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

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Personal Training series: Predicting Injuries

No two people have the same body; and even if two people look the same their ability to withstand load can be vastly different. Commonly in the clinic my clients complain about holding good posture. They report how other colleagues in their places of work can sit with bad posture but never develop pain. Why is this?

There are some people who have a musculoskeletal system which is able to withstand the abnormal loads on their bodies in poor sitting postures: there are others who have a very low tolerance to the stress of sitting with poor posture. There may be many reasons for this but I think a major factor is simply genetics. Genetics cannot be changed. Therefore, two people should avoid comparing themselves when it comes to posture, movement and pain.

Another example of this is athletes – who play sport regularly – and get more injuries than others who may sit at home with an unhealthy lifestyle and watch TV. If you play sport you are generally going to be healthier on the inside but maybe more prone to injuries on the outside. Unfortunately this cannot be avoided as sport does put abnormal loads on the body. If the body cannot adapt to these loads then injuries will occur.Those people who sit on a sofa and eat unhealthy foods do not expose their body to the stresses of sport and in the long run may have fewer injuries and actually better joint condition.

When a physiotherapist assesses a person a bespoke testing protocol is followed; this protocol will take into consideration the movement patterns this person puts themselves through in normal daily life as well as in their sports or hobbies. This assessment is a very functionally based assessment whereby the client can see where their issues are in daily function or sport – and then has a goal to achieve in the rehabilitation process.

The physio will do a thorough examination of the musculoskeletal system and identify individual variances within each person. Physiotherapists can then report to the trainer what the potential consequences of training that person will be. This method will also identify what limitations this person may have when setting goals. When a physiotherapist and personal trainer work closely together you get a synergy like no other. The client gets fully assessed at the start and the constant feedback throughout the training process will provide a bespoke feedforward system for goal attainment and injury prevention.

When a physio and trainer work closely together injuries due to movement can be predicted. Sometimes a client can do an awkward movement once, twice, ten times but if they decided to run a marathon with the biomechanics that they have they will develop an injury. The training process must be adapted to provide help to prevent this injury increasing strengthen and flexibility in various parts of the body to enable that person still to run a marathon.

It is my intention that a client is able to train with very few major injuries; continue to train if they have minor injuries; and attain their goals on time. The client also has the benefit of knowing the physiotherapist, and of knowing that the trainer and physiotherapist are working together as a team.

Personal Training series: Physical Edge Physiotherapy team working specifically with Personal Trainers for superior results

I believe being healthy is important, as it affects every area of life – if you are healthy you can do more and feel better doing it. Often people find it difficult to motivate themselves to go to the gym or to do sport; they need someone to direct them in their training, give them focussed goals, and keep them motivated along the way. Personal trainers play a significant role in this regard – helping people achieve their physical goals. Today personal trainers often work in one-on-one training facilities, to offer functional gym training in a smaller more intimate environment;the gym generally has better equipment, is cleaner and the trainers can offer state of the art functional training.

Having spoken with several high profile trainers in London, we have identified the need for physiotherapists to work with trainers.People find it frustrating when they get injuries and the trainer sends them to a physiotherapist they do not know; the physiotherapist may not clearly communicate back to the trainer what the client’s injury is, and how to help heal that injury during training. Sometimes training is stopped for no reason and the client is taken away from his / her training goals.

The way to improve the training process is to have a physiotherapist work with the trainer from the very start. By getting assessed by a physiotherapist before training starts, a person can discuss their injuries and how their body operates with a medical professional. The physiotherapist will identify the injuries, past and present, which may present during training sessions; even if there are no current injuries, the physiotherapist can identify potential pitfalls a person may encounter as they go through their training regime towards their goals. Once the person is assessed by the physiotherapist the physio can feed back to the personal trainer what to look out for during the training process, what limitations there are for that person in training, and whether the training goal is appropriate. The trainer can then confidently train a client knowing that he/she is supported by a medical professional who understands injuries and how the body functions in response to them.

The personal trainer will continue to communicate closely with the physiotherapist during the training process; the physiotherapist will continue in their assessment of a client throughout their training regime in order to maintain correct movement of the body and further direct the trainer towards more advanced training goals. By working well together in this way the physiotherapist and trainer help to provide a better service to their clients. If an injury does occur during training the physiotherapist will already know the client, and the trainer will be able to communicate immediately with the physio on how to proceed. The synergy of this relationship far exceeds any personal training system by itself.

The benefits to the client are:

  • Prevention of injuries during training
  • Faster goal attainment
  • Faster return to training if an injury does occur.

If you are interested in working with a physiotherapist and personal trainer contact us at http://www.physical –edge.com

Latest research findings on cramp in sport/ triathlon

In the July edition of 220 Triathlon there is an article on page 77″The science of cramping” which discusses the research into cramping and how to manage it.

In summary:

The research comparing triathletes and athletes who get cramp with those that don’t identified a common risk factor is exercising at unusually high intensity during a race, family history of cramps and a history of tendon/ ligament injury. Currently there is no exact known reason why cramping occurs.

Studies have found a 6% carbohydrate sports drink can delay the onset of exercise induced muscle cramps in endurance activities, but not prevent them entirely. Low levels of magnesium are linked to increased incidence of muscle cramps. Magnesium supplementation has been shown to help sufferers of “night cramps”

Take away tips:

1. Gradually increase training intensity. Remember unaccustomed fatigue plays a major role in muscle cramps.

2. Stretch regularly, paying particular attention to hamstrings, calves and any other muscle groups that are prone to cramp.

3. Use carbohydrate-electrolyte drinks during longer training sessions/races and/or during recovery, and ensure you consume plenty of calcium and magnesium rich foods.

4. If you’re a long term sufferer of cramps, consider magnesium supplementation.

Personal experience dealing with cramp

I completed the Switzerland Ironman last year and did 1 year of intense training. This year I am doing the Etape De Tour  and increasing my bike mileage from 4 hours to 8 hours on the bike and training 3-4 times per week. I will be going to Portugal to train on my bike in the hills and the heat.

I have suffered from cramp occasionally after exercise but also during exercise. The cramp usually affects my hamstring or calf muscles. I noticed when training for the Ironman muscles were getting tighter in the early stages of training. At this time I was starting to train 6 days a week and running and then cycling in consecutive days. My calves got so tight I had to walk down stairs sideways.

I went to get massage weekly and this helped but I noticed my legs were still very tight with continued training. My experience does fit with the article details above. I usually got the cramps if I pushed hard on time trials or at the end of long hard bike rides. The cramp could occur after training if I had a very hard training session. To get rid of them I stretched and in the end I was massaging my legs immediately after training to loosen them. I also wore compression leggings and this certainly made my legs feel much better.

The most important finding I discovered was the use of Magnesium supplementation. I went to New Zealand and was given a product from the salt Lakes of Utah. I started using it and noticed my legs felt significantly looser. My ITB, calves and hamstrings felt at ease and much better after training. the magnesium was better than the massage in terms of preventing muscle tightness.

I continued to take Magnesium through my training. I added it to my  alkalising drink I took through the day and also to my electrolyte drink in training. In my Ironman I did not suffer cramp during or after the race and my ITB friction syndrome did not occur.

I think I was suffering cramp because of the change in intensity of training and number of days trained and I was sweating out salts in my body and not replacing them in my diet.

Recommendation

I am a physiotherapist and an Ironman and I think the information in the article above is spot on. I would try magnesium supplementation, get massage and look after your nutrition. Stretching and self massage is important as you don’t have the time and resources to get a trainer and massage therapist to work on you everyday. If you do then get them in everyday.

If you would like contacts in the fields of stretching, nutrition, triathlon training do contact us here at Physical Edge and we would like to help in anyway we can. Got to love triathlon.

Newtotri: Introduction and making the decision start triathlon

ticles

 

Plan

 

  1. making the decision
  2. First steps to take
  3. What to expect with training
  4. Swim
  5. Bike
  6. Run

 

 

Introducing Rhys Chong and making the decision to enter your first triathlon

 

My name is Rhys, I am a physiotherapist  based in London and completed my first  Ironman in Switzerland last year. I have been asked by Newtotri to write weekly articles to help all of you who might want to do your first triathlon or are regularly enjoying this incredibly exciting sport.

 

I trained for one year to complete my Ironman.  When I started training I wanted learn the sport fast as there was no time to waste.  I managed to find several coaches to help me. These coaches included Ironman experts covering the areas of training, swimming, nutrition, mental preparation, bike mechanics, massage, and pilates.  I was able to take care of my injuries as a physiotherapist.

 

These coaches directed me in all aspects of Ironman training and saved me hours of work looking for information on places to train, equipment to buy and events to enter. I owed the success and enjoyment of my Ironman to these coaches.

 

I would like to share with you what I have learnt from these coaches and in my training. I hope I can enhance your triathlon training and race experience.

 

If you have never done a triathlon and are thinking about starting you might have loads of questions you want answered. It helps to read magazines, books and websites like Newtotri.. It also helps to talk to coaches because they can adapt their advice to your specific circumstances. There are many coaches in each discipline of triathlon. It is important to find coaches you enjoy talking to and trust. The best test is to meet them in person and then make sure their coaching is clear and easy to understand.

 

It makes a big difference to have coaches who have done what you want to do. The coaches will then appreciate what you will be going through and can offer practical solutions to help you.  If you do not connect with a coach find another one.

 

When I was making a decision to start in triathlon the greatest fear I had was the fear of the unknown.  These fears raised questions such as Could I do it? Was I able to fit it into my life? Who would help me? and where do I get the information I need? I spoke to lots of people but ultimately the decision was a step into the unknown. When you take the first step it is amazing how the rest will fall into place.  My advice is just get started, enter a race and take small steps in your training.

 

Training is a very personal experience. Every triathlete will find what works best for his or her body. Remember you get better the more you train and race and give yourself the time to learn. Making mistakes will happen but correcting these mistakes is when you learn the most.

 

Training with a triathlon club can introduce you to other triathletes and resources. I personally found working with coaches on a one on one basis and then training myself was better. Training in a group intruded on my own training outcomes. In a club the speed, distance and times of training were predetermined. I wanted to train when I had the time and at the speeds and distances suiting my training plan.  In a triathlon race you will be racing alone so it is better to train alone to get used to it.

 

Training alone has other advantages. I became more aware of my body and my equipment. I noticed my heart rate rise rapidly when I exercised hard and I was aware of how fast I recovered. I was more intune with my body’s reaction during training and as I learnt more I could adjust my race plan during the race depending on how I felt. This is very important in triathlon as you will be racing in three different sports one after the other and do not want to “hit the wall” and end your race prematurely.

 

In this article I have shared with you the benefits of having coaches to help you,  told you to enter your first triathlon even if you still have questions, and highlighted the benefit of training alone to  keep to your personal training goals.

 

You can find out more about my Triathlon Coaching Team on www.physical-edge.com Feel free to contact Physical Edge with your questions and read my blog on one year of Ironman training from my website.  Until next time, remember to stay focused and enjoy your new sport. You are now an athlete in currently the fastest growing Olympic sport in the world.