GIFT week 5: Looking at AFS and the Calf complex

GIFT week 5 was a week of further development of what AFS represents and the progression of bone and joint motion to the function of the calf complex. 
This week there was a strong emphasis on what makes an AFS exercise an AFS exercise. Specific points were made on drivers,3D motion, unconscious chain reaction, path of least resistance, Authentic movement and uniqueness of environment. I can see each week these concepts are continually emphasised, in various ways, to embed them firmly in our minds. I can see these will create the framework from which we will diagnose, prescribe exercises and tweak exercises. The Litmus test has been described in the DVD series called Chain Reaction. These tests are those points described above.
In the webcasts this week the focus was on the calf complex. What it does and how it works econcentrically. The joint motion was described for the transformation zones of gait. The function of the calf muscles were described at the foot, ankle, and knee levels. It was refreshing to get a true functional understanding of the calf complex. It makes sense that muscle does not work in one plane of motion or is purely a concentric or eccentric muscle contraction. 
The webcasts further expanded on lunge matrices. This week it was description of how Lunge matrices can be used to enhance balance. The key point is balance needs to be trained dynamically and not statically. It can also be trained in 3 planes of motion. I think clients will enjoy how balance training can be so variable. 
Gift is about communication and this week we expanded our sign language learning to include letters  M to R. It is empowering to learn sign language and I hope by week 40 I will be able to sign simple expressions.
The learning this week has taken a step up, and is testing our knowledge, to make decisions on what is happening to joint motion with different tweaks and drivers. The knowledge builds.

Triathlon gear for your first Ironman

Making a decision to do your first Ironman must be taken seriously. It requires 12-6 months of training, through 3-4 different seasons. One of the first choices to make, before you start training, is what Triathlon gear you choose to use.
Be ready to be shocked, as there is more than you might first imagine. The ideal is to have good quality Triathlon gear, which will last you 12 months of training. If you choose to continue racing Ironman you can upgrade. There is a noticeable difference in performance, comfort and longevity of more expensive Triathlon gear.
What do you need? In summary, you need triathlon gear for the Swim, Bike and Run. The most expensive items will be your Triathlon bike and Triathlon wetsuit. You will need additional gear for colder climates for each sport. There is also nutritional supplementation, transitional and race day kit e.g race belt, transition box, and bike box.
There are several websites which can provide Triathlon Gear at better prices ( and These are useful if buying simple items like bike computer, googles etc. For items which require correct fitting e.g. wetsuits, bike, and bike shoes, it is best to go to a reputable Triathlon Store.
Most athletes who take on Ironman have trained in one or more of the triathlon sports. In this case there will be less Triathlon gear to buy. If you are starting from scratch, you could spend the following amounts in each area of triathlon (estimates for good quality Triathlon Gear for 12 months of training) Swim £500 including wetsuit, Bike £2500 including bike and bike computer, Run £200, nutritional supplementation £200, Race day £300 including bike box. Additional expenses would be flights and accommodation costs on race day, entry fee for the race (£500) and coaching.
Physical Edge (  hopes this information is useful. We specialising in helping athletes race Ironman for the first time. If you want to know more about coaching costs and training,  do get in touch with us and we look forward to talking Ironman with you.

First Time Ironman Lessons: losing Garmin race watch

Matias raced the Austria Ironman for the fist time.  He had worked with the Physical Edge Ironman team, and was fit and injury free heading into the race. It is a rule in Ironman to never make changes on Race Day.

Matias was nervous at the start of the race. Physical Edge Coach, Fran, was also racing, and able to support Matias. Matias admits he was so nervous he followed everything his experienced coach did.

Against his knowledge and coaching Matias decided to put his Garmin watch  on his wrist before the race started, he had never done this before. Unconsciously, he saw Fran put his watch on his wrist and  did the same.

The swim started and Matias  completed two strokes. On the third stroke a foot kicked his wrist and his watch came off. It sunk to the bottom of the lake.  Matias freaked. His Garmin watch was his speedo for his bike and run. It had alarms set to tell him when to eat during the entire race.

There were 3000 Ironman competitors and the swim was bunched. Matias found the swim tough as swimmers fought for space. It crossed his mind to give up after 800 meters. The loss of his watch and the energy used in the swim was a huge psychological blow.

Fortunately Matias pushed himself to finish the swim. He decided to ride on feeling alone. He went on to finish the race in 12.31 hours. He loved the race. Losing his watch was a psychological blow. Fortunately, he recovered to enjoy every second of it.

Lesson to learn: Never change anything on race day.

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.

Ironman and Author Rhys Chong is interviewed by The Running Bug and talks about working with a professional Team to achieve his goals

Author, Physiotherapist and Ironman, Rhys Chong describes how he completed an ironman using his own team of professionals. Whether it’s 5k or an ironman you can boost your chances of success by training like an elite.

ironmanWinning 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 trainingwhich 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 there was a training coach, swim coach, bike mechanic,nutritionistmental 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 six days a week.

Elite athletes will train in cycles of four 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).

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.

There are multiple benefits to having a team of coaches. 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.


Tri Coaches to try:

Rhys Chong interview on Ironman book by web based Health company

So what can you tell our readers about your new book First Time Iron Man?
This book is not a technical guide on training for an Ironman. It is a story about taking on an unimaginable challenge, enjoying the journey and crossing the finish line. To complete an Ironman you need discipline, determination, and inspiration, because you must fit training around work and family life. What seems impossible can be achieved with the right support team and a great vision.
This book is an insight into the lessons I learnt over 1 year of training. Lessons I have been able to take into other areas of my life to bring success and fulfillment.
The biggest challenge in completing the Ironman is taking the first step. So many times in my life I was afraid to do what I really wanted to do. When I finally did take the first step by entering the Ironman, it opened a whole new world.
For those who are not familiar with the Iron Man Triathalon, what does it involve?
An Ironman Triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) consisting of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bike and a marathon 26.2-mile (42.2 km) run, raced in that order and without a break. Most Ironman events have a strict time limit of 17 hours to complete the race.
You trained for a year for this, so what did your routine involve?
I worked with a coach who set my training schedule at the beginning of each week. I could change the schedule depending on what was happening in my life.
The training was 6 days a week and increased in intensity over the year. Training for three different disciplines  (swim, bike and run) meant training twice for each discipline in the week. It was exciting to train because there was always lots of variety with three disciplines. There was also less damage to the body compared to training for a marathon, where it is only running.
You worked with a team of experienced professionals, can you expand on this for us, how did each one help you?
In professional sport or in life having coaches is a major advantage when achieving goals. Coaches are like Personal Trainers in the gym. I had 7 coaches for different aspects of training and I was the Physiotherapist myself.
The 7 coaches included Nutritionist, Mental Conditioning Coach, Training Coach, Bike Mechanic, Swim Coach, Pilates and Massage Therapist. Each coach specialized in their respective fields and shared their knowledge and experience with me.
The coaches became friends and they supported me right to the finish line. Having their emotional support was just as important as their specialized skills.
I had a massage once per week to keep my body relaxed. My bike was serviced three times in the year and I did Pilates early in my training to get more stability in my body, and prepare for the arduous months of winter. My swim coach and Training coach were important for technique training and organizing my training plan. The nutritionist set me up for an energizing 12 months with food and my Mental Conditioning Coach gave me the mental game to master my emotions on the day, and make my experience one I will never forget.
You are employed as a physiotherapist, so at what point did you decide that you wanted to do this?
It was a decision I had delayed for 10 years. Something I always said I would do but never believed I could do it. I started working in a gym where there were two Ironman athletes. They were inspirational and one day I took a leap of faith and said yes I would do it.  The decision to do it only took one second but it was taking that step which was the most difficult.
When I made the decision I was talking to one of the Ironman athletes in the gym and I made him promise to coach me. When I made the decision, I did not know how I would fit it into my life. I was running my own business and in a relationship at the time. In hindsight, I did not need to know, as it all fell into place once the decision was made.
An enormous weight lifted off my shoulders once I had entered the Ironman. I no longer had the conflict in my mind about entering or not entering the race. The excitement I had for doing the race finally was released and it was a real joy taking every step to the finish line.
You travelled the UK for 2 years and then decided to stay, why was this?
New Zelaand is a beautiful small country. I wanted to see other parts of the world so came over on a 2 year working holiday visa. After 2 years I wanted to see more of the world so stayed. Before I knew it I was eligible for a UK passport. My work was going well so I stayed and now I have a beautiful English wife a little daughter (6 months old). The UK is a special place and should be appreciated for all it offers in terms of culture, travel and arts.
With only a year to train, you thought you could not do it at first, so what changed your mind?
In my life I have great aspirations but in the past they have stayed aspirations because I have not taken action. I hate letting time go by and letting opportunities go past. I believe there is never a right time and actually the best time is right now.  I was not getting any younger and with a wedding and family planned it was time to enter the Ironman.
It was a tough decision because it was going to be a busy year with training and work and relationships. It was also exciting because I was realizing a dream, living without fear and exploring my own capabilities.
When I sign my book I write an equation, Dreams + Action = Life. Dare to dream then take action and this will create the quality of your life.
Is it something that you will do again?
After the Ironman I set my next goal and that was to complete a stage of the Tour de France.  I really enjoyed the cycling and wanted to test myself on one of the toughest cycling courses in the World. This took me 6 months to train and it was incredible.
I remember one of the greatest moments in training was cycling through the hills of Portugal with a World Duathlon champion and Portuguese triathlete. It was so peaceful and remote, and something I never imagined possible when I was living in New Zealand.
I got married 1 year after the Ironman and then had a child after the stage of the Tour de France. It was now time to commit my energy to my family. I still go for 3-4 hour bike rides but do not train for Ironman any more.  Instead I help other first time Ironman athletes train and complete an Ironman in 1 year. I use my entire team to help them train and also provide them with all the resources to make the year fun, exciting and inspirational. If you are interested in making a change in your life, being bold and taking the Ironman step, you can contact us on
You had to run, cycle and swim, do you have a preference between any of them?
Yes, I prefer cycling. I can swim and run but I like the freedom of cycling long distances, and there is less impact on the body. There is a big following of cyclists in London and I can go out with friends and banter as we cycle. There are plenty of woman who cycle and they often are better hill climbers than men because they are smaller and have better strength to weight ratio. It can also be done with the entire family and I look forward to putting a carrier on the back of my bike and exploring the world with my daughter.
What went through your head as your were doing the race?
I had worked with my Mental Conditioning Coach on creating a one hour visualisation of the entire race in my head. I decided how I would feel at the start of the race and what I would do during the race. I visualized crossing the finish line and hugging my support team.
The visualization I had created kept me calm and focused during the race and also enabled me to take in what was happening around me. As it turned out the race had a few hiccups but nothing I could not handle, and it was almost exactly as I imagined it would be.
I have been taught what I visualise in my head will be projected into real life. I have tested this theory before and it certainly worked again in the Ironman.
Crossing the finish line was a feeling I will never forget. It was a euphoric moment and the end to an incredible journey.
What advice can you give to those wanting to enter?
When I talk to someone who is interested in doing the Ironman they are full of fear. I remind them the experience will be mind blowing and there are so many lessons to learn about goal setting, nutrition, training, health and discipline. There is also so much joy, friendship and excitement.
There is nothing I could say to overcome their fear, because there is nothing that could, as it is created in the mind. Make a decision to do it now, get a team behind you, and then enter the race on the internet. Once you have entered a true commitment has been made.
To make a real decision in life you must “Cross the bridge and then burn the bridge behind you”, so you cannot turn back. Once the decision has been made everything will fall into place, I promise.

Top 5 tips to making your Ironman a reality

Racing your own First Time Ironman

The Ironman is a 3.86km swim, 180.25km bike ride and a marathon raced in that order without a break. I pondered for 10 years about entering the Ironman, but my fear of not being good enough proved to be a  great  mental block. I remember the day I made the decision to overcome my fear. It took one second and started an incredible journey all the way to the finish line of the Switzerland Ironman.


Since completing the Ironman I have encouraged, empowered and assisted several first time Ironman athletes to complete what they call the greatest achievement of their lives. My book, First Time Ironman was published this year and my blog was voted Top 10 Blog by


Completing an Ironman is more than a physical race. I learnt how to develop an athletic body and transform my nutritional habits. I developed a strong mind-set to win and mastered how to achieve unimaginable goals. I created empowering new beliefs which changed my life forever.


Top 5 tips to making your Ironman dreams a reality


Making the decision

Nothing is worth starting until you have entered the race. Once you have entered you will feel a weight lifted off your chest, as the decision has been made. I can guarantee everything will then fall into place.


Team is everything

Having a team of professional coaches work for you is like having a family supporting you along every step of the way. Working with humans and not computer programs gives you better flexibility with training, as it can be adapted to what is happening in your life on a day to day basis i.e. work, family, injuries, illness. Most people like talking to people when things really matter and training is no different


Family, Friends and charity

Your training is your own responsibility, but when it comes to motivation, fun and inspiration  on the day of the race, family, friends and having a greater cause to race for, is everything. Hearing cheers and giving high ‘5’s will boost your spirits for another lap of the race course. People will want to support you on your challenge and a charity helps those people who cannot be at the race feel involved.



Let passion for your new challenge drive you to learn and enjoy your sport even more. Talk to other triathletes, buy good quality equipment and be disciplined in training. The race will become a proud part of your identity. Capture the race with photographs and video.



Successful athletes use visualisation to enhance the enjoyment and success of any race. You can work with a mental conditioning coach to visualise your entire race; from pre-race, race and post-race. You can imagine yourself getting through the tough times in the race; what you say to yourself, what you do and what it feels like to get through it.


Use these top 5 tips to race an Ironman successfully. Remember to enjoy the journey and if you would like help to race your first Ironman get in touch with us at and don’t forget to read First Time Ironman also available at Remember: Dreams = Action = Life.