Thursday, 21 April 2016

Gordo Byrn on Middle-age Athleticism

Life Beyond Elite Athletics

"If you have a spouse and young kids then following a high-performance lifestyle will lead to bad outcomes for your marriage. No amount of external success can compensate for a lack of personal presence."

Gordo Byrn has lived a life less ordinary.

Investment banker to mountaineer; runner to elite triathlete; Byrn's life has seen several transitions (sic) and all with good reason. His willingness to share his journey(s) sets him apart and Byrn kindly agreed to wax lyrical on his latest life-adjustment: from elite athlete to devoted a devoted husband and father.

Nature Gym: How have you found the transition from high performance lifestyle to an active one? Any difficulties or challenges along the way?

Gordo Byrn: I've found it surprisingly easy. My expectations for the transition were completely wrong - especially with regard to body composition, strength and overall energy.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Dominique Scott-Efurd: Two continents. Three distances. One goal

From Arkansas to Africa and back

Dominique Scott-Efurd is not afraid to travel.

After missing the South African 5000m qualifying criteria by a whisker (read: one second) at the Stanford Invitational on 1 April, the Cape Town-born and US-based Scott-Erfurd made the decision to return to home shores a fortnight later.

The reason?

Another shot at satisfying SASCOC selection times by achieving an Olympic "A" standard qualifying time at the South African Track and Field Championships at Coetzenberg, Stellenbosch.

But as any rational thinking athlete knows, plans are bound to change owing to many factors, practicality being to the fore.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

One Photo, A Few Words 8.0

“42x24 gearing is for sissies”

“The looks on our say it all I guess,” says Mark Blewett of the retro header image. ”Just sheer acceptance in knowing that another stage from hell is awaiting us.”

The setting is a bus shelter somewhere in England in May 1992. Blewett is sitting in the company of his fellow South African teammates listening incredulously to the stage briefing for that year’s Milk Race, then one of the most prestigious pro-am stage races on the international cycling calendar.

“You can see that we are also basking in the sun; I think that photograph was taken midway through the Milk Race and it was the first sunny day with no rain.

“Greg Von Holdt (on Blewett’s right) is sporting bandages after a massive crash a few days earlier. His expression pretty much sums up the mood in our camp at that stage. We were in a small coastal town and the neutral zone was barely a kilometre before heading straight up an out of category climb to start things off.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Warming down with Rudi Van Houts

Stretching, breathing and the Iceman

It is late afternoon on day six of the 2016 ABSA Cape Epic. The Boschendal mobile home village is abuzz with activity in preparation for dinnertime – mechanics are cleaning and adjusting state of the art bicycles, massage therapists are kneading the bodies of exhausted riders and, in some cases, chefs are preparing copious amounts of real food for professional riders with specific dietary requirements.

All this and more is taking place under the idyllic surrounds of forests, vineyards and majestic mountains. Talk centres on the day’s happenings as well as what will happen tomorrow. Yet one pro rider is not participating in any of the above. The reason? He is breathing – very deeply in fact.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Sporting Renaissance Men

Dogmatic specialists or Social Entrepreneurs?

The positive influence of diversity, adaptability and constant challenge is recurrent in Nicholas Nassim Taleb’s writings. Reinforced in Tennessee William’s essay “The Catastrophe of Success,” both authours reckon that the human race is designed for challenge and discomfort, where excessive comfort and security is to die a death of sorts (William’s coinage).

And they might well be right.

Few, if any, pro cyclists spend their off-season trekking in the Himalayas. Fewer still have a myriad of eclectic hobbies, interests or sideline enterprises. But then Adam Hansen is not your usual bike rider.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Inner Running with Dr. Lawrence van Lingen

Strength, adaptation and finding one’s inner runner

“Problem solvers, learners, adapters and responders and then, of course, the will,” says Dr. Lawrence van Lingen when quizzed on the common attributes and personality traits found in elite athletes.

And he should know.

Married to former Olympic middle-distance athlete Gwen van Lingen (nee Griffiths), Van Lingen is now based in Southern California focusing on sport, rehabilitation, movement and posture through chiropractic. But that only scratches the surface.

“I dabble in coaching,” he says of his sideline career where he advises several elite athletes across a broad spectrum of sports. Downhill mountain biker Greg Minnaar and ultra-runner Ryan Sandes are amongst his eclectic clientele, the experiences and insights of which he is now sharing through the Innerunner.

His informative YouTube channel contains regular videos on mobility and postural correction specific to athletes, the philosophy of which is summarized in the following Q&A session.

Nature Gym: You have recently launched an initiative called Innerunner. What is Innerunner and discuss your motivations in setting up this initiative. Is your vocation to educate and coach?

LVL: Innerunner is born out of the frustration of realizing so many running injuries - if not all - are posture or movement based. When I say movement, I really mean that we are restricted or prevented from moving in an efficient or pain-free manner. Most people run the way their body permits them to run; one has to change the body in order to change the way one runs.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Joel Filliol Interview

Real Coaching, podcasting and beyond Rio 2016

"Hi Jason, with a bit of delay, here are my answers. I enjoyed thinking about and writing these out." Joel Filliol, February 2016, Fuerteventura, Spain.

I have to admit that I felt a little audacious, even guilty, when approaching Joel Filliol for a long-overdue blog interview. Real coaches don't have much time to themselves and I thought a virtual Q&A (read: send questions via email - wait for answers "at your leisure") would be a long shot.

What follows is a long and well-thought out masterpiece on Joel's part and many thanks to him for taking the time to answer my rather lengthy questions.

Nature Gym: Together with Paulo Sousa, you have launched an amazingly insightful podcast entitled Real Coaching. What were your motivations behind this venture? Any challenges in getting it up and running?

Joel Filliol: The Real Coaching Podcast as a concept was something I had thought about several years ago as podcasts were growing in popularity.  Since then I’ve been using podcasts and audio books as sources of continuing education, information and learning. Paulo and I have regular chats about coaching so it was a natural fit to work together in the discussion format for the podcast.