Personal Training series: Setting goals too high

The danger of training can often be setting goals too high. It is very easy to decide that training with a trainer is the start of a whole new change of life. In some ways it is, but in other ways the goals that are set with the trainer need to be realistic for your body type and athletic ability. Of course, you can gradually build up to bigger and bigger goals, but at the start it helps to set achievable goals and test how your body adapts.

I have noticed that when clients come in with an injury they may suddenly decide to compete or race, where before the injury they had no desire to train. There is something about getting treatment or starting training which triggers within people a desire immediately to take part in races. I have had clients who injure their knees and yet suddenly want to do a marathon; this is a great example of setting goals which at the time are unrealistic. A more appropriate strategy may be to recover from the injury, build up strength, start looking at running technique, and slowly build the distance you run eg 10km, 15km, 21km and then a marathon.

I had another client who wanted to run a half marathon 3 months after giving birth; she reported pain in her body and required treatment which stopped her from training. 9 months down the track she completed the half marathon, and retrospectively acknowledged that she initially started training too early; she now knows  that her body needed the time to heal from the birth of her child before it was ready to withstand the impact of running and training. Her half marathon was a great success; she enjoyed the day and did not get injured. If you are going to do a half marathon for the first time, you want it to be an enjoyable experience. If she had done the race 3 months after giving birth, it would have been a painful experience and probably put her off running forever.

Having a physiotherapist and trainer work together can help you assess the current state of your body, and then help you set a plan to develop your strength, endurance and power. They can also look at your technique before helping you to set an appropriate goal. Having a trainer is hugely beneficial in overseeing your progression, and the physiotherapist can see how your body is improving and give you guidance as to how quickly training can progress. The physiotherapist also has the advantage of understanding medical conditions and the impact this will have on training.

Working progressively towards a goal often requires a change in a client’s mind-set. Patience is not everyone’s natural tendency; however if someone wants to achieve a goal there will be an element of patience required. If the goal is inappropriate – since the client does not want to wait to go through the training process – then a new goal needs to be set. At the end of the day the client will fail if the goal is set too high, and this reduces motivation for training in the future.

When a client sets goals or has ambitions which are too high we call these fantasies. Physiotherapist and trainer can put goals into perspective, set realistic targets, and make the process enjoyable

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3 weeks to go, preview of Etape course

I had an incredibly enjoyable 8 hour bike ride last weekend and felt strong. The training in Portugal set me up well for hill climbing. This week I went to cyclefit and Rapha preview of the Etape course held at the Charlotte Street Hotel in London. They have been out and ridden the course and have come back with tips for all entrants in the race. The evening was filled with mainly first time Etape riders and it was a valuable seminar to attend.

In the evening we learnt that the course is suited to the strongly set rider. It is a long course and is constantly undulating with the section between 90 and 154 kms being relentless up and down climbing. There is another hill at 190km which is 2km long and the first 90km is gradually up hill climbing. We were advised to “bank” sleep, nutrition and hydration the week before and plan for complete rest. On the day it is important to eat and hydrate well as the temperatures could be hot and it is going to be a 9-10 hour riding day. There is valuable information on the cyclefit website for preparation for a race like this. It is sensible advice on riding and nutrition and preparation.

This week I have had a physio course for 4 days and my training plan had to be revised. There were not enough day light hours to do a long ride. I did 2 rides, a 3.5 hour fast ride to boxhill and 10 hill repeats in Richmond Park. I can see this is not ideal but next week I am increasing my training again. I am hitting my biggest weeks of training and now is important to get it right.

My bike is needing maintenance. I am changing my rear cassette to have a 28 or 29 ring and the front small ring to a 34. I noticed the riding in Portugal was much easier than my riding in London so I have decided to  copy the same gearing as the bikes I had ridden in Portugal. I will also get a new chain and new brake pads.

At the moment my bike is making noises when I get out of the saddle and ride. I think the chain is getting longer and now it must be replaced. My plan is to have every thing planned from training kit to bike well before the event to test my gear and have less to think about closer to the race.

I am looking forward to training this week and maintaining my fitness. The cyclefit team said endurance fitness can be maintained for 7 days but strength and power can be lost in 3 days. I know my hill climbing strength is reducing at the moment but there are no long hills for me to climb and simulate the hills of France.  It seems my coach has me on fast training sessions to keep my power going.

Lets see how I feel at the end of this weeks training. The weather is glorious at the moment. I am very grateful.

Focus for start of 7 months of training in 2010

Had a great meeting with Fran on Friday. I had a lot of questions as I was suddenly sensing the urgency of training. I have not training fully for the last three weeks and in the last week I was away in Israel and Fran said to rest completely.

I wanted to get some outcomes to aim for and get a better idea of what distances and what type of training I would be doing. I know when the day comes around if I have not put in the work now then it will no be enjoyable or as enjoyable as it could be. So far Fran has been giving me my weeks program on Sundays and I have followed it. He has adjusted for my injuries and how I am doing with work and fitting in the training. I like his approach because Fran has the experience to know what I must achieve but also giving me flexibility. Obviously I trust fully in his judgement and know he will get me there.

Coming back from holiday I wanted more information about my training and I pushed Fran into giving more guidance than he had so far. He explained the next 12 weeks is building volume with less emphasis on strength. I will be able to ride 5 hours, run 2.5 hours and swim 1.5 hours at the end of the 12 weeks. He told me the key focus now is getting my injuries better. My left foot and lower leg pain must be healed now so I can do the bigger mileage.

We looked at the course on the internet so I had an idea of where the hills are in the bike and what the swim and run course will involve. Fran has done the Switzerland Ironman before and showed me where he found the swim was hard and how half way through the swim we actually leave the water and run across an island about 20 meters before swimming again. I find this unusual but have to go with whatever happens on the day. Fran stayed in the Ascot hotel which is a walking distance to the start line and we decided this was a good plan for the night before and after the race.

I decided I would do the Barcelona Half Ironman with him if he was doing it as I would get practice at travelling with my bike and I can learn what he does. I am also travelling home in April for a wedding and I will take my bike home also to train. Fran said I must train on my bike otherwise it could lead to injuries. This event is getting more expensive. Fran stressed I must call the Airline to Switzerland to make sure I have my bike booked in storage. Another great piece of advice and that is why we all need coaches who have done it before to help.

I got home last night and went to the wiggle website. I have bought so much Ironman gear that I have a platinum status, what an achievement. I bought a hard case to take my bike on the plane. I was also complaining of saddle pain when I cycle so I also bought Chaffing cream and sun resistance glide blocks to reduce friction. While I was on the site I found fins to increase resistance when I swim so bought those as well to build my leg strength.

I get my program for the week today. I will post the workouts I do each week from this point on.  This week I must book my bike on flights to New Zealand and Switzerland and book the accommodation in the Ascot hotel.

Preparations heating up. www.physical-edge.com

Went to see Fran this morning and look at my bike, look at the list of equipment I have and look at a gym program. It was a brilliant session and a shame my camera had a flat battery as you would all like to see him talk. I will get him next time.

The bike I have must be comfortable as I will be in Aero position for at least 3 hours in one stretch. He thinks the frame is good and the bike will be fine for the ironman. I will drop the pump and get CO2 cannisters, get an aero bottle and may change my aero bars. The key is to look at the position on the bike today with Dave at SwimBikeRub and decide if it is right. Fran explained the bike has to be sorted now as he does not want me to change later in the training. I could spend more money on wheels but we are weighing up the value of that to me. We are focussing on good training and technique.

My brother is a leading sports podiatrist in New Zealand and his client is Cameron Brown, a leading world and NZ triathlete. He is going to get me in touch with him to ask him for some advice. I hopefully will get a video for you all to see. Tips from one of the worlds best.

Fran then looked at what I own and need to buy. The bike is the biggie but other key points were wear tight fitting clothes to stop wind from coming between the body and the clothing. This will prevent the cold in winter. He said he runs in tight tri- shorts and not normal running shorts because it helps keep his Testicles supported (funny). He explained it is more comfortable and reasearch has suggested this can help reduce infection. Fran is serious so this is the reality of the event. He also advised getiting  a cycle specific winter jacket. This is different to a normal windproof jacket and requires less layers to keep me warm. It appears each sport has specific clothing and it does matter.

In the gym I am focussing on strength training. This is 6 rep max and supersets with a tempo of 2 second up and 2 seconds down. I will be combingin Sumo Squats with lunges, Chin ups with dips and Deadlifts by itself. I do this 2 x week and for the other sessions I will focus on my swimming.

Really looking forward to meeting my Physiologist and nutritionist Dr Justin Roberts next week in London. Fran wants to come to get his advice as well. The more team I have around me and the better they understand what I do seems to make all the effort more rewarding and less effort. Even my orthdontist is interested in my progress.

The power in letting people know what I want to do seems to create more opportunities for me. I will tell more people and let the flow of people come to me even more. I will start keeping a database of my supporters and my team. I big thank you at the end will be needed.

Fran said training starts next week and I am looking forward to it.

Planning other races. www.physical-edge.com

Today I spoke to a fellow ironman athlete who is wanting to do the Austria half ironman 2010. Fran has advised me that the only other race I need to do before the ironman is a half ironman and the Austria race would be good as it has hills in it. I want to do an overseas race so I get accustomed to travelling with my kit and racing after travel.

I checked the ironman.com website and the half ironman course is different to the full ironman course n Austria. I want to find out where the venue is in relationship to an airport, will I need to rent a car and drive there, will there be hills on the course for me to ride?  I have emailed the ironman.com staff for further advice.

I am not interested if it requires I drive and rent a car. It is not worth the hassle. Fran keeps mentioning the Barcelona half ironman. I will be checking this out next.

I got confirmation from Dr Justin Roberts that he can see me at the end of August. He also used to be a physiologist for the England Institute of sport. I can kill two birds with one stone. I am excited to learn how he can help me.

I checked out equipment on the internet and mainly came across American websites. There is more range of equipment in America and it costs much less. I will compare prices and see which is the best way to purchase my equipment. Looking to buy winter biking kit, wet suit, Bike travel case, swimming resistence kit, tri suit and running gear. I did find out about body lubricant that reduces friction when taking off the wetsuit. Also found balaclavas and socks that go over the cycle shoes. These socks will be a must as I remember cycling in winter and my feet freezing.