How Resilience Redefines You by Ross Edgley

The year of 2018 was one I will never forget. After 157 days and 1,780 miles I arrived on Margate beach and completed the first circumnavigation swim around Great Britain. But whilst the giant jellyfish, artic storms and my dishevelled tongue were well documented, what has been kept a secret (until now) was what we discovered from the 1 million calories consumed under the most extreme and adverse conditions in swimming and sports nutrition. This is just because I wanted to make sense of everything myself before I shared my findings with the world. To quote the great Aristotle, “Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.”

But after months of research (being prodded and probed in the sports lab) I am beyond excited to be joining the PhD family as we broadcast our discoveries to the world. All because this is a partnership that has been born out of a joint desire to re-shape what we think the human body and mind is capable of as the key theme from our findings was mental fortitude works best when fuelled. What this means is you can be the most physically gifted (or mentally resilient) human to ever pick up a barbell or lace up your trainers, but none of this will matter unless your fuelled efficiency. Taking inspiration from the great explorers of old, in my new book, “The Art of Resilience” I have come to call this, “Heroics in Hunger” and I will be delivering my theories and philosophies on the topic through articles, videos, seminars and live events with PhD.

But before we delve into the nutritional science, let me explain:

  • Why resilience is such a valued trait in the world of sport and adventure
  • Why I swam 1.780 miles to better understand it


Firstly, inspired by research from the Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, it states, “The importance of intellectual talent to achievement in all professional domains is well established, but less is known about the importance of resilience. Defined as perseverance and passion for long-term goals… resilience did not relate positively to IQ but, demonstrated incremental predictive validity of success measures over and beyond IQ. These findings suggest that the achievement of difficult goals entails not only talent but also the sustained and focused application of talent over time*.”

Essentially, intelligence is great and being genetically gifted physically is an advantage. But one of the most underrated, yet powerful, virtues a human can possess is Resilience!

Which is exactly why I wanted to embark on the Great British Swim.

Following in the footsteps of my hero Captain Matthew Webb, on 25 August 1875 he achieved what many believed was impossible; the first crossing of the English Channel (swimming 21 miles from Dover in England to Calais in France). At the time sailors claimed this was swimming suicide because the tides were too strong and the water too cold. But Captain Webb, in a woollen wetsuit and on a diet of brandy and beef broth, swam breaststroke (because “front crawl was ungentlemanly like” at the time) and battled waves for over 20 hours to make history.

I loved this story.

It was one of grit, resilience and defying all odds as his dogged persistence and self-belief captured the spirit of the times and cemented Webb as a hero of the Victorian age. Therefore, for me circumnavigating Great Britain would serve as a way of reconnecting with these powerful and primitive human traits. Looking at the anthropology of us humans (and earth’s 4.5 billion-year history) it’s the reason we’re all here today sitting firmly at the top of the food chain as we compete in the game that Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer referred to as the survival of the fittest.


Ross Edgley (born 13th October 1985 in Grantham, England) is an adventurer and author best known for becoming the first person in history to swim all the way around Great Britain. After 1,780 miles and 157 days the World Open Water Swimming Association announced it as the ‘World Swim of the Year 2018’ and it became officially recognised as “The World’s Longest Staged Sea Swim.”

Now considered a leading expert in mental fortitude, physical resilience and work capacity, Ross published the Sunday Times Bestselling book “The World’s Fittest Book” in 2018 which was heralded as the most comprehensive fitness bible ever printed to date. Now in 2020 he is due to publish his highly-anticipated second book, “The Art of Resilience” (April 30th 2020) which studies the performance of extreme athletes, military and fitness specialists and psychologists to uncover the secrets of mental fitness and explore the concept of resilience, persistence, valour and a disciplined mind-set in overcoming adversity. Representing a paradigm shift in what we thought the human body and mind were capable of, he hopes it will give readers a blueprint to become tougher, more resilient and ultimately better humans – whatever the challenges they face.

*Duckworth AL, Peterson C, Matthews MD and Kelly DR (2007) “Grit: perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2007 Jun;92(6):1087-101.

Ross Edgley is a an adventurer and author, best known for becoming the first person in history to swim all the way around Great Britain.