks/post-if_we_were_riding_getting_chicked.html

Palmer, C. (2005). Changing athletes’ behaviour: Lessons learnt. The Sport and Exercise Scientist, 2, 12.

Dr Claire Hitchings FBASES

Claire is a mum of 10 (two children and eight bikes). She is a triathlon coach and runs Claire Hitchings Coaching (www.clairehitchings.rocks). No matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.

Photo by tommy haugsveen from Pexels

This editorial will be published in The Sport and Exercise Scientist, Spring 2021, Issue 67. Published by the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences – www.bases.org.uk

Author: Claire Hitchings

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