Making common sense training goals

Many of us like to set goals which will push us to our limits.  If we want to learn something well, we usually have a teacher or a coach, and this applies to physical training as well.

If you set a goal and along the way you get injured, or you can see that your sport is unsafe because your body cannot cope with the loads exerted on it, then have the common sense to change. The ability to listen to your body can prevent acute and long -term injuries. It is not worth training for weeks or months, to get injured and see your goals slip away.

A physiotherapist and trainer can help you make common sense decisions about your training goals. Both clinicians will listen to what you want to achieve, and assess your body, to decide whether or not your goals are realistic. Choosing the appropriate training goals will make training safe and achievable.

The body is not a machine, it responds to physical stimulus and will adapt over time. Setting goals which are small, on which you can build towards a much bigger goal, is the best way to train. A physiotherapist has knowledge in the areas of pathology, physiology and neurophysiology. A trainer knows how to train to achieve physical goals. Working with a Physiotherapist and Trainer gives you the professional support to choose the training program to best suit your needs.

Make a common sense decision now, before you waste time and money, and suffer injuries. Consult your physiotherapist and trainer as they work with you as you achieve your training goals.

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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 www.physical-edge.com and my blog was voted Top 10 Blog by Newtotri.com.

 

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.

 

Passion

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.

 

Visualisation

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 www.physical-edge.com and don’t forget to read First Time Ironman also available at www.physical-edge.com. Remember: Dreams = Action = Life.

 

Rhys Chong talks about a winning team for success in sport and life

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   

Rhys Chong

Author, Physiotherapist and Ironman

Interview: Rhys Chong about First Time Ironman book

First things first – completing an Ironman Challenge is no New Years Resolution. When did you suddenly realise that you wanted to become an Iron Man, after no prior training?
 
The Ironman had been a dream of mine for 10 years. The distances in an Ironman seem impossible but this made it more exciting. I saw athletes in there 70’s and 80’s complete the race, athletes with half a functioning kidney fight to the end, and amputee athletes limp over the finish line.  I keep videos of these hero’s on my website http://www.physical-edge.com They all inspired me and I decided it was time for me to step up and stop thinking about it. I had a friend who became my coach and he promised to help me. Knowing I had his support, I made the decision to do the Ironman and entered. 
 
What do you think planted the seed of the challenge in your mind?
 
I worked in a gym as a Physiotherapist and there were two personal trainers who did Ironman. I already wanted to do an Ironman, but with their coaxing and hearing their stories the idea grew more and more. The more questions I asked them the more I got excited about the idea.
 
Why did the Ironman challenge draw you in?
 
It was a challenge beyond my comprehension. It seemed totally irrational and inhuman to do, and yet by watching the youtube videos (www.physical-edge.com) I was captured by the enormity of the task. Watching  Ironman athletes cross the finish line in total euphoria was incredible. I wanted to do that and I wanted to be an Ironman.
 
You’ve had – and have – an amazing career in physiotherapy – you recently started your own physiotherapy business in 2007 Why that line of work?
 
I believe people are gifted with certain natural talents which do or do not fit with his/her chosen career. If you can find out what you do best and choose a career which matches your talent, then everyday you wake up and are excited about going to work. I had wanted to be a Physiotherapist since I was 12 years old. I naturally enjoy being around people and hearing how well they are doing in life. I have good sense of touch which is important in Physiotherapy and I love sport. These Olympics are dangerous as I find myself glued to the television all day.  I enjoy helping others and having my own business allows me to be creative in how I work as a Physiotherapist. I was going to be an Artist or a Physiotherapist, so having a creative outlet is even more fulfilling. You can see a video on http://www.physical-edge.com which gives more insight into my passion for Physiotherapy.
 
How did your line of work influence your decision (and success) in completing the Switzerland Ironman?
 
I have treated professional athletes in sport and work with amateur athletes. I have a passion for endurance events like the Ironman and Tour de France. In these events there are many injuries. I like the “buzz” of having an injury to heal in a tight time schedule, as happens when an event is coming up. Endurance athletes often get injured when they are doing their longest training sessions. This can be 3-4 weeks away from a big race. This is when the pressure is on to perform as a Physiotherapist. My contact with endurance athletes excited me and increased my desire to race an Ironman.
 
 
How did you stay focused and commit to the challenge once it had been finalised? 
 
The best way to commit to anything is “burn the bridge behind you”. Once I had made the decision to enter the Ironman I entered online immediately. I made the commitment by paying £450 and registering for my first Ironman. The bridge was burned and I could not go back. Once I was committed, all I could do was look forward and find a way to make it all happen. I think the greatest driver to keeping me focussed was the fear of not finishing the Ironman.  Everytime I thought about the race it frightened me and spurred me on to train and stay focussed.
 
What drove you to complete the challenge?
 
Every Ironman believes he/she will do anything to finish the race. I was committed 100% to get to the finish line no matter what happened. The pain was bad in the last 20km of the race but I was not going to stop running. I think this belief is developed in long hours of solo training in the cold and wet months of winter. I forced myself to train hard in these conditions and if I had made this sacrifice then I was going to get to the finish line of the Ironman.
 
What were you thinking from one stage to the next?! Did your mind wonder to what you were going to have dinner, or did it focus on the pain?!
 
My mind was focussed on my race plan. I had worked with a mental conditioning coach prior to the race. I had created a visualisation of my entire race, including breakfast and celebrating at the end. It is a type of hypnosis and I knew exactly what I had to do for each stage of the race. I only focussed on what I had to do next, so very short term. If I did have a moment to relax e.g. on the bike leg, I took the opportunity to enjoy the moment and really appreciate the fact I was actually racing the Ironman. I wanted to enjoy the race and capturing the scenery in Switzerland was breath taking.
 
Your words when you crossed the finish line?
 
YES!!!!!!! I was euphoric. I sounded like I was about to charge the enemy in war. The crowds were cheering and I was ecstatic. I screamed a war cry all the way down the finishers shoot to the finish line.
 
Was there ever a moment during the challenge when you worried about the lengths you were stretching your body?
 
At one stage on the bike my left knee kept subluxing, as the muscles on the outside of my leg had got so tight it was pulling my knee cap laterally with each stroke of the pedal. It was sharp pain and I had to keep my leg moving in a straight line to control the knee cap. I was worried about running the marathon next.
 
Your book ‘First Time Ironman’ launched this month – a tick in the box, life long ambition, or did you write it ‘just because…?’ 
 
I wrote the book because I now help business men and woman, entrepreneurs and celebrities train and complete an Ironman in 1 year. The book was designed to give first time Ironman athletes an appreciation of training for the race and the race itself. I wanted to know what it was like to train and race an Ironman and I know others would to.
 
What would you like your readers to gain from it? 
 
I want readers to see that racing an Ironman is achievable even with running your own business and having relationships. If you commit to racing the Ironman the rest will fall into place. It is key to have a great team of coaches and medical staff to help you. The book gives you an insight into how I used my team not only to have a great race but also a fantastic experience. 
 
How did you find running your business whilst simultaneously writing your book?
 
It was tough at times but being super planned made all the difference. I worked with my coach on a weekly basis to get the timing right and when my work got too much we altered it. 
 
It’s a pretty intense life you seem to lead! Hows the social life?!
 
Social life did take a back seat but when I did go out everyone wanted to hear about my training and were inspired by my plan. They wanted to donate to the charity I supported and in some ways I met people I never would have met without doing the Ironman. My coaching team are now great friends and they all came to my wedding.
 
What do you do to unwind in the evenings, or is unwinding unnecessary?
 
I will watch television or a movie and eat good food.  I enjoy life so I actually like doing things to relax to. I find working on my business and being creative or cycling 3-4 hours relaxing.
Your Ironman team helped Diccon Driver finish his Ironman challenge despite awaiting a kidney transplant.
 
How did it feel to a part of that monumental achievement?
 
Diccon is an inspiration to us all. His story is immense. I am proud to say I trained with Diccon and I think he will be the first Ironman who has had a kidney transplant. I am honoured to help Diccon and I am excited about his future race plans.
 
What are your plans for the future? Any more challenges?!
 
I have just had a baby so my new Ironman is taking care of her. This is an Ironman for life. I still go for bike rides and race team triathlons but my days of racing long distances have to take a back seat. I would love to do another Ironman with my children one day. Maybe when I am really old I will inspire them to race an Ironman.

Personal Training series: Heavy weight training and injury prevention

Many people like to look their best and this requires a toned shaped body. Some people want to lose weight and this will also involve weight training. It has been found that a combination of cardiovascular exercise and weight training can get faster results because increased muscle mass will burn more calories and hence improve reduction in weight, as well as a shaped body.

If someone starts weight training from scratch injuries are often common because the correct movement patterns are unknown. Most people know that they can hire a one-on-one trainer to assist them in this process.

Weight training has many forms; if the weight training is kept at a light to moderate weight, and the movement patterns are correct, injuries can be prevented. Problems start to occur when weight training becomes very heavy. In order for muscles to grow they require a stimulus harder than the time before; training can start gradually and increasing in weight is a simple process. When a person starts to reach the maximum weight that they can push then challenges will occur.

The challenges of pushing weights higher than a person’s current maximum lifting weight will be controlling the weight when putting it into a starting position; lowering the weight in a controlled fashion; avoiding excessive joint position; and finally pushing the weight back to the start position. Sometimes lifting heavy weights will require standing, a lunge position or a position other than on a stable bench. When a person has to control a heavy weight, as well as the position of their entire body, the movement becomes very complex.

Commonly the injuries I see when someone lifts heavy weights are at the very start of the movement and in the middle of the movement. The weight is very heavy and at the start of the movement the person has to lift from a standing still position. To generate extra power a person will compensate by swinging their body to help; it is at this point that an injury may occur to the lower back, the sacroiliac joint, the knee or any other joint that is the weakest joint in the link. The time pain occurs is in the middle of the movement because the middle of the movement is the most awkward; controlling the body puts the body in its weakest position, and tissues get injured.

A client was training and wanted to be pushed more, and therefore was told to start Olympic deadlifts. She was 5 foot, of petite build, and when she explosively lifted this weight her sacroiliac joint popped. Treatment for this joint has taken several months and she now requires pilates and controlled movement training to keep her pain at a satisfactory level.

At some point in a person’s training lifting heavy weights may become necessary. If a physiotherapist can identify weak areas within the body – and the trainer is aware of these areas – then when lifting  a heavy weight in a complex movement pattern, the trainer can help a client control and prevent injury.

My advice is always to have your entire body assessed before you start lifting weights to give the trainer the information they need to prevent an injury from heavy weight training.

What does Chrissie Wellington, four times world champion, say about her journey so far in Ironman?

Physical Edge attended a TCR exhibition (triathlon, cycling, running) to hear Chrissie Wellington speak about her life in triathlon, and where she is heading with her career. Chrissie recently released her latest book called ‘Life Without Limits – a World Champion’s Journey’ and Physical Edge was able to purchase an autographed copy. Chrissie presented for one hour and spoke on topics such as pressure; achieving new highs in ironman sport; and her early days of racing. She also gave an analysis of herself and why she was successful as a world ironman champion four times over.

It was interesting to see the psychology behind Chrissie’s success. She suffered bulimia as a teenager and was never a successful athlete until 5 years ago, when she entered an ironman contest. She does not come from a family of successful athletes, and only came to the sport of ironman after a coach saw her potential.

Chrissie may not have had the normal athletic childhood that other world champions have, but what she does have is an internal drive which is relentless. She has always wanted to be the best that she could be in everything that she does. She works hard and never gives up. She achieved high academic honours in high school and university, and achieved the highest score ever in her university for a degree of economic geography. She was a civil servant before coming to ironman, when a coach saw her and asked to her to try out for triathlon. Within a 5 -10 month period she became the world ironman champion.

Chrissie finds it very difficult to relax. She is someone who is on the go 100% of the time; this characteristic has helped her achieve great things in her life so far. She says that the key to her success is being able to better manage this incredibly insatiable hunger for self improvement. Chrissie has had 2 very different types of coaches – one coach who took control of her training and another who empowered her. She has benefitted from both these types of coaching, and recognises the importance as well of friends and family – along with other ironman athletes who are non-professionals – as major sources of inspiration and emotional support.

Chrissie describes herself with ‘a mind like a bullet’ – unable to rest, constantly analysing herself, and very self critical. In her book she describes how she has managed her natural tendancy for self control; her first coach said she would only be a success in ironman if she chopped her head off.

In the last 5 years Chrissie has achieved the most that you could achieve as an ironman athlete. She is a 4 times world champion, has set the fastest world record and broken this herself. There are very few men that can beat her in the ironman distance. Triathlon has been the axis of her life so far: this year she has decided to take a year out of competing to find balance in her life. She has completed this book, is doing work for charity and will be involved in the Olympics in some commentary form. She reports she could not continue ironman and find balance in her life because this would mean compromising her training and racing – and she was not prepared to do this. She does intend to return to ironman in a year’s time, and who knows how good she will be at this point?

The advice Chrissie has for ironman athletes is to redefine perfection:’There is no such thing as perfection – you can only be the best that you can be: learn from the bad races, as this is where you learn how to improve yourself: avoid linking all your emotional well being to your performance (in other words, just be the best you can be on the day).’ She is a great believer in overcoming fear; in fact she confronts it face on and says ‘jump through the fear’!

Her final tips on the mental side of training and pain are: visualisation; associating music with landmarks in your race (going to the race course in advance and playing the music at those points, so that you become familiar with it on race day); creating positive self images of you crossing the line, having food at the end, friends around you etc; having a positive mantra (hers is ‘never give up’); and breaking the race into chunks so that mentally it is not so daunting.

A quote that Chrissie has taken from Lance Armstrong, which enabled her to get through times of great adversity is: “Quitting will last forever, but the pain will fade.”

If you are inspired to do an ironman contest contact Physical Edge at http://www.physical-edge.com

Getting it right

This last week has been a real challenge as I have not been preparing the food myself. I have run out of supplies e.g quinoa, Udos oil. I have eaten what has been given to me and this has included some toxifying foods and meat. I noticed after having risotto and pumpkin I became irritable and had to go to bed earlier than normal. It was the extreme fatigue which really irritated me.

I have mastered my lunches which are prepared the night before. I have salads with humous and cottage cheese and vary it with various non wheat breads. I get enormous energy, do not get the post lunch slump, and feel full for at least 5 hours. These are forming the staple of my food for the day and I enjoy eating them regularly.

On weekends lunches are different and I have been eating more eggs than normal. I need more variety in my diet and this is the very next step I must take. I want to find meals I enjoy eating, support my lifestyle and give me lots of variety. It is up to me to make this happen and then follow through with it, even when other people are not eating the same foods around me.

I will now look for the recipes and meals I lilke. It might take a while but I see this as the corner stone to my whole ambition to change my nutrition for good.