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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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,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 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:
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.