8 i n 8 i n 8 : T h e A f t e r m at h June 2016 ISSUE 23.5
fafd o ro
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8 RACE IN IMAGES
42 TECH TALK
Catch all the action from ITU WTS Gold Coast.
This month’s installment of roadtests, key products news and shines the spotlight on all things tech.
20 8IN8IN8 We catch up with Craig Pervical after his mammoth triathlon effort.
26 GHOST OF OLYMPIC PAST Noel McMahon speaks to Maxine Seear on her past Olympic experiences.
32 TURNING A SETBACK INTO A COMEBACK Megan Evoe interviews Linsey Corbin to find out how she’s on the comeback trail.
54 SIRIUS MUSINGS Siri Lindley talks about the effects of the technological world we live in.
58 FOLLOW THE SWALLOW Jodie Swallow reveals all the sporting cliches in the world.
61 WORDS WITH WILLY Dan Wilson tells us about his pure love for caffeine
62 SEXTON’S SCRIBBLE 36 #INSPO Cancer survivor Adam McCarthy shares his inspirational tale with us.
COVER STORY OFF-ROAD ROYALTY – XTERRA stars Ben Allen and Jacqui Slack reveal thei journey to be two of the biggest stars in off-raod triathlon.
Brendan Sexton discusses the importance of setting challenges.
68 PERFORMANCE 38 DESTINATION This month we feature off-road paradise Lake Crackenback, in Australia.
84 NUTRITION AT’s resident nutritionist debunks the 5:2 diet myths.
Tim Reed waxes lyrical on those unwritten triathlon rules
76 TRAINING Jordan Blanco explores the true meaning of being healthy - in a medical sense.
88 RECIPE Carbs are your friend in this month’s recipe - pasta.
8 I N 8 I N 8 : T H E A F T E R M AT H Australian Triathlete
Issue 23.5 JUNE 2016
OFF-ROAD ROYALTY - BEN ALLEN AND JACQUI SLACK
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Cover: Ben Allen & Jacqui Slack Photography: Korupt Vision
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aving just stepped off the plane from the Gold Coast after covering the ITU WTS event, I am still buzzing from the excitement that was witnessing two of our countries finest triathletes in Ryan Bailie and Emma Moffatt make their dreams a reality by qualifying for the Rio Olympics. For Bailie, it will be his first but for Moffatt, she is set to become the first Aussie to qualify for three Olympics, a feat that is truly remarkable. While some Olympic dreams were being realised others were seemingly lost and the reality of how brutal this sport can be for athletes in an Olympic year was all too real. Such is the case for Maxine Seear, the young prodigy who took the triathlon world by storm ahead unexpectedly qualifying for the Athens games. Noel McMahon caught up with Maxine to recount her experience with shattered Olympic dreams (page 26). Speaking of dreams becoming a reality, Craig Percival undertook a challenge to compete in 8 Ironman events in 8 days in the 8 states and territories of Australia. A feat I truly questioned if possible but Craig, as he has again and again in his athletic career, proved the doubters wrong. I caught up with Craig and his wife Lindell to talk us their remarkable achievement – all in name of charity (page 20). Christian Newbold went along for the journey and shares with us how the eight-day challenge unfolded through his
eyes (page 24), while the doc, Dr. Mitch Anderson, the man set with the task of looking after the medical side of the challenge talks through his role in the 8in8in8 challenge (page 64). Make sure you head to page 42 for our always-exciting Tech Talk section, where The Test Lab give their verdict on the Aquaman Gold and Art wetsuits, we put the newest Newton Running shoes under the spotlight and help you pick your next cycling shoes in Save, Spend, Splurge. Our regulars are all there Sirius Musings (page 54), Follow The Swallow (page 58), Sexton’s Scribble (page 62) and of course Words With Willy (page 61). Kriss Hendy brings us Part three of his Design Series for strength and conditioning (page 78) and Tim Reed talks triathlon rules on page 68. It’s a bumper edition so grab a cuppa, recovery drink or perhaps your favourite vino and enjoy!
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BAILEY & MOFFATT RIO BOUND ITU WTS Gold Coast doubled as the final automatic qualification for the Australian triathlon team. The first Aussie with a top ten finish would seal their slot on the team. It was a fierce battle between both the men and women all vying for a spot but it was Ryan Bailie and Emma Moffatt who secured their place on the start line at Rio. For Bailie it top offs a consistent couple of years while for Moffatt she looks set to make history as the only triathlete to qualify for three Olympic games. There is now one slot available on the men’s team and two on the women’s, which will be a discretionary decision by Triathlon Australia after the WTS event in Yokohama on May 14-15.
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PHOTOGRAPHY BY KORUPT VISION
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA (RACE 2)
MEN’S RESULTS 1
WOMEN’S RESULTS 1
RIO BOUND: Ryan Bailie (left) secured his slot to the Rio Olympic games, joining fellow Gong Wizard Aaron Royle (right) on the team. Jake Birtwhistle (below) scored a top ten finish behind his training mates above.
© Delly Carr/ITU
COMEBACK QUEEN: Helen Jenkins (above) put on an impressive performance to take out the women’s race and subsequently ended Gwen Jorgensen’s two-year winning streak. BROKEN RACE: Richard Murray (below right) had a fall on the bike breaking his collarbone and hand, putting his Rio campaign under pressure. Ashleigh Gentle raced strong but could not secure her ticket to Rio.
MAN ON FIRE: Mario Mola continues his fine form by winning the men’s race and holds on to his world number one ranking.
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WTS GOLD COAST
ALL SMILES: Gwen Jorgensen was all smiles before the race and despite finishing second, it was another brilliant performance by the American star.
MOFFY: Emma Moffatt (left) made history becoming the first Australian to qualify for three Olympic games. PICK ME: Ryan Fischer (below right) finished the race in fifth which was not enough to secure automatic qualification but definitely put his best foot forward with selectors.
COOL DOWN: Jonathan Brownlee needed all the help he could get to cool his engine down on a warm Gold Coast afternoon.
BAILIE MEANS BUSINESS:There was one goal for Ryan Bailie (left) and that was to be the first Aussie in the top ten - mission accomplished! AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
FAFD O RO
Jacqui Slack and Ben Allen are synonymous with athelticism and power in the off-road realm. AT catches up with the dynamic duo and finds out what makes them tick INTERVIEW BY AIMEE JOHNSEN | PHOTOGRAPHY BY KORUPT VISION
JACQUI How does a girl born and bread in Stoke-on-Trent UK end up living in Wollongong Australia and racing off-road triathlon? I can’t quite believe it, sometimes I will call my mum at home and wonder how I ended up here. This lifestyle doesn’t just happen by sitting around and waiting for some gorgeous Aussie to come along and sweep you off your feet. I suppose throughout my life I’ve pushed the boundaries and created opportunities to make my life what I want it to be. I’ve taken a few risks, built a good network around me and ended in a great place.
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You were a firefighter in your previous life, how did you get into that profession? From the age of 14, I was always a worker. On Saturdays and school holidays I used to work in my Dad’s fruit shop, and after school I went straight into lifeguarding at local leisure center. I completed an in house NVQ and worked from then on managing the biggest leisure centres in Staffordshire. This gave me a lot of the attributes and people skills required to become a firefighter. I saw Staffordshire were advertising so I went for it. To be honest I found the whole process relatively
easy. It seemed like it was meant to be and within 12 months I was in. I was a keen bean, always wanting to be busy and do more at work but then I started to be successful in triathlon and my plans changed. Being better at triathlon became my focus.
How did you get into triathlon? And when was your first race? It wasn’t until I was 21 when I first watched a triathlon in Bala, Wales as some friends from work were racing as a team. I saw some of the top women out there smash this middle distance race and thought
OFF-ROAD ROYALTY What was the main catalyst to move away from ITU racing to pursue longer distance and off-road triathlon?
they were incredible. I knew from that day this was what I wanted to do. My first race was a sprint triathlon where I finished second in my age group and third overall. I remember the race well because it was a point to point and my Mum and Granddad followed me in the car while I was riding. The only problem was they had my running shoes and I beat them into transition so I spent what felt like a decade waiting around for them to catch up to hand me my running shoes. It’s something I will never forget and great memories from being with my Granddad in the early days of triathlon.
At what point did you really think about walking away from your job and pursuing a career in triathlon? Your bosses at the fire station were very supportive? To be honest when I asked for a one year sabbatical I never actually expected training and racing to go so well! I had some of the best results of my career that year and with the 2012 Olympics in the back of my mind it seemed silly not to take the chance and try out for this. Everyone at the fire service was very supportive and they allowed me to take 2.5 years in total. I thought that in 2012, after not making the Olympic team I would be heading back to the job. It was only when I met Ben did I actually consider never going back and make triathlon my life. Ben gave me the belief and support that things would work out for us. We’ve worked so hard over the last five years to be great roles models for the people in our sport, for family and sponsors. It’s now starting to pay off. This life doesn’t come easy but if you are prepared to put the work in you will find ways.
You started off racing in the uber competitive British Triathlon Super Series, French Grand Prix and mixing it up on the ITU scene. How did you find that racing? Initially I loved it. I enjoyed being in hard fast races as every time you stepped on the start line, you were never alone and there was always someone to race against pushing you harder and harder every day. I still find it hard to believe that I’ve won some of the biggest domestic elite races in the UK and this was the perfect way to start off and build a name in the sport.
A couple of things really, I entered professional triathlon reasonably late in life (at age 26) so I never got any support from British Triathlon Federation, it was very hard to race ITU and sustain a lifestyle where I didn’t have to work to support it. I needed to find other ways to keep sponsors interested so I could continue to live my dream. I became National Champion in cross triathlon and began to podium in World Tour XTERRA races where I earned prize money and attracted many sponsors. In ITU racing, for athletes starting out and finding their way in that sport, it’s very hard to support yourself. To get results you need to be 100% focused on training and that requires huge financial backing.
When did you do your first off-road triathlon – was it love at first race? No, it wasn’t actually. My first race was XTERRA Sardinia in Italy - it was the European champs I finished sixth which I was a little disappointed with. I exited the water first by a couple of minutes, but then the more experienced girls like Renata Bucher and Melanie McQuaid flew past on the bike. It took at least another year or so for me to really love the sport. This was after my first big win in Sardinia two years later, that was when I felt like a mountain bike racer!
At what point did you think this off-road racing was more suited to you? It was that race in Sardinia 2012, I felt like I breezed around the course and won by a couple of minutes ahead of Helena Erbenová, the world number three. The media guy said “How do feel about going to Maui (XTERRA world champs) as one of the favorites”, I was stunned - It never crossed my mind until that day, and I loved every minute of it and had a grin from ear to ear.
In 2012, as well as your win in Sardinia, you had another win and recorded another four podium finishes – that must have been a confidence boosting year consistently at that top? Yes, that was the first year both Ben and I focused on off road triathlon, and it paid off. It’s still one of my most memorable years. We did so much travelling and had lots of fun along the way. That year I didn’t feel any pressure I was new to the sport and loving my success.
Your result card is littered with wins and podium finishes at off-road/ XTERRA events from the past three years. You’ve earned yourself a national (GB) XTERRA Title, a third at the XTERRA Asia Pacific champs, an XTERRA Asian Triple Crown and two ninth and an eighth place finish at the XTERRA World champs in Maui – that’s a big few seasons. You must be happy with where you at right now? Yeah when I look back I can’t quite believe what I’ve achieved I really never thought my life in sport would become so successful, however I still feel I have more to offer. My dream is to win a world championship medal and I’m doing everything right now to achieve this.
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This year you have the ITU Cross Triathon Championships at your second or is third home Lake Crackenback – is that the major goal this year? Yes absolutely, I want a medal and my whole season is focused on this race. Ben and I are ambassadors for Lake Crackenback Resort and Spa and have been fortunate enough to train there for a considerable amount of time. In this type of racing it’s very important to be familiar with the bike course especially as you can make so many gains here. I’ve raced the In2adveture TreX races for the last few years on this particular course so I know it well.
Your career has taken you to 30+ countries and some you’d never likely visit if not for your racing – can you tell us about a couple of the most memorable places and races you’ve done so far? There are a few but the Philippines is certainly up there. Before I visited I had no idea what to expect and to be honest, it was never somewhere I dreamt of going. When you land in the Philippines it’s spectacular in every way. The streets are full of people, cars and jeepneys 24/7. There are shanty houses with no doors or windows, but then you get the most amazing mansions just a few kms away, the shopping is the best on the planet and there are some fabulous restaurants if you know where to go. Every time we’ve been we’ve met the most generous, friendly people and each year we get shown another hidden gem. The people are what makes the Philippines so special.
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My other favorite is right on our doorstep - I love Lake Crakenback. Every time I go there I feel relaxed and in a wonderful place. It’s beauty and serenity is out of this world. It has a small community of friendly staff that see to your every need. For the outdoor people your surrounded with everything you ever wished for.
You’ve just started coaching – how are you finding that? I absolutely love it. I have to thank Lesley Patterson and her husband Simon Marshall for giving me the push to go ahead and share my knowledge and experiences with others. Ben and I have a small team of athletes and I adore every single one of them, they have the most positive attitudes and it’s a pleasure for us to work with them. We are role models and lead by example I feel this gets the best out of our athletes and they respect our methods.
You now base yourself in Wollongong with Ben and his family who are very supportive of you both and your tri journey as well as your family (Mum) at home in the UK. How important has your family support been and continue to be in your tri journey? Without the support from our family, life would be near impossible. When you are away from home for long periods of time, things still need doing like paying bills. There is often times when mail gets sent to our house and either mum will have to scan, print and sign for us. They make our lives easier by having healthy food in stock, allowing us the time to rest and prepare for the next session. The small things all add up to us being the best we can be. We are both very close with our families and our time out from training and racing is always spent with them just hanging out being relaxed, laughing and joking with one another. Mum is also on the other end of the phone and after a race, she’s the first person I call whether it’s good or bad - she always knows what to say and I treasure her words.
BEN You grew up competing in surf lifesaving from an early age (9) and you were quite successful in that sport I believe, winning multiple State and National titles? How did you get involved in that sport? My parents introduced me to swimming at a very early age, mainly because, I suffered from asthma and the doctor said swimming would be the best thing for me. Little did I know that it was going to take me to where I am today. My parents are surfers and enjoy the ocean and we always hung out at the beach after school and every weekend. We came across a local Surf Life Saving carnival one weekend and the rest is history. The next weekend, I was in my “budgie smugglers” with my SLSC cap on running, swimming and paddling up and down the east coast of Australia.
Did you consider pursing your Surf Ironman career further? Of course, it was the hardest decision of my sporting career thus far. I was starting to cement myself as one of the top Surf Ironmen in Australia when I got the phone call. I sat down with my parents and talked about it what I should do. I felt I had achieved all my Surf Ironman goals and that I could always go back if I didn’t like triathlon. I took the opportunity and started investing in my performance to be a world-class triathlete, with the help of Triathlon Australia and Jamie Turner as my coach.
At around age 20 you got a call from Triathlon Australia to give tri a go. Before getting the call up, had you thought about pursing triathlon as a professional? I stumbled across the 2005 ITU Triathlon world champs in Gamagori, Japan on TV. I watched Peter Robertson from AUS race with heart, determination and put it all on the line to win the title. I was amazed by his effort and was intrigued by the sport. I said to myself I would love to give this triathlon thing ago. After the 2005
Coolangatta Gold, I received a phone call from Triathlon Australia asking me if I’d be interested in joining the, National Talented Identification Performance Triathlon Group. It was fate, I guess. I hadn’t done any triathlons and I didn’t even know how to ride a road bike. It was purely my Surf Ironman racing particularly after the Coolangatta Gold Surf Ironman Race where Triathlon Australia noticed me as a potential triathlete.
You then moved to racing on the ITU circuit – how did you find that? I started training for triathlon straight after the phone call. I had just competed in the Coolangatta Gold in Queensland and the next day was at the AIS getting tested and training with other triathletes. I did my very first ITU triathlon in Callala Bay, NSW for NSWIS and managed to finish and thought this was awesome. Jamie helped pave the way for me from the start and I wouldn’t be where I am today without his guidance, support and patience. The training demands where a lot more difficult and challenging then the race, this allowed me to gain confidence and feel like I was slowly progressing my development in ITU.
You stepped away from ITU racing to do some adventure racing. What was the main reason for stepping away and at that point did you think you would return to racing ITU and try to get the Olympics?
I stepped away in the off-season from ITU racing, to try different styles of triathlon racing and gain more experience. I borrowed a mountain bike and raced the XTERRA World Tour race in Switzerland. I absolutely fell in love and knew that this was what I was meant to do. I still continued to race a few ITU races in the hope I would continue developing and progressing, but I had lost the desire and knew I had ultimately had to chase what my heart desired - getting down and dirty off-road style!!
At what point did you think this off-road, adventure style of racing was more suited to you? After an off-road tri race the atmosphere, people, venue and feel are special. If it was a bad race or if you were the champion, everyone comes together and rejoices in just finishing, and concurring what the event challenged us with physically and mentally. It was a pleasure to embrace stories and pass on knowledge something I hadn’t ever encountered at an ITU race before.
Tell us some of the epic adventures you’ve done? Well I met and fell in love with this pommie girl after finishing on the podium at the XTERRA World Tour Race in Sardinia, Italy. I don’t know if she liked me for my good looks or performance! I convinced her to forget her job as a firefighter and tour the globe with me racing off-road AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
triathlons. Together we set out on an epic adventure racing in Guam, Saipan, Philippines, New Zealand, Malaysia and Australia. We loved it so much so that we embarked on a six-month journey continuing to race a total of 18 world tour races and visited 26 countries!
2010 was your first venture into the XTERRA scene – what was your first impression of the sport? First impression was this is “badass” mud, sweat, blood and the occasional tear is just what the doctor ordered for me. The thing with XTERRA and off-road triathlons is you never know what’s coming around the next corner and what you are going to face. You are completely out of your comfort zone the entire time. It’s exciting, risky, tough, challenging and very rewarding both physically and mentally. The faster you go, the more challenging it is - a pure adrenaline rush and worth training for.
In 2011 you took out your first XTERRA win in Brazil racing in the amazon jungle - that must have been amazing? And a long way from your former life as a surf lifesaver? XTERRA Brazil was to date one of my best races in my career, due to the fact I only just made the start line, let alone WIN the thing! I was living in Besancon, France at the time, and received an email from the organisers inviting me to race in the Amazon in five days’ time. I was young and enthusiastic at the time and of course said ‘hell yeah’. What I didn’t know was that Australians need a visa to go to Brazil. So two days before my flight, I was frantically calling the Brazilian embassy in Paris to arrange an emergency visa. After an epic journey of missed flights, long layover, rough nights sleep in my bike bag in the airport and still in panic mode I was on my way to Manaus, Brazil. Once I arrived there it was 2am on race day and I had to be up, ready to go at 6am. Two hours of sleep and I packed my race gear, built my bike and prepared for the day. In pitch-black darkness, we were escorted to the Amazon river and taken on a 45 minute boat ride out into the middle of jungle to the race start. Pre-race briefing was in Portuguese and I didn’t understand a thing until photos of dangerous animal and insects came up on the screen. Holy crap, what have I got myself into here, a
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fellow competitor in broken English said to me, “What ever you do don’t piss in the water!” I asked why, he said because there is an insect in the water that will swim up into your urine and into the eye of your penis! I all but fainted. I said to myself I haven’t come all this way for nothing. I had the quickest swim of my life and exited the water with an Olympic Brazilian swimmer would was doing the swim leg in the teams. Once out onto the bike, I thought well I survived the water, now its time to survive the jungle. Every 1km there was an armed soldier with a huge machete to hack back the jungle due to it growing so fast if, left untouched for a few hours the bike/run course would be non-existent, not to mention the deadly animals, insects and rebels hiding in there too. I was determined to fight to the very end and give myself every chance of winning the race. It wasn’t the fastest win of my career; it was the most satisfying one though, having to bounce back from situation after situation. I learnt a lot about myself as a person and what I’m capable of. It was my first ever Xterra World Title Win and one I will never forget, that’s for sure!
The next year (2012) you took four title wins as well as being crowned XTERRA Asian Triple Crown champion. When did you really think you could make this sport your career and make a living out of it? After winning the Triple Crown and being undefeated I knew there was potential to do this full time. It was a hard decision to make as I had just finished my Bachelor of Education in Physical and Health Education and teaching was what I was working towards for the last four year. But, I’m only young once and travelling the world, creating new friendships and visiting places off the beaten track outweighed my desire to be stuck in a classroom full of kids. Sorry kids!
The wins have kept coming and you are now one of the most dominant athletes on the off-road triathlon/ XTERRA circuit around the world. A third place at the XTERRA World Championships in 2014 cemented your place at the top of the sport. How was that race and result for you? That race meant the world to me. All the hard work and investment I had put in over the years paid off. My parents, coaches,
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friends, family, sponsors and especially Jacqui all believed in me and I’m so glad I could deliver a performance in the biggest race we have. From that moment on, it gave me the belief that I belong and will continue to work hard to be the very best. I have the best support network and when the “Xterra Gods” are with me, my time will come in Maui.
You train with the “Gong Wizards” in your home town of Wollongong. That’s some pretty talented training partners you have?! I have joined the Wollongong Wizards full time now. Jamie is an amazing coach and has created an environment where everyone has the opportunity for success. Having access to world-class training partners is priceless and we each push one another to the ultimate edge. It also makes it more enjoyable having sparing partners at each workout and keeps you honest when you might be having a bad day.
Your result at the 2015 XTERRA worlds wasn’t what you were hoping for, does it make you hungrier to get back to Maui or has it been hard to move past? I had a compete shocker in Maui last year. No excuses, just a bad day at the office. I’m more motivated than ever to get back on that start line for another crack. New season, new skills, new level of fitness, a total new outlook for 2016. Exciting times for sure. Bring on race day!
You have a super supportive family – mum Janelle, dad Dennis, sister Candice, Trent and a gorgeous nephew (Jayden) and niece (Zahra). How important have they been and continue to be on your journey? They have been a huge influence on my sporting career. They are my number one supporters and I’m so grateful to have them in my corner every time I toe the line. We are a very close family and always at least once a week, have a whole family dinner together. Plus, with two kids now in the family, we are at swim lesson, soccer games and spend lots of time down the beach. It’s a good escape from the normal swim, bike, run routine.
What does 2016 hold for Ben Allen? A World Championship title. I’ve wiped the slate clean and am starting fresh this year. A new plan with bigger and more exciting adventures. Just don’t tell Jacqui yet….
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B&J RACING: It seems like off-road triathlon is so close to absolutely exploding, there seems to be plenty of interest from competitors and corporate support and that seems to grow every year – do you feel that is the case? Jacqui: Explode is the right word for it. However, it’s still very hard to change road triathletes’ mentality. For me that’s the appeal - I love the fact that racing is an adventure and you have personal challenges the whole time you are racing. There’s no clock watching or holding watts - it’s you and Mother Nature. I hope someday more roadies will give it a try and see what they are missing out on. Ben: Totally, I believe everyone is getting bored racing on the road and are looking for new and exciting challenges. Off-Road Triathlon is the future and new race destinations, formats, challenges and event companies are popping up inspiring people to step outside their comfort zone and embrace what Off-Road Triathlon has to offer. It’s great to see sponsors and corporate support get involved and try and take on Mother Nature (she can be a real bitch) but I believe there’s no-one tougher on earth.
You two are amongst the hardest working athletes I’ve seen, giving up so much of yourself and time to promote the sport but that can come at a cost mentally and physically to then compete at the highest level. How do you juggle being the part of the poster couple for off-road racing and still wanting to perform well on the track? Jacqui: It’s certainly a juggling act so many people out there want advice, want to know about races and courses etc etc and we are more than happy to help. We make a great team and share these responsibilities. When one of us is tired or has other things on, the other will assist in these types of jobs. We value our sponsors and supporters and in our eyes these people come first, without these people we would not be where we are today and certainly would not have the best equipment to preform at the highest level. You have to be organized and on you’re a-game 100% of the time to get the best out of your body, as well as pleasing those that help and support you. We enjoy giving something back to our sport and when you see you’ve helped someone and they are grateful there’s no better feeling.
Ben: It definitely isn’t easy, but it’s a challenge I face with Jacqui and my team. Together we try and do our very best and promote, encourage and share off-road racing to each and everyone. The sport has given me so much more than I ever would have dreamed of. I feel proud and honoured to call myself an off-road triathlete. I want to share the enjoyment of the sport with everyone and aid in their quest to achieve their goals and dreams. My family plays a big part in managing my success both on and off the racecourse. They are the ones that believed in me from the very beginning and are behind me all the way. I’m so lucky to have such a loving and supportive family. Without them half of what I do wouldn’t be possible. Go Team ALLEN. As two of most prolific racers in triathlon and traveling extensively around the world with little rest in between – how do you recover and get ‘up’ for such a hectic race schedule? Jacqui: I’m a very organised person so I like to know what training I’ve got for the week and I make a plan. I consider the best places to do that particular session,
plan a time to do it and stick to that. If I have to drive to a session I always make sure I have all of my equipment prepared the night before and nutrition down pat weather is be a protein shake for after or a home made lunch so I don’t end up eating fast food on the go. My laptop and iPhone come everywhere with me so if I have 30 mins to spare I can focus on responding to emails. When we travel to a race, Ben and I set out an itinerary, we stick to it so we can fit everything in we wish to do. We consider time for training, stretching and recovering as well as eating before any media commitments. You need to prioritise your tasks and make the most of every second of the day. We do make time for each other - we will always eat together with phones and laptops switched off. If we are driving to a race location, you will always find the passenger hard at work writing emails, training programmes or magazine articles. Ben: Managing fatigue and trying to recover race after race can be a bit hit and miss. I’m so proud to be involved in the sport and I make the most of every opportunity to toe the start line. But, sometimes just making the start line can
be the hardest part; I have control of what happens during the race, that’s easy, I train for that. In the lead up to it the race, certain things are out of my control. Public transport, weather, relying on other people, time, etc. One valuable lesson I have learnt along my travels is that you always need to plan for things to go wrong somewhere along the way. It’s how resilient you are, that you can bounce back from any negative situation you’re faced with.
We often see you switch over to on-road as do a lot of other off-road racers like Javier Gomez, Eneko Llanos and Flora Duffy, do you guys see yourself going between the two more is off-road all the way for B&J Racing? Jacqui: I think my ITU days are over but I do love to race the odd 70.3 and I would love someday soon to really focus on this and have a stellar performance, maybe after I’ve won that world champs medal it could be a new focus watch this space. I probably won’t do an Ironman though. Ben: I still feel I have a lot to learn in ITU and I ended road racing prematurely, it has crossed my mind to juggle both though. But, after travelling around the world with two bike bags and paying excess baggage fees, I would think twice about juggling both realms of racing. I would definitely consider Ironman and Xterra one day though. That is a card I would like to play in the near future. If we don’t have kids already that is… AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
Who deals with the travel better? Either get cranky pants in airport terminals? Ben deals with this one better he just goes with the flow, although we’ve both had our moments and have been lucky enough to support each other when those moments come along.
How do you deal with one having a good race and the other not? This is a really difficult one as we are both very sympathetic of each other. If it’s a hard day at the office Jacqui usually has a good old cry to her mum on the phone and Ben tends to clear the air by going on a bike ride or for a run. We know when to give each other space. We are still both happy for each other as we see how hard the other works and at the end of the day it’s a team effort. If Ben wins I win and vice versa.
JACQUI’S SET UP
at an Xterra race. It was actually my mum that spotted Ben first. She had a chat with him after the race and then told me how nice that young Aussie lad was. A couple of months later, we travelled to a few other races together and got along really well. I then invited Ben to come and hang out with me and my fire service buddies whilst in France, we had an absolute ball together and pretty much fell in love, we’ve been together ever since.
How do you both feel having the other with you every day on this journey aids your athletic career? Jacqui: I love spending everyday with him. From day one he has encouraged me to be better, dream bigger and love life. We’ve had many ups and downs and we’ve matured as people and grown closer together. We make the perfect team and I couldn’t imagine my life without him. He’s
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Xterra and Amanzi
Flight Centre Active Travel
BEN’S SET UP
BEN & JACQUI – The Couple How did you guys meet? Jacqui: We met on the Island of Sardinia
Wetsuit & Swim:
the most caring and thoughtful person I know and we just love living our life together, with the friends we’ve met through sport. Ben: Jacqui is my one and only and I feel so lucky to spend the rest of my life with her. The journey we share together money can’t buy and I feel like the luckiest man on earth to have someone who understand first hand the commitments and investments I make into my athletic performance. We have had some many amazing adventures together all over the world and I can’t wait to continue that together for the rest of our lives.
Ok so you both do a massive session, which does the food preparation and clean up – a roster or is it more rock paper scissors! It’s generally a team effort or the one that has just that little bit more energy left to make the effort.
Wetsuit & Swim:
Xterra and Funky Trunks
Flight Centre Active Travel
OFF-ROAD TIPS Join a group and go mountain biking with others. Skills training is an awesome way to start and meet new people. Mostly don’t take it too serious, enjoy the challenge and get your mates involved start with a sprint race and build up.
2012 TRIATHLON WORLD CHAMPION
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Pain doesn’t last
BUT MEMORIES DO Aimee Johnsen catches up with Ironman powerhouse Craig Pervical, post his mammoth 8in8in8 challenge to find out how he fared. PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS RIORDAN
Congratulations! You should be incredibly proud of what you and your team achieved and the funds raised – you hit your $80k target. Meeting some of the families that your fundraising will support must have been incredible. I am incredibly proud of what we achieved and I emphasis we as this was very much a team effort that reached far and wide. I had a core group around me but I also had key people in each city around Australia, plus each day we had many people join us and help me with their support. Add all these amazing individuals to every person that donated and you can see it’s a group effort. I actually remember quite well
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watching our fundraising page tick over $80k. I was sitting in St. Vincent’s hospital on my own, waiting for some testing to be done in the days after the event. There is no doubt that making this target plus meeting some very special kids and their families is the highlight of my athletic career.
What do you think was the single biggest challenge for you (aside from doing 8 Ironmans in 8 days!) in completing this? Without a doubt the sleep deprivation was the biggest hurdle we had to overcome. Never before in all my years of big training sessions did I start to fall asleep on the bike.
I saw footage from the morning of Canberra you looked absolutely spent, physically but more mentally you looked and sounded exhausted. How did you then get on with the day? Was it like once you got going you were fine? Canberra was day five. So while we were past half way, we’d had four really hot days - three 35 degree-days and Hobart at 29 degrees. I was tired for sure, but once we arrived at Canberra pool I met Robbie Johnstone, a now 20-year-old who a couple of years earlier had been hit by a car on a pedestrian crossing while studying medical science at Canberra Uni. Robbie is now in a wheelchair and his
L TO R: Steve Waugh, Craig Percival, John Maclean and Craig Alexander at the Cronulla Pool.
parents are doing an amazing job at helping him to make forward gains. I was fortunate enough to meet many inspirational people along the journey of 8in8in8, Robbie and his family came in to my life right when I needed a boost. As soon as I hit the water, Robbie sat right on the side of the pool and would cheer me every lap I went past. How can you not be motivated when you receive that type of support? To top it off, half way through the swim he jumped in the lane beside me. I can still hear him shouting my name as he kicked his way down the pool lying on his back supported by a float
We drove straight to Cronulla pool after some very serious discussions about where we were at and how we should tackle the three remaining days. As a group, we made some really smart decisions in regard to Sydney. We decided to buy new flights that would have us leaving Sydney the Saturday morning instead of Friday night. This removed the time pressure for Sydney leg. This allowed time for some massage and a great event with John Maclean himself. John had arrived at Cronulla pool with Craig Alexander and had also asked Steve Waugh to come along.
Which do you think was your hardest day physically to get through?
How did you pace yourself on the first couple of days to not go too hard and risk the latter stages of the challenge? That must have been a challenge in itself.
Day 7: at some point on the bike I tore my VMO (muscle on inside of your knee) (Later diagnosed as grade 3 tear) which meant the run was a pretty big challenge but thanks to support of countless Brisbane friends and athletes, they nursed me through the night and we jog/walked and finished at about 5am in the morning before catching a 7am flight back to Melbourne.
What about mentally challenging was Canberra and Sydney your hardest days? The run at Canberra was really difficult. We simply hadnâ€™t had an opportunity for me to get any massage work done and I was ridiculously tight through legs and lower back. This made anything that resembled a run challenging. Somehow thanks again to support from complete strangers, we made it. The drive from Canberra to Sydney was tough. My guts were not good and like after any normal Ironman, I just didnâ€™t feel like food. We were all pretty tired and I became anxious that whoever was driving might fall asleep. Consequently I got 30 minutes of sleep.
I think I paced the first three really well. All were around 55 minute swims and sub 6-hour rides. Darwin and Perth were 5 hour 30 minute rides as I was really keen to get out of heat as early as possible in Darwin and Perth required a sub 11 hour day to ensure we boarded a flight in time. Pacing is something I feel I have a really good handle on. I did my first IM back in 1997 and have done 20+ over the years. Like so many experienced athletes, you learn to know where that red line is and even though this was uncharted territory for me, I truly believe I stayed well within my limits and was very comfortable in leaving my ego behind and purely focused on getting the job done.
What sort of recovery did you do to keep you body in the state to complete the challenge? That must have been a struggle to have enough time to do the recovery you probably needed.
ABOVE: Massage was crital as to was the light humour, another lap in the pool and still finding time to do the media work. AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
There was not time. It was simply get to sleep as quickly as possible. I wore my Jaggad compression tights while sleeping and flying. Outside of that, it was to eat and drink as much as possible before the next IM.
Were there any physical issues that could have derailed things or did your body hold up ok throughout? I understand your feet/toes were not in great shape half way - any toenails left? The toenails have all either been removed due to infection (sorry TMI) or dropped off. There is no doubt now on reflection I should have prepared better. I relied very heavily on my years and years of aerobic development and plain determination to get through. Regarding physical issues, I’ve always spoken openly about how amazing the human body is if you give it a chance. You simply need to know what is the real motivation that is going to allow you to push through. I had this when thinking about the kids we were doing this for. Thinking about them for me made any small minor physical complaints seem irrelevant.
Lack of sleep and not able to get in many calories was no doubt making things incredibly tough? How many hours do you reckon you slept over the eight days? I can tell you exactly as Lindell was in charge of recording everything from sleep to weight pre and post every session plus many other vitals. While Darwin was first IM, Perth was our first night with 4.5 hours,
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ABOVE: After the Melbourne swim, two-year-old Tommy, with cerebral palsy and severe vision impairment, received a grant of $8945 to purchase his first specialised wheelchair.
Adelaide (2 nights) 5 hours first night, 4 hours next. Hobart 3 hours, Canberra 30 minutes, Sydney 2 hours, Brisbane 0 hours but did get 2 hours on flight to Melbourne.
How is your body today? Body feels OK - maybe 5/10. Knee is still dodgy but could be worse. There were some initial thoughts after scans it might be a stress fracture but its just a tear. So that means no crutches or surgery.
I assume you have medical support monitoring your recovery – how long is it predicted to take you and your body/brain to fully recover from this epic challenge? Dr. Mitch Anderson from Shinbone Medical is a longtime true friend and someone I will forever be grateful for the amount he supported me through this event. He was on call 24 hours a day for us. He talked me through what was going on with sleep deprivation plus was having regular communication with Lindell while I was getting job done. We aren’t really setting a timeline on recovery. There’s not really any precedent or info on what should happen plus I’m in no rush. I do
however want to make sure I get my body right again. I’ve got many years left of chasing my kids around!
We talk about, see, hear, and write about the Ironman blues that often comes with ‘just’ one IM, has that been something you’ve had to deal with? Not really. I’ve never won a world championship but reality is, we achieved our goal and more. I wonder whether Crowie went through IM blues after winning Kona? We still have work to do on finishing all that is 8in8in8 but there has certainly been talk about what’s next
Your wife Lindell and your support crew also had a huge challenge – here another chance to give them a shout out! For something like three months leading in to the event a core group of Kate Patterson (project manager), Grant Cosgriff (Tri Vic), Alex Mantell (Tri Vic) and Barb Hyndman (Risk Management) would meet weekly to make sure this event was a success. Their role was to make sure it all fell in to place. In many ways, I had the easy job, I simply had to swim, bike and run.
Lindell - the words I put here will never do justice to the support she has always showed me. I’ll try by perhaps giving an example. There was a moment in Canberra on the run where I had asked everyone that was running with me to give some space. This wasn’t easy as I had amazing support. I went and sat under a tree and was not in a great spot (read as bad as I have ever felt) in terms of where I was at physically or mentally. Lindell found me, at that point it’s been highlighted to me how average I looked and was conversing, yet she knew what I needed and what it would mean to me after the event if she had said to me, it’s ok to pull the pin. Truth is I don’t recall what was said exactly, doesn’t actually matter. Within a minute or two, I was back out on run and we got the job done.
ABOVE: After enduring such physical and emotion hardship, Craig and wife Lindell, welcome a hug from each other in Melbourne knowing the job was done.
It’s impossible to not think of what’s next - whether that’s the next chapter in #8in8in8 or for me personally. Watch this space......
lost him on course. We had the luxury of being able to change courses at any time because of weather or course challenges and sometimes this led us to lose him. After the first four days were completed, the hardest thing was just helping Craig manage his fatigue. Telling him to relax and have a sleep when he felt he was sleepy on the bike helped him have a quality nap rather than fight it and it being a waste of time.
What was the hardest part for you as his wife?
What’s next? Any new race plans or epic adventures in the pipelines?
While Craig did the miles, being support crew is incredibly hard so massive congrats to you for getting Craig to the start and finish for all those eight days. And all the days before! What was the biggest challenge for you as support crew to get this challenge completed? I guess a major challenge for me was to help any support crew for the day, help both Craig and I. We had a new crew to help each day in every city. I think IM got us ready for Ultraman and UM got us ready for this event. Not many people have crewed for an UM though and understand the level Craig races at, or understand that the more frequent the contact with him helped him compete at his best. Keeping up with Craig and allowing him to be as fast as he could be required lots of management. Our daily requirements changed for him as fatigue and dehydration took a part of him each day. Promising to keep him cool was a mistake I made every day and at times was super hard to do. Some cities were hard to support him because roads wouldn’t allow us to stop and then of course local knowledge in the support car following Craig was another massive one when we
Watching Craig push through pain barriers that I hadn’t seen before. The number of days was obviously way over any other event Craig had competed in and prior to 8in8, were all managed by telling myself the pain would end quickly for him. The pain was a constant after Day 1, from toes to hips to sunburn, tiredness, trouble going to sleep and the list goes on. One from that list would be manageable, but when we started to manage multiple challenges, it became stressful. I remember being on the flight from Perth to Adelaide wishing I could do something to help with how much pain he was experiencing in his toes magnified by the cabin pressure, it was tough to watch. My memories of 8in8 are still scarred by thoughts of watching him cope with pain at different stages of each day.
Was there a moment you really thought Craig might need to stop? Would you have told him and would he have listened? Yes, the first time I thought I was going to have to call an ambulance was in Hobart. Watching Craig try to fall asleep while in so much pain was extremely hard. That was the first time I thought I was going to have to call (Dr) Mitch to tell him I couldn’t see a way Craig could continue. Hobart
was a tough day, unexpectedly. There were other times, but after chatting with Mitch on each occasion, we worked through issues and he made me feel like we had options to manage the situation at hand. Yes, we would have told him and yes, he would have listened (maybe). Our support team had spoken about this and we all knew that would be hard. Having said that, we also knew if that we didn’t make a call, there was a very real chance Craig would be injured and not physically able to finish. Thinking of it like that took the edge off it being an emotional decision of us against him.
As a partner of an athlete I used to get the Ironman blues after a race. The emotional toll being there for all the months of training and then, just like that, it’s over. Has that been something you’ve had to deal with? As a team we have dealt with this very real thing after each and every race. Depending on the race and the expectation – the level of the blues would differ. Interestingly, he hasn’t gone through the typical spiral with this event. I put that down to a few factors that aren’t the norm. I think the most important is that the support team that evolved for 8in8 were as supportive after the race as they were pre and during. Craig still had daily chats with one or more of this team right from Day 1 of completion. I feel this kept the event “live”. Two other factors I think helped with the blues were that the event 8in8 was successful and the fundraising still needed attention. This fundraising side was a huge lift for Craig on a daily basis and it was exciting when he called to let me know we hit the $80k target. Our fundraising for JMF won’t stop now, that will be a constant “what can we do to help” AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
Eight Ironmans, Eight Days, No Limits! TEXT BY CHRISTIAN NEWBOLD | PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS RIORDAN
he time had come for Craig Percival to make good on a personal promise. His career as a triathlete had seen him complete over 20 Ironmans, including four Hawaii Ironman World Championship finishes, and had culminated in a second place finish at the 2014 Hawaii Ultraman World Championships. The time had come to do this thing he does so well, for the benefit of others. “I’ve always wanted to do something for a charity… and part of the inspiration for me becoming a triathlete was watching John Maclean become the first wheelchair athlete to do Hawaii,” he told IMTalk this February. It was Maclean hauling himself backwards out of ‘The Pit’ on the old Kona course that inspired, as Percival puts it, “that classic, if he can do it, I can do it moment.” The beneficiary of his utilitarian motivations was a given. John MacLean not only provided Craig with the go-ahead to become the man he is today, but his foundation, The John MacLean Foundation (JMF), does wonderful things for kids needing wheelchairs to realise their own limitless potential. By now, we all know the mountain Craig put before him was his incredible eight Ironmans in eight days, in the eight states and territories of Australia. Its magnitude was matched only by Craig’s desire to help. And fittingly, John MacLean’s newly released book, “How Far Can You Go?” is not only testament to his own incredible journey, but also offers rhetorical clout to Craig Percival’s 8in8in8 journey. Percival toed the line of Ironman number one in Darwin on March 6 without an answer. But he was charged with the commitment to overturn any and every stone to find an answer. You see, before he had even started, he presented two cheques of $10,000 from the JMF to two beautiful kids, Samuel and Tatiana, so that they could receive the equipment they needed to create their own dreams. Craig would go on to demonstrate why there is such faith in his abilities. He began at 2am to escape the expected sweltering
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heat and humidity, and swam a solid 55 minutes for the 3.8km, putting him a little ahead of schedule. He then produced an average of 34kmph to clock the 180km ride in 5:17, before heading out onto the 42.2km marathon. By this time the heat had delivered on its promise. He said it was “insanely hot”, and slowed somewhat in the oppressively humid 34 degrees, but he completed day 1 in 11 hours, 26 minutes. It was a great start, executed with minimal fatigue, though the unknown continued to nag at the back of his mind. He was drawing on his Ultraman experience to gage cumulative fatigue. With one down, it was all still in check. The turn-around time from Darwin to Perth on Day 2 was, relatively speaking,
generous. There was time to freshen-up, rest, travel and prepare for the 5am start. The Perth Ironman went even better. The swim was completed in 54:30, spurred-on by a growing band of supporters. He took the same Day 1, get the job done attitude into the ride, and knocked that off in 5:30. Here was a man on a mission, even as the temperature hit the mid-30s. He again ran in the heat, but this time there was no cloud cover and not a breath of wind, with purposeful gait toward the airport producing a 4:11 marathon and a total time of 10:50! He showered and caught the last flight out of Perth for Adelaide. As Craig moved south, the temperature didn’t, and he was met with another heatwave in Adelaide. Although still feeling strong, there was no denying his building fatigue. But to whatever degree he lacked energy, he gained two-fold or more in inspiration, and this would become more and more his saving grace as 8in8in8 continued. By now, word was really getting out about his cause and again a healthy contingent arrived to join Percival for Ironman 3. One athlete in particular, Adelaidean Scott Lampshire, was so inspired he went the entire distance with Craig, despite the skyrocketing mercury.
TIME OUT: Craig’s wife Lyndell, informs everbody of the current situation.
8IN8IN8 And it wasn’t half bad, either, again knocking-off a sub-12-hour Ironman. As an outsider looking in, he still looked really good, and a small weight had lifted from his shoulders. He was worried about timing and flight connections during the first three days, and his arrival in Adelaide spelled an end to these concerns. However, just below the exterior, the signs of wear and tear from three Ironmans in three days festered. Literally! It’s easier to mask fatigue than it is to mask severely blistered toes and feet. Running long distance in the heat and humidity had produced hours of wet running shoes that ceaselessly rubbed on his feet, especially his big toes. There was concerned enough about infection to begin antibiotic medication. At the completion of another solid, sub-hour swim in front of family and friends in his hometown of Hobart to begin Ironman number 4, he also required treatment to his toes before heading out onto the bike. Those in the change room, myself included, witnessed the streams of fluid spray out of holes made by hotneedles. It wasn’t pretty, and with a degree of concern, I imagined how uncomfortable the next almost five days were going to be. Those who didn’t see the behindclosed-doors lancing were forgiven for assuming he was fine. Besides, this was
But Craig had yet to meet his own limits, and the question, “How far can you go?” of course had to be answered with, “As far as I must!” especially now he had reached half-way. From this point on, it would be his effort-for-inspiration investment that would keep his hopes alive, and among the first to deliver was Robbie Johnstone, a Canberra local in a wheelchair who was regenerating from the ground up after having been struck by a car on a pedestrian crossing. He was determined to make good the opportunity to help a man who had already given so much, give more than he could ever imagine. On his back, Robbie swam 500m with Craig, all the while chanting, “Go Craig, Go Craig.” “This moment will stay with me forever, you’ll never know how much this helped me,” stated Craig after the event. It provided enough energy to push through another Ironman, and continue his crusade to raise the $80,000 he wished to raise for the JMF. But it hurt a lot! Lindell was shocked to see her husband in so much pain. “Yesterday’s Ironman took Craig to a place I haven’t seen, ever,” she said during the four-hour drive to Sydney to begin Day 6. “I was so upset seeing Craig go to sleep in so much pain.” Craig ‘slept’ for about 30 minutes.
Yesterday’s Ironman took Craig to a place I haven’t seen, ever! — Lindell Percival autumn in Hobart, and the weather is always user-friendly. Na-ah, not this time. Hobart served up conditions arguably tougher than the first three days, with temperatures up to 30 degrees, accompanying savage 50kmph-plus winds that made for a very difficult ride. Despite a course change to decrease wind factor, it was a long hot day on the hills of the greater Hobart area. When Craig thought his travel worries were over, he was very much mistaken. The later start to Day 4 and the difficulty of the ride made for an exhausting marathon, and it was well past midnight when he finished. If time travel was a thing, perhaps Craig and wife, Lindell, would reconsider. If they knew then what they know now, they may have dismissed the task as altogether too much. Certainly, as the 8in8in8 bus rolled into Canberra for Ironman 5, it was looking that way. Craig appeared sunken, withdrawn and tired – oh so tired!
With his feet in tatters, and an obliterated constitution, Craig had hit, as he put it, “ground zero”. Stepping-up to help this time was none other than three-time Ironman World Champion, Craig ‘Crowie’ Alexander, who got him in the pool, forcing him to eat and drink as they went. “When a three-time World Ironman Champion talks,” said Percival, “you listen!” But was it enough to carry him through the ride and the run? What happened next was astounding. “This moment could perhaps be the defining moment of 8in8in8,” said Craig. As he lay face-down receiving a massage, and watched as John MacLean – the very man who had inspired him some 21 years earlier – parked his wheelchair, raised himself to his feet and walked right over to Craig. John spoke to Craig: “Pain is temporary but memories last forever.” He told him that stopping now after five in five with over $40,000 raised was understandable. But, if he got on that bike
ABOVE: The good and the no so good of the 8in8in Challenge.
and just took it 5km at a time, who knows what would happen. Craig said, “It sounds and is so simple, yet at that point in time, hearing it from John was exactly what I needed.” “How far can you go?” If he answered, “5km” every time, he would make it. With the Help of John, Crowie, and a host of wonderful supporters, he made it through another, Finishing at 4am, and then another under similarly trying circumstances in Brisbane the day after, this one completed at 5:30am. He may have resembled a zombie, but he made it through seven Ironmans in seven days. The final Ironman was a homecoming of sorts. It was a celebration, and an opportunity to both give and receive thanks. Although there was so much giving throughout the eight days – not only through the over $85,000 in donations, but also through so many sharing in the sheer magnificence of what he had achieved – one final act succinctly brought into focus his purpose. After the Melbourne swim, two-yearold Tommy, with cerebral palsy and severe vision impairment, received a grant of $8945 to purchase his first specialised wheelchair. I can barely put it into words, but I saw what it meant to Tommy’s family, and it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed! There is absolutely no end to how far Craig Percival can go!
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The Ghost of Olympic Past
T E X T B Y N O E L M C M A H O N | P H O T O G R A P H Y B Y D E L LY C A R R
rior to every Olympic Games, editors and newsrooms earmark potential medalists for intense attention and post race, a lot is written about the triumphs and the hauls of gold, silver and bronze. Every four years heroes are made and legends are created. If you medal you have made it, everyone wants a piece of you and if you play your cards right your stocks will rise. For every story of a podium finish, there are thousands more equally worthwhile stories about athletes that will never grab the headlines. They are the athletes who dared to dream big, lived their own version of the Olympic experience and quietly returned home without fanfare. In 2004 in Athens, there was one such story and despite the passage of time, my professional curiosity has repeatedly led me back to the summer of 2003-04 and women’s Olympic triathlon. In the lead up to the Athens Olympics, the Australian women’s triathlon team had almost selected itself. Sydney Olympic silver medalist and two time world champion Michellie Jones was in the box seat, Emma Snowsill had begun her reign as the Queen of the ITU and Brett Sutton had the tough and ruthless Loretta Harrop flying. The trio of Carney, Gallagher and Jones hadn’t eventuated in Sydney, so in Athens, Australia was set to finally reap the
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Olympic rewards of decades of dominance in women’s triathlon. All that was required was the small matter of fulfilling the selection criteria. The Accenture series races that summer were tailor made to give these seasoned athletes the opportunity to shine. They knew how to handle pressure, they had the runs on the board and the very brave were talking about an Olympic clean sweep. The problem was that no-one told Queensland youngster Maxine Seear, who by the end of the summer had kicked arse, thrown a cat among the pigeons and unwittingly found herself in yet another Australian triathlon selection calamity. Born in South Africa to British parents, growing up in the US before finally landing in dizzy Brissie at the age of 14, Seear turned out to be a typical Aussie kid. “My brother Jimmy and I ended up at St Peters in Indooroopilly and we were complete newbies and didn’t know how Australia worked. It was definitely a shock to the system with just how serious sport was here.” “Sport in America at a young age is nothing and other than learning to swim we didn’t do anything. We arrived here and they said come to swim training and it starts at 5.30am. I said ‘You are joking’. It was a baptism by fire.” “We were lucky with mum and dad finding St Peters because there was a
swim coach there, Paul Sansby. He was probably the best thing that ever happened to me when we arrived. We started with the swim squad for something to do and it was an amazing squad and I had the best couple of years. I was a shy kid and he is not a shy guy, so we just landed on our feet in that squad and he taught us what it is to work hard.” Maxine recalled that it was Jimmy, who had always loved moto-cross bikes and started riding his pushbike around, that got into triathlon first. “We got a bit stagnant in swimming and weren’t going anywhere, and people were talking about triathlon. So we went and did a Weetbix Kids race in Noosa when they allowed older kids. I did that race and was absolutely petrified and scared all the way around on the bike and didn’t even change gears.” “I did it on a borrowed bike with down bar shifters and all that type of thing and I just enjoyed it. So we just winged it for a while and got a bit of advice from my mum’s friend who was an avid runner and who had loaned me the bike.” “From there I went and did a couple of Raby Bay races an enjoyed them and after talking to Felicity Abram and her parents I thought I would try and do a junior selection race in St Kilda, and I won that.” A couple of constants in Maxine’s career were that she always had a strong
ROAD TO RIO sense of independence and when things happened, they happened quickly. “I got selected for the World Juniors team in 2002 and Col was the head coach. So he said why don’t you come down and train at the Gold Coast, so I did two or three days a week down there. Friday afternoon and a big Saturday/ Sunday then spend the rest of the week doing my own thing.” “At the start of 2003, I decided to take some time off. So I packed my bags and went overseas and had no idea what I was doing and chose some races off the ITU website and went for it. I mainly based myself with my uncle and did all my training and coaching on my own, just guessing. I had read a bit and went by feel. I never did anything crazy but just did a lot of consistent work and got really fit.” While she away on her sabbatical, the 19-year-old triathlon newbie started to put together a package of swim, ride, run that was literally about to scare the triathlon establishment back home. “My break through race was the Pacific Coast ITU race in did in Newport Beach in July 2003 before I came home. I came second to Michellie Jones there and Becky Lavelle was third. I remember feeling amazing all day and I ran with Michellie for six or seven km. That was the first time ever in my life where I felt like I could go. I felt in control, not on my limit and I remember thinking when you are fit and feeling good this racing thing is fun.” When Maxine returned to Australia in September 2003 the ‘fun” continued and on the back of her solid training and racing block overseas she picked up a silver in ITU World Juniors in Queenstown. It was then that Michellie (MJ) offered her some advice that would later have a huge impact on the summer of 2003-04, and ultimately Olympic team selection. “MJ said I should talk to this guy, Shaun Stephens, at the QAS because he could help write me some programs. I went and spoke to Shaun and worked with him for eight weeks and my racing kind of took off from there. Shaun and I went into the series thinking it was for experience but he had a much better idea of how I was going in comparison to the others. Obviously we weren’t aiming for the Olympics, we just wanted to enjoy it.” To say that her racing ‘took off’ was a touch of an understatement. The day before her 20th birthday Maxine fronted up to the first Olympic selection race in Coffs Harbour and turned on a display that left everyone in wonder. “The best thing about our Australian summer was that as a junior, you got thrown in among the pros and you quickly learned what their standard was. Loretta
© Delly Carr/ITU
ANOTHER WIN: Edging closer to Athens. After winning the Accenture series title only months before, Maxine continued to display top form at 2004 Ishigaki ITU Triathlon World Cup.
tore it up and I out sprinted Snowy (Emma Snowsill) for second. That was when I started to mix it with elite of Australian triathlon, so for me Coffs Harbour was an eye opener.” “In every other race I had done it had just been going hell for leather for the
finish line and the winner was the winner, and not much riding on it but a few points and prize money. Whereas in Coffs Harbour, there were games going on. Once Loretta got a certain amount of time up the road there were a few people going ‘I can’t be bothered.’ There were a
Enjoy every moment because you never know if it will ever happen — Maxine Seear again. AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
few in that group behind Loretta, about eight and I took a few turns but everyone was just watching and waiting to see what MJ and Emma were going to do.” “I didn’t win any of the early races, I was always second or third. A lot of it happened very quickly and I almost didn’t have time to think about it. I never thought I had done well until I won a race, so I really didn’t comprehend how well I was going. It wasn’t ‘Oh wow I beat Snowie and got second’, it was ‘Loretta was minutes up the road’,” Maxine said. Maxine remembered that everyone’s focus was on Olympic selection, so nobody took the other races seriously: “I was a bit of a waiting game and those guys were waiting to see who was going to be selected whereas, I wasn’t under that umbrella, I wasn’t under that pressure. I really didn’t consider myself part of that crowd. I was just doing the races and having fun.” “How I peaked actually surprised both Shaun and I. Well, I know it surprised me. I think one of the funniest moments of the Coffs Harbour race was on the second lap of the run and Shaun was on the side of the road on the phone and he said, ‘Holy shit Max is in second, how did she get there?’ I was running past just laughing at him and gave him the thumbs up. All credit to him, he managed me really well through that period.” As the Accenture Series doubled as the Olympic selection races, a second to Loretta at Coffs Harbour and second behind US Olympian Barb Lindquist at the Australian Sprint Titles in Geelong, had the in-form Maxine heading to race four in Perth with nothing to lose and everything to gain. History shows that in the final Olympic selection race, where everything was on the line, she handed the world’s best triathletes their backsides on a plate. A win in Perth meant automatic selection for the Athens Olympics if you were a member of the Shadow Squad, but Maxine was not, so once again turmoil reigned supreme. Admittedly, there was injury and illness in the equation for the big names but she did what she had to do and peaked at the right time and in the right place, creating a massive problem for the Australian selectors. For a young girl whose only crime was to have raced hard and won, Maxine came under severe scrutiny and the selectors were heavily criticised by some quarters for eventually leaving Michellie Jones and Emma Snowsill out of the Olympic team. Maxine recalled it was ‘a hard period of time’. “Obviously I had a great patch of racing and some of the other girls hadn’t and
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GAME ON: Maxine Seear riding with Michellie Jones at the Accenture race in Sydney 2004
there was an early deadline for the selection. I felt for those two girls because they had been around a lot longer than I had, and Michellie had medalled at the previous Games. Michellie is also one of best athletes for lifting when needed. Unfortunately she had bad days in Coffs and in Perth.” “I found it really hard to watch her racing in Perth because she was a fair way back and I thought ‘Oh man.’ I knew that was the race she wanted to peak at to make the Olympics. I felt for her there, a lot. I also thought if there was a discretion Snowie would have got it because she had just won the World Champs and they would take her as the young blood.” ‘I wasn’t daunted by getting selected but I had issues with what some athletes said to me afterwards. It was ‘Far out, I didn’t choose myself. If you have a problem with the selection, the policy and who selected me, take it up with them. I just raced and got selected on the back of
it’. But have to say that Michellie and Emma were both awesome about it and they didn’t stoop down to that level.” Named alongside Loretta Harrop and Rina Hill, Maxine got the shock of her life when the phone rang on that fateful Wednesday morning. “I was out training until 9.20 and I knew they would be ringing after 9.30am. I got the call about 10 minutes to 10, so it was those 25 minutes that made me nervous. David Burt rang and it was one of those things you dream of hearing. I just went silent but I had the biggest smile on my face. I was beaming from ear to ear but I didn’t know what to say. Just ‘thank you’. It was the best feeling I have ever had,” she said at the time. In the form of her life Maxine decided to do the final Accenture race and see if she could add a Series win to her recent Olympic selection. In front of a massive crowd at the Sydney Opera House and with the dramatic Eliminator format to
ROAD TO RIO cope with, Maxine handled the enormous pressure and silenced any doubters by delivering a memorable performance. Digging into my archives I recall how the day unfolded. “Rina Hill went into the final event with a seemingly unbeatable14 point lead over Seear. All she had to do was stay upright and stay healthy, finish in the top 12 in the first race (which would guarantee her nine points) and the Accenture title was hers.” “The maths was like this 14 + 9 =23 and the maximum points Seear could win by taking out the final race was 22 points. By starting in the second race Hill would guarantee herself the necessary points to clinch victory and put the series title out of Seear’s reach.” But here is the kicker. “In the most absurd circumstances, Hill withdrew due to illness and Leanda Cave took her place in the final twelve athletes. In doing so, Hill had relegated herself to 13th place (worth only 8 points), thereby effectively handing the title to Seear, who was better placed on count back with two wins and two second placings.” With that done, Maxine’s fate was in her own hands. All she had to do was win the final eliminator and true to for she again handed the world’s best a lesson in racing under pressure. “It has been wonderful and capping it off with this, a win in the final race of the series at the Sydney Opera House, having just been selected for the Olympics and then winning the Series. I am not really sure what to say to that. I still don’t think I can put it into words,” said an elated Maxine said at the time. In a matter of months, the unassuming Maxine had gone from an unknown talented junior to being the hottest property in Australian triathlon. It was simply unprecedented and there were a few noses out of joint but the reality for Maxine was that not having served the traditional ‘apprenticeship’ she was very much an outsider, and a touch vulnerable. “At the end of the Aussie summer series, I took a break and after a couple of weeks, Shaun and I got training again. I went up to Japan and won the Ishigaki World Cup and then we based ourselves in Hawaii for two weeks. From there we had to go to the TA camp in Aix les Bains and that for me was hell, it was horrible. People didn’t want me there. I didn’t really know the other athletes, as crazy as that sounds.” “All summer because I wasn’t an Accenture Series athlete, I had my own accommodation because I was paying my own way to get there. A lot of the other athletes were put up in accommodation,
ACCENTURE RACE, SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE 2004: The beaming smile of success. Another win and the series title. Things were looking good for Athens Olympics.
so I never really got into the social side of things with those guys.” Being very much an individual and having prepared herself for the Accenture Series in isolation, Maxine struggled to cope with her new training environment. “I just wanted to escape and just went into my shell. It was no fun but I was there to do a job. It just wasn’t a comfortable environment and I had to do all the training on my own and I ended up the outsider and the one doing their own thing. Initially it was all a bit like feeling like I was trapped in prison. Then Loretta and Rina came in and all the other Olympic athletes came in and it was awesome because they were good bunch of old school, fun athletes.” During the final stages of preparation Maxine remembers being very excited about her prospects in Athens because a couple of run sessions revealed times that were even better than those she had produce during the Accenture Series. Then without notice, everything started to turn pear shaped when she got the first symptoms of a medical condition that was to destroy her chances at the Olympics and set her on a path of three and a half years of misdiagnosis and frustration. The condition, called Iliac Artery Endofibrosis, was not a well known at the time and is impossible to discriminate from fatigue without going into a medical clinic.
So despite the best efforts of medical staff to diagnosis the problem, Maxine was confronted with a failing body and the pressing deadline of the Olympic Games. On the start line of the biggest race of her life she was experiencing what could only be described as her worst nightmare and dreading the thought of letting her supporters and the whole nation down. “I was more scared, than excited or nervous. It was ‘Oh god, how far am I going to make it and how terrible is this going to end. I wasn’t thinking very much or I wasn’t thinking very well. It was a weird experience to be standing on the start line thinking ‘Oh god this is all going to come apart on the hill and I don’t know what we are going to do about it’.” In front of the world’s biggest sporting audience, all of a sudden her Olympic campaign came to a heart breaking and soul destroying end. “I was pretty much riding with one leg and just couldn’t put my right leg down anymore and I fell over on the hill. I think it was the third lap of the bike. I had a compressed femoral artery, which supplies the blood and oxygen to your leg, so I just didn’t have any power in my leg because I just didn’t have enough blood to keep going.” “I know everyone was disappointed for me not having a good day but I was bitterly disappointed in myself,” she recalled. The fall out from her DNF was not
In a matter of months, the unassuming Maxine had gone from an unknown talented junior to being the hottest property in Australian triathlon. AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
© Delly Carr/ITU
ROAD TO RIO
WINNERS ARE GRINNERS: With Australia’s Olympic team chosen for Athens, Maxine would have no idea of the misfortune that was to unfold. BACK ROW L-R: Greg Bennett, Peter Robertson and Simon Thompson. FRONT ROW L-R: Loretta Harrop, Rina Hill and Maxine Seear.
being handled well and post-race, Maxine felt totally isolated and excluded. “I didn’t understand politics in sport then and I didn’t understand the game of it all. So that was a big eye opener as well. I was pretty young and I just thought you went and raced triathlon and have a fun time.” “I remember feeling incredibly lonely because I didn’t know any of the athletes very well. I was a complete outsider. That made me hide away more. It does take a while to get over because you are so passionate about what you do and then suddenly you feel completely lost and useless at it.” Maxine’s problems started in Athens, but was far from the end of it. With her sporting career under threat she started looking for answers. “When I returned I took a break but first and foremost, I was concerned about fixing the injury, or a least finding out what it is. It was straight into a lot of physio appointments, scans and doctor’s appointments and a whole world of stuff that I hadn’t had any exposure to before. It was all a little bit daunting but I wanted to go back out and race really well, so I had to fix my leg. That was my focus but sadly we didn’t get any answers.”
“I was just frustrated and because I had never really had an injury before I remember thinking why can’t they fix this. With my naivety I thought you went to a physio and you did what they said, you got fixed and off you go again.” The doctors diagnosed an eight centimetre cyst in her hip capsule but despite draining and using a corticosteroid it just kept growing. “In early 2005, I had an operation. I was excited because surely an operation would fix my leg. It was a huge cyst in my hip that was pushing on the fermoral nerve and femoral artery so it disabled the whole function of that hip. I was supposed to go in for a little arthroscope incision and eight hours later I came out with a good six inches by three inches slash in my hip and something like 400 internal stitches. They just ripped my hip open basically, so that was fairly traumatic.” “Six months later when I was allowed to go for my semi-reasonable ride of one hour and run for ten minutes. It was like ‘No, the pain was exactly as it was before’ but worse cause I had all this scar tissue.” Maxine was subjected to an ongoing cycle of operations, first in 2005, then in 2006 where she had a labral tear repaired in her hip. In 2007, she found out about
The doctors diagnosed an eight centimetre cyst in her hip capsule but despite draining and using a corticosteroid it just kept growing. 30
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the artery problem which restricted her to 22% blood supply at minimal exercise levels. “I have so much scar tissue in my hip. I should have retired then and there, but I didn’t. I am too stubborn. People talk about letting go of the Olympics, for me it was, ‘If I have another good race, I will let it go’.” “I was just desperate to race, because I loved racing. You always remember the sensation of feeling good and you want to do that again. That is what the hard work and the training and everything was about and hat is what you strive for. The two hours of love and glory and fun and easy racing where you get to go fast.” “Looking back I dragged my career out for a few years longer than I should have simply because I had that desire. Thinking one day I will get better. Ultimately I finished in 2009. I had been so concentrated on fixing myself and then I had the realisation of ‘What do I do now?’ I had to end my sporting life and have a break from it all. So I totally disconnected myself from sport completely.” Maxine did some finance study and found an interest in the share market but deep down she has never lost her love of triathlon. “For a long time I struggled with the fact that a body that had worked so well just turned feral on me and refused to work how it had. I struggled to comprehend that, I struggled to deal with that, I didn’t cope well with that. I just got intensely frustrated by a complicated injury that you don’t see very often.” “My leg doesn’t work to this day and I can’t do anything really. I can’t run more than three minutes, I can ride gently and I still swim a little bit to keep fit. But I have accepted it now, it is what it is. There is nothing I can do to change it.” “I am doing my Masters of Sports Coaching now at UQ and coaching is my thing now. I am a share trader and a coach. I trade in the morning and coach in the afternoon. It has taken me a while to get here but it is fun,” she said. With the Rio just around the corner, Maxine has some advice for athletes pursuing their Olympic dream: “Soak in the Olympics because it is over before you realise. Once you are there, you are there. You are not trying to go any further, there is nothing you are qualifying for. The Olympics is your grand final, so enjoy it because there is no more pressure. However, there is a lot of positive energy at the Olympics, so absorb it all and use it to make you go faster. Enjoy every moment because you never know if it will ever happen again.”
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Saturday 12 November, 2016
GREAT WHITEHAVEN BEACH RUN GREAT WHITEHAVEN BEACH RUN 1 May 2016
26 June 2016
GREAT WHITEHAVEN BEACH RUN
13 November 2016 AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
Turning a Setback into a
There’s probably a dent. A perfectly soft circle of foam, covered in orange fabric that once had a permanent visitor. A cushion that caught tears, provided naps, and even enjoyed a few drops of ice cream to two. Where a 10-time Kona competitor sat and healed to get to the starting line and off of the couch. Megan Evoe finds out how a year of injury has motivated professional triathlete Linsey Corbin to make 2016 her healthiest and happiest season yet PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS CORBIN
I was not sad to see 2015 go! Frustrating, depressing, painful, emotionally draining, and exhausting are all of the words that come to mind when I think of last year. I have heard of people having “growing years” and 2015 was very much that. I have learned you have to embrace the challenges as much as the successes. I am thankful for 2015, in a weird way, because it taught me some valuable lessons. I will be able to now apply moving forward from my rough year, but in the moment, things felt very raw.
The early part of my 2015 started off great! I had a great winter of base building and I went to a QT2 camp with my coach, Jesse Kropelnicki, in Florida during February and March. I was building towards racing Ironman African Championships South Africa. Things were
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looking really positive when I left camp, but I picked up a bug shortly after leaving camp and ended up boarding the plane to South Africa, not knowing I had a bacteria & virus infection that left me bedridden for five days. I didn’t even leave the hotel room and I wasn’t able to start the race.
Talk about bad luck! I went home and spent all of April sick and trying to recover. I went to race Ironman 70.3 St. George in May, even though I wasn’t 100% healthy. Being the positive person that I am, I did my best to convince myself I was okay, but left the race with a sore hip flexor. After a month, I got a proper diagnosis and found out I had a stress fracture in my femur, which kept me from running from May until November. This was the first time I had an injury like this and it was quite a shock to the system.
At first, I thought the injury wasn’t the end of the world. I have been injured before and my past experience was that I have always come back a stronger athlete. I wasn’t aware of the severity of breaking my femur as it ended up being a complex injury due to the location. Essentially, all of my hip muscles interacted with the fracture and anytime I walked, rode a bike, or sat down, it irritated the healing process. The pain in my hip region was nothing like I had ever experienced before. As the summer went on I got more and more frustrated, impatient, confused and down-in-the-dumps. I went on crutches for four weeks and really took care of my stress fracture. I eased back into swimming and riding in July and everything was pain-free, so I assumed I must be healing. I spent a bunch of July riding and swimming and got as fit as possible, but
The forced time off was a real challenge as I was very emotional and not a very happy person, to be honest. I tried to enjoy myself a bit by going on camping trips, spend time with family and my dog, Madison, and even watch some races from the sideline. I tried to keep myself as distracted as possible, but this was hard to do. However, dealing with this injury was a good reminder that I am in the right profession for me!
When I made the decision to go to Kona, I knew I needed to have a purpose while I was there or I would get frustrated. I have never watched the race before and I wanted to see it from the other side, so I decided to volunteer. I had a few different jobs such as body-marking and helping with race registration. Being injured seemed like the perfect opportunity to experience the Ironman World Championships from another perspective.
The best part of volunteering was giving back and interacting with the athletes. Looking people in the eye race morning, and knowing what they are about to embark upon, sent chills up my spine. I learned a lot more than I was expected as a volunteer. In the lead up to the race, I saw athletes who seemed to be putting large amounts of pressure on themselves as well as the athletes that were calm and confident in their preparations. Watching the race unfold was so valuable and I loved cheering on friends and other racers. I definitely saw a lot of suffering and perseverance. still, no running! Things were an emotional roller coaster the entire time though. The “not knowing” was the biggest challenge for me.
Not being able to train at 100% was extremely hard mentally more than physically. I didn’t know how long the injury would last and even tried to run at the 8, 10 and 12 week marks, but I made
no progress. Each MRI showed that I was still injured, which was extremely frustrating. Eventually, I ended up shutting down everything, which included walking around the block or even the grocery store.
I sat on my orange couch for eight weeks and got completely out of shape, put on some weight, and let my body reset in order to heal.
I won’t lie. Watching Kona was hard! I would have loved to keep my streak of racing 10 consecutive Konas alive. Instead, I have a good story to tell and I will appreciate my next Kona start line all the more now! The lessons I learned were invaluable and I wouldn’t change my past experiences. The consensus in the end is that I would much rather race than spectate. AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
My husband, Chris Corbin, really stepped it up last year in every way imaginable to help me get through 2015. I am super thankful for my family, my coach, and my close friends who were there for me on all the crappy days. My physio, Jay Dicharry, was amazing in getting me healthy and my sponsors were so supportive and continue to be in 2016. I also received countless messages from other athletes that have faced injury. This is what I love about triathlon. It feels like one big, happy, family.
This season, I am racing a few of my favorites races. These include Ironman 70.3 Puerto Rico and Ironman 70.3 Timberman. I am also going to a few new places that I am excited about, like Brazil and Australia. Of course, Kona, would be the icing on the cake!
My motto for the year would be four words: opportunity, appreciation, grit and grace. So far, I am feeling good and like I am in a good place. I don’t feel “too-fit-too-early.” I think we are making a smart progression from injury to building on my fitness. Early on I had some hesitancy about my injury, but I feel confident now that I am healthy. Now I just need to stay that way.
Sitting out an entire year has provided me with copious amounts of motivation to get back to doing what I love. I started back to an easy training routine in December and, by January, we had resumed structured training. Mentally, it’s been an up and down battle, but I am so happy to be healthy and I have such a greater, overall perspective now.
I was pretty darn happy with my fifth place at Ironman 70.3 Panama this year! It was a pretty spot-on performance for where my fitness was as I had only done aerobic base training and limited running leading into the event. I was really hesitant to push on the training coming off of injury. My goals for the race were to have fun and get confidence back in knowing my body is healthy and ready to race. Mission accomplished!
I want to feel 100% ready before I step up to my next Ironman start line. I plan to race a few 70.3 events this spring to get my legs back under me first
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and then race Ironman Cairns in June. I have never been to Australia and this is a bucket-list race for me, so I am excited for the opportunity. Hopefully, with a few championship 70.3 events, along with a solid race in Cairns, I will have enough points to qualify for Kona this year.
My goals for Kona 2016 are to have fun and enjoy the process of getting there. I would have given anything to race in 2015 and I hope I get the chance this year. My best performances come when I am enjoying myself, staying present and focused, and keep myself healthy. If I can achieve these things in October, I will be set to get the most out of myself on race-day.
Eat lots of ice cream! When it comes to dealing with an injury, I would say listen to your body and focus on the things you can do. Make sure that you not only fix the problem, but find out the cause so it doesn’t happen again. Most importantly, use the challenges you face as an opportunity to come back stronger.
Five Facts with Linsey Corbin 1. If I wasn’t a triathlete, I would be a …baker, guitar player, or pole-vaulter. 2. My favourite post-race meal is…Burgers, fries, beer, and ice cream. 3. A song I love to workout to is…”Say My Name,” by Odesza 4. I am secretly obsessed with… socks and airstream trailers. 5. I unwind after training by...Being lazy with my dog, Madison, and sharing a beer with my better half, Chris.
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ADAM CARTHY After being diagnosed with testicular cancer, triathlete Adam McCarthy turned both his encounter with illness, and his wife’s, into an inspirational quest. AT catches up with this tenacious triathlete to find out how he’s forging ahead, undertaking triathlon challenges for a worthy cause.
TEXT BY AT | PHOTOGRAPHY ADAM CARTHY
When were you diagnosed with cancer? How have you managed to bounce back so positively? I was diagnosed with testicular cancer in July of 2013 right after competing in my first Ironman (Melbourne). Bouncing back after it was the easy bit. Having a great support base has been so important. My wife (Keily), friends, family and all the crew from TEAM Tri Coaching have all been amazing through the whole process. The simple fact that I’m here to be able to tell my story is amazing. I look at things in a completely different light now, the little things aren’t so important any more. I guess I’ve always been a positive person and that has helped a lot. Now I have the opportunity to help others to have the chance to tell their story.
How do you think being a triathlete leads you to being more aware of your body? With all the training and pushing your body to the limits, you get to know what your body is and isn’t capable of. Triathlon enabled me to be in tune with my body and when something does not feel right, you take note.
How important is early detection in the fight against cancer? Early detection is everything. Catching it early enough can result in a simple surgery to have it removed. Testicular cancer alone has a 97% survival rate if caught in stage one.
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How has your life changed since first being diagnosed? I have become very much aware of the support I have from so many people and it has reinforced my faith in humanity. The generosity of people continues to blow me away I can’t get over just how many people are willing to help out. Before being diagnosed I competed to do the best for myself and now I compete for others.
Your wife has also undergone treatment against an ovarian tumour. How has that impacted both your lives? We both feel that we have been given a second chance and are quite proud of ourselves that we had that five minute chat with our doctor. We listened to our bodies, and are both examples of the importance of early detection.
Donating your money to a noble cause is a pivotal part of your campaign. How did you hear about ANZUP and why did you pick it as your charitable cause? It is such an important part of my campaign. I heard about ANZUP through discussions with the Testicular Cancer Society in the USA. After a heap of research and discussions with them I quickly realised they were the ones I wanted to help. Being a not-for-profit organisation the work that they do is so underfunded - they rely on government grants that can take years to approve (if approved at all) and donations. All funds go to support research into all forms of cancer treatment and support.
TOP LEFT: Adam gets a high five from coach and friend Xavier Coppock. TOP RIGHT: Adam with wife Keily.
Completing the ‘Grand Slam’ is a mammoth task – how did you come up with that idea? I came up with it when Keily was going through her ordeal. I was sitting at my coach’s house (Xavier Coppock) and we were talking about her situation and he looked at me and said “You want to do something for her don’t you?” I said yes, and we came up with the concept to do six Ironman races in 12 months to raise awareness for the importance of early detection.
What are the logistics like undergoing this challenge (flights, training, etc.)? The logistics have been quite difficult so far being based in Melbourne and maintaining a full time job and two children to consider. As all events are outside of Melbourne accessing annual leave to prepare and cover the time off needed for each race without using up too much leave from work is a juggle. Most trips need flights, accommodation and hire car.
Maintaining my motivation is not a problem. The thought that I am contributing to the potentially lifesaving research and development into cancer keeps me very motivated. All I need to do is think about why I’m doing this and the difference I can make. Finally, all of the incredible support I am receiving is more than enough to keep me motivated.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration? My inspiration comes from the drive to fulfil my pledge to complete this challenge. And the fact that I have been given a chance to get out there and make a difference.
Who or what has been your biggest support in this journey thus far?
You work full time as well. How do you balance training and work?
What has been the biggest difficulty in this journey thus far?
Many 5am get ups and after work training sessions. The training needs to be done and I try not to think about it too much so I just take each day as it comes. Xavier plays a big part in this - each month I send him my rostered shifts and he sets out my training for each day. So each day I look at my program and just get it done one day at a time.
Without doubt, raising funds, followed by putting myself out there - by nature I am quite reserved so promoting myself and my cause has been a great learning curve.
It must require some substantial monetary support – how are you going about getting this? It has been very tough trying to raise funds to help support the challenge and still have a long way to go so I am doing all kinds of fundraising events to gather funding and support. I’m doing Bunnings BBQs, raffles and competitions that I’m promoting through Facebook (www. facebook.com/1knackermacca/) and Instagram. (#5minchat). I have a go fund me account that people can donate into www.gofundme.com/zt3tnz84 . Our future plans are to host a sportsman’s night and an auction night, races days and trivia nights.
You have just completed the first leg – how did that feel? It is a great relief. It has now given me the assurance and confidence that I am fit enough to get through another Ironman (to be exact another five). My other goal is to remain injury free through the next 11 months and finish number six as well, if not better than the first.
You’re preparing for Ironman Port Mac now – what’s your aim there (personal best, etc.)? How are you maintaining motivation to complete all the challenges? My aim for Port Mac is the same as every race - I just want to get through the race injury free so that I can recover post race as quickly as possible so I can prepare for the next one. PB’s are not on the agenda at the moment but I won’t complain if I get one.
I have had such an amazing support team throughout the entire journey. Everyone has been so supportive of me through this journey - my family and friends, sponsors TEAM Tri Coaching, Bayswater Foot and Ankle, Wheelscience, Endura, Property Way and Fusion Multisport, and also the entire crew from TEAM Tri Coaching. Without the support from all of these people this challenge would not be possible. I must give a special mention to namely my wife Keily - she has been my rock, my counselor and fully supportive through everything. Without her love and support, I would not been able to get through any of this. Xavier Coppock - great mate and coach. He has been amazing through this entire process, from diagnosis to writing my programs to get through this safely. He has been there for me in every way possible and more. Ben Hughes - not only has he been there for me through all the highs and the lows, he continually inspires me to be a better person and better athlete.
Final Thought Through all of this, I truly believe that I have been given the gift of the true meaning of life. So many of us continuously work towards bigger and better things whether it is more money or a bigger house and better car. But in the end, what really matters is who we are, what we do and how we do it. AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
CRACKENBACK TEXT BY MANVEEN MAAN | PHOTOGRAPHY BY SUPPLIED
he Snowy Mountains region is Australia’s ultimate yearround nature and adventure playground. From the exhilaration of a snow experience, to the culture and exquisite tastes of the local communities, a visit to the region is bound to exciting. The area is regarded as an iconic Australian treasure with its naturefilled landscapes, spectacular lakes and high-country facades. As a well-known alpine destination, the Snowy Mountains region is a significant tourism centre that attracts huge numbers of visitors each year for recreation and relaxation activities, as well as to explore the rich history and diverse landscapes. In the summer months, the areas in and around its pristine lakes and streams come alive, while major events and festivals pepper the calendar throughout the year catch a sheep sale, sample food at farm-gates or see a quaint country show. The Snowy Mountains is also widely regarded as the ideal destination for a natural adventure or to enjoy a myriad of fun activities for the entire family - from climbing to the top of Australia’s highest peak, to horse-riding in a spectacular mountain environment.
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ATHLETES HAVEN Enjoy over 25 kilometres of scenic trails encompassing the lake, nearby Thredbo River along with views of the Kosciuszko National Park and Bullocks Hut. The trails will rate amongst the best you have ridden, with stunning scenery to match. Riders are spoiled for choice with single track and open trail offerings within the 150 acres of natural bushland on the resort with the Snowy Mountains as a backdrop. If cycling isn’t your thing there are plenty of beautiful tracks ranging in length
including the new 19km Thredbo Valley Track which takes you from Thredbo to Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa. Walks range from 20 minutes to 3 hours so you can exert yourself as much, or as little, as you like. All resort walks are regarded as easy to moderate and can be safely explored without a guide, however precautions should be taken. You can experience the wonder that is the Kosciusko National Park with guided treks with multi-day options.
DESTINATION: LAKE CRACKENBACK
The obvious choice is the Novotel Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa nestled on 150 acres, bordering Kosciuszko National Park in the Snowy Mountains within easy reach of both Thredbo and Perisher. A year round destination, the resort offers a wide range of soft adventure experiences - numerous onsite activities, the finest local produce with a choice of two restaurants, a variety of 4.5 star accommodation including apartments and chalets, along with an array of pampering treatments at the resort’s spa. Guests come here to relax, rejuvenate and activate. For those wanting a more homely feel, the Lake View Apartments and Chalets offer spectacular lake and mountain views and feature spacious living areas, cosy fireplaces and private balconies or patios designed to capture the sunset over the magnificent Thredbo Valley. The resort offers a great range of free activities, including a nine-hole golf course, a heated indoor swimming pool, a fitness centre and sauna, archery, and tennis courts. For those after a bit more adventure, there’s also 25kms of mountain biking and bush walking trails, trout fishing in Lake Crackenback itself, 2.4km Fitness track, low ropes course, trampolines, a mountain bike track, and mountain biking skills course. A natural playground, the resort’s spectacular setting has something for everyone. www.lakecrackenback.com.au
There are daily flights from all major Australian capital cities to Canberra. From Canberra, Lake Crackenback is an easy 2.5 hour drive. Regional Express offers direct flights from Sydney into Snowy Mountains Airport (in Cooma) daily - the lake is an hour’s drive from Cooma. If time constraints are not an issue, there are bus and coach services that depart from Sydney, for a road journey of about seven hours in total.
The 2016 ITU Cross Triathlon World Champs will be held at Lake Crackenback in November, along with a week long MultiSport Festival, making this a ‘not to be missed’ event of off road action.
The resort itself has two top-notch restaurants, The Alpine Larder and Cuisine, dishing out wholesome, affordable comfort food such as wood fired pizzas, pasta, tapas, and gourmet salads. Guests at the Novotel also have the option of enjoying dinner in the comfort of their own apartment from the takeaway menus available. Within the area, there’s also a host of great cafes and restaurants, offering a varied selection of food including breakfast options, burgers, sandwiches, steaks, pastas, Mexican, Brazilian, Thai and Indian fare. There’s also the addition of cafes and restaurants serving healthy meal options for added convenience.
“We are so lucky to be involved with Lake Crakenback Resort and spa they offer us everything we need to be well prepared for a successful race, the resort offers fantastic training facilities along with those added extras; great food, massage, gym facilities and a relaxed friendly atmosphere to make training stress free! We couldn’t ask for anything more.” Ben Allen & Jacqui Slack.
Lake Crackenback may be best known for snow and skiing, but this resort is no one-trick pony and the warmer months are the ideal time to discover what else the area has to offer, such as mountain biking, walking trails, yoga and fishing. The warmer weather is also a great time to give river sledding a try. AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
IMAGE OF THE
MONTH PHOTO: KORUPT VISION Mother Nature stuns with hues of orange and red radiating out of Gold Coast
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AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
TECH TALK TRI PRODUCTS
CERAMICSPEED Oversized Pulley Wheel System Developed to answer the increasing need for watt savings and performance Equipment. The System consists of 17-tooth alloy pulley wheels fitted with low friction CeramicSpeed Bearings and a lightweight cage made from a polyamide carbon fibre finish. The OSPW system reduces friction in the pulleys by 60% and for your optimised performance, your watt savings start at 2.4 watts. Available in coated and non coated versions, Shimano Compatible, available in Black and Red. RRP non Coated $799.00 RRP Coated Version $949.00 Distributed by Performance Sports Distribution Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.ceramicspeed.com
3T Orbis II C35 Pro The entry clincher wheelset of the 3T Orbis II range of rim-brake wheels. Wide, 25 mm aluminum-alloy rims with welded joint ideally support fat, race-weight clincher tires at lower inflation pressures, for more grip and comfort. 3T linear+ system optimizes build quality; spoking is 20 front/24 rear, with internal inverted nipples. Rims 32 mm deep, with a blunt profile for stable aerodynamic performance at typical angles to the wind; rear is asymmetric for better-balanced spoke tension. All-up weight is 1810 g, light for such a durable, all-conditions wheelset.Benefits for the rider include: –– –– –– ––
wider contact surface less rolling resistance reduced incidence of punctures better handling control
RRP: $999.00 www.3tcycling.com www.echelonsports.com.au
XLAB Hydration Torpedo Versa 500 Lightweight, carbon fiber aerodynamic aerobar hydration system with telescoping computer mount. Raise the computer mount up to tuck in a Refill Bottle for race day, or lower it down for a standard bottle to maintain the optimal view for training days. –– Switch between Refill or Standard Bottle setup via the seamless telescoping computer mount –– Turn it upside down or shake it around – new leak-free bottle design keeps liquids inside –– No ugly cable-ties, rubberbands or electrical tape needed to secure system: 2-Bracket design simply ‘clicks on’ and cleanly Velcros down to aerobars –– Widest range fits aerobars 70mm-150mm (center-to-center) apart RRP: $269.95 www.xlab-usa.com www.echelonsports.com.au
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SRAM Quarq RIKEN AL RIKEN AL is built on Quarq’s current technology platform: Power measurement in the crankset spider — the heart of your bicycle, its sole job is to convert the effort from both legs to forward motion. 10K™ temperature compensation eliminates temperature effects on power measurement. AxCad™ accelerometer cadence removes the need for a magnet. An LED and visible ANT+™ ID streamline installation and operation. OmniCal™ means you can change chainrings without affecting accuracy. CR2032 battery – 300 hours of riding time. Power Balance.™ A forged aluminum arm, replacing carbon, lowers the price tag. The polished design completes any modern bicycle. RIKEN AL has an IPX7 waterproof rating. It features a 2-year warranty, free firmware updates and Quarq’s acclaimed worldwide support. RRP: $1399.00 www.quarq.com www.echelonsports.com.au
BROOKS PureCadence 5 The Brooks PureCadence is tailored specifically for overpronators. This shoe will give you the guidance and support your feet need while also allowing them to feel as close to the road as possible. The lightweight materials, wider Nav Band locked into the lateral strike pod, reinforced heel counter, and internal PDRB all go into making one incredible running shoe. RRP: $219.95 www.brooksrunning.com.au
BROOKS PureFlow 5 For a lightweight, agile ride that matches you stride for stride, check out the PureFlow 5. It’s the first shoe to use DNA LT, a 10% lighter version of our adaptable cushioning, for a more natural feel that still protects from impact where you need it. Lace up this hyper-flexible experience that connects you to the pure joy of running. –– –– –– ––
DNA LT midsole provides adaptive cushioning with less weight No-sew overlays with 3D Fit Print give ultimate comfort Rounded heel for better alignment, minimizing stress on joints Wraparound collar in the heel lends an ultra-plush feel
RRP: $219.95 www.brooksrunning.com.au AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
TECH TALK TRI PRODUCTS
MEGABURN Bar ESPRESSO Coffee The latest bar to join our Megaburn Bar range is here, the ‘Espresso Bar’. This bar unlike our others is a Snack Bar, perfect size for a mid training session snack, while on the run or bike and is great to keep on hand for an in between meals snack. Plus, it’s High in Protein too! Nutritional Information Per 30 gram Bar Energy Protein Fat Total Carbohydrate Sodium Caffeine
488kJ 7.5g 4.8g – Saturated 0.92g 10.8g – Sugar* 7.4g 3mg 42mg
RRP: $ 62.95 megaburn.com.au www.echelonsports.com.au
HIDE MY BELL “Style Meets Saftey” The HideMyBell is the solution to any cyclist with a Garmin Edge devide and doesn’t want to use a bell because of the aestetics. The “HideMyBell: is designed with one main purpose: maximal intergrations. The clapper to activae the bell sits within the holder. –– Dutch Design –– No Bell in Sight –– Fully weatherproof –– Lightweight at 46gm RRP: $54.95 www.echelonsports.com.au
SHIMANO TR9 New for 2016 from Shimano is the TR9 tri shoe, designed for faster transitions and optimal power transfer. The T1 quick-strap, extra-wide collar and asymmetrical heel loop make for speedy foot entry - while a lightweight, super-stiff carbon composite sole delivers power efficiently to the pedals. 3D breathable mesh construction allows for plenty of ventilation and the anatomical toe cap allows air intake while remaining rigid. Used by pro athletes including Craig Alexander, Leon Griffin and Liz Blatchford, the TR9 has also been quite popular amongst many age-group triathletes in Australia. A women’s version is also available in white. RRP: $239.95 www.shimano.com.au
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ASSOS Warmers evo 7 Arm, Knee and Leg These are the perfect go-to products, ideal for the start of your ride on those chilly mornings or for the whole of your ride during those cooler autumn and winter days. Flexible accessories for autumn and winter, these are three pieces of kit that no cyclist should be without. All feature light to medium RX fabric making them light, warm but also flexible for complete comfort, as well as labelling of right to left to ensure best fit and all designed and cut for optimal anatomical fit.
Arm Warmers RRP: $84.95 Knee RRP: $94.95 Leg RRP: $169.95 www.echelonsports.com.au
COOLXCHANGE Compression and Cooling Gel Bandage The 2-in-1 gel bandage designed to advance the recovery process for pain and inflammation, and prevent injuries in just one easy step by combining cooling and compression. Created to accelerate the traditional, common first aid treatment method of R.I.C.E (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), that has been used since 1976, CoolXChange is providing Australians, athletes and sport lovers, a convenient, hassle-free solution to treating injuries that will become an essential to all first aid kits across the country. Available in two sizes, regular, best for ankles, feet, wrists, elbows and fingers for RRP$14.95, and large, best for knees, thighs, groins, hamstrings, back, or shoulder or cut to fit, for RRP$24.95. For more information on CoolXChange head to www.coolxchange.com.au
AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
TECH TALK PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT
Newton Running set out with the goal to create a running shoe that was different. And not just to be different but to make every stride better. The active technology in Newton shoes claims to be the most responsive ride on two running shoes. Built with full-foot protection, the level platform aligns with the human body, which puts your body in the most natural position to run.
Tech info P.O.P TECHNOLOGY
P.O.P, or Point of Power, is the patented design that differentiates the shape, ride, and feel of our Action/Reaction Technology or lug system. Our shoes have three different P.O.P designations for three different rides.
Prominent, powerful lugs with square corners deliver our most responsive, performance ride.
Beveled lugs allow for a smoother ride and offer a great introduction to Newtonâ€™s Action/Reaction Technology.
Foam-backed and less pronounced lugs produce our softest ride.
Product: Newton Running Motion V & Gravity V
Motion V The days of compromising speed for stability are over, the Motion V combines the best of both worlds. It is time to run fast, run far, run stable. No compromises. The new Motion V is now available. Enhancements include: - New seamless engineered mesh upper is designed to reduce the risk of friction and hotspots, while allowing for maximum breathability and durability - New tongue features a radial band to keep the tongue in its optimal position at all times, plus new, foam backing on the tongue provides protection and comfort while maintaining a lightweight profile - Updated pre-moulded heel counter creates better form and fit, while the contoured construction is supportive and slip-proof - New4-way stretch-mesh metatarsal panel comfortably accommodates met-head placement and adapts to a variety of foot shapes and widths - Smoothly designed eye row is durable and resilient, while reinforced eyelets protect against eyelet tears and potential friction spots - New anatomically formed insole removes the met-head bump, creates cushioning consistency and enhances the smooth ride of this POP1 model Runners who already love the Motion can be confident that the shoe retains its best features including: - Ideal for high mileage training and racing - Features Newtonâ€™s EMB (Extended Medial Bridge) platform to provide more functional support for runners with medial side pronation or a flatter arch - Whole foot protection with forefoot and rear foot shock absorption and cushioning - 5-lug platform offers a more stable platform - Stability
Mens version shown. Also available in Womens
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Distributed by Performance Sports Distribution (07) 5568 7573 Email: email@example.com web: www.newton-running.com.au Retail outlets available on the web site.
Womens version shown. Also available in Mens
Gravity V The fifth edition of the Gravity is Newton Running’s finest work to date. The pinnacle of performance and comfort, the Gravity is ideal for high mileage training and racing and has been one of Newton’s top selling models since its inception. The new Gravity V is now available. Enhancements include: - New innovative bottom unit enhances flexibility and full-foot cushioning - New seamless engineered mesh upper is designed to reduce the risk of friction and hotspots, while allowing for maximum breathability and durability - New tongue features a radial band to keep the tongue in its optimal position at all times, plus new, foam backing on the tongue provides protection and comfort while maintaining a lightweight profile - Updated pre-moulded heel counter creates better form and fit, while the contoured construction is supportive and slip-proof - New4-way stretch-mesh metatarsal panel comfortably accommodates met-head placement and adapts to a variety of foot shapes and widths - Smoothly designed eye row is durable and resilient, while reinforced eyelets protect against eyelet tears and potential friction spots - New anatomically formed insole removes the met-head bump, creates cushioning consistency and enhances the smooth ride of this POP1 model Runners who already love the Gravity can be confident that the shoe retains its best features including: -Newton’s flagship shoe offering a high performance, power-packed ride - Whole foot protection with forefoot and rear foot shock absorption and cushioning - 5-lug platform - Neutral
Tech info Action/Reaction™ Technology The secret sauce powering the speed of Newton Running shoes is its proprietary Action/ Reaction™ Technology. Generated by the active movement of the lugs, Action/Reaction Technology creates a responsive, trampoline-like cushioning system that provides quicker bounce-back and loses less energy than a traditional foam-core running shoe.
Level Platform Over time, many shoe designs have become thicker, cushier and heavier with greater heel heights. In the spirit of making every stride better, Newton shoes feature lower heel to toe drops to put you in a position to run most naturally.
Full-Foot Cushioning If you love the responsive yet cushioned feel of the lugs in the forefoot, you’ll be happy to find out the same technology exists in the heel. With Newton Running, you get full-foot cushioning and protection.
AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
TECH TALK ROAD TEST
Product Tested: Aquaman Wetsuit Cell Gold and ART
WATER POWER Y
ou could be forgiven for thinking that Aquaman are a new player in the triathlon wetsuit market place, having only been back on the Australian landscape for 18 months or so, after a 7 or 8-year absence. However they are in fact one of the oldest manufacturers of triathlon wetsuits in the world (the other being Quintana Roo). The Aquaman range has long being the Gold Standard in Europe and it is with good reason. We
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were lucky enough to get our hands on their two top end suits, the ‘Cell Gold’ and the ‘ART’. First up we had the Cell Gold. This has been the top suit from Aquaman for a number of years and has some pretty cool features. First up, is the high neckline of the suit. A feature in Aquaman suits that seems to buck the trend that lower means less chafing. I can happily say that I find the high neckline to be the most comfortable of any wetsuit I have used
and had next to no chaffing. We will go into that a little more when discussing the ART suit. Probably the standout feature of the Cell Gold is smooth skin SCS treatment on both sides of the wetsuit, which they call ‘Metal Cell’. This means it is both slippery in the water and against your skin, which gives it the added bonus of not only being fast in the water but also, without exception, the quickest wetsuit I have ever taken off in T2. It literally falls off. Add to
Reviewed by: THE TEST LAB Craig McKenzie and Patrick Legge are The Test Lab. Two guys with an obsession for trialling all things related to swimming, riding and running and telling anyone who will listen what they think. Having 20 years each in the sport, they’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly, but always loved the innovation triathlon brings to the world stage. Craig raced as a professional triathlete, winning 4 National Duathlon titles, and has worked as an exercise physiologist, osteopath and coach, while Pat has built a career running a personal training, massage and coaching business, working with State, Australian and World Champions, including Australian Olympic and Commonwealth squads whilst competing himself.
this the reverse zip, which I have always been a fan of and you have a very quick wetsuit both in the water and on dry land. Because the Cell Gold uses neoprene on the inside and out, more specifically Yamamoto #40, that has been treated with SCS it means the suit fits very closely to the skin even when in the water. This in turn means very little water gets into the suit and keeps you warmer. This increased warmth was very noticeable when we were out testing these suits. Being from Victoria, I liked the added warmth, and for the athlete who is lean and or gets cold easily this suit would help a lot. For others who heat up quickly or race mostly in warmer areas Aquamans Bionic, basically the Cell Gold without the inside smoothskin, or the ART would be a cooler option. Like many wetsuits out there the Cell Gold uses a variety of thicknesses, in the rubber, throughout the wetsuit. This means the shoulders are very flexible and give very little resistance, with their thin rubber. While the hips and torso have much thicker rubber, giving loads of floatation and balance in the water. Thinner neoprene on the tailbone and behind the knees also reduces pressure at these points. All of this coupled with the ‘Flash System’ on the back of the neck and reverse zipper make for a very fast, buoyant, and warm wetsuit that will suit almost everyone out there. At $895, it is a high-end wetsuit, but money well spent if it fits you. The ART wetsuit, unlike the CELL gold, is designed specifically for the more elite swimmer with a slimmer body shape. This suit is definitely not meant for everyone as it has been designed to be extremely compressive to maximise fit. It achieves this by obtaining the greatest mix of compression in areas where water entry needs to be minimised and suppleness in those areas where freedom and range of movement is paramount. In order to create this balance, the ART has been constructed with three different types of Yamamoto rubber. The tighter, less flexible #39 compressed dome rubber appears in the parts of torso, the legs and arms, while the collar, shoulders and some of the torso contains a variety of #40 rubber.
Like all Aquaman suits, the detail of the neckline and zipper are a highlight. In this model the collar of the suit is made of the softer #40 rubber and sits a couple of cms lower than other models. The rear of the neck has the patented flash system to reduce chafing and assist in the speedy removal of the suit. The flexible zipper opens from the bottom to aid in our opinion the Aquaman’s fastest in the market removal speed. Our choice of sizing for the ART was slightly on the larger size of what we would normally wear – XL to be honest. The guys at Le Knicks Cycles did a great job in helping us find the ideal sizes for the Cell Gold and the ART. Putting the suit on for the first time was the usual sweaty experience. Why we choose to do this when it’s hot, is beyond me. A couple of
The buoyancy of the suit was also top notch due to the 4.5mm thickness of the rubber in the hips, legs and parts of the torso. The shoulder movement through to the arms maintains the classic Aquaman flexibility with a variety of 3,2 and 1.5mm rubber. Funnily enough this suit really excels out of the water. With the high degree of neck and shoulder flexibility, it’s easy to grab the zipper cord that I had attached at the neckline. From there the previously mentioned Flash system comes into its own, with an all-in-one pull to undo the zipper and release the Velcro at the neck. Adding to that the arms almost fall off by themselves unlike some other suits that get caught at the hands. The legs come off quickly as well making this the best suit I’ve tested for removal speed. The athletes
I think this suit is one of the best wetsuits I’ve ever worn. Hands down, it’s the fastest wetsuit for removal and very fast suit when in the water. — The Test Lab plastic bags later and the suit fit really snugly. I usually like to get some water inside the suit to adjust the fit but I felt pretty good straight after the zipper was done up for me. Yes that’s right, the zipper was done up for me and I’m pretty sure I’ll never be able to do up a reverse zipper by myself - ever. In the water the suit felt very comfortable from the gun. The softer rubber at the next and flexibility around the shoulders was a standout. It was obvious from the start that I would find this model to my liking, as I felt I could swim hard without the suit restricting my range of movement at the shoulders and neck. The firm fit around the legs and hips helps create a stronger core ensuring my body position remains at the water line. Unlike some of our other testing, we didn’t compare swim times against other suits, but speed in the water was in line with my other favourite, the Blue Seventy Helix.
that will find these features most attractive are more likely to be the highly competitive age group crew, to the elite guys and girls who need to maximise their efficiency in transition. From experience I can tell you a few seconds gained in transition can mean making a draft legal pack or getting away from some of the slower transitioners to establish a gap to leave the trailing pack behind. In summary, I think this suit is one of the best wetsuits I’ve ever worn. Hands down, it’s the fastest wetsuit for removal and very fast suit when in the water. As with all of the top quality suits you pay for what you get, and this fits into the upper price category at AU$895. One clear thing in all my time of trialling different wetsuits remain the same – if the suit fits really well, you’ll swim really well. So try on the suit to find the one that fits the best. Use the expertise of the retailers to help guide your choice. AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
TECH TALK SOUND OFF
Inside the bike fit
e were pretty excited to get the call up from Specialized HQ in Melbourne and given the opportunity to be a fly on the wall as Australian legend Emma Carney went through the Specialized Body Geometry Fit process. For Carney, it’s the first time back on a TT bike since the glory days circa 2006 and a new process for the multi world title-holder who admits early into the fit process that she never really believed in getting bike fits back in her day. But times have changed and the competitive beast that is very clearly alive in Carney has one thing on her mind and that’s going fast. The Ironman 70.3 World Championships being held on Australian soil for the first time was enough to get
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Carney off the roadie and on the start line for Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie. A brand new super stealth looking black Shiv sits in the room and we all master in the beauty that is as Michael, Specialized’s bike fitter goes through what we are about to undertake – A five step process that would occupy us for the next three or so hours but at the end would hopefully have Carney comfortable, aero and most importantly nail the brief given by Carney herself “just make me fast”. Previously Specialized operated its own fitting model called Body Geometry Fit (BG Fit). The foundation for a BG Fit was that riders could achieve the ultimate position on any bike using precise measurements and calculations. When Specialized bought competitor bike-fitting
protocol Retül in 2012 few understood how the two could coexist under the same company and assumed we would be see one model be retired. But fast-forward to 2016 and Specialized have created what is arguably the most comprehensive bike fit system we’ve ever seen, molding the two systems into the one. And while Michael admits there are plenty of grey areas that the team at Specialized continue to work through, “There are some conflicts, grey areas between BG fitters and Retül fitters where the methodology differs. In the future we are taking the best elements of both methodologies to create the best possible fit for the rider.” One thing that is clear, the absolute winner is the consumer – you, me and else anyone
1. Made up for five key stages, the Interview, the Physical Assessment, Ride Analysis, the Fitting and then the Follow Up, every inch of Emma and her bike will be looked at to ensure both the data and rider are comfortable. 2. The Physical Assessment stage is made up of an 18-step process. These 18 ‘tests’ determine flexibility and key body dimensions. One of the first tests to be done is to find the pelvis sit bone measurement. Michael has Emma sit on what she jokingly re-named the “arse-ometer”. This specific test helps the fitter to be able to fit the right saddle to your body based on the spread of your pelvic bones.
3. We go on to examine foot angulation, which finds the angle between your foot and arch, Michael explains this is a key marker as we are designed to walk heel first, but when cycling you use the forefoot. To understand how your feet move, roll and react to pressure can impact the body in a big way when cycling The key taking for us as we watch these interactions is that every body is different and the absolute beauty of this process is you’re not being squeezed into a box your may not fit into. There is no list of perfect markers you want to hit; the key is to find your perfection.
who rides a bike and wants to go faster for longer without injury. It never ceases to amaze us that athletes will go out and drop $10k on their beloved TT bike, happily sign away a thousand dollars to race an Ironman and buy all those must have goodies we tell you that you need to buy (see pages 42-45) but think paying $350 for a bike fit to ride that $10,000 investment properly is simply not in the budget. Don’t confuse this as an advert for every bike fitter out there, but purely an observation that has never made complete sense to us. It doesn’t matter how ‘aero’ a bike is on paper if you’re not able to ride it comfortably for 10, 20, 90 or 180km. It’s not something you have to get done every year or every season but will help you do that PB, qualify for Kona or stop that hip joint aching every time you try to run off the bike.
Time to move on to the Retül MÜVE SL bike. This bike is fully adjustable and up to 42 different bike models can be fitted from this one bike. With a couple of turns of the hand knobs located at the front and the rear means the position of the saddle, stem, bars, pedal and crank can change immediately. Not every approved fitter you see will have the MÜVE bike and that’s ok. While it helps the fitter move your position quickly, you can also be fitted straight on to your bike.
4 - 5. Before Emma can jump on board, she has LED landmarks (dots) placed on key spots of her body, from her foot to hand and all major joints in between. Once on the bike, these landmarks will transmit data to the computer and screen ahead. Once on board and ‘hooked’ up to the computer, Michael gets Emma to ride and so the analysis begins.
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TECH TALK SOUND OFF
SUBJECT: Body Geometry Fit With Emma Carney
6 6. During this stage of Ride Analysis there is a lot of conversation back and forth between Michael and Emma. The data now present on the screen takes into account the measurements and test results from the Physical Assessment as well the live data from the landmarks on Emma as she continues to ride.
7 7. With the newly captured data in hand, the fitter then looks for anomalies from the fitting system’s accepted range. Things like seat height and bars are quite to spot if completely out. In this step the fitters biomechanical knowledge and fitting experience come into play as they need to draw a balance between how the rider feels and what is within the accepted range.
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The final step of the process is to input the rider’s final fit into the system using what is known as the Zin Tool. This is basically an optical scanner or LED wand. The fitter scans the bike and touches all the critical points of the bike which records the measurements into the systems and allows the rider to take a print out home for future reference. A follow up appointment after a couple of weeks of riding will then make up the final step and ensure any final tweaks need to be made. A bike fit costs around $350 for the full process – to find a locally trained Body Geometry fitter near you head to www.specialized.com
TECH TALK SAVE/SPEND/SPLURGE Save
Product: Bike Shoes
$119 GIANT BOLT On-Road Shoe The clipless shoe you need to move up to the level to experience genuine cycling power. The unique ShellFit™ Upper wraps and adapts to your feet, while the AirStream™ 4-Vent Cooling System provides excellent circulation and comfort. www.giant-bicycles.com/en-au
LIV REGALO ON-ROAD SHOE If you’re looking for a pair of clipless cycling shoes that provides four-season comfort and that will make you look fantastic at the same time—regalo is the shoe for you. www.giant-bicycles.com/en-au
NORTHWAVE Tribute Triathlon Shoes Triathlon specific cycling shoes with Northwave technology and styling. The Tribute features a stiff, lightweight carbon sole, an omega heel cup for a secure, stable fit and a wide strap and pull tab for quick entry at the crucial transition stage. www.bikesportz.com.au/
SHIMANO TR9 New for 2016 from Shimano is the TR9 tri shoe, designed for faster transitions and optimal power transfer. The T1 quick-strap, extra-wide collar and asymmetrical heel loop make for speedy foot entry - while a lightweight, super-stiff carbon composite sole delivers power efficiently to the pedals. www.shimano.com.au/
SIDI Women’s Wire Carbon Air Road Shoe The Women’s Wire Carbon Vernice Road Shoe features all the outstanding quality and top end features that make Sidi a staple of cycle shoe excellence. With Soft Instep 3 Closure, Adjustable Heel Retention and Techno-3 dial for a detailed custom fit. www.sidisport.com/en
BONT MYBONTS ZERO+ Aerodynamic pro level racing shoe with 100% Carbon Monocoque construction, featuring Bont’s proprietary heat moldable chassis, hand laid unidirectional carbon, AG100 lite uppers and Central Dial fastening system. Used by Ironman World Champion Jan Frodeno. shop.bontcycling.com/
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M US I N GS HOW PLUGGED IN ARE YOU? PHOTOGRAPHY BY SIRI LINDLEY
n this day and age, technology has taken over. Everything is measured. Heart rate, sweat rate, wattages, stride length, running power, swim stroke power, etc.… etc.…everything is measured, recorded, analysed and then used to determine further action. I am fascinated by all technology. I think it is amazing how all these things can be measured, tracked and used in an athlete’s quest for greatness. The cost of it all blows my mind. One could nearly buy a car for the same cost that they spend on all the equipment to train for a triathlon using technology. Along with these gadgets, social media is also there so that everyone knows exactly how many watts you have been pushing, how many calories you burned, how much you sweated and what your heart rate was for every given pace. Depending on the number of followers or friends you have, your personal life, training schedule and racing plans or results can be known by thousands seconds after you have experienced it yourself. That is, if you choose to share it. Even though I am fascinated by all these things, and have made it a priority to educate myself in all aspects of them, I am unwilling to waiver on my philosophy that training by feel, by perceived effort, and with an intense relationship with you is the key to an athlete’s success. As an athlete I was fortunate enough to have all my hard work, year after year, result in an ITU World Championship crown and two ITU World Cup series wins
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in 2001 and 2002. I made every mistake in the book as an athlete, but I also took the time to learn the right way of doing things, to eventually allow for me to be the best that I could be. I trained hard, I recovered well, I listened to my body, and I was totally in tune with how my body functioned, and how to balance that fine beam of training/recovery and high performance. Every hard session I did by perceived effort. I knew that going fast, hurts. So I made it hurt when I needed to go fast. Through lots of trial and error and staying in tune with the changes in my fitness
levels, I progressed through pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone. Of edging closer and closer for longer and longer periods of time to my ultimate limits. Limits, meaning those in my abilities. Limits in my ability to withstand the pain. My goal was always to leave no stone unturned. To do everything in my power, to be the very best athlete, that I could be. So that come race day, I could stand on that start line confident that I had done the work, and I was fully prepared for anything that could happen during the race. I knew that only two things mattered once that gun went off - my effort and my
Siri Lindley A world champion athlete herself and now one of the most revered triathlon coaches in the world, Siri enables athletes to become the champions and the people they were born to be. With an ability to see things in people they cannot see in themselves, Siri is driven by a unrivalled passion for triathlon and the people within. http://siri-lindley.com
Siri Lindley attitude. If I gave one million percent, and had a laser focused relentless attitude, I would be able to tap into my full potential and race to the very best of my ability. I didn’t have a watch to tell me my heart rate was too high and I needed to slow down. I didn’t have a power meter telling me my watts were too low and thus deflating my confidence, and leading to a negative downward spiral in performance. There were no limits except those I put on myself. I made sure I did not put limits on myself and vowed to give absolutely everything I had from start to finish. Without the gadgets, the only judge of my effort, or ability was myself, and I knew better than to judge while trying to perform. There were no gadgets to tell me to go faster, or to slow down. No gadgets to tell me I’m not strong enough, or going too strong. No gadgets to tell me what I am obviously aware of on race day, that my heart rate is so much higher than it normally is on a training day where there is
less pressure, and less outside excitement. For me, having nothing attached to my bike, or to my wrist, made me feel free. It allowed me to be totally in control of myself and totally responsible for my attitude. My formula was quite simple: Train hard and recover properly. Give your body what it needs to continue to give that incredible effort every single day: healthy food, proper hydration and recovery. I gave myself an Epsom salt bath every night, and thanked my body for the hard work it did. I massaged my guitar string tight calves every night, and covered them in
arnica gel and healing thoughts. I ate healthy dinners imagining my body needed protein and veggies, and all things to keep me healthy, strong and energetic for the next day’s sessions. I listened when during a 10km track session, suffering beyond what I thought humanly possible; I would be craving a steak and a glass of milk. UGH…YUCK!! Instead of ignoring this, I would go home that night and grill a steak and drink a glass of milk. I understood that this odd craving at the oddest of times, was telling me that my iron was probably low, and I
Too much outside information inevitably takes us further away from being plugged in, or truly authentically connected to ourselves.
TECHNOLOGY: There are no end of gadgets to facilitate your training. But do we lose sight of what are bodies are are actually saying to us?
MAKE THE JUMP: Reconnect with yourself once again and start listening to you body. AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
TUNE-OUT TO TUNE-IN: Get off the phone and leave the gadgets alone. Reconnect with yourself. There are incredible views out there to see.
needed protein. The cravings for milk, letting me know I needed more calcium, and magnesium, to keep my bones strong. I was tuned in, and to every craving I had, I would make sure I gave in to it. Yes, even if I craved a glass of wine…. not a bottle, but a glass. That was my body saying I needed to chill out. I’m too stressed. Relax. Being too stressed, or not allowing yourself time to relax, or to let go in some way, can cause high cortisol, which can then lead to a crowd of problems such as sickness, injury or chronic fatigue. Your body when you train it as diligently as you do, will speak to you. You just have to listen. When you listen, trust what it is telling you and give it what it wants. You will find that this increasingly trusting relationship you have with your body is suddenly leading you to your best ever performances, and the best form of your life. Now, sometimes we hear things we don’t want to hear. For instance, suddenly you have a really sore spot in your calf, and your alarm didn’t go off, and your throat is feeling really sore. You really don’t have any energy to even comprehend training but you drag your ass out the door anyway. You ignore all these things and get out and train hard anyway. You must check off that training session in your training log, right? Wrong! These are signs your body is giving you to take the day off. You need the rest. Listen to your body and most likely the following day you will wake up,
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no sore throat, no sore calf, full of beans and ready to train. Being present, in your own life, is also important in big decision making. Say you have a huge decision about doing a certain race or taking on a particular coach or new training plan. If you are really plugged in to your life, you can see certain things surrounding each option. Let’s take deciding between two races as your “A” race. You are looking into an Ironman in Spain, and another in Germany. All the flights going to Spain are booked and you will need to have three stops in order to get to your destination. Once there, there is a house you can stay at, but there are three other couples there, all with two kids each. The walls are thin, and there will be a lot of commotion. But you love Spain and have always wanted to do that race. You go to book your flight and accommodation, and your credit card is denied. How is this possible? You have enough money in that account! You have to use your other credit card that you realise is overdrawn, so with this charge you pay a 250.00 fee for overdrawing on your credit. You look at the race in Germany. A friend has just written to you to say he has a house all to himself and would love to offer you a free room to stay in. He has a car and that will make it all easy for you both. The flights to that airport are on sale,
you just happened to check when the sale started. You will be flying for $1000.00 less than normal. You go to buy the flight and they inform you that you will have enough points to upgrade to the next class of service. BINGO this is the race you are meant to go to. Sometimes, all the signs are there to NOT do something. Everything just seems so difficult to put the plan in action. As much as we don’t want to, at times like these, you need to listen. Is there a message here? Check in with your gut. It always knows. You just have to learn to listen to it. You need to learn to distinguish between a true gut feeling, and a judgment or opinion being formed in your brain. The fewer distractions, the fewer inputs you have while making this decision, the better. Trust in your gut. Trust in you. Be plugged in, and know that when you are, your chances of making the RIGHT decision become so much better. Let me go back to talking gadgets. Too much outside information inevitably takes us further away from being plugged in, or truly authentically connected to ourselves. Let’s talk about one’s ability to access social media on their phone, even on their watches. There is the potential to get so deeply immersed in the life inside your phone that literally your real life passes you by. We connect less with those around us. We see less of our environments. Our eyes always on the phone screen, we miss incredible views, or interesting happenings, right in front of us. Life is meant to be lived. It is meant to be experienced. Not through the lives of others, but through yourself. I’m not preaching here, just realising that when you really do turn off the phone, leave the Garmin at home, and fully connect to yourself, the experience is so incredibly powerful. You can learn so much about you. You can learn so much about the world around you. Your experience, when open to all these things, becomes one that is authentically yours. Defined by you, created by you, and continually enhanced through you. Be open to all possibilities, meaning, no limits defined by your watch, or by Twitter. Be the best that you can be. Be brave, and be free. You do this, success will be inevitable, and your experience of it will be so rich! Happy training!
BECOME ONE IN 2016
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SPORTING CLICHÉS PHOTOGRAPHY BY SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
y name is Jodie Swallow and I’m a sportoholic. I’ve been accused of having addictive behaviour patterns through my entire life. I (used?) to be addicted to training. My punishment as a kid for being naughty was to have to miss swim practice. Now missing one of ten 6km smashfest sessions may seem like a cloud with a silver lining, but to little me it was torturous. It meant laziness, and it meant slowness. Nowadays I’m not only addicted to doing sport but equally to watching it. I practice little restraint or balance - if it is elite, if there are high stakes…..that’s about it, I’ll devour it. I watch sports differently to
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others. My excitement revolves around sporting personalities. It’s probably why I prefer the individual sports. I am engrossed by excellent human movement. I love close-ups of competitors pain faces, their overt expressions that lay bare their unadulterated personality. I love winners with an opinion; I like divas, and screamers. Underdogs often impress me but I will always favour champions. Champions are my superheroes. My sports viewing pleasure is enhanced by animated and accurate commentary. I have found that the men I watch sport with switch off after the action and ignore
post race interviews and presentations. I remain engrossed. It is possibly my favourite part. I need quiet whilst I study the athletes as they either whirl in euphoria post win or drown in disappointment after defeat. You learn a lot about champions in those moments. Like any good armchair supporter I am an awful back seat commentator. To be fair, I do know my stuff. I have a long standing insider’s perspective. God I sound smug! As if it’s the easiest job in the world. To simultaneously listen, to watch, to speak, to monitor, to predict and to probe must be really difficult. There are bound to be mistakes and the slips, the repetition
Jodie Swallow Jodie Swallow is a world champion, Ironman champion and Olympian. Not one to shy away from an uncomfortable but necessary conversation, Jodie Swallow is guaranteed to keep you thinking. Follow her at www.ifollowtheswallow.co.uk
Jodie Swallow THE ‘LESS IS MORE’ COACHING TIP
and the waffle only help keep our passion switched on and our ‘superior’ knowledge engaged. Kudos to sports commentators. A good presenter is well researched, opinionated and familiar, without being biased (unless British, of course), complicated or scandalous. Bad presenters are inaccurate and presumptuous. Whether good or bad, all commentators utilise numerous amounts of cliches in an attempt to dramatise the action. The tirade of inane statements somehow seamlessly flows into sensical paragraphs of gap bridging jargon. They filter through into our subconscious, into the coaching principles we are taught, even into eloquent sports reporting. Eventually we hear ourselves saying them in conversations in bars. They are so punchy, so catchy, some even rhyme. They are, in general, total boll&*ks.
HERE ARE 9 OF MY FAVOURITES THE 110% MIRACLE Used in reference to either a hard worker or a hard trier. Athletes work hard yes, they put much effort into their training and racing and this causes much physical pain in comparison to other pursuits. They can’t put more than everything they have in though. It is in fact very likely that the athlete winning is putting about the same amount of effort in as everyone else on the start line - 100%. They are probably not winning because they are trying harder. People that speak of 110% are either numerically challenged or melodramatic. They are definitely lazy with superfluous adjectives.
Heard whilst watching an 8-day mountain bike stage race and used in reference to athletes’ preparation. There are indeed times when ‘less is more’ in endurance racing - in a seven-day taper for instance, or when you’re are sick. In general though, for ultra endurance races, less is not more. Less won’t be fit enough. If you are training more than six hours a day then yes, maybe some redirection is needed but it is fairly unlikely. We don’t need to hear coaching tips from commentators. We can do without that.
THE ‘NO PAIN, NO GAIN’ PRINCIPLE Used in reference to an athlete’s work ethic or ability to push through pain. True to some extent but a massive generalisation into the concept of pain, workload and injury. We had this one printed on our caps as kid swimmers. It was quite ironic actually as we witnessed the results that the ‘dossers’ managed to pull out v’s the ones the workhorses toiled endlessly to achieve. Lots of people gain without pain, fair or not. The premise goes along with ‘hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard’ - one of the most irritating cliches out there. ‘Talent’ is a term too easily thrown about by people lacking the comprehensive foresight to understand the many facets and intricacies of workload, stress, recovery, physiology and psychology that go into ‘talented’ performance.
enormously to complete a given task but thankfully your ‘central governor’ will take you out before you meet your end. Similarly the famous Jack Dempsey quote “A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t” contradicts itself before the sentence is even finished. He actually could, because he obviously did.
THE ’10% PHYSICAL 90% MENTAL’ ANALOGY Used when (over) emphasising the mental side of sporting performance, often to explain the dominance of an amazing athlete. Lance Armstrong being an example. As we saw with Mr Pharmacy it turned out it was the physiological or at least pharmaceutical capabilities that gave the advantage. It wasn’t the narcissistic tendencies, the confidence or the intimidation that made Lance win. Not directly anyway. You can’t win races with a brain and no body although you can most certainly lose them with a body and no brain. That doesn’t make one more important than the other. It is unquantifiable.
THE ‘DEATH BEFORE DO NOT FINISH’ MOTTO Used when describing a die-hard competitor usually struggling to complete the race due to illness, an injury or a crash. Nobody would rather die than not finish any race. It would classify you as mental. It is frankly a dangerous attitude to have. There are times when people suffer AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
© Delly Carr/Triathlon.org
THE ‘AGE IS NO BARRIER, IT’S A LIMITATION YOU PUT ON YOUR MIND.’ ASSERTION
THANKYOU: As an elite athlete there is no ‘Taking Part’. It’s about getting the medal
THE ‘PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT’ PREMISE Used when describing progression in an athlete and again often to explain complete athlete dominance. Vince Lombardi beat me to this one; correcting the inaccuracy, stating that only ‘perfect practice makes perfect’. It is a better premise and good reminder that it is quality and not quantity that is the most efficient use of training time and practice. Quantity, however, is fairly essential in preparation for an Ironman. Not every detail of training will go perfectly or be executed precisely. Much of the time it is about the grey area of ‘miles’. The athlete who has practiced the most may win, they equally may not. In my experience most of the top elite athletes practice as much each other. Lombardi is right - it is the nature of such practice that makes the difference. Except if you’re ‘talented’. Talented people just win ;).
THE ‘IT’S THE TAKING PART’ MOTTO Used when describing a poor performance or a young athlete’s debut. At elite level it is never about the taking part. We may say it all the time because it sounds nice but it is a facade to dissipate pressure or an antidote for failure.
THE ROMANTIC’S TRUTH ‘IF YOU CAN DREAM IT, YOU CAN DO IT’ Originally said by Walt Disney but later plagiarised by R Kelly in ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ (good luck with that). Often used as narrative for dramatic underdog performance or comebacks from testing setbacks. Anyone can dream of winning the Olympics. The reality is that only one athlete gets to do it every four years. It is not because they believed in themselves more. It comes down to a formula of preparation, circumstance, ability and even a small amount of luck. Not dreams. It is lovely to believe such idealism as a spectator of sport but it is not true.
Jodie Swallow @jodieswallow 60
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Used when describing a more mature athlete’s continued success. In this case, Jackie Joyner-Kersee (who interestingly retired at 38 following a series of injuries). Limitations of the mind are easy to diagnose by the triumphant. There may be other factors such as genetics, pharmaceuticals or indeed clever training that inhibit or slow the degradation of performance that age inevitably brings. We will never see a sixty year old, albeit mentally defiant, Ironman World Champion. Sorry, it is just not possible. For all my sarcastic pessimism, sports cliches are a familiar and welcome source of annoyance even for the seasoned, knowledgeable viewer. Although we all secretly believe think we could be the next Phil Ligget, we all actually like the sound of our own voices a little too much. Imagine a ‘Jodie Swallow commentary’. It would be filled with abrupt reality, much scepticism and massive emotional extremes - hardly ideal and wholly irritating I would think. One day I might jump on the bandwagon of ex-athlete commentators - throw myself in the deep end. It would be cool to get a chance to have my two cents worth. Make no bones about - it would be tricky - but you can’t learn to swim without getting in the water. I might bore you to tears, either by getting on my soapbox about something or other – drugs, selection and probably cliches too, for I know far too well, that all that glitters is not gold. I have a memory like an elephant for unsportsmanlike behaviour and I’d have too many axes to grind, I’m not one to beat around the bush. I would steer clear of cliches like the plague though. They dilute meaning and avoid the complex issues of sports performance. At the end of the day, going forward, time will tell if time will ever be called on the overuse of cliches in sports commentary. Personally I just can’t get my head round it. Literally I can’t.
with Willy Dan Wilson
Aix-les-Bains in France, consisted of many hours delaying bike rides by trading banter over cups of what had to be the strongest
fter considerable cogitation I’ve
From that point on, coffee played a vital
and most bitter coffee in the world. I found
come to the conclusion that
part in keeping me awake through my high
that after a season ingesting such
coffee has played an integral
school days, and then university education,
beverages, upon my return to Australia my
part in the maintenance and
as well as fuelling the majority of my
taste buds had adapted, and no longer
occasional successes in my triathlon career.
training sessions. A lecturer, not entirely
required the addition of milk and sugar to
Actually, looking at the cup of naturally
unkindly, once persuaded me to go and
make my brews palatable.
processed Ethiopian Konga that sits within
frequent his favourite café before
easy arm’s reach that I insisted on pouring
attempting the second half of his lecture,
short black to get me ready for a tough
myself before attempting to put quill to
after taking pity on me after witnessing a
session, combined with my inability to
parchment for AT, it may be integral to my
ferocious battle with the dreaded sleepy
partake in any of my hobbies at less than
writing career as well.
‘head-nods’ for the better part of an hour.
110%, means a beverage-based monster
My coffee drinking career and my triathlon
However, I didn’t fall for the taste of
Several years on, the ability of a nice
has been created. These days, there’s never
career has been inexorably entwined, but to
coffee until a few years later, on my way
a race around the world I travel to without a
say I instantly swooned for either of the
back from the Junior World Championships.
hand grinder and aeropress, and copious
addictive pastimes would be a confabulation.
We were in transit from Portugal, killing time
research goes into tracking down the best
My first experience with triathlon? Too hard
at an airport, when I patronised a Starbucks
micro-roastery within riding distance of the
(I was puffed and sore), too long (300/8/3.
(a thought that makes the modern-day
race hotel (occasionally flaunting a high risk
Yes, it felt like a long way thank you very
Wilson retch) for the first time. More
of mugging in the less salubrious districts of
much) and too much training required (Four
accurately, I fell for the taste of sugar and
Cape Town – just ask Erin Densham).
times a week? Who am I, Zatopek?). My
milk, the small hint of coffee was an added
In addition, any catch-up with fellow
first flirtation with coffee was a similarly
bonus. Thus, the Wilson of the next year or
connoisseur Josh Amberger, discussion
dissatisfying experience, the Blend 43 in my
so was a caramel-cappuccino drinker, and
revolves around refractometres, processing
cup was a disputably ingestible beverage,
discovered the combination of sugar and
methods and extraction ratios rather than
made vaguely palatable with the addition of
caffeine had the potential for a valuable
training sets and race plans. I’ve even got a
copious amounts of milk and sugar. Yet, I
pick-me-up for an afternoon swim session,
1kg roaster arriving at my house next week.
found it served me an undeniably valuable
particularly when paired with a glazed donut
The only problem of relying on a brew to pull
practical purpose. I recently found one of
from the bakery next to the pool (Of course,
me through a tough session when fatigue is
the side effects of my new found hobby of
the modern-day Wilson is far more
rife? The devastating sound of hearing the
triathlon, was that I had acquired the
educated on aspects of appropriate fuelling,
travel cup that I’ve left on top of my car
unwanted predisposition to fall asleep at a
and would never ingest such a nutritional
smash on the road en route to swimming,
moments notice, most noticeably, during
nightmare. Unless he was really tired…).
and knowing deep inside, that my chances
periods 2, 3 and 4 at school. My physics
My triathlon career eventually turned me
of a strong session has just plummeted.
teacher didn’t help my crusade to stay
from a sugar-and-cream type coffee drinker,
Seems to happen once a week. Coffee may
conscious – his idea of imparting effective
to the black-coffee snob of today, who turns
be a cure to fatigue, but I’m yet to
curriculum was to crank the air-conditioning,
his nose up at milk-based beverages. My
source a single origin that can cure
turn off every light in the classroom and put
first year at the AIS European base of
on a video of a physics professor discussing fluid dynamics in a soothing monotone. Kryptonite for insomnia if ever I’ve heard it. Despite his bewilderment over the cacophony of snoring that would promptly emanate from the class, he never adjusted his teaching stratagem, leading to my discovery that a morning coffee could keep me awake throughout the day, and increase my likelihood of retaining the finer points of
ABOUT DAN Biomechanically denied his dream of becoming an NBA superstar, Dan Wilson has been racing the ITU circuit for over seven years representing Australia at Junior, U/23 and Elite level. His results have ranged from winning a World Cup to finishing only with the aid of glow sticks. When not “at work” training three times a day, he incompetently plays the guitar, competently sips short blacks, and fervently studies the underground metal scene. http://www.danwilson.com.au/ and Twitter: @ dan_wilson_
Newton’s Law of universal gravitation. AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
very run for me is a challenge. I’m physically fit and healthy, have the ability to compete at an elite level and the bulk of my running is at an “easy pace” yet even when I’m tying up my laces before a short recovery jog I know from my first step I will be embarking on a journey that will test me. Now, when I say it is a challenge, it may sound as though it will be a hard slog: something that I will have trouble getting through, and in a sense it does. For when I say it is a challenge I mean I am simply challenging myself by setting down a predetermined purpose for that jog that will engage my attention for the majority, if not the entirety, of that session. I give that jog so much more value than merely jogging for the sake of it. Triathletes on the whole are a passionate bunch. Anyone willing to take on the Cerberus of our three headed sport has to have a flame burning within that is brighter than “just filling in spare time.” The vicious cycle of goal setting, working hard towards that goal, goal smashing then setting greater goals to fill the void sucks people in. They grow fitter, buy the gear, become more educated, and travel the globe to illustrious and exotic events. But often I’ve seen that flame within some individuals dim, their passion quells. Sometimes it can be after a disappointing result or after the athlete completes all the goals on their bucket list, they exhaust their external challenges. A lot of the time there is no catalyst to their decline in the self-drive that they once had, they just “lose their mojo.” I’ve found that if you ask the ‘mojoless’ individual why they are training when they feel this way, their answer will be along the lines of “for the sake of it.” And I ask you: what is the point of the expenditure of human energy for purely of the sake of it? The word ‘amateur’ is a term that tends to have some negative connotations.
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Not for the
SAKE OF IT © Shutterstock.com
BRENDAN SEXTON As a youngster, Brendan’s life ambition was to be the fifth Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. That didn’t quite pan out. But triathlon did. A decade on, he’s still at it. www.brendansexton.com.au @kung_fu_sexton
To be dubbed an amateur in triathlon, as in most things these days, possibly implies a lack of expertise, to have aptitude level of a beginner, to be a dilettante or to be generally of a lesser standard of that of the alternative: the competitor, the skilled, the professional. But “amateur”, derived from the latin amare, “to love,” can be used for a greater proportion of the triathlon community than would initially prefer to be labeled so. An amateur, by
LOSING DISIRE: If you do things just for the sake of it, it’s easy to exhaust your external challenges and inturn lose your mojo. Make sure to keep setting personal challenges even if they seem small or trivial to keep the satisfation high
definition, is someone who performs an activity not for profession or profit but for the sheer enjoyment they deride from that activity regardless of ability. The most skilled and experienced wood worker in the world could be a retired banker who creates wooden toys in his spare time for his grandchildren. He is the best not for the desire to be world-renowned nor to make a fortune but for the pleasure he gains from the process of creating something that he finds beautiful - from selecting the pieces of timber, to the working and joining of the intricate cuttings to the precise and painstakingly detailed painting. He places complete emphasis on the task that is in front of him at the given moment before shifting complete attention onto the next minute task, over and over until the ultimate goal, the completed toy that he visualised and planned months earlier, becomes a reality. It is completion of the processes that bring him absolute joy. And as with me, in every run, a challenge is set: to lift my knees, to relax my shoulders, to hold an even breath, whatever! I will have a predetermined goal (set by myself or my coach) that I can constantly refer back to throughout a session or race. If I get distracted by my lower than normal wattage on the bike in a training ride, I can refocus my attention on pedaling through the bottom of the stoke. During the swim in a race my attention could be overtaken by the
dimwit next to me who clobbers me over the head EVERY. SINGLE. STROKE - I divert my focus to the breathing pattern that I have been working on in training to settle my breath. Regardless of the final outcome of that session or race, I always have the control over something that will add to my development. I can walk away knowing I set myself a challenge and I took a progressive step forward. By setting ourselves challenges, we grow to know our abilities better and we strengthen the connections of mind and body. Over time we develop greater awareness of ourselves, of our stroke, spin and step and we better understand our physical limits - and when to push them. The personal challenges one sets become more intimate and the rewards (that is to say the self satisfaction) become more frequent. Everyone’s individual challenges will be unique to each individual. It may be to finish a set of 100’s in the pool with more aggression…or start out with more control! The challenge can be anything, as long as it is something realistic and challenging at the same time. Amateurs can set true challenges everyday in an infinite number of ways that can bring them a great sense of achievement and joy from activities, that for others would seem tediously mundane. But for the genuine amateur, everyday holds many-a-challenge that give reason to get out of bed for more than just for the sake of it!
I’ve found that if you ask the ‘mojoless’ individual why they are training when they feel this way, their answer will be along the lines of “for the sake of it. AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
ACHTUNG! Ultra-Medicine TEXT BY DR. MITCH ANDERSON | PHOTOGRAPHY BY CHRIS RIORDAN
arning! This is a bit of a think piece. I know, probably not my A-game, but I do like to think every now and again. You could describe this as a rambling ethical riff of medical treatment in the setting of ultra-endurance triathlon. Or more accurately, when do you overstep the line between treatment of an athlete to help them complete or compete? Think Craig Percival in the 8in8in8… We’ve all seen and heard about stories in football (no matter your code) where
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an athlete has received an injection of local anaesthetic to get them back on the field for the big game. One that springs to mind in the AFL is Geelong footballer Steve Johnson who took on board three injections the day prior to the 2011 Grand Final just to prove his fitness at the last training session! He commented in a documentary: “I don’t care if I ever walk again, as long as I get this premiership.” Exhibit A: Athletes are highly motivated to compete, to win. At times this is not tempered by self-preservation, but an
at-any-cost attitude. It speaks volumes about the masochism of elite sport. Which is where the doctor should step in and weigh up the risk/benefit of various treatments, with short/medium and long term in mind. Should we enable them to harm their bodies in a harmful and potentially irreversible manner? Indeed, we are trained under the banners of the Hippocratic oath… beneficence and non-maleficence aren’t common parlance in the social media age! A good summary (by surgeon Thomas Inman) is: “Practice two things in your
TO THE LIMIT: Mitch took the responsibility to manage Craig’s health during the 8in8in8 Challenge and get him to the finish in Melbourne in one piece.
dealings with disease: either help or do not harm the patient”. Stevie J is still playing, so the risk paid off in the short term. But will he be disabled by knee pain in his fifties and need a joint replacement? Will he have difficulty exercising in his middle age and end up with cardiovascular disease like the recently deceased Paul Couch (who died from a heart attack at 51 years old cycling on the Great Ocean Road)? Hypotheticals, yes. But as a physician, worthy of consideration. My involvement with the incredible Mr Percival and his super-human feat was moderate, but it did challenge me on a number of levels. For those uninitiated, Craig completed eight ultra-distance triathlons (3.8/180/42), in eight states in eight days. He suffered through this self-imposed punishment and raised over $80,000 for the John Maclean Foundation (www.jmf.com.au) after starting in Darwin in torrid heat and finishing at 0330 in the
cool of the grand prix track in Melbourne’s Albert Park. Craig had a team of supporters, including his athletes, who helped him get around the country and get the distance done. His wife Lindell, Kate Paterson and many others were critical to his success. I donated time (elbow grease on the massage table) and my medical services to help Craig get to the start and finish line. He was doing simply epic training sessions, like Everesting to the tune of 10,000 vertical metres, so his body had understandable niggles. While I was bashing away at his legs, we ran through some logistics and nutritional scenarios to help him get through. There was a lot to consider: amounts of fluid/carbohydrate/ electrolyte; weather conditions (heat/ cold/wind); pacing; bike position/ equipment selection; clothing choices and that was before all the logistics involved with the travel.
Even if he were to have stayed in Melbourne and tried to do 8in8in8, the physical and mental toll would have been gargantuan. But superimpose flying around the country (Darwin-PerthAdelaide-Melbourne-Hobart-CanberraSydney-Brisbane-Melbourne) and there is a whole new dimension. Even if you just did that amount of flying (without the triathlon), any regular person would have been exhausted. There are fluid shifts and hypoxia involved with flying that damage the cells of your body - the air pressure is lower, causing fluid to shift from the central circulation to the peripheries. Everyone has had fat ankles after a flight. Added to that the stress involved with packing up a bike and race kit and trudging through the airport. But imagine exercising for 11-15 hours each day and getting on all these planes! I had set Lindell up with a regimen of medications (largely based around anti-inflammatory and pain killing medications) and rehydration methods (including gastrolyte/electrolyte tablets) to keep him on track (Magnesium/Zinc). Additionally, we tried to use caffeine as an ergogenic aid (100mg no-doze tablets) at key times of each day. Protein was critical to help repair muscle and damaged tissue, as was carbohydrate to replenish his depleted stores. He wasn’t always hungry (which may seem counter-intuitive to those of you familiar with exercising a lot!), so Lindell had to force feed. She also used some regular anti-nausea and stomach easing medications (anti-emetic and anti-spasmodic). She had a good supply of an all-round antibiotic, in case he got sick. Then there was the sleep issue… AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
THERE GOES ANOTHER: Mitch had fears that constant medical assistance in the short term to numb pain and get Craig to complete the challenge would actually be damaging the body long term.
Run the math on exercising 11-15 hours a day, setting up bikes/equipment and traveling to and from airports, plus the plane flight itself, and subtract that from 24 hours. Not much left? Craig and team had to deal with insomnia as a major issue. I had supplied him with a small number of short-acting sleeping tablets, but that is really for physical rest only. The mind is not redeemed by slow wave sleep, only by REM (dreaming) sleep, which tablets reduce. He was having a critically small amount of sleep for eight days, which left him mentally ‘impaired’. The literature on insomnia is extensive, and the Chinese were on to it early with water torture - it can send you round the twist. His memory was becoming increasingly poor and when I saw him on the final day, I had to run a written test to make sure I felt he was ok to take to the pool! Which leads me to the ethical line. Physically and mentally, Craig was at his limits. He had feet that were in terrible condition (every single toe-nail was lifting from its bed) and he’d been taking antibiotics to stave off infection. When I spoke to him on the final morning before his flight to Melbourne (from Brisbane),
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I had an alarming conversation where he admitted to forgetting that he was coming back to Melbourne to do the eighth of the eight. At the 70km mark of the bike, I injected four of his toes with local anaesthetic to numb his aching toes. And at midnight, some more for quadriceps injury that he had been carrying for three days. I didn’t sleep well the last couple of 8in8in8 nights. My mind was awash with fears that I may have inadvertently damaged Craig’s toes or covered a stress fracture in his leg, to allow him to complete the distance. Whilst Craig had been of sound mind and completely able to make his own decisions at the outset of his venture, nearing the end, I wasn’t as certain. I was faced with the realisation that I was
enabling (helping) him to complete his Herculean task…but was I doing ‘doing no harm’? It felt like a fine line. A month down the track, he still has an injured quad and probably won’t be growing any toenails any time soon! He’s keeping a notepad for a memory that is still suffering from some memory loss. Beneficence and nonmaleficence are complex customers.
THE JOURNEY To get more info on Craig’s 8in8in8, surf across to his website: www.nolimitsendurance.com.au/ latest/#8in8in8
113 IRONMAN FINISHES... All your triathlon questions answered: Sports Medicine, Physiotherapy, Exercise Science, Massage, Rehabilitation, Coaching & Nutrition.
Image: Delly Carr www.sportshoot.com.au
www.shinbonemedical.com 2/96 Macaulay Rd North Melbourne Vic 3051 Appointments: Julie 9-5 Tues-Fri: 0393295454
Dr Mitchell Anderson M.B.B.S., B.Physio. (hons), B.Sci. (hons), Dip. Surg. Anat. Jason Shortis B. Ex. Sci., Grad. Dip. Ex. Phys., Level 2 Tri coach, Level 2 Strength & Conditioning Charlie Bottero (Masseur)
UNWRITTEN TRIATHLON For the uninitiated, ignorant or forgetful, here is the official latest update of the unwritten commandments.
TRANSITION 1. Talk to your friends at an appropriate volume level. Don’t be that person in transition who seems to want the whole race to know that they’ve hardly been training. 2. Pick your time to chat with pros. A lot of pros wear headphones as they set up transition not so much for the music but so they can get their gear set up and their warm up done without missing race start due to too many conversations. Understand that in normal circumstances these athletes would probably love to chat but given they could be starting 30-60 minutes before your wave goes off, they might be a little pushed for time, not to mention very nervous that their income is on the line in the coming moments.
TEXT BY TIM REED | PHOTOGRAPHY BY SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
SWIM 1. Being rough in the swim won’t make you or anyone around you faster. Chill out and try to move from A to B with as little contact as possible. 2. It’s ok to swim on other peoples’ feet but don’t stroke or claw the feet in front every stroke. It’s annoying and slows down the swimmer in front, which in turn, slows you down. 3. If you have to stop for various reasons or are completing a sharp turn around, avoid a breaststroke kick to get back up to momentum. If you can’t control your breaststroke kick then stay well clear of everyone else. 4. Seed yourself on the start line appropriately. It’s frustrating for other swimmers to have to climb over the top of you but also pretty scary to be swum over and over again.
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© Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images
© Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images
RUN 1. If you’re having a tough day and someone who is battling equally runs with you, to help each other through the run, don’t outsprint them at the finish. 2. Stay out of the way of the leading female race. It’s not a problem to run with them if you happen to be running the same pace but it’s best not to run behind them especially at the finish line as her sponsors are paying for their logos to get some airtime. 3. Don’t walk 41.5kms of an Ironman run, then power down the finish line at Usain Bolt pace. If you can sprint the finish you should have jogged more of the marathon.
© Matt Roberts/Getty Images
1. Blatant drafters can be named and shamed post race (but be sure not to post a pic of someone simply in the middle of being passed by a rider). 2. It’s OK to be passed by female athletes. They’re probably better than you on the day… or every day. Don’t ruin their race by continually re-passing them only to slow back down to the original speed they had to pass you for initially. 3. It’s ok to urinate on the bike. Sometimes race directors have to make a rule that it’s not permitted to conform with local laws however it’s universally accepted that this rule can be ignored. Let it flow. 4. Aero helmets in training are not permitted. There are two exceptions: -- When you’ve had to fly to an event and taking two helmets is impractical -- You’ve got an aero road helmet 5. Slow down at aid stations to get a new bottle. If you hit the aid station at 45km/h and drop the bottle, it’s not the volunteer’s fault. 6. If an athlete is completing a pass, do not speed up on purpose to ensure the athlete doesn’t complete the pass within the permitted passing time.
© Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images
© Michael Dodge/Getty Images
© Stephen Pond/Getty Images
MAKE WAY: Guys, move out of the way. The leading females are earning their living
POST RACE 1. Age group competitors: When asked where you finished in a race, don’t reply with your age group placing without specifying that it was in your age group. If you said that you finished third place to an innocent enquirer, then of course they’re going to assume that you finished third overall, and later think you’re a wanker for not supplying the information that it was a third place in your age group. 2. Professional competitors: If you finished 10th pro because there were only 10 pros but actually finished 50th, then your result is 10th pro, 50th overall, or just 50th will suffice. 3. No need to embellish your splits. The recent invention of the Internet means that people can check out what whether you’re lying. People will check. 4. If someone asks you how your race went, one sentence is an adequate reply. Please do not work through the race minute by minute. No one cares, not even your wife or husband. Save it for your coach who you are paying to put through such ordeals.
AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
GENERAL © Hans Christiansson / Shutterstock.com
1. Race kits are quite thin and within a few races can become see-through surprisingly quickly. Be aware if you’re in a see-through suit and work out a way to conceal your hairy butt crack from everyone’s field of view. 2. Be polite to volunteers. Quality races exist because people are willing to give up their time to help out. 3. If you have a tendency for ‘spitty bum syndrome’ in races, white pants are not allowed. 4. Have fun. There is no such thing as the perfect race. Accept that, be ready for the race to not go 100% as planned and regardless of the result, don’t be the whining sad sack post event no one wants to be around. It’s supposed to be fun.
PRO TO PRO 1. Never straight up ask another pro for an intro or the contact to one of their sponsors. It’s business, and splitting the pie further amongst fellow pros doesn’t make much sense. Of course, if you’ve helped that pro out or you have a contact you could offer them of use then it’s fair play. 2. Whoever has done the majority of the work or pace setting on the bike deserves the accolade or potential bike prime bonus of rolling into transition first. Don’t scoot to the front in the final kilometre after using someone else the entire bike leg to your advantage. 3. Do not knock over or drop aid station cups purposefully on a closely trailing competitor. Exception: If that athlete sat very close behind you the entire ride saving watts then it’s 100% ok.
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How to cut your training load, get fitter and get a
LIFE TEXT BY KATEE PEDICINI | PHOTOGRAPHY BY SHUTTERSTOCK
ere’s the thing with endurance training. A session that feels good, exhilarating, accomplished, somewhat hard, but not hard enough, is actually damaging athlete bodies around the country. Not only is it damaging, this form of training is not the most effective way to get faster, stronger or be efficient with your time. Somewhere, somehow a culture of go hard, go long or go home has been cultivated amongst endurance athletes. Often at the expense of an individual’s happiness, time with family, friends and having fun. Does this life, physical and family strain have to occur in the pursuit of endurance excellence? No. It doesn’t. All that is required is a desire for balance, an open mind and training smarts.
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WHY AND HOW CAN ENDURANCE TRAINING BE DAMAGING? There are many potential damaging effects from endurance training. Which is the greatest irony. Are you fit and healthy? Or are you just “fit”? Our initial pursuit of health through exercise can rapidly become a problem when workouts are a little too long or a little too hard on a regular basis with minimal recovery. It’s termed black hole training. This style of training promotes inflammation, heart disease risk (yes - even you Mr/Mrs invincible), burnout, slow progression, poor fat metabolism and cellular damage. Even though black hole training is somewhat sustainable for long durations without “hitting the wall” - it doesn’t mean that you should train at this somewhat hard, somewhat moderate intensity.
Black hole training is ineffective to use on a regular basis because it’s too slow to build speed, yet it’s too fast/hard to build aerobic efficiency. Hit the pause button. It’s not ALL bad. Black hole training is characterised by a workout where you sit just below or just above your “threshold” - perhaps sitting on someone’s wheel for a TT effort, hill repeats or a fartlek run set. These sessions have a place, they prime an athlete to deal with lactate build up, pain and mental discomfort. My point here is to ensure you stick to a sessions purpose. If it’s a long aerobic session - then stick to this specificity and take it truly EASY. If
PERFORMANCE © Stefan Holm / Shutterstock.com
If you train in the black hole the majority of the time, your body is not trained well to break down fats due to the dependance on glucose, therefore you will run out or fuel faster.
Black hole sessions produce high levels of cortisol. Constant high levels of cortisol can have negative impact on the body!
Black hole training refers to workouts that are a little too long or a little too hard on a regular basis with minimal recovery it’s a speed session with long recovery, give every effort 95%+ and don’t cheat the recovery period for good form each set. Then you can “allow” black hole workouts to occur only on occasion when you need to prep yourself for race pace, both physically and mentally. Please note that if you are injured, burnt out or suffering from adrenal dysfunction, black hole workouts should never occur in your training program. The battle with the black hole is prominent in so many athletes due the mental satisfaction. Laboured breathing and heavy sweat feel tough and mighty and therefore deeply satisfying to your typical endurance junkie. Many studies have shown that most athletes’ default pace or effort sits in the black hole, if they are solely relying on perceived effort. If I am yet to convince you that you should stop trying to hang onto the pack every session, lets talk about the effect of black hole training on your nutritional status and ability to achieve the ultimate “race weight”. Black hole training puts your heart rate about 10% below your threshold or a few percent above. At this
level of intensity your body’s ability to burn fat as its predominant fuel source is switched off, and glucose becomes your preferred source of fuel to draw upon. Here’s the problem with glucose for fuel we can only store a limited amount of it. As reserves run low, we fatigue and have to slow down. Physiology dictates this. At lower heart rates, your body’s preferred fuel source is fat, providing more energy per gram broken down for utilisation. Unlike glucose, we have a near unlimited source of fat for fuel. However, if you train in the black hole majority of the time, your body is not trained well to break down fats due to the dependance on glucose, therefore you will run out or fuel faster. When it comes to endurance racing, utilising fats for fuel is the key to success. Due to the limited amount of glucose that can be stored as glycogen in addition to the limited amount of fuel that can be absorbed by our gastrointestinal system per hour, it is essential to have fat burning capabilities to provide the top up of fuel that glucose cannot provide. I’ve got one last piece of evidence to beef up my argument for staying out of
the black hole. It’s called cortisol, your stress hormone. In response to stress, whether it be physical, mental, perceived or actual, the body produces cortisol, an essential hormone for your success as an athlete. However, endurance athletes tend to use and abuse cortisol. Cortisol output is in a committed relationship with exercise intensity and stress. Sessions like those described as black hole sessions, produce a high level of cortisol due to the chronic level of cardiovascular output. If an athlete doesn’t put recovery protocols in place, cortisol remains high. High levels of cortisol have the following impact: 1.
poor sleep quality
2. difficulty falling asleep 3. impaired training recovery 4. hormone imbalance, in both women and men 5. grumpy athletes 6. increased anxiety 7.
reduced ability to burn fat
8. inability to lose weight / fat
I’m sure I’ve got you thinking now. If you’re ready to let the pack go, and stick to your own training session with purpose, I’ve got some key steps you can implement straight away. Unlike many traditional endurance triathlon programs, endless hours of training that take over your weekend or that leave you flattened on the couch for the day are not required. Here are a few how to steps: AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
INCLUDE HIGH INTENSITY INTERVALS AND SESSIONS
You need to pick your time in the black hole very rarely and very carefully. The idea here is to sit well above your threshold at a perceived effort of hard. So if we describe black hole training as tough, intense or moderate, then high intensity intervals are characterised as brutal. It is termed polarised training, where we spend 20% of our defined program period at high intensity. High intensity intervals develop speed, your pain threshold, reduce perceived effort all while having distinct physiological changes: 1.
enhanced ability to burn fat and glucose at intensity
2. enhanced oxygen utilisation 3. enhanced oxygen uptake 4. enhanced ability to eliminate byproducts such as lactic acid 5.
reduced cortisol to testosterone ratio for muscular adaptations and recovery
6. increased anxiety 7.
reduced ability to burn fat
8. inability to lose weight / fat
TRAIN LOW OR EASY 80% OF THE TIME
Do you know what training at a perceived effort of easy truly means? Learning to perceive your effort accurately at low intensity is the key to staying out of the black hole. That is step one. Step two is much harder. The thing with going easy, is it generally means you need to pull back on your pace and your ego isn’t going to like it. Here’s the thing with easy training, it builds your aerobic base, expanding your heart’s ability to pump blood and oxygen to working muscles. If this concept of slowing down to get faster is a new one for you, hang tight. Perhaps this concept is familiar to you but you’re struggling to stick to it because you’re struggling to grasp the easy. I recommend doing some research on the “Maximum Aerobic Function (MAF)” method or get in touch with myself. To simplify this concept, here is an
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example. A 30-year-old well trained athlete currently runs easy at a heart rate of 145 bpm (beats per min) and their pace is 5:00 min per km. Easy aerobic base training is designed to increase an athlete’s pace with the same output or heart rate. What we will see after 4-6 weeks of this athlete training below their “MAF” heart rate, 80% of the time, is the ability to run at ~4:45 min per km at 145 bpm. The result is an athlete who can sustain a faster race pace, with less effort without having to train at their race pace or in the black hole. Remember: Black hole training results in grumpy athletes who have no time for family or fun! No thanks.
PRIORITISE RECOVERY FOR ADAPTATION
Recovery is important. Read that again. It seems obvious and simple yet so many athletes skip over this principle. Did you know that fitness improvements occur only as a result of adaptation? And adaptation can only occur with recovery or by de-loading intensity and volume? Here are some simple ways to allow for adaptation: 1.
Legs up the wall post training for 5 minutes to help reduce cortisol, your stress hormone
2. Planned recovery periods every 3 - 6 week cycles. Recovery weeks can be a reduction in intensity, volume or a combination of both. 3. Structured cool down every session 4. Cold water immersion 5. Weekly inclusion of a recovery session
such a walking, yoga or pilates
EXAMPLE TRAINING SESSIONS TO HELP YOU GET A LIFE 1. HAPPY HORMONES + SPEED DEVELOPMENT [RUN SESSION]
2. ENDURANCE AEROBIC BASE [BIKE SESSION]
Warm up: 10 min walking/easy jog, mix in
Just focusing on form and controlling MAF
crawling, leaps, stride outs and rolling.
Heart Rate (HR) with breath through any
Main set: 8 X [30â€™ sec FAST cadence,
HARD, all out effort. On 90 sec recovery
walk/jog < MAF Heart rate.]
Warm up: 20min at 10-15 bpm < MAF HR.
Cool down: 5 min walking/easy jog
Main Set: 90min at MAF HR.
+ 5 min legs up the wall.
Cool down: 10min at 10-15 bpm < MAF HR.
*focus on high cadence, tall posture and
To practice breath control, try inhaling
hip drive for speed efforts.
through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Start with a two-count breath,
Weekly inclusion of a recovery session
then once you have gained control with
such a walking, yoga or pilates
two counts, gradually progress to 4 counts.
KATEE PEDICINI If you appreciate fun, family and friends just as much as you appreciate endurance training get in touch! At Holistic Endurance we specialise in sophisticated and integrative coaching services, implementing the above principles is just one key step. E: programs@ holisticendurance.com.au www.holisticendurance.com.au
AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
In Search of Optimal
You train hard and you eat well, but does that mean you’re healthy? Jordan Blanco gets the lowdown from the medical side.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
aving trained for and raced triathlon for 15 years, I’ve always considered myself to be in peak physical condition. Indeed, I’ve felt healthy enough to skip going to the doctor on an annual basis for a check-up since I feel good and maintain a healthy diet. From a triathlon perspective, my race times had improved over the years too. However, as I entered my 40s, the performance gains began to plateau, with my run times, in particular, declining substantially. I wanted to chalk it up to age and was ready to acknowledge that PBs would be a thing of the past. During a training run about a year ago, my frustration reached a breaking point as my breathing was labored at paces that used to feel comfortable and my body seemed to be running on empty, despite minimal training in the days prior. I reached out to a fellow triathlete friend that also happened to be a general physician. Listening to my feedback about feeling super slow and lacking energy, Dr. Kiki Silver, encouraged me to get some blood tests done in order to get a complete evaluation of my current state of health. She even shared the list of tests to run given my triathlon lifestyle:
LIST OF BLOOD TESTS 1.
Complete Blood Count (CBC) with B12 and Folate
2. Iron studies (Ferritin) 3. Thyroid Panel 4. Sex and adrenal hormone testing (specific tests vary depending on the athlete, gender, symptoms and medications)
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A few days later, the results were in and I was surprised but relieved to see that I tested within the ‘normal’ range on many of the blood tests. However, Dr. Silver explained that the results were suboptimal for an endurance athlete: “In my experience, patients can be told that ‘everything is normal’ when they are at the very edge of that so-called normal range.” She goes on to add that, while any test results that technically fall into the range recommended by testing laboratories will be registered as normal, there is an optimal range that is much narrower than the standard range used to present patients with results. “Individuals seeking optimal health and peak athletic performance should focus on the optimal range and work with health professionals that understand the distinction.” The tests that I was most familiar with were the CBC and Iron studies panels. I was aware that female endurance athletes were susceptible to anemia and had always assumed I was being proactive by taking a multivitamin with iron every day. Despite these precautions, my “hematocrit”, the volume percentage of red blood cells, was still low thereby reducing my ability to transfer oxygen from the lungs to the rest of my body. Another low test was “ferritin”, a measure of the body’s iron stores. Taken together with the low hematocrit test and my other symptoms, I was on the verge of being anemic. Dr. Silver cautions patients against focusing on any single number from the tests and to work with a professional to review their personal health data and symptoms: “The hemoglobin and hematocrit readings can vary depending
on hydration status, altitude and other health conditions,” she explains, “Ferritin can also vary depending on underlying inflammation so these always need to be understood in the context of an individual’s overall health.” Moving on from the baseline blood tests, the thyroid and hormone panel tests were equally revealing. Essentially, my body was almost completely depleted of critical hormones – progesterone, estradiol, testosterone and DHEA. As a female endurance athlete that had been on the birth control pill for many years, my body was now depleted of these naturally occurring female reproductive hormones. While this was the desired outcome in terms of avoiding unwanted pregnancy, the birth control pill had equally deprived
duces e r lls e c od lo b d e r of A low volume transfer oxygen from the the ability to est of the body. lungs to the r me of the hormones required to sustain a demanding endurance-training program. Not only did this have implications for my training and race performance, but more critically it could have negative repercussions on my overall health. In particular, these hormones play a significant role in regulating bone density and cholesterols levels, among other things. Dr. Silver explains that while our sex, adrenal and thyroid hormones are critical to ensure sound health for all individuals, athletes are particularly susceptible to adverse alterations in their hormone levels. Triggers for such deviations from normal can be over-training, lack of adequate sleep and being nutritionally or calorically deprived. “These adverse hormone changes can contribute to poor race performance in
addition to more severe consequences, including chronic fatigue, the female athlete triad* and poor bone health,” she warns. I learned a lot through this process but probably the biggest takeaway was something Dr. Silver said to me when I first called to explain my health concerns. During our initial chat, I half-brushed off my symptoms of “no longer being able to run a 5min/km” as silly! Far from it, she was quick to highlight: “If you feel anything less than yourself, there’s probably something to it.” As endurance athletes, there are plenty of training and life stressors that leave us feeling tired and out of sorts, but if you begin to notice new symptoms, you shouldn’t dismiss them. Dr. Silver advises patients to visit a doctor for a thorough check-up
whenever they are experiencing any deviations from normal “whether it’s feeling more fatigued, sleep disruptions, night sweats, weight gain or loss, truly any symptom that is new should be further evaluated.” She goes on to underscore the importance of “not dismissing new symptoms to having ‘a lot going on’, or ‘aging’, as they can be clues to underlying health issues.” Of course, as highly active triathletes, we expect that we are able to maintain ourselves in good health. Indeed, it is true that just a few simple habits will keep most endurance athletes feeling great. Eating well and getting adequate recovery between challenging training sessions is important, as well as getting plenty of sleep to help keep our bodies feeling good. Dr. Silver adds that setting realistic goals for training and racing within the context of your life’s priorities is probably one of the most important things we can do. Work, family and training are all sources of stress that need to be kept in balance to remain healthy. Finally, getting an annual check up with a range of blood tests can help you stay on top of your health, acting as an early warning system.
*Female athlete triad is a combination of three conditions: disordered eating, amenorrhea and osteoporosis.
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PROGRAM DESIGN SERIES Part 3: Frequency, Intensity and Load
TEXT BY KRISS HENDY | PHOTOGRAPHY BY SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
he key to successfully integrating strength training into the weekly program of any endurance athlete is doing so without increasing levels of stress and risking the individual over training. Special care needs to be taken by the athlete and coach to carefully monitor the training loads of both the resistance and endurance (swim, bike and run) elements so that they compliment each other and result in a optimal training effect. In Parts 1 & 2 of this series we looked into Program Specificity and Sets, Reps and Time under tension, respectively. But how do we decide what weight to put on the bar, what dumbbells to pick up or how what intensity to work at? The way in which we determine our loading or intensity largely depends on our end goals but more specifically the ‘phase/period’ of training that we are in. What we do know is that the training program must ‘progressively overload’ the athlete if we wish to illicit any neural or physiological change. Progressive overload refers to consistently increasing the demands that
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we place our bodies under, in order to continually increase bone, muscle and connective tissue strength throughout the body. We can ensure this happens by controlling the key variables of the training program. By manipulating volume, intensity, load and frequency we can target the ‘direction’ of the training program and consequently the effect that it has.
HOW DO I KNOW WHAT WEIGHT TO WORK AT? Similar to how we use measurements such as FTP, Heart Rate and V02max to guide us through our swim, bike and run disciplines it is also useful to have a threshold figure that can help monitor our strength sessions. With the athletes that I see face-to-face we are able to safely undergo a testing protocol that will give us their 1RM. 1RM or ‘one repetition maximum’ is the maximum amount of force that can be generated in one maximal contraction. This load is strictly for testing and rarely used as a training weight, especially with endurance athletes. For the results we are trying to achieve, the lowest I would work
with amongst my proficient athletes is 3RM, which focuses in the strength/ power range. So what should you do if you don’t have someone to walk and talk you through the process? Once you are comfortable in the ‘movement’ and feeling of the exercise without any added weight you can use the following principles to achieve an effective working load: • With exercises using a barbell start out with just the bar (usually 20kg itself) to get a feel of the base weight. From here you can gradually add load usually in 2.5kg-5kg increments. Don’t forget to use plate clips to secure the weight plates.
barbell a g n si u s e is c r e x With e e bar h t st ju h it w t u o start get a feel o t ) lf se it g k 0 2 (usually the base weight. of
using the chart in Figure. 1, we can see that this is approximately 85% of their 1RM, suggesting that their 1RM is 70kg. Using this type of training formula eliminates the need for frequent testing and allows the coach or athlete to train at significant intensities throughout the season (maintenance phase) without having the athlete to exert themselves maximally.
FIGURE 1. LOAD-TO-REPETITION RELATIONSHIP
â€˘ For exercises that require the use of dumbbells or kettlebells again start lighter than you think, generally 5kg is a good baseline, but this will vary from person to person. Quickly you will be able to identify your capabilities. If you have lost all form, chances are you have gone too heavy, remember we want QUALITY here. We discussed in our past installment that athletes beginning a strength training program will likely be working with sets of
10-15 repetitions. This is a Conditioning range, used to initiate familiarity and neuromuscular recruitment. By looking at Figure. 1 we can see that this will correlate with around 65-75% of our maximum. As our training-age develops we will move on to programs requiring 5 sets of 5 repetitions, this will now develop our strength and power, correlating to around 85% effort. So now we are able to work out our 1RM (or as close to as possible) e.g. If someoneâ€™s back squat 5RM is 60kg,
PERCENTAGE (%) OF 1RM
NUMBER OF REPETITIONS
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AS A GENERAL RULE WE GENERALLY RECOMMEND AT LEAST 2 – 3 RESISTANCE TRAINING SESSIONS A WEEK, THIS IS CONSIDERED THE BARE MINIMUM TO ELICIT PHYSIOLOGICAL CHANGES WITHIN THE BODY. Because of the nature of endurance training and its highly repetitive training protocols, many endurance athletes believe that they should always perform high-repetition resistance training. What we must realise is that performing exercises at these intensities will only maintain the condition of the muscle and never reach a training stimulus required to elicit greater physiological adaptations. Improved performance occurs when we target and train the weak areas within an athlete via strength, power and explosiveness, generally done by increasing the load and decreasing the repetitions.
“YOUR WEIGHTS SHOULDN’T BE SET IN STONE, BE CONSCIOUS AND ALLOW FOR FLEXIBILITY” Once we have established these numbers we must remember that they are not set in stone. As the athlete gets stronger their 1RM will inevitably increase but equally if in a fatigued state or returning from injury
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you need to adjust the 1RM by reducing any load associated with that session. Similar to overtraining in swim, bike or run disciplines, periods of high volume load that are encountered on a regular basis can result in a drop in performance through accumulated fatigue. Therefore it is vitally important to be selective with the loads and exercises that we choose, again ensuring ‘quality over quantity’. As an athlete, coach or trainer we must always consider the relationship between fatigue, performance and volume when integrating a resistance program into a training schedule. The first thing I do when meeting an athlete for a session is evaluate their mental and physiological state. This doesn’t mean lying them down on a couch and asking a series of psychoanalytical question nor getting them to point out ever niggle or tight muscle that they have noticed since last Sunday. Believe me, with triathletes that would be taking
myself self down a very long road and we wouldn’t get anything done! It’s funny but you can judge a lot by what someone’s eyes say and their general body language - especially if they’ve had a high volume week of bike, run & swim sessions. In short if I think someone isn’t in the right mental or physical state for the session I will adjust their programming immediately, usually by lowering the intensity and readjusting the focus. If you are reading this an athlete rather than a coach you can still apply these principles. By reordering the exercises or reducing the load, we can limit the potential for injury but also maintain the effectiveness of the session.
HOW MANY SESSIONS A WEEK? Training frequency refers to the number of resistance training sessions that are performed during an athlete’s regular training program, whether it is on a weekly or monthly cycle. As a general rule we
Kriss’ tips for choosing the correct weight generally recommend at least 2 – 3 resistance training sessions a week, this is considered the bare minimum to elicit physiological changes within the body. To begin with the frequency will be as regular as 3 times a week as we look to familiarize ourselves with the movements and fundamentals of strength training. However, as we progress for the majority 2 sessions a week is the optimum without detrimentally affecting the other training session. When we break this down even further, each session should only be a duration of 30 - 45 minutes, so over the course of a month you are only strength training for around 4 - 6 hours, which is minimal compared to your swim, bike and run hours. This highlights the importance of maximising your time by performing quality sessions, using effective and time efficient exercises at the correct intensity. And similarly when athletes say they don’t have time to fit strength work into their schedule I show them this breakdown! At the end of the day it comes down to how badly you want to support the physical demands put upon your body and enhance your sporting performance!
1. Common sense, caution and maturity are essential 2. Swallow your pride and focus on quality over quantity. By starting light it is easy to increase the load, but start too heavy and you will increase the risk of injury.
3. When performing Primary Movement (e.g. Squat or Deadlift), start by practicing the movement with a broomstick or just the barbell/dumbbell for a set of 10 reps. Then perform at least 2 warm up sets (1 x 10 reps at 20-30% and 1 x 5 reps 50-60% of your working weight).
4. Barbell – With exercises using a barbell start out with just the bar (usually 20kg itself) to get a feel of the base weight. From here you can gradually add load usually in 2.5kg-5kg increments.
5. Dumbbell/Kettlebell - For exercises that require the use of dumbbells or kettlebells again start lighter than you think, generally 5kg is a good baseline, but this will vary from person to person.
Strength & Performance Coach Seeing the need for better athlete education and understanding with regards to Strength & Conditioning for the endurance athlete. Kriss works with a variety of athletes from age groupers to professionals, developing programs that support and heighten their endurance performance. Kriss is based in Byron Bay with his wife (professional triathlete) Polly Hendy. He has an International client base that use his Online Strength Training Packages. For further details or to contact Kriss, visit: www.krisshendy.com Instagram: @@kriss_hendy Twitter: khendy3
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Strength Training for the bike during the off-season
he off-season is the perfect time to work on bike strength for the upcoming season. The new season is not that far away and making use of this time while building a base after some off-season down time is ideal. During the base training phase, athletes may choose to work hard in the gym (especially single sport specialists) but we are fairly time poor as age group triathletes and it is a fact that leg strength is not automatically transferred to the bike. It can be frustrating to see gym built strength not transfer to the bike. Ideally for most it is recommended that the majority of strength training for the bike is done on the bike â€“ unless you have areas that are very weak and have been identified in a body screening by a qualified coach and you work on these in the gym to correct any in balances.
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Below are several sessions that help build on the bike strength. Be aware that the sessions described are difficult and can be stressful on your knees. Monitor your knees carefully and stop if you feel any pain or discomfort. Build up the number of repeats and duration of each repeat gradually over weeks. Injuries are often caused by too much, too soon. Have patience with yourself to see the best improvements.
up to 20 minutes. Stay seated in the saddle with a quiet upper-body throughout the repeat.
BIG GEAR REPEATS
On a flat course or indoor trainer pedal in a big gear, with a cadence of 50 to 60 rpm for 5 minutes. Your heart rate should stay in heart rate zones 1-3 (60-75% of max HR). That is well below lactate threshold. This workout is to stress your muscular system, not aerobic system. Start with repeats of 5 minutes and work gradually
This workout is similar to lifting weights in the gym, but done on the bike. On a flat course or indoor trainer pedal in a gear that only allows you to reach 50/60 rpm. While remaining seated drive the pedals down as hard as possible for 15 to 20 revolutions of the cranks. Do 6 to 10 of these, starting a new one every 3 to 5
BIG GEAR HILL REPEATS When you have built up to 20 minutes of big gear repeats on flat terrain you can do the same session on a hill to build additional strength. Remember to stay seated in the saddle with a quiet upperbody. Focus on leg strength.
Nick NickCroft Croft Nick NickCroft Croftisisaaformer formerprofessional professionaltriathlete, triathlete,Australian AustralianTriathlete Triathlete of ofthe theYear Yearand andtwo-time two-timewinner winnerof ofthe theNoosa NoosaTriathlon. Triathlon. With With19 19years yearscoaching coachingexperience experienceunder underhis hisbelt, belt,Croft Croftprovides provides online onlinetraining trainingprograms programsfor forathletes athletesof ofall allages agesand andabilities abilities through throughwww.mscsport.com.au www.mscsport.com.auand andruns runsNoosa NoosaTri TriCamps Campsinin Noosa NoosaHeads, Heads,Australia. Australia.
minutes. Between force repeats spin 85+ rpm easily with light pressure on the pedals.
90 SECOND HILLS On an indoor trainer with a high resistance setting pedal for 30 seconds at 70 to 80 rpm with your heart rate in zone 1-2, shift up one gear and maintain cadence for 30 seconds, shift up another gear and maintain cadence for another 30 seconds. Your heart rate will rise but should stay below lactate threshold in zones 3 to 4. Spin at 85+ rpm with light pressure on the pedals for 90 seconds recovery between each repeat. Do this 8 to 12 times. Warm up as always before any intensity to get the blood flowing to the working muscles and gradually lift the heart rate over a 20 to 30 minute period. A warm down also spinning in easier gears the last 5 minutes (if on wind trainer) or more if riding from a hill home or before you get back in your car. Like with anything you may need to improve on, identifying the limiters and preparing specifically will go a long way in getting you into the new season with greater strength and performance potential. AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
TEXT BY MARGARET MIELCZAREK, APD, AN, ACCSD | PHOTOGRAPHY BY SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
peak to any triathlete and before long the conversation will steer towards their training, their last race, their latest Strava segment, the latest gear, the latest sports nutrition product to try and the latest diet. ‘I don’t eat gluten or dairy’, says one. ‘I don’t eat carbs’, says another one. ‘I don’t eat before training’, says another one still. Sound familiar? Triathletes are perfectionists always looking to improve and to better themselves. It’s all in the name of optimising performance, recovery and getting that performance edge.
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With so many options available and strategies for achieving results these days, getting that performance edge can seem complicated and confusing. There are a plethora of diets and nutrition strategies out there. From the Metabolic Efficiency approach, to the Paleo diet for athletes, to I Quit Sugar and Clean Eating, and the Low Carb High Fat approach, knowing what to eat and what not to eat can seem a bit daunting and confusing at times. Gone are the days of simply eating to meet your needs. One eating strategy or diet that has gained momentum and sparked interest
recently is intermittent fasting, made popular by the recently published ‘The Fast Diet’ by Dr Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer, the updated and revised version of the original ‘5:2 Diet’. So, what exactly is intermittent fasting? What are the health benefits? What are the benefits to performance? Should you try it?
WHAT IS INTERMITTENT FASTING? The key principle of intermittent fasting, such as the recently popularised ‘5:2 Diet’, is that fasting is intermittent and
carbohydrate availability. The premise of this is to enhance the aerobic adaptations that occur in muscles as a result of endurance training. These include muscle mitochondrial adaptations that enhance the body’s capacity to burn fast as fuel.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH AND PERFORMANCE BENEFITS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING? Intermittent fasting has been shown to have many positive health outcomes. The health benefits of intermittent fasting include total weight and body fat reduction and a reduction of blood pressure and blood insulin levels. It has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity thereby reducing insulin resistance, which is one of the risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes. Intermittent fasting is also effective for reducing fasting blood glucose levels, total cholesterol and triglyceride levels. In his book, ‘The Fast Diet’, Dr Michael Mosley claims that intermittent fasting may help reduce chronic inflammation, which suggests that it may reduce your risk of a number of diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and dementia. He also claims that it may be benefit for people with asthma and eczema due to its beneficial effects on inflammation.
Dr Mosley recommends a largely unprocessed, Mediterranean type diet on non-fasting days. interspersed with periods of ‘normal’ eating. Under the ‘5:2 Diet’ one eats ‘normally’ for five days and significantly restricts his or her calories to around 500 (women) to 600 (men) calories for two days of the week. This restricts ones calories to about a quarter of regular estimated requirements on fasted days. Fasting or ‘voluntary abstaining from food’ is not a new concept. Fasting in one form or another has been practiced for centuries, with ‘most of the great religions advocate fasting’. However, science is now catching up and we are starting to see the health benefits of intermittent fasting. Similarly, the ‘train low: compete high’ concept, perhaps another form of intermittent fasting, has been around for years. The key principle of ‘train low: compete high’ is including periods of training in a fasted state or with decreased
Intermittent fasting can be beneficial to performance by teaching the body to become less reliant on carbohydrates for fuel during moderate, steady state exercise. This spares muscle glycogen stores for when athletes need it most, such as in the hard part of a race, or when surging or passing an opponent.
HOW TO INTERMITTENT FAST? As discussed, the ‘5:2 Diet’ approach to intermittent fasting requires you to reduce your calories to around 500 calories per day for women and 600 calories per day for men for two days of the week. This is then followed by eating normally for five days of the week. It’s recommended to include low Glycaemic Index (GI) foods with some protein on fasted days, sticking to your calorie target. Eating normally on non-fasting days isn’t a free pass to eat
CALORIES PER DAY
CALORIES PER DAY
600 500 Restricted Days
poorly. Dr Mosley recommends a largely unprocessed, Mediterranean type diet on non-fasting days. Once you have achieved your health and body composition goals, Dr Mosley then suggests a ‘6:1’ maintenance phase, whereby you continue to reduce your calories once per week, while eating normally the rest of the time. Athletes interested in trialing intermittent fasting or considering the ‘train low: compete high’ approach need to be mindful that fasted training may compromise limit their ability to train at higher intensities as liver and, depending on what they’ve done the night before, muscle glycogen stores will be depleted after a fast. One strategy here might be to look at your training week and target fasted sessions to days where training intensity and duration is lower (e.g. sessions that are <60minutes in duration and/or active recovery sessions). This will mean that you’re not compromising key sessions, while still getting the benefits from fasted training. Another strategy might be to ‘train low’ during the week while training high (so fully fuelled) on weekends where it will beneficial to practice race day nutrition strategies, especially leading in to a race or event. Remember it’s important that training low or utilising intermittent fasting be practiced with periods of training high (well fuelled) so that your muscles retain their ability to utilise carbohydrates for energy. This is the best of both worlds – having the ability to tap in to fat stores, while also having the ability to use carbohydrates stores when needed. The end result - muscles that have the ability and are well adapted to use both carbohydrates and fat for fuel. AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
WHAT DOES A FASTED MEAL PLAN LOOK LIKE? Breakfast: Porridge with blueberries or berry smoothie or 1 poached egg and smoked salmon or mushroom and spinach frittata Lunch is typically skipped. Dinner: Chicken stir-fry and an apple or seared tuna and grilled vegetables or steak with salad
B erry oothie Sm
(Source: The Fast Diet by Dr. Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer, © Parenting Matters Limited and Mimi Spencer Limited 2013)
Intermittent fasting may help reduce chronic inf l ammation, heart disease, stroke, cancer and dementia. THE PROS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING:
THE CONS OF INTERMITTENT FASTING:
The benefits of intermittent fasting including:
Before trialing this approach it’s important to consider the following:
• Weight and body fat loss – may be beneficial particularly for athletes who struggle to achieve their body composition goals and their ‘race weight’ • Helps to lower blood pressure • Helps to lower blood insulin levels, fasting glucose, total cholesterol and triglycerides • May reduce inflammation • Fat adaptation – may help athletes become better at utilising fat as fuel, reducing their need for carbohydrates during training and racing. This may be especially beneficial to athletes who struggle with gastrointestinal issues in training and racing.
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• May be unsustainable in the long term • May compromise training, especially if needing to hit training target. • May impair immune function • May increase muscle protein breakdown • It might not be for everyone and may even be dangerous in certain conditions such as Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus.
NUTRITION TOP TIPS FOR TRYING INTERMITTENT FASTING: If you’re interested in trying intermittent fasting consider the following: • Work with a health professional – do it under the guidance of a Sports Physician, Sports Dietitian, Exercise Physiologist • Monitor your progress – observe yourself - how do you react to intermittent fasting? Write things down - keep a food and training diary and listen to your body • Decide if it’s right for you – consider the pros and the cons • Start slowly, perhaps in the off-season. • Give it time • Expect the ups and downs. It won’t be all sunshine and butterflies. There will be a period where you won’t feel great, you may bonk in training and you may not be able to hit training targets. But this probably won’t last forever as your body starts to adapt.
CONCLUSION There are hundreds of diets on the market and many different approaches to achieving health and performance. Ultimately it’s about finding what works for you, individually. It’s about finding an approach that you will be able to sustain in the long term. That is the key to maintaining health and achieving success in training and racing.
INFORMATION ‘The Fast Diet’ by Dr Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer, © Parenting Matters Limited and Mimi Spencer Limited 2013. https://thefastdiet.co.uk/
Nutrition can make or break your race
Don’t put your next race at risk!
Margaret Mielczarek, AccSD | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.fuelrightnutrition.com.au
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C ÂŠ Shutterstock.com
arb loading may be an outdated concept for some, but for a fair chunk of the athletic population, it is used as a strategy to increase the amount of fuel stored in your muscles, in order to improve athletic performance for endurance events. The purpose of carbohydrate loading is to give you the energy to complete an endurance event with less fatigue, improving your athletic performance. Pasta is a popular option when it comes to quick and convenient carb-fuelling options.
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Despite its questionable rep with the mostly female (and diet-conscious) population, a one-pot pasta dish can cover all the basic food groups you need for training. Itâ€™s also a quick, easy and delicious way of getting the nutrition you need after pulling those long hours in training. Those with allergies or food intolerances can look at a host of other pasta options including wholewheat and gluten-free pasta. Wholewheat pasta is high in fibre, while gluten -free pasta is high in calcium. Buon appetite!
a m o C Carb
INGREDIENTS: • • • • • • • • • • • • •
1 tablespoon canola oil 2 chicken breasts, sliced into ½-inch strips 2 tablespoons garlic, chopped ½ tablespoon salt ½ tablespoon freshly ground black pepper ¾ cup low fat cream or evaporated milk. ½ grated parmesan cheese ¼ cup pesto 3 cups penne pasta, cooked and drained ¾ cup cherry tomatoes, halved Parmesan cheese to garnish Chopped basil to garnish Handful of baby spinach leaves
• Heat the oil in a pan over high heat. Combine the chicken, garlic, salt, and pepper, cooking until chicken is browned. • Mix in the low fat cream or evaporated milk, parmesan, and pesto, stirring until evenly combined. • Bring to a boil and cook until the sauce has reduced, about five to seven minutes. • Toss in the pasta and cherry tomatoes, stirring until evenly coated. Remove from heat. If you want to add more green to this dish, stir in some spinach leaves right before serving. • To serve, sprinkle parmesan cheese and basil on top. For those who like a touch of spice, add in some chilli flakes for extra zing!
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© Hannah Peters/Getty Image
What age is the right age to take triathlon seriously? TEXT BY MICHELLE HEMLEY
ith triathlon being a relatively young sport, most of the champions of the past have come from an initial swim, cycle or running background. With the emergence of TryStars, the Weet-Bix Kids TRYathlon Series, IronKids and many other junior specific triathlon initiatives, the youngsters of today have the opportunity to grow up participating in our great sport. How cool is that? However, this brings up a new and relevant question: What is the ‘right’ age for a child to start taking triathlon seriously? We spoke to three of Australia’s current triathlon stars about their backgrounds, what age they started racing/training and the advice they would give parents of emerging athletes.
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YOUTH AND JUNIOR
Athlete One: Age: 25
Format: ITU/Olympic Distance Key Triathlon Results: 6th World Triathlon Series Ranking 2015 9th World Triathlon Series Ranking 2014 4th WTS London 2015 5th WTS Stockholm 2015 11 top 10’s in WTS events Describe your childhood sporting experiences: AFL, cross country running, basketball, surfing and triathlon I tried my hand at everything. I loved being outdoors as opposed to being in the classroom and always looked forward to sport periods in school. I was passionate about triathlon and AFL and ultimately had to choose between one or the other as the demands in body shape were quite different. Being asked to put on muscle and bulk up with my slight frame, triathlon eventually won out.
At what age did you start training properly for triathlon? In school I tried my hand at many different sports from cross country running to playing AFL at a high level to surfing with mates on the weekend, I was always active. I guess I took triathlon seriously at the age of 16 when I had to make a decision between playing AFL or pursuing triathlon. They were both looking promising though I was at the crossroad you get to where decisions need to be made. Ultimately triathlon won out and I’ve never looked back. At that age training was pretty relaxed doing sessions here and there with a little bit of structure making sure I was having fun and enjoying it all at the same time. Whether it was swimming with the surf club 3 times a week, or cycling with the cycle club a few times a week and then running with mates it was always fun and there was no pressure. It was all up to me and if I wanted to do it. Sure mum was there to take me to that early morning swim session, but it was up to me if I got up or if I slept through that alarm! What key piece of advice would you give to parents of young triathletes? Biggest piece of advice I can give to parents would be to let your kid have fun and enjoy sport(s). Take the pressure away and let them have fun, if they really like it they will naturally choose to pursue it further. And lastly let them try their hand in many different sports.
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© Janos Schmidt/ITU
How old were you when you first raced a triathlon? Not quite sure. I remember giving them a go at the local club race as my mum used to race. It was on a mountain bike and it was a kid’s triathlon where there may have been 6 of us racing. From there I got a really old road bike, which was way bigger than me and probably slower and heavier than the mountain bike. I do remember thinking I was pretty cool on it and used to try and beat as many adults as possible whilst I ripped along the road over the enticer distance.
© Hannah Peters/Getty Image
© Janos Schmidt/ITU
YOUTH AND JUNIOR
To the parents of eager young triathletes - get out there, and support your kids, they can t do it without your help.
Athlete Two: Jaz Hedgeland
Age: 20 years old Triathlon Format: ITU Sprint/Olympic Distance Key Triathlon Results: 2013 Youth Olympics Gold Medal, 1st Place Devonport Triathlon 2015, 2 times Australian Junior Triathlon Champion Describe your childhood sporting experiences: I took part in quite a few different sports when I was young, from gymnastics and dancing to hockey and cross country, but triathlon was the sport I decided to stick with. How old were you when you first raced a triathlon? I was 9 years old when I joined my local triathlon club, now called Fremantle Triathlon Club, which I’m still a part of today. After a couple of weeks of training, I raced in my first triathlon. At what age did you start training properly for triathlon? I chose to just focus on triathlon in Year 8 (13 years) when I was selected in the WA team to compete at the All Schools National Triathlon Championships in Tasmania. I would train before and after school each day and on Saturdays too, dividing the sessions between swimming, riding and running.
© Delly Carr/ITU
What key piece of advice would you give to parents of young triathletes? It’s so important for young kids to be physically active and triathlon is such a great sport for kids to be a part of because of the huge friendly community. Also having three different sports to take part in means it never gets boring. So to the parents of eager young triathletes please give them all of your support! I couldn’t be where I am today without my parents support and I can’t thank them enough. I love the sport as much as I do when I started it, have made lifelong friends and have traveled to amazing places for racing. The parents could also give it a go! That’s what’s so great about triathlon, it caters for all ages.
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Athlete Three: Ben Allen
Age: 31 Key Triathlon Results: Australian Cross Triathlon Champion x 2, 5 x Australian Representative at World Championships, NSWIS athlete & Australian Aquathlon Champion. Describe your childhood sporting experiences: I grew up competing in surf lifesaving from a young age and excelled through the ranks winning numerous branch, state, Australian & World Surf Life Saving medals. I love pushing myself physically & mentally to see how far I can go! How old were you when you first raced a triathlon? I did my first triathlon at aged 23. At what age did you start training properly for triathlon? I was targeted by Triathlon Australia as having the potential to be a world class triathlete. I was training full time for surf sports and then after a phone call from TA, I switched and was totally thrown in the deep end. The thrill and experience was life changing! New people, new places, mastering a new craft and experiencing something different was exciting. Life changing! What key piece of advice would you give to parents of young triathletes? The sport has offered me so much, I have travelled all over the world, met some amazing people and live a healthy and active lifestyle. It isnâ€™t an easy road, there are lots of ups and downs! Being there to listen and support your kids is one of the things I cherished and appreciated the most. My parents were always there for me and supported me no matter what had happened. While Jaz, Ryan and Ben all come from completely different backgrounds their stories bear striking similarities: 1)When they were young it was all about having fun 2)Training and racing as a child was their decision, not their parents (who offered unconditional support) 3)They all tried a range of sporting activities as a child before focusing on triathlon as their main sport These are all key points for us all to take away when dealing with the stars of the future.
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AUSTRALIAN TRIATHLETE |
What to do now the season is over TEXT BY JULIE TEDDE | PHOTOGRAPHY BY SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
ecovery is critical. For some it is not just about physically allowing the body to unwind, relax and to a certain point “detrain”, but probably just as important is to freshen up the mind and create some motivation to stay focussed on what is coming up in the next few months. Reward yourself with a break from your usual training routine. Increase the amount of sleep you’ve been getting amidst a busy training schedule, and use this time to reflect on your season before you start considering what might be next. If you have been thinking about engaging a coach, NOW is the time to do so. Right from the start of your journey you can assess the season that was and identify what you need to or want to to work on over the winter months. This, of course, is limited by your time availability, weather and the equipment and facilities that you have access to (gym/indoor trainer etc). Together you can plan out the very important winter months and prioritise your goals for the events next season. It is an opportunity for you to see your workouts as building
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blocks for making you a stronger and better athlete. What you do during the winter should reflect your goals in the spring or summer months when you start to embark on the next triathlon-racing season. If you are an athlete that is in the sport for fun and fitness then you can afford to have a bit more of a relaxed winter, possibly maintaining your fitness through cross training or playing a team sport before you get back into dedicated triathlon training However if you are a competitive age grouper wanting to improve on last year’s times, or even qualify for a world championship representative team you can’t afford to sit back for the next two months and eat cakes and pizza. Instead you need to have specific goals, measure out where you need to spend your time and effort and put metrics in place to keep track of improvements along the way. The key to a successful off season is to find the right balance between being lazy and setting an overly demanding training program that sees you go into the race season exhausted and burnt out and even worse: injured.
TIPS • My best piece of advice is to be consistent in your training, it is the easiest way to keep fit and improve. It is easy to train when it is warm, there is plenty of sunlight and there is the pressure of a race in the next few weeks but it is a little tougher to get out the door when it is cold, potentially wet and there is no racing for months. If you know why you need to be doing each session and how it is integral in your overall plan you will find the motivation to do it. • Don’t choose a big race like a marathon 4 - 6 weeks out from the beginning of the tri season. Using a super long event to build on a discipline (i.e. running) is a good idea as long as there is plenty of time before the season starts to recover and absorb the training. • Including speed work is good. It can be a very time efficient way of working on a weakness, especially while the days are shorter and the thought of doing lots of long slow sessions is not ideal. The plan would include of VO₂ max intervals and anaerobic /speed efforts aimed at gaining speed. • Finally, don’t do exactly what you did last winter. Change things up.
JULIE TEDDE Julie is the Head Coach of Triathlon and Multisport/Race Director of the Active Triseries.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 14, 2016
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