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.”

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Reasons to Complement

Of specificity and diversion. An ode to distraction.

It is the start of a New Year; new beginnings for some, more of the same for many.

My own enforced work sabbatical (part 1 and 2) saw me embrace an extended break for the first time in years, and I must admit that it has done me the world of good. The Festive Season can be as busy or as quiet as you make it and for me, the latter certainly held true.

As the years go by, I find myself ever attracted to the quiet life and can easily relate to those city dwellers that choose a lifestyle change to a small town, or the former sales executive who changes career to that of a writer or guest lodge owner. Even those professional athlete who elects to retire earlier than anticipated in order to pursue an alternate career;  having known a few of these individuals certainly gives one a great insight into how people adapt to a period of change.

Friday, 9 January 2015

James Cunnama Interview

South Africans abroad, working with Australians and 'wising up'

We last spoke to James Cunnama in late 2013, after his impressive fourth-place finish in that year's Ironman World Championships in Kona.

Up until that point, Cunnama had been coached by the legendary Australian coach, Brett Sutton, the two Southern Hemisphere natives forming a formidable partnership in the South African's rise through the ranks of long distance triathlon.

Since then, Cunnama has had an up and down year, something which he is looking to rectify in 2015. Now working with another legendary Antipodean, Chris McCormack, the future looks promising for the man originally hailing from Pietermaritzburg. Like Sutton, McCormack is well known for his unique and intuitive approach to triathlon, something which attracted Cunnama's interest when looking for a new coach and mentor.

Nature Gym: James, if you look back on 2014, how would you sum up the year? What were the highlights and low points?

James Cunnama: I think I would sum up the year as more low points than highlights. Winning 70.3 SA was a good start, but things seemed to just go a bit wrong for the rest of the year. Everything that went wrong seemed random and unpredictable, but when you look at the whole year, it seems unlikely I was that unlucky. 

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Healthy Training Camp: Part Two

Of sleeping, pottering and racing

All is quiet on New Year's Day.

Having enjoyed an early evening beach run on the last day of 2014, I decided to start the New Year on more restful note. That's right: I've elected to spend some extra time in bed on the first day of the year before getting stuck into work around the house, something which I've been doing a lot of this past week or so. My usual morning running routine has been moved to the late afternoon today and I'm looking forward to it. Lazy, some might say but I don't care – for me, life and sport is for pure enjoyment and free time means being truly free.

In contrast to many fellow athletes immersed in increased time on the road and trails, I've resolved to do things differently over my first bout of extended time off in a few years. As I alluded to in Part One, I've certainly pushed the envelope in years past, which almost always came back to bite me later on. Extended periods of illness, injury and lack of energy have been the by-products of my past “Endless Summers” leading to me wonder whether it was all worth it. Learning from one's mistakes is paramount in all aspects of life though, and I often think that the flaws of the past are actually quite important for future growth. My thoughts anyway.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Healthy Training Camp: Part One

Lessons in accumulation; aspirations of true health

The end of December is a unique time of the year. With the Festive Season culminating in Old Year's Night, this period can be either be very quiet or very busy, individual circumstances depending of course.

Almost exactly two years ago, I wrote a blog post outlining how I prefer to take a series of shorter breaks during the course of the year, as opposed to one long holiday. While I am still wholly partial to that particular notion, circumstances this year are such that our office is closed for two weeks. Instead of being part of a skeleton staff compliment over December, something which I do relish, I'm experiencing an enforced work-break for the first time in years. And I'm actually quite enjoying it.