Thursday, 26 February 2015

Pursuing the Ideal: Part 3

Hip Flexion

As promised in my previous post, here is an expansion of the second of five factors I'm trying to optimise in 2015.

I have tight hips. More specifically, my lack of hip flexor mobility is perhaps a reflection of my chosen sporting activities, namely long distance running and cycling. Two sports which I love, although not exactly kind on the body.

Over the past few years, I’ve gradually shifted away from the notion of flexibility for improved performance via traditional static stretching methods. I have certainly done my fair share pushing-down-walls, hanging-on-steps and touching-my-toes imitations in the quest for supple muscles, all in the name of injury prevention. Whilst the notion of prevention is indeed critical and practical in maintaining optimal health and vitality, my confidence – and more specifically, reliance – on these conventional methods waned as I reached my early to mid-thirties.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Pursuing the Ideal: Part 2

Circadian Rhythm

As promised in my previous post, here is an expansion of the first of the five factors I'm trying to optimise in 2015.

In keeping with the theme of optimizing the basics in light of lifestyle variables, one factor that I’ve really dialed in over the last year or two is maintaining a consistent circadian rhythm.

Years of pre-dawn training sessions might have been great for bragging rights and one-upmanship (read: “I already rode 3 hours by 7:30am, so I’m a better athlete.”) but at the end of the day, sacrificing adequate sleep for regular early morning exercise most likely catches up with one in the long term. Especially in the winter months.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Pursuing the Ideal

In Search of Flow

It is the middle of February as I write this entry in the midst of a rather busy period. This is a time of year that I have come to relish and 2015 has certainly lived up to this notion. Whether working as a massage therapist at sporting events or discovering a rare book on philosophy; preparing for an upcoming ultra-marathon or reveling in gardening at dusk; tracking down international athletes to profile or mapping rural South East Asia: these are but a few examples of a lifestyle that I've always dreamed about, which is now a reality.

Such is the pace and randomness of daily life that sometimes I have to remind myself to slow down and enjoy the moment. That’s right: living the dream can become all-consuming at times, whether chasing peak performance in sport or attempting to expand a sideline industry. Sometimes we all just need to pause and take in the view. That said, I must admit my observant and inquisitive nature thrives at this time of year, particularly in a sporting sense. Working in sport has many advantages, among those being able to filter the visible and the verbal and applying it to my personal athletic intentions.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

The Thoughtful Jonathan Barber

Of Mid-life Progression

People are what make sport and triathlon is no different. Whether elite or amateur, the myriad of interesting and diverse personalities are perhaps one of the sport's greatest assets.

Jonathan Barber embodies this description. Well known in South African triathlon circles in the early 1990s, Barber competed successfully as a professional triathlete in the United States for many years. But that is only one facet of a full life immersed in the most diverse of occupations. From working on the streets of Hillbrow with the Red Cross to owning and running the largest truck dealership group in Northern California; whether selling tanker trailers in Montana or opening his own bike shop in California and coaching other athletes: the well-travelled and articulate Barber certainly gives new meaning to the phrase 'seen and done it all.'

It is therefore no surprise to learn of Barber's latest quest. Nearing the age of fifty, the Port Elizabeth-native is intent on earning back his USAT professional triathlon license, thus becoming possibly the world's oldest registered professional triathlete.

Nature Gym: Tell us about this new goal you have set for yourself?

Jonathan Barber: My goal is pretty straight forward – I want to earn a professional license and be eligible to compete in distance triathlon events in the professional category. I held a pro license for 13 years before I stopped racing at the end of 2004 - so actually I'm trying to re-earn a professional license.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Vision of Kate Roberts

Imparting, Learning and Giving Back

When Kate Roberts crossed the finish line of 2014 Ekurhleni 5150 African Championships, it was perhaps with mixed emotions.

It was early November and, at the tail end of a roller-coaster 2014, this particular event brought down the curtain on Robert’s lengthy elite and professional triathlon career. After a year of highs and lows, the Bloemfontein native had decided to call it day despite such achievements as a Commonwealth Games medal. Whilst many would assume that such performances would suggest a final push to Rio 2016, Roberts knew deep down that it was time to move on to something else.

“I realized that I had achieved all I wanted to in the sport,” says Roberts from her Pretoria base. “I must admit that it has taken a while getting used to not having every day structured around training but the transition has been easier than I first anticipated. It’s been three months since my last race and I have no regrets.”

Friday, 23 January 2015

What is Lynotherapy?

In Pursuit of Balance

Athletes these days are spoilt for choice as far as endurance events are concerned.  Be it mountain biking, triathlon or road running, the sheer variety of events has seen an upsurge in participant numbers across this broad spectrum, particularly over the longer distances. With many such individuals leading busy lives, preparing for such events can be challenging on both the body and mind, where even the most minor physical ailments derailing aspirations of crossing the finish line.

While there are many who rely on the various tried and tested symptomatic therapies available, other methods focusing on prevention are becoming increasingly accepted.
It was through a television program in the late 1990s that I first became aware of Benita de Witt. The then weekly Old Mutual’s World of Endurance included an insert focusing on preventative maintenance for athletes of all levels. Benita was featured along with two of her clients, professional triathletes Conrad Stoltz and Lieuwe Boonstra, outlining and demonstrating some seemingly new age stretch tests and shoe inserts made from Yellow Pages. Being somewhat conservative in my own training and prevention methods, my impressions of this therapy would best be described as a mixture of skepticism and interest. Needless to say that my curiosity was somewhat piqued, especially given my lifelong interest in sports therapy and rehabilitation.

Friday, 16 January 2015

The Versatile Nicola Spirig

A Life of Variety: Combining Family with Sporting Success

Nicola Spirig is unique.

As the reigning Olympic Champion in the sport of triathlon, one might expect the Swiss athlete to be completely fixated on defending her title in Rio. Yet motherhood has been her top priority since breaking the tape in London over two years ago.

And while swim-bike-run no doubt defines Spirig on the international stage, other sporting interests and her academic prowess as a qualified lawyer are critical in maintaining a balanced and stimulating lifestyle. But then it was always going to be that way for the articulate Swiss.

“I like to do a lot of things,” explains Spirig, having just returned home from a training camp in St Moritz. “I like to have different aspects in my life. Being a mother and a professional athlete plus having a lot of different commitments as the Olympic Champion is an extremely interesting combination.”