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:
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
Author, Physiotherapist and Ironman
There are many shoes on the market at the moment for running. Running biomechanics have taken a big shift in the last 5 years. Running brands such as Asics, Brooks and Saucony have created shoes which are designed to prevent collapsing of the foot, or increased cushioning for those people with high arches. The general understanding of biomechanics and these types of shoes, is one which involves a heel strike pattern. In this pattern the heel will hit the ground first, the heel of the shoe absorbs the shock; the heel then controls the foot as it passes through mid stance and toe off.
Conventional shoes have worked over time for some people; however for others they have not made any difference, and some people who wear these shoes are still prone to knee, hip and lower back pain. When running with a heel strike pattern it is thought that as the heel strikes in front of the body there is a vertical force passed back up through the leg, the hip, the groin, the knee, and the lower back and that this results in injury.
Over the last 5 years there has been a wealth of research and contentious debate over the benefits of forefoot running. Forefoot running is where a person runs landing more towards the mid and front of their foot, instead of the heel being the first point of contact when the foot hits the ground during running. The foot also lands underneath the body and the stress imposed on joints are reduced.
Support for forefoot running comes from practical demonstrations on treadmills. When someone walks on a treadmill they have a characteristic heel strike pattern; however as the speed of the treadmill is increased they naturally start to run more towards the mid and forefoot. It has been theorised that the body is not designed to run with a heel strike pattern. When videoed at a faster speed on the treadmill the foot can be seen to strike more towards the mid foot and spring off. When seen at its best – like in Olympic marathon runners – the foot will actually hit the ground under the body; it is then kicked up behind their back using the hamstring muscles, before quickly returning to land again directly under the body.
The theory that running on the forefoot reduces joint pressure has been researched. With forefoot running the force of the body passes directly up through the body vertically –thereby relying upon the natural cushioning effect of the quads and the hip muscles. If the body is stiff enough – and the biomechanics are correct – the knee and hip joints can absorb the repetitive loading of running and hence reduce injury to the joints.
There are now shoes which have been adapted for forefoot running. Vivo barefoot is one of these companies and has created a range of shoes designed for walking right through to cross country running. Forefoot running shoes are designed to have minimalistic cushioning in the foot. These shoes are designed for the foot to feel the ground and reaction forces of the ground as the foot hits the floor. When the foot can feel the landing onto the floor, it can stimulate muscles to fire and get immediate push off onto the opposite leg. The soles of these shoes are very thin and Vivo Barefoot have described the sole to being as close to skin depth as possible.
Clients have reported they enjoy using these shoes. They feel completely different to thick soled shoes. They also give a refreshing feel to the foot at contact with the ground. The key is that this ‘feel’ will stimulate better muscular activity, shock absorption and reduction injuries. There are many successful runners in Olympics and World Championships who do not have a forefoot running pattern. It is not advised that everyone run on their forefoot – and a physiotherapist and trainer will be able to tell whether your body is capable of withstanding the pressure required to learn how to forefoot run.
Recently a trainer started forefoot running; it has taken 4 months for him to be able to run on his forefoot for 10km continuous running. To change to a forefoot running pattern requires significant adaptation and change within the body. The runner must allow time for this adaptation to occur because if they push themselves too hard and too fast in training injuries will occur.
I believe forefoot running biomechanics seems to make sense; however I have also seen that not everyone is prepared to take the time to learn how to forefoot run and people who run heel strike can still become world champions.
If you want to learn how to forefoot run it is important that you see a forefoot running coach – such as a physiotherapist who has experience, or an independent specialised coach.
My name is Toby Sullivan, I’m a Physiotherapist and as of 2012 I’m a triathlete.
I decided that 2012 was the year that I went from someone who does triathlons to ‘a triathlete’. I entered my first triathlon about 6 years ago and have probably done 10 since then but training has always been along the lines of run sometimes, cycle to work a bit and swim…if needed. It has never had any structure. The hope is that by upgrading my status to triathlete, entering a few triathlons and setting goals for this season and beyond will give me more motivation to undertake a (slightly more) specific training program.
Paris Marathon – April
Not a triathlon I know but to run a fast marathon you need a fast 10k so it’s got to help a bit… The plan started late in 2011, a friend Tim and I who raced our first marathon in Berlin 2010, decided to enter marathon number 2. My first winter of training was surprisingly easy. Being mostly a fair weather athlete I was surprised how mild the winter was (when I was out training anyway) certainly nothing leggings, gloves and a hat didn’t resolve. It was also inspiring to see a huge number of people out running presumably preparing for their own Spring marathons.
I managed 2 months of base training in October and November building to 2-3 10k runs a week. I also managed 6 x 100k+ cycles during these 2 months as well as the usual 6 hours of weekly commuting by bike.
December was wiped out with injury, illness and Christmas so the formal 14 week marathon program started on January 9th.
In 2010 I finished Berlin in 3h19m, I ran it with no idea of pacing but fortunately I started at the back of the 4-hour group so was held up in the crowds for the first 10k. As a result I felt relatively fresh towards the end, there was no wall and I ran the second half a bit faster than the first half…. This style of pacing was definitely something to try to take to the next race.
For Paris I found a training program that was light on mileage and I made it even lighter. I settled for 3-4 runs a week. The 3 essential sessions being (in simple terms) one slow, long session, one fast session and one really fast track interval session. In technical terms this is meant to correspond to endurance building, lactate threshold pace and VO2 max.
The more I looked into training schedules the more it seemed you pick your marathon target time then work backwards to find training times and schedules (within reason). I thought 3 hours which equates to 4.15/km would be a nice round number so I began training for that.
I built the long runs up to 20 miles and completed 3 of these all within 10% of marathon pace – approx 4.30/km.
I completed weekly tempo runs which ranged from 8-15km. Generally these were to be completed at 4mins/k pace.
To see how I was doing along the way I entered a few races or 10km, 10 miles and half marathon. These gave me an accurate (looking back at my time) indication of how my training was going.
My race times were as follows:
Each of these when put in to the race calculator, there are many out there, I used one called MARCO. It put me just outside the 3 hour mark and they were right!
I finished in 3h02m25s
The running was good, next the cycling. Having managed 6 long rides in October/November subsequent cycle training consisted of commuting. So to make it useful I would incorporate interval sessions. On one commute there are 3 or sometimes 4 sections where you can blast it between lights and get an open run for up to 3 minutes so this is where my intervals come in!
It’s my last day at the Delluci Retreat and Gary, my coach, planned a two hour climbing ride. The mountain we climbed twisted and turned and all I could see around each corner was another never-ending incline. I was getting used to this demoralising sight ahead and focussed on my climbing technique. I had to keep my head up so oxygen got into my lungs. I used my pacing and recovery skills when the climb got tough. It was by no means a fast climb but I did it smoothly and still had strength in my legs at the top. This is important to practice because the Etape is 208km long and having the endurance and strength is important.
The descent down the mountain went badly. Gary followed my descent and wanted me to practice the skills he had taught me. I went too fast and braked too late around a corner. The back wheel skidded out and I slid across the opposite side of the road towards the mountain wall and a large ditch. Thank goodness I stayed upright and as I neared the ditch I was able to play with the brakes to tip the bike away from the ditch at the very last minute. I got a stern verbal reminder of what I was doing wrong from Gary.
My confidence was knocked from the skid and I followed Gary down the rest of the mountain. We analysed what happened all the way home. I learnt on sharper descents I can not go as fast and I must break at the right time. I can use 70% on the front brake and stick my bottom backwards over the seat to spread my body weight along the length of the bike when braking. In the Etape I would have taken 100 riders out of the race with a skid like the one I just had. In the Etape other riders could make the same mistakes. In the race I plan to slow down and take corners wide so I don’t get caught in any accidents caused by others.
There was a big learning curve with my skid today and even though I made a mistake I have sharpened my downhill riding skills even more. Back at home Gary looked at my back tire. I had completely stripped the tread down to it’s base lining in two places. I was fortunate not to have blown it.
On leaving the Delluci Retreat Gary showed me how to replace my brake pads. Even more valuable information to take back to London. It has been a very worthwhile experience being with a coach and cycling proper mountains. It has helped me learn faster before the Etape. The Reteat is very relaxing and Gary and Sussie were alot of fun. They catered for all my needs. The rooms were fantastic and so was the food. I will be adding the Delluci Retreat to my recommended places to train for cyclists and triathletes.
Thank you Gary and Sussie for a wonderful time.
Yesterday I completed my last full day of training. It was a 6.5 hour ride over 85 miles. I started the day with my usual nutritional supplements. They do make a difference because my legs feel strong everyday.
We climbed for 2-2.5 hours and then descended into the most delightful Portuguese village for lunch. If I was back packing around Europe this is where I would want to come to see beautiful scenery, have sunny days and pay 2 euros for lunch.
The ride went smoothly until one of our cyclist got knee pain. We called for the car to pick him up. Up until this point I had been climbing smoothly at a good pace and feeling strong. When the car came my coach said “Rhys time for some madness”. I hated those words as this meant hard and fast riding as he wanted to beat the car down the mountain and into the next village.
We took off and I glued myself to his back wheel. We were cornering like rally drivers around the twisting downhill descents. In-between the descents were slight inclines which meant climbing 500 to 1000 metres as fast as possible. This was when the pain in my legs kicked in. I pushed as hard as I could and managed the first incline. I rested on the following descent in preparation for the next climb. My coach said “Rhys let’s get on it!” and accelerated again.
The lactic acid built up in my legs with each extra effort I made to push faster. With 200 meters to go to the end of the next climb I broke. The pain in my legs and my high heart rate were too much and I blew. My intensity of riding dropped and the car caught me up. My coach probably would have made it to the village but he waited for me. The moment of madness was over….so I thought.
We relaxed and I followed my coaches slip stream into the village. My legs were fatigued after 80 miles of riding. We still had the climb back to the house to go. I chose to take on the beast of all mountain routes just to finish the day hard. It was stupid but that is cycling for you. It took me 18.30mins with 11-14% gradients. If I stopped pedalling I would fall over. The final push to the top was mighty. Another hard day of climbing finished.
It was encouraging to find my legs still had strength in them and I knew the last ride tomorrow was going to be another good test. I learnt more about pacing myself today and following good lines on the descent. I learnt how to slow my breathing down again and regain composure when I am gasping for air when climbing. Keeping weight on the front handle bars was important to stop speed wobbles down hill.The training has made me stronger over three days.
I put on compression leggings when I finished and relaxed. We headed for dinner and we all ate mountains of food. Our metabolisms were going ballistic. I am enjoying this experience and I can see cycling is very technical when riding in mountains. There is nothing that beats practical experience and that is exactly what I am getting here at the Delucci retreat.
I got back from New Zealand and Australia after a 3 weeks holiday and knew it was time for me to get back into training. I knew I was jet lagged and did not want to tire myself after a very relaxing holiday.
Last weekend I started with a 5 hour ride to Box Hill. It was a beautiful day and perfect weather for cycling with no wind. I went with another cyclist doing the Etape at the same time. He trains in France and has a hill 7km high near his house. His hill climbing is stronger than mine and I let him lead the way up the hills. We rode two hills and I followed his back tire. I focussed on the tire and avoided looking at the hill itself. This helped me focus on the feelings in my legs without the disempowering sight of the hill I still had to climb.
I noticed with jet lag I felt slightly “out of my body” and tired. My legs felt the strain up the hills and towards the end of the ride I knew I had ridden 5 hours. The last hill in Richmond Park was a killer. I tried following the back tire of my cycle companion up the hill again but fell behind. My legs blew out, I felt they cramped when I exerted force through them and I lacked power. I dropped right behind and it was good reminder I some serious hill training to do.
This first ride was a good test of where I was with my riding after 3 weeks of no training. I wanted to rest well and prepare for the ride this weekend.
This weekend we did exactly the same ride. I noticed I was stronger as soon as I got not he bike. I could feel I more power and was less tired. The “out of body feeling” was significantly less. I set my watch to beep every 20minutes and made sure I ate or drank something at these times. The idea is to maintain a steady energy supply to my muscles and brain.
The tests I used to tell if I was riding stronger this weekend was the feeling I had in my legs and Cardiovascular system when hill climbing. I let my colleague lead the way up the hills as he had better hill climbing strength and then I stayed on his back tire again.
I was considerably stronger up the hills and could stay with him comfortably. When I say comfortably I was at 85-95% of my maximum heart rate but still felt strong at the top with more in reserve if I needed it. My colleague is 10 years than I am but has the advantage of training on the hills in France and he has done a cycle camp in Portugal. I noticed I had better flat road speed and strength through my Ironman training and he had the hill climbing speed and strength. Today was the first time I noticed I was catching him on the hills and with more training I hope to pull him up the hills.
There are not many hills to climb around London so I am riding to Surrey Hills. I have one course I have memorised but next weekend another cyclist will take us an alternative course to find new hills. In my particular course I have two main hills. I have decided to ride up and down these hills twice in one ride.
There are three main hills in the Etape Du Tour. They are 7.7 -8km long. No hill in England lasts that long so I can only compensate with repeat hill climbs. My colleague tells me box hill is much closer to type of hill we will encounter in France. It is a winding hill with some flatter sections to rest and then repetitive climbs. Maybe climbing box hill 5-10 times will be good. Sounds crazy but I have to do what I have to do.
I will get intouch with my coach again to start a training plan. I feel strong and rested and ready to train hard again. I am wondering if he will continue with gym sessions? Time to eat.