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.

Personal Training Series: “Don’t care, get over the finish line”, can lead to injury

Some athletes are bloody minded and will do anything to win. Some clients only see the goal at the end but don’t think about the process of getting there. In physiotherapy I see many people who have trained incorrectly because they focus only on the event they are racing and not on how to train to get there.

Having a personal trainer and a physiotherapist work with you can vastly improve your chances of reaching your goal, with minimal to no injuries. The training process can be designed specifically for the goal and the exercises required to achieve the goal can be taught correctly.

When designing a training programme there are many variables to consider such as: exercise technique, timing of training, intensity of training, the environment of training, progressions of training, and even what is happening in an individual’s life. Having a team to work with you takes away the need to think. The professionals also have the experience and the knowledge to give you the best training advice.

When working with a physiotherapist and trainer you can contact them at any time. They can talk to you when you get injured, when you have questions about your training, and when you want to know what to do if you get injured. Having this team is like being a professional athlete, and provides the greatest chance of success.

I have seen amateur athletes start training, and progress doing extremely well without any help; then they reach a certain mileage in training and their body starts to break down.  At this point it is too late to change technique and training regime because the race is within a few weeks. Treatment is then about first aid care – doing everything possible to keep that person training despite the risk of increased injury, and the fact that the race is now in jeopardy. There are many emotions which accompany being in a position of unknown at race time. A person with injuries does not know how the body will react during the race; the target or goals in that race no longer apply; and all those weeks / months of training have been put at risk. To cross the finish line is often the goal after an injury has occurred. A plan then needs to be made to race the following year with correct training principles, guided by the personal trainer and physiotherapist.

It helps to get the right advice to train. Speak to your physiotherapist – who works closely with a personal trainer – to create a winning team.

Personal Training Series: Coaching your way to a healthy lifestyle

Health is an area in many people’s lives which is neglected. To live a healthy life requires taking action, as with other areas of your life, to get results. There is a wealth of information from professionals and websites offering the know-how to live a healthy life. So why are we not all healthy?

I have found – as with other areas of my life – that you need coaches. Coaches not only motivate you and keep you on track; they also provide you with the most recent information about living a healthy lifestyle. A coach can put a plan in place which is easy to follow, adaptable to your lifestyle, and is measurable over time.

In today’s world, you can approach many different types of professionals to get this help, but I have found that it works best if just one person takes overriding responsibility for you achieving your results. Generally the coach who can help you is the one who lives the life they teach. In health there is a holistic approach and there is a Western medical approach, and I think a combination of the two is needed. The areas that may be included in assessment of your health are: your medical history; your lifestyle habits; your physical training habits; and your mental approach.

I am a physiotherapist and I work closely with personal trainers developing healthy lifestyles for clients. I am able to draw on the help of medical professionals, such as doctors and surgeons, and also holistic professionals, such as Pilates instructors, homeopaths and counsellors. Personal trainers have a wealth of skills which they can use with their clients including lifestyle coaching, physical training, nutrition and exercise goal setting.

This series of blogs is designed to give my perspective, as a physiotherapist and someone who lives a healthy lifestyle, on how you can avoid injury when working with a trainer. The blogs are separated into common scenarios I see as a physiotherapist in my clinic. The aim is to assess those clients we see and to learn more about injury prevention when working with a personal trainer.

In the following weeks there will be 20 blogs which will give a comprehensive outline of how you can work best with a personal trainer and a physiotherapist. Please call or contact us via email with any questions you may have about these blogs.

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:

Personal Training Series: Ignoring pain

The human body has a pain sensing system. This system is designed to preserve the body and prevent long term damage. In training the body responds to stimuli and training pain needs to be overcome. However, there is a limit, and it is important to understand for your own body what that limit is.

I saw a documentary on television where a young boy had no pain sensing system. He would go to school and ask his friends to punch him in the stomach; he pretended he was superman because he felt no pain. One day his parents noticed bruising and swelling around his legs and abdomen, and took him to hospital. The doctors discovered he had severe internal haemorrhaging from being punched too much. This young boy’s lack of a pain sensing system could have led to his death.

Another documentary showed scientists trying to reproduce the pain sensing system in the body because it is so important for preserving life. With all the technology and advances in science today they were unable to replicate the system. It is highly complex and adapts to its changing environment. We need it to learn what not to do, what we can do, and what is dangerous.

In training, if we ignore pain completely then injuries often occur. It is important to put in perspective what you are doing, the experience you’ve had in training, and what you think your body can do – you must have realistic limitations as to how much pain you will withstand.

Be sensible and listen to your body. Focus on gradual increase in loading in training, and be happy with steady progress in your training goals. Aim long term rather than short term. Keep in touch with your physiotherapist and trainer to guide you through this process and avoid injury.

It is not much fun being injured and in the long run ignoring pain from an injury will make your training time longer. Get your body assessed by a physiotherapist and work with a personal trainer to prevent injury and to enjoy your training.

Personal Training Series: Pitfalls of leaving injuries too long

In physiotherapy I see many sports injuries. Often I will see injuries which have been present for several weeks, months or even years. Clients tell me they were never told by their doctors or specialists to see a physiotherapist and that they decided to leave time for the injury to heal by itself. By the time they come to physiotherapy the injuries have set in to the body; the central nervous system has adapted to the pain and now can prolong pain. The musculoskeletal system  has weakened or become tight, or moves incorrectly.

If you get injured call your physiotherapist to get advice straight away. Why wait? If you can’t see the physiotherapist, the physiotherapist can advise you over the phone what to do for your acute injury. It is in the phase just after inflammation that training can be very effective. Training in this time allows the body to adapt to load in a positive manner. The body becomes stronger, stiffer and moves correctly.

Starting treatment when an injury has been present for weeks, months or years will take longer. The amount of input the client has to put in outside of the physiotherapy clinic is also increased. What you are trying to do is to tell the body a new way of moving and being, and it takes time for the body to adapt to this new stimulus. The stimulus has to be applied frequently and regularly. Sometimes 100% resolution of the injury is unrealistic; in some cases it is more realistic to teach a person how to manage their pain rather than cure the pain completely.

It is obvious that it is important to treat acute injuries immediately and to seek medical care. Being proactive at the start avoids a tedious recovery time, which is likely to be the case if treatment is sought much later.

Once the physiotherapist has seen you through the acute phase of your injury, he can work with a personal trainer to design a training programme which is appropriate for your goals. The exercises given to you may have to be adapted for the injury, and these can be changed as the injury heals. Having a personal trainer watch you during the training process ensures that you do not do anything wrong, and risk reinjuring the body part.

The physiotherapist will know when your body is ready to train at full intensity again. The close relationship between the trainer and the physiotherapist is beneficial because the professionals know each other, talk the same language and can progress you through your training at the appropriate times. If you have physiotherapy questions, do contact us as

Personal Training Series: Putting the patient at risk

A patient came to me from training one on one with a trainer. She’d achieved many of her training goals in the gym, and therefore decided she wanted a new challenge. She asked the trainer to set a new challenge; and so the trainer decided to make her an Olympic weight lifter. This client was 5 foot tall, of medium build, and had never done heavy weight training before. The trainer gave her a deadlift to do, and in the process she felt a sudden sharp pain in her lower back and dropped the weights. She was in agony, could not sleep and noticed the pain whenever she was sitting for prolonged periods of time. On assessment she had significantly damaged ligaments around her sacro-iliac joint and it was now hypermobile. The treatment for this condition required regular physiotherapy, Pilates, and a modification of her training.

The above story is an example of an inexperienced trainer pushing the client beyond what should be expected of him / her (in this case a 5 foot tall medium built woman). The client has stopped going to that trainer and now requires more low level exercise training, rather than high level training such as running and weight training – which is what she originally desired.

When a physiotherapist and a trainer work closely together this situation can be avoided. The physiotherapist and trainer will assess whether an exercise programme is appropriate to give to the client, then find an alternative training method or set a different and more realistic goal if necessary. The client benefits from avoiding injury, continuing training, and having constant surveillance of how his / her progress is going. This is an example of why a physiotherapist and a personal trainer working together with a client makes a great team.

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.