Maximising performance in the off season

In professional sport the ‘off season’ offers an athlete the opportunity to rest, recover and mentally prepare for the following season. In the off season an athlete will do strength training and fitness training so that they are in peak condition when the new season starts. In tennis the fitness and strengthening will carry them through the season, and allows them to focus more on match play and technique.

In the amateur we can see that the off season either never occurs, or that the athlete decides to increase the intensity of their training – and injuries occur. The off season needs to be structured to maximise the benefits for the following season.

The off season also offers an opportunity for injuries to be treated sensibly and for the body to be rested to allow natural healing processes to occur. The powers of rest cannot be underestimated. This will include having plenty of sleep; it will also include having ‘active recovery’ whereby the body continues to exercise, but in a much lower intensity so that injuries can respond to treatment and heal.

Structure your year to peak for your events and also to have an off season. Your physiotherapist and trainer can work closely together to design an off season which will help heal your injuries and also maximise your potential for the following season OR for achieving an extra goal.

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Rhys Chong talks about a winning team for success in sport and life

Winning a Gold Medal at the Olympics, winning the Tour de France or winning an Ironman are spared for the elite athletes of the world. Every sport has its unique demands but there is one goal all athletes strive for … to be the “best he/she can be”.

Whether you are a professional or an amateur there are aspects of training which can help you be the “best you can be”. The key is to have a team of specialists who work specifically for you. Bradley Wiggins, Chrissie Wellington, and Sir Chris Hoy all have a team of professionals guiding them to success.

 I completed my Ironman and had a team of professionals working with me. I knew if I wanted to be the “best I could be” I would need coaches for different parts of my training. In my team was a training coach, swim coach, bike mechanic, nutritionist, mental conditioning coach, massage therapist, physiotherapist, and pilates instructor.

 Each member of my coaching team had their role to play at various stages in my year of preparation for the Ironman. My training coach directed the overall training plan and as my strength and technique improved, with the help of other specialists, I focussed on work with my mental conditioning coach. I did have injuries during the year but they were minor. It helped to condition my body with gym work and pilates. The expert physiotherapy treatment and massage therapy I received allowed me to train 6 days a week.

 Elite athletes will train in cycles of 4 years in preparation for the Olympics. The focus of their team is to have them at peak performance for that one race on that one day that really counts. This could be your “A” race for the year when you want to set a PB (Personal Best time). 

 My advice is to plan your training with your coaches. Your entire physical and mental preparation will be for your “A” race. The synergy created by pinpoint focus on your “A” race will create incredible results. 

The benefits of having a team of coaches are far greater, when compared with a computer or book prescribed program. Your coaches are with you from the beginning of your journey through to crossing the finish line. They know how you “tick”, and can provide you with emotional guidance and motivation, in the good times and the bad. Your training can be adapted to fit with what is happening in your life. When it really matters we all want to talk to people and training is no different.

If you want to race an Ironman for the first time and want the right team of coaches to work with, see  www.physical-edge.com   

Rhys Chong

Author, Physiotherapist and Ironman

Give yourself realistic timeframes to train

Having a goal is great because it drives you when times get tough during training, and it keeps you focussed through the training period. The time it takes for you to achieve your goal will vary depending on what that goal is. Sometimes I have seen people set goals with time frames which are too short.

When I completed my Ironman in Switzerland, I gave myself 1 year to prepare for the race. I worked with several coaches. Having 12 months gave me to time to learn and to get it right. I needed the time – because I was working – to fit in skill sessions, such as learning how to swim correctly, and to find the equipment I needed to race. I did get injured in the early stages of my training because my body was adapting to 6 days a week training. Having 12 months to train for the race allowed time for my body to recover from its injuries and to get back to full fitness to train again.

When the time to train before a race is too short there is greater risk of failure. I have had a client wanted to race the ‘Marathon de Sables’ in 2 years’ time, and to do an Ironman in 1 year’s time – and she had no background in endurance training; she also had an existing ankle injury. Setting goals like these is unrealistic; if you talk to a coach he will put a true time frame in for each event you want to complete. Personally I think it is better to leave more rather than less time to complete endurance events.

Remember, talk to your physiotherapist, coach or personal trainer when you want to set a new goal – to make your time frames realistic and to avoid injury at the same time.

What does Chrissie Wellington, four times world champion, say about her journey so far in Ironman?

Physical Edge attended a TCR exhibition (triathlon, cycling, running) to hear Chrissie Wellington speak about her life in triathlon, and where she is heading with her career. Chrissie recently released her latest book called ‘Life Without Limits – a World Champion’s Journey’ and Physical Edge was able to purchase an autographed copy. Chrissie presented for one hour and spoke on topics such as pressure; achieving new highs in ironman sport; and her early days of racing. She also gave an analysis of herself and why she was successful as a world ironman champion four times over.

It was interesting to see the psychology behind Chrissie’s success. She suffered bulimia as a teenager and was never a successful athlete until 5 years ago, when she entered an ironman contest. She does not come from a family of successful athletes, and only came to the sport of ironman after a coach saw her potential.

Chrissie may not have had the normal athletic childhood that other world champions have, but what she does have is an internal drive which is relentless. She has always wanted to be the best that she could be in everything that she does. She works hard and never gives up. She achieved high academic honours in high school and university, and achieved the highest score ever in her university for a degree of economic geography. She was a civil servant before coming to ironman, when a coach saw her and asked to her to try out for triathlon. Within a 5 -10 month period she became the world ironman champion.

Chrissie finds it very difficult to relax. She is someone who is on the go 100% of the time; this characteristic has helped her achieve great things in her life so far. She says that the key to her success is being able to better manage this incredibly insatiable hunger for self improvement. Chrissie has had 2 very different types of coaches – one coach who took control of her training and another who empowered her. She has benefitted from both these types of coaching, and recognises the importance as well of friends and family – along with other ironman athletes who are non-professionals – as major sources of inspiration and emotional support.

Chrissie describes herself with ‘a mind like a bullet’ – unable to rest, constantly analysing herself, and very self critical. In her book she describes how she has managed her natural tendancy for self control; her first coach said she would only be a success in ironman if she chopped her head off.

In the last 5 years Chrissie has achieved the most that you could achieve as an ironman athlete. She is a 4 times world champion, has set the fastest world record and broken this herself. There are very few men that can beat her in the ironman distance. Triathlon has been the axis of her life so far: this year she has decided to take a year out of competing to find balance in her life. She has completed this book, is doing work for charity and will be involved in the Olympics in some commentary form. She reports she could not continue ironman and find balance in her life because this would mean compromising her training and racing – and she was not prepared to do this. She does intend to return to ironman in a year’s time, and who knows how good she will be at this point?

The advice Chrissie has for ironman athletes is to redefine perfection:’There is no such thing as perfection – you can only be the best that you can be: learn from the bad races, as this is where you learn how to improve yourself: avoid linking all your emotional well being to your performance (in other words, just be the best you can be on the day).’ She is a great believer in overcoming fear; in fact she confronts it face on and says ‘jump through the fear’!

Her final tips on the mental side of training and pain are: visualisation; associating music with landmarks in your race (going to the race course in advance and playing the music at those points, so that you become familiar with it on race day); creating positive self images of you crossing the line, having food at the end, friends around you etc; having a positive mantra (hers is ‘never give up’); and breaking the race into chunks so that mentally it is not so daunting.

A quote that Chrissie has taken from Lance Armstrong, which enabled her to get through times of great adversity is: “Quitting will last forever, but the pain will fade.”

If you are inspired to do an ironman contest contact Physical Edge at http://www.physical-edge.com

The Ironman Support Team

The Ironman support team has been gathered together and we are creating the best value packages to get our athletes to the event in the best shape possible.

In the team we have Rhys (physio), Fran (head coach), Emile (swim coach), Dave (bike mechanic), Trevor (pilates), Michelle (massage), Chris (mental conditioning coach), Laura (liaison manager) and out nutritionist is to be confirmed.

The team met and discussed what we were wanting to offer out clients. It is a one stop shop for businessmen, entrepreneurs and celebrities to train and complete an Ironman in one year. The team is highly experienced and passionate about sport and caring for people.

The Ironman can expect outstanding personal service. There are a few interested clients taking up the challenge. The events suggested to them have been Barcelona, Cape Town and Mexico.

We are looking for first time Ironman athletes who are time short and want to complete an Ironman with the support of a professional team who know what they are doing. Give us a call right now to get started.

It will be one of the most memorable experiences of your life.

mail@physical-edge.com

Beginning of L’etape du tour Training

Today I started my training for the L’etape du tour. My coach had me in the gym doing high volume training for my legs and upper body. It is 10 weeks since I finshed the Ironman and it feels like I am starting from scratch again. I enjoy the focus of having a new goal. I am looking at what I have on in the next three months. I am shifting house and getting married so getting this base training will be a challenge. I know I want to enjoy this race so getting this training in now will save me a lot of pain on race day.
Training in winter will be tough. I plan to ride in the mornings during the week and on weekends. I want to join a cycle club to get used to riding in a pack and learning about cycling. I need a new pair of cycle glasses and want to buy the Radar Path Oakleys.
I have to rest well for this race. I want to train hard and allow my body to recover and grow srong. My nutrition will change to match the increase demand for carbohydrates.

Looking forward to this challenge. Here we go…. July 17, 2011 …stage 9 of the Tour du France.

The ‘Integrated Approach to Functional Change’ Physiotherapy Course

I completed my final weekend of the “Integrated Approach for Facilitating Change” course. This was run over 15 days over a 9 month period and brought together the previous training on treating and assessing the low back, neck and shoulder.  The final 4 days of training focussed on an entire approach of assessing injuries and included the  lower limb.
This approach identified the cause of the problem and got rapid results with fast effective techniques. I was able to see clearly how the foot should function in gait and how  ideal movement and alignment of joints can relieve pain. Functional rehabilitation was a key component in relieving pain and preventing pain from returning.
After the weekend I treated a man with hamstring pain. I assessed his rib cage and identified a problem. With correction of this problem he could touch his toes, sit and flex forward and straighten his knee and replicate kicking a rugby ball with no hamstring pain. He has had a second treatment and he is about to start cycling again.
I treated a triathlete with pain in his shoulder from catching his daughter in a swimming pool. He could not ride in profile position because pain extended down his arm and became too intense. I treated his rib cage and taught him how to suspend his body and he could ride with no pain after 1 session.
These are two of the changes I have made with effective long term results. I plan to specialise in treating Ironman athletes. These athletes need fast relief of pain and also to continue training.  My skills enable me to treat all other areas of body. To be truly effective the patient must comply with instructions and complete the treatment.
If you are interested in what I do contact me on mail@physical-edge.com