Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Activity of Recovery

Learning from the Euros

In March 2009, I had the good fortune to support and chaperone two Italian riders at the ABSA Cape Epic. Competing in the mixed category (male and female), they complemented each other exceptionally well and, were it not for one day of bad luck and mechanical failure, would have been in contention for a much vaunted podium placing.

But their ability and respective palmares only scratched the surface of something deeper, something intrinsic that set them apart from previous riders of similar ability that I had worked with up until that point. They were so different in many respects to most of the Anglophone riders and athletes and really had a lasting effect on my own perspective of all things athletic.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Into Winter with Richard Murray

Embracing the cold, aquatics and running slow

Winter in Europe. Depending upon the location, the mind conjures short days and long nights, combined with onset of snow and rain. Chimneys emit smoke for household stoves and fireplaces and a sense of hibernation abounds. Yet several thousand miles away in the sun and wind of Cape Town, South Africa, one young man is relishing the thought of spending the next few months in these colder climes.

“I've tended to run away from winter in the past,” admits Richard Murray, the Rainbow Nation's leading exponent at Olympic-distance triathlon. “This year taught me a few lessons, one of which is learning to hold back over the off-season. This will be my first winter spent in Europe. It's going to be quite a challenge but I'm excited about this new dimension.”

In an international season that began way back in February, Commonwealth Games bronze-medallist Murray acknowledges that burning the candle a little too early did have its consequences.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Brad Kearns: Life after Sport

Knowing when to retire, slowing the aging process and the beauty of sleep

The phenomenon of the retired professional athlete is a subject that continues to fascinate me. Having engaged in extended conversations and the odd blog post of those who were willing to reflect on life “post pro,” I must admit that I surprised by the lack of literature and awareness there is on this subject. That said, perhaps my interest in this notion is reflective of my own observant nature, although I do feel that increased awareness of life after sport would be of benefit to all.

Brad Kearns certainly understands that lifestyle adjustment. With a professional triathlon career spanning almost a decade, he now leads a happy, healthy and fruitful life balancing a career in the health and fitness industry with family and social responsibilities.

Previous interviews with Brad in 2010 and 2011 proved extremely insightful, and this one is no different. The transition process upon retirement from pro sport is discussed in depth as well as a diversion into his thoughts on the current coaching industry.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Forty Six Days

Adventures in Personal Bio-feedback

I listen to yet another great podcast recently between two individuals who really do embrace an alternative perspective when it comes to health and fitness.

Essentially a half-hour radio interview, host Brad Kearns and studio guest Ben Greenfield engage in a most informative discussion on various topics, the central theme being attaining peak athletic performance with a little pain and suffering as possible.

With the endurance sport season here in South Africa now in full swing, multi-day mountain bike stage races are becoming the staple diet for many athletes seeking to add to their multi-sport repertoire and challenge their limits. Being a regular attendee of such events in various supporting and therapeutic roles, I often wonder whether many of these folk are “biting off more than they can chew,” in the sense of juggling their busy working and personal lives with the demands of multiple events and the preparation thereof.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Notes from Cape Pioneer Trek

Double massage treatments, post-run surfing and swimming to marathon PBs

After another great working experience at the 2014 Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek, I’ve returned home with not only great memories, but more knowledge. Being part of a large therapy team as well as mingling with the athletes, other staff and supporters at such an event does lend itself to broadening one’s scope of knowledge, not to mention being reminded of various philosophies and yarns from years past.

It’s all about recovery

I was fortunate enough to treat a few elite riders from Belgium on a daily basis. Michiel Van Aelbroeck, Robby De Bok and Mathias Smet all hail from the Flanders region of the lowland kingdom and combine cycling with their respective careers. Daily treatment and conversations with these guys revealed their emphasis on proper rest and recovery. Michiel is an osteopath in Ghent and is the de facto coach of the trio, something which Mathias confirmed during race week. With their trip to South Africa involving a strict budget together with inter-continental air travel, their investment was focused on enhancing their health and well-being rather than fancy accommodation and other such bling. Bearing in mind that Michiel, Robby and Mathias all resided in the tented village, their eventual fifth place on the final general classification was remarkable at face value, but no surprise given their meticulous attention to detail.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Sporting Support Staff

Fitness whilst on the Road

“You know, if I had an old bike and a pair of worn out running shoes, I’d still be doing this!”

Kenny Souza, winningest professional duathlon of all time.

The opening quote of this essay sums up my own athletic philosophy, meaning that I do what I do for the love of the activity. Having spent many years immersed in a rigid training philosophy, I realized several years back that this sort of approach, whilst possibly admirable in a superficial sense, was not really doing anything for me. Living in a dream world of trying to emulate - and even please - others served its purpose over time, but reality and reason eventually set in. In short, this flat line philosophy was self-limiting in many respects, and would make my current lifestyle and vocations unattainable were it to still be in existence.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Reasons to Support

Confessions of a Servant

Anticipation is in the air, well in my airspace at least. It’s that time of the year when my fledgling cottage industry of massage therapy and athlete support enters a busy phase after the quieter winter months. Like the boat charterers and many other professions, this sort of industry is seasonal in nature. That said I would probably be quite content were that not to be the case but then again, seasons are there for a reason.

I recently read a most profound and insightful blog post or two from the sage Gordo Byrn. The well-travelled Canadian really does have a knack for delving into the more philosophical side of endurance sport through his deeply insightful writings.

The first post questions what he would do if he had unlimited means, whilst the second is delves into finding and understanding one’s true motivations and potential in pursuing whatever form of athletics.